Feeling safe at school is at the forefront of all children's minds in the world that we now live in. We are into the first weeks of the new school year, and the subject of bullying has probably already appeared. New friends are making their way into new schools, and children use a variety of ways to get into groups of coveted friends. Bullying can sometimes be a child's attempt to make a place for himself/herself in school. Empowering our children to be bully proof is necessary for school safety.
The early years are the best years to begin to teach children to be kind to each other and to avoid bullying behavior. Early education and childcare centers are using curriculum that is designed to promote social skills and to teach anti-bullying skills. The teachers/caregivers at Primrose School and Childcare Center in the Lakewood Ranch area of Sarasota is a great example of an early education center that is using a character development curriculum to help children develop social skills in developing anti-bullying behavior. The Lifeskills Lessons in the character building curriculum used by Primrose offers children the opportunity to participate in discussions and hands-on tasks that focus on safety and personal well-being. Posies and Pollywogs and Way to Be, another part of the character building curriculum, offers opportunities for children to engage in discussions, arts and crafts, puppet play, games, and role-playing to learn kindness, honesty, respect, and good judgement skills. Helping Hands teaches children the value of helping others. All of these learning activities are designed to help children learn to be bully-proof. Primrose School and Childcare Center is located at 9127 Town Center Parkway in the Lakewood ranch area of Sarasota.
Books and fun read-alouds are a great way to introduce the subject of bullying to young children. There is a wealth of books for children from ages 4-12 that can be chosen to read and discuss the subject of bullying.
*"The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others" by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy is a great choice for ages 8-10. This book is a winner of the Mom's Choice award. Pete, a new student on the first day of school, decides that bullying others might be a way to make a friend. His new classmates decide to teach him about The Promise, a pledge to stand up to bullies. The other students did not judge Pete, but decided to help him change his behavior. "The Juice Box Bully" offers children the option to help instead of standing by as others are bullied.
*"Bully" by Patricia Polacco is a story that children will easily relate to. The story centers around cliques and online bullying. Lyla and her brother are victims of online bullying. Even young children are victims of cyber-bullying in our culture now, and this book can offer a great way to bring up the subject of safety online. Children will easily relate to Lyla with her experiences on FaceBook, My Space, and You Tube.
*"Bully" by Judith Caseley is also a great choice for beginning a discussion of school safety and bullying. Two best friends become alienated when one of them becomes a bully. Jack decides that bullying Mickey by stealing his lunch and items from his desk might be fun. The story offers children several options for dealing with bullies when Jack gets advice from others about how to cope with his ex-friend's bullying behavior. The best advice that he receives is to practice kindness. He offers cookies to Jack as a peace offering. Children can also relate to the idea of telling an adult about a bully.
Begin this new school year with ideas that will help children stand up to bullying and make a difference in being safe at school.