I love teaching little children! The progress my little charges have made in the last 8 months is astounding. They have never been bad, but it was like trying to herd a bunch of puppies or kittens. Yesterday, I taught Choose the Right A lesson 2. The children loved the story, playing follow the leader, working mazes, and memorizing the question, what would Jesus want me to do? I presented several scenarios of choices they might be confronted with. They were to figure out what question they should ask themselves. By the third question, they shouted what would Jesus want me to do? Then I asked one of them what they would do. We dialoged about possible solutions. Then I talked to them about the light of Christ that everyone is born with. They all know in their hearts that sharing, being kind, admitting mistakes, and so forth are proper actions, which they readily agreed was true. They know right from wrong; it is their responsibility to choose the right. When they stop, think, and ask what Jesus would want them to do, they are less likely to make a mistake.
In our class before we begin the lesson, I give the children about 5 minutes to tell about their week. Last week I added the idea of the talking stick, which is a big hit. When I explained it to the children, I told them only two people were allowed to speak during talking stick time; the stick holder and the chief. Since there was no chief, I, the teacher, would act as chief and was allowed to ask the stick holder to clarify this or that. It expands on the lessons of respecting and listening to others when they are talking. Instead of a stick, I use a lavender sachet. Yup! It serves two purposes. First, they learn to listen and be respectful of the person that has the floor. Second, the lavender helps calm them after 2.5 hours of sitting still--it works like a charm. Everyone has two turns if they want to participate. One little girl that couldn't speak English, when she arrived in July, now participates eagerly and her English is pretty good.
Especially after seeing the amazing results with these children, I feel so strongly about being gentle and loving, while helping children learn social graces. If children were born perfect, they wouldn't need parents and teachers to help them become civilized. But they DO need us to lead, guide, and walk beside them smiling and hugging them all the way. Although it takes more time and effort in the beginning, Charity overcomes all. I know I responded better to love as a child than I did to harshness. Behaving right out of fear only works until the person is no longer afraid; harshness and fear breed rebellion. One sister who is barely out of her teens sometimes turns around and harshly corrects one of my children. It seems wholly out of character with the gospel. I wish she understood this idea. Of course I didn't when I was young either.
"I don't believe that children need to be beaten, or anything of that kind. Children can be disciplined with love. They can be counseled if parents would take the time to sit down quietly and talk with them. Tell them the consequences of misbehaving, of not doing things in the right way. The children would be better off, and I think everyone would be happier. My father never touched us. He had a wisdom all his own of quietly talking with us. He turned us around when we were moving in the wrong direction, without beating us or taking a strap to us or any of that kind of business. I've never been a believer in the physical punishment of children. I don't think it is necessary." Gordon B. Hinckley, At Home with the Hinckelys, Ensign, October 2003