T.I.P.S. to keep creative in this accelerated world
This week was Thanksgiving! While an American holiday which has no historical context or sense here in Spain, Thanksgiving is still for me one of the big celebrations of the year. The actual history around Thanksgiving may not be something to celebrate, but over the years I believe it has developed a meaning of its own, in which we take the time to spend time with friends and family and be thankful. This is the aspect of Thanksgiving that I like to share with the children.
I personally am so thankful for working at English for Fun, especially in the context of a pandemic. So many early childhood centers are closing left and right and, despite drawbacks, we have continued to persevere in our pursuit to make high quality early childhood education available in Spain. This is in great part thanks to families like yours that have chosen to put their children's education first amidst anxiety and uncertainty.
English for Fun really is an ideal situation unlike most of what you can find in Spain, not only for the children and families, but also for us teachers. We get to work in an environment that promotes creativity, collaboration, and that really provides both the physical, time, and personnel resources to educate in the way that I truly believe is best for the children; educating through love, respect, and building them up to grow confident and happy. Plus, on top of that we have families that are fantastic, supportive, involved, and that share our vision, and coworkers who are passionate and devoted educators.
Despite the madness and fear this worldwide crisis arouses, it can be used as an opportunity to take stock of everything that we have in our lives to be grateful for. I am grateful for my relationships, for the health of my loved ones, and for the opportunity to keep doing and learning from this job that I am passionate about.
What are you thankful for?
What makes your life meaningful every day?
There has been a huge movement in the branch of positive psychology recently investigating happiness, and they are showing that gratitude is one of the keys behind feeling joy regularly in your life, and being able to make the best of life regardless of adversity and stress. Not only that, but many brilliant scientific researchers are coming out with data showing that gratitude and optimism are not based exclusively on genetics, but are actually mindsets that can be cultivated.
Think about the advantage you can give children if you help them develop an optimistic view of the world, and you promote discussions around kindness and gratitude at home from an early age. They can grow up to be resiliently happy, able to weather hardship, enjoy the small beauties of the day to day, and hopefully in the future avoid the anxiety, depression and self-medication which are rampant in today’s society. You can provide tools that will help them throughout their lives in their relationships with others, with themselves, and with life itself.
I highly recommend listening to the Podcast 10% Happier with Dan Harris episode #156: Shawn Achor, The Science Behind Gratitude if you are interested in learning more. In addition to a really fascinating conversation, Shawn Achor shares a few tips on how to cultivate a gratitude practice, and how to do it right.
I encourage you to cultivate a gratitude practice, whether you decide to start a personal or family wide gratitude practice, or just to help you to become more aware and thoughtful about the views and attitudes you are transmitting.
As children learn from all of our behavior, not just what we ‘intended’ to teach them, I believe that it is the responsibility of anyone involved in children’s lives, whether parent or caregiver, to strive for personal development in order to provide a positive role model for children.
So now I ask you:
Would you say you are an optimist or pessimist?
How is this reflected in your day to day life and interactions?
Some of the questions that I ask myself when interacting with children are:
How visibly upset do I get about setbacks?
How do I perform when frustrated? When things go as planned?
Do I revisit the same negative thing or do I move on?
Do I show more joy or irritation?