It starts with "be gentle" and then on to "can you share" and so begins the slow process of socializing babies and toddlers. "Let's take turns," "let's be kind to our friends," and on and on. Preschool teachers are known for their ability to teach three- and four-year-olds productive ways to address conflict and for training them in how to be helpful members of a classroom community.
But what about when our kids move into elementary school? The focus shifts noticeably from socialization to reading, math and sports, and we hear more about test scores than about building character and community. For our little girls in particular, there is a lot of talk of "mean girls" even at the elementary school level. It's an alarming prospect, to say the least.
One of the ways to make the outlook a little less scary is to choose our kids' activities with great care. Ideally, we would feel like that the adults who teach them at school and in extra-curriculars are acting as our co-parents; that, along with the skills they are teaching, they are also imparting life lessons that will help our kids grow up strong and kind.
So when a mother in your elementary school organizes a Girl Scout troop, it's something to consider. If you were once a Scout yourself, you know what it's all about. But if you were not, then the idea can be a bit mystifying. Everyone know that Girl Scouts sell cookies and go camping, but what else? What, exactly, are Daisies and Brownies?
As it turns out, being a Girl Scout is all about creating friendships and building character. Here's what the Brownie Handbook tells the girls (who may be just as mystified as you are): "As a Brownie Girl Scout you will have tons of chances to learn new things, make great new friends, and figure out what is important to you. You will also find out how to make your neighborhood, your country, and the world a better place to live, work, and play. Most of all you'll have fun."
Sounds great, right?
Reading on, here are a few more tidbits from the Handbook:
The Girl Scout motto is "Be Prepared," the Girl Scout slogan is "Do a good turn daily," and the Girl Scout Law goes like this:
I will do my best to be honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
respect myself and others,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Each Girl Scout troop is different, and the character of the troop is determined in large part by the troop leaders, all volunteers and usually very busy moms themselves. But whether your local troop in more into crafts, community service or exploring nature, these ideas are at the core of Girl Scouts.
The other great news about Girl Scouts is that there are lots of ways to be involved with your daughter's troop, either as a leader or a parent helper. By participating, you can have an influence on the troop's activities and forge a new kind of bond with your daughter and her peers. And yes, you'll get to stock up on cookies too!
Just one of the things we're looking forward to when our kids graduate from preschool... sniff, sniff!
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