During this rather surreal and difficult time we find ourselves in, I think it’s probably fair to say that we have all had to adapt in one way or another. I have had to adapt as a parent with two primary school aged children, as well as dealing with how my work within the school community has now changed from being face to face, to not being able to deliver what I love to do in the same way.
My work in schools is about helping children recognise all the wonderful character qualities they have and how they can use these virtues to help and support themselves. During lockdown I have spent lots of time with my children discussing these ideas and giving them the time and space to reflect on how they have been feeling about everything that is happening. We must recognise that our children have to navigate this unusual journey too, and that it may affect them in ways that are not immediately obvious to us.
Activities to try at home
This week I am sharing some activities that focus on Gratitude, which I hope will give other parents ideas for supporting their children’s wellbeing during these challenging circumstances.
Taking the time to think about something we really appreciate each day has had a really positive impact on my children and on my husband and me. It has helped to keep us all positive through these uncertain times.
Character Tree cards
I am using Character Tree cards with my children to help start a discussion - they pick a virtue, we reflect on what it means and we then share examples of how we might use this character quality to help us.
For example, for Gratitude we talked about all the things that we were thankful for. During our daily walk down to the local beach my children both said how thankful they were for living by the sea. As the weeks have gone by we have discussed other things we are also so grateful for, including having paper and pens to draw, food to eat and the sunshine that we enjoyed over the Easter Holidays – as well as Lego!
What I’m grateful for
Ask your children to draw themselves in the middle of the sun and then spend time putting in each of the suns rays all the things they are grateful for at the moment. This could be the people around them, or the things they are able to play with, do or even eat. It is really important to reflect on the positives rather than thinking about all the things we can’t have or do.
Examples created by my son age 8 and daughter age 11.
Either draw or paint the trunk and branches of the tree and then cut leaves out of different paper or card (if you have this available) or draw them on in different colours. Write on each leaf something or someone you are grateful for; make sure you give your reasoning behind why you chose that person or thing. You could add a leaf to your tree each day to remind you of all the positive things you do have, even during this difficult time.
Example created by my daughter Age 11.
It can be too easy to start thinking about all the things we can’t do or the people we can’t to see, but when you turn it around and think about the positive it has a really strong effect on how positive you feel and really helps us to feel happy.
Thanks to Shona Pye, author of Character Education: The Star Awards Programme for Primary Schools and creator of the Character Tree cards, for this blog.