Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Today, I am hoping to tell you about a new discovery:  LEGOs.  Well, they are a new medium for me.  Due to my coworker's influence, I have incorporated LEGO play into my work with children.  It is so great to see the themes which arrive in our imaginative play.  I often guide the more violent images that these children want to work on with more heroic type play.  We work out solutions to the aggressive acts of the shark in the LEGO ocean, and design rescue scenarios.  I won't ever be the same for adding this element.  Why?  Well, I never played with LEGOs myself.  My imagination was shaped by the Barbies of my neighbors and friends (yeah, I had none myself).  I work with a male counselor who contributed a large LEGO collection to our materials. 
This, as I said, was life-changing.  Even when first working with the items, I felt that they could not be useful.  Maybe even used them as a reward for working hard during the counseling session.  Then, I realized the LEGOs were just the medium to reach my students, male and female alike.  Hope you discover something new today!
Today, I saw a student who I've seen for some time.  He asked if we could do a simple activity I’ve used in the past.  You use a bouncing ball to land in a basket.  The basket can be anything, but it is fun to use a round basket, as it will sometimes spin itself in or out.
So, the purpose is to have the ball bounce a number of times prior to landing in the basket.  I ask the child to fill in a sentence completion item prior to bouncing the ball.  I will often also fill in the statement.  Suggestions include:  “The last time I was angry was____________________.”  “I was angry at my_________________.”  “I solved the disagreement by__________________.”  “The last time I told a friend about my ‘sad’ was____________________.”  You can make the activity more interesting by placing the basket on a table top, desk top, or countertop.
This activity seems to break down a lot of barriers.  I enjoy it and so does the student.  Here is another chance to make the session about the child, giving them an outlet for fun but also reflection.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This week, I saw a family needing help with discipline of their third grader.  This family has been willing to go through much of the Parenting with Love and Logic book with me.  I am very impressed with the techniques given to parents in this book.  It is a great way to introduce some key concepts necessary for any parent:  natural consequences and empathetic responses.  I can't say I always do it right with my parenting.  Each day, we have more of a chance to get it right.  God gives us the new day....and I try to use this new day to direct my life towards him.  At work and at home....but especially with kids who need a little God in their lives.
As a social worker in a school, I am able to use art and play to meet a child where they are emotionally.  This chance to just see them and their needs as a them a touch of God.  I don't have to share that is where my energy comes from.  That God tells me what they need.  I don't plan much, God does.  He prepares the counseling session.  Thank the Lord. I hope He meets you at work and home too.

Friday, May 25, 2012

As a social worker in a school setting, I see a lot of things.  The one thing I do see the most, though, is common 'anger.'  I am going to work on this problem of 'anger' with a third grader today.  I use the anger management program from Missouri Comprehensive Guidance Programs curriculum.  The program offers a wide range of activities and talks about 'taking care of your mad in healthy and safe ways'.  Cool that it is bringing some fun but also using casual language for a sometimes difficult subject.
I tend to do the lesson with an art technique as well, showing 'mixed up feelings'.  Our mad and sad sometimes get mixed up together.  I have done this with marbles/cardboard box or even with a spin art machine.  After rolling the marble in the box through two different colors of paint, the discussion turns to how this demonstrates our feelings becoming mixed up.  At the beginning of the art lesson, I discuss how the different colors of paint represent different feelings the child may have.  When the mad and sad feelings are mixed up, sometimes it is difficult to relay how you feel.  Your feeling of 'mad' might actually be more 'sad'.  This is a fun way to show how difficult it can be to accurately tell how we feel.  It is important in the end to identify the feelings and triggers to our anger.