In the beautifully written book What's Under Your Cape?, Barbara begins with her experience in the 4H Club and how the values of the organization helped shape her view of character education for the children in our schools.
These values, once taught, can lead every child to find the super hero in each and every one of them. Mind, heart and action will allow students to develop a character that will last them will past their years with us.
The first step of developing their inner superhero is service.
In your classroom environment, you can create service opportunities everyday. The focus is on filling a need, whether it being a line leader, taking the cafeteria count or sweeping at the end f the day. Investing in their classroom and their classmates will not only make them feel as thought they are stale holders in your classroom but also allow them to feel as though they are a part of something that is bigger than themselves. What they do and how that effects others is essential and when you do for others, you can't help but feel good too!
In a school environment, creating opportunities for students to come together with a common purpose and goal can also foster the value of service. With a little guidance, students can take the reins and create a plan to help their school, community or the world around them. This is the next step. A service learning project allows students to deepen their learning experience through civic responsibility which touches and changes the community around them. It may be that it fills a need right in your community. Your students can organize a food drive for families in need, a clothes drive or even a school supply drive for students at a neighboring school. It may be that your students have a great talent that needs to be shared with the community for the common good- knitting, painting, singing.
Children need to have chances to think like a super hero and help to contribute to fulfilling the needs of others. Once they develop that way of thinking..."How can I help?"...they will discover that not only does it touch someone else's heart but it will also fill their heart with joy, accomplishment and love.
Something that I have always wanted to do is create a service oriented club at my school. When I was in college, my very best memories are from when I was in my sorority, Kappa Delta Chi. It is a service organization and it was the first time I felt that I was truly helping the world around me. What I did mattered. We did everything from food drives to volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club. We painted house for families in need and we gave holiday parties for the senior citizens of LULAC. I gave my heart to service and try to do that every single day.
I am going to start small but here are some ideas that I have found...maybe there is one in here for you!
- Write welcome letters to new students to your school. These can be distributed when a child registers their first day though the registrar and can help students feel part of a school family from the very first day.
- Decorate lunch bags for children in their school. How fun would that be to see their lunch bags shared with their schoolmates. Bags can also be donated to a local Meals on Wheels organization as a way to contribute to their cause.
- Student ambassadors can be used to help new students become oriented with new a class or grade level. Children can give of their time to play with them at recess, give them a school tour or act as a lunch buddy as they arrive to your school.
- Make cards for a local organization that has shown sincere interest in their learning. Our community is very active and it would be such an awesome experience for students to acknowledge and appreciate their contribution to their learning.
There are several websites that can also help you develop service opportunities for your students. Here are a few that you might find helpful:
- Kid World Citizen
- The Great Kindness Challenge
- The Creative Kindness Project (launches later this year- follow The Creative Chalkboard for more details)
Service to our community, our country and our world is essential. Through fostering this in your students, you are setting them on their way to discover the superhero that they truly can be and that lesson will impacting for the rest of their lives.
Have a great idea or have been inspired to include service in your school year? I would love to see what amazing ideas you have implemented and your thoughts on What's Under Your Cape?
Would you like a signed copy of Barbara's book? Just click here to link to our giveaway, how to purchase your own copy and the schedule for our book study!