If a challenge becomes a learning opportunity, we can benefit from any challenge. That's my motto. And that is just what happened last month at forest school.
A trio of best buddy boys were picking on and excluding the youngest and smallest boy. Additionally, they were excluding girls. "No girls can play in our headquarters!" Their behaviors were becoming a pattern.
What's a forest school teacher to do? Put on her Creativity Cap. That's what!
I created 3 Quests that focused on practicing kind words and kind actions. The children engaged in one quest per week for three weeks. During each quest, they worked with a new partner. (I chose the partners!) The youngest boy was always paired with one of the older boys, so that they had time and space to be 'alone' together and to work together.
Teams earned Gem Points for kind actions and words. Many of these were recorded by the teachers, so they could be announced during our Closing Circle.
"Apollo helped Theo carry a long stick."
"Audrey took care of herself by stopping to rest when she was tired."
"Ember said, 'I can help.'"
The children earned enough Gem Points to have a party. During the party, they received Be Kind tee shirts. They became members of The Kindness Club.
Best of all, in the days that followed, I saw the older boys playing with and hugging the youngest boy. I also witnessed new configurations of playmates. Boys with girls. Older with younger. Much less exclusion. Much more inclusion, kindness and caring.
At the end of one day, Victoria was crying. She wanted to sit next to Henry, but two friends were already sitting at his sides. I asked the children for ideas of how we could help. Henry got up and sat next to Victoria. Later, I praised Henry for his kindness. He replied, "Teacher Taira, I don't know why you are surprised. We are part of The Kindness Club now." Indeed!