At our staff meetings, it’s not atypical for there to be some kind of activity or conversation. We talk about the work we do, our families, projects to come. Often, though, we like to talk about each other and the appreciation we have for our coworkers – whether it’s how they bring SEL programming to hundreds of children in New York, or the yummy cookies they baked and left in the kitchen for everyone to enjoy. At our December staff meeting, we were asked to look to the person to our right and say what we appreciate the most about them. The list included:
It’s early January – a time of contradictions and conflicting emotions. It’s that time of year when we simultaneously want to refresh, renew, and try new things AND want to curl up on the couch and wait out the cold. It’s a time when we want our students and youth participants to buckle down and get back into work yet we get as excited about the prospect of a snow day as they do. We crave routine and order yet miss the chaos and excitement of the holidays as the winter stretches out with no good excuse to eat chocolate anywhere on the horizon.
With the holiday season upon us, it’s always fun to reflect on what makes this time of year special. We asked the Children’s Institute staff what were their favorite holiday traditions growing up, and as an adult what do they look forward to. There are a few clear themes, the stuff we always think about at Christmas, yummy treats and presents. It’s also clear that as we get older, but even as children, we appreciate this time of year for the chance we get to see our loved ones and enjoy spending time with each other.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” . . . or is it? Whether you work with young people in schools, afterschool programs, or early education centers, for many children, the holidays bring with them stress and anxiety. Often the young people we work with are worrying about money, family situations, gift-giving, being “different” in their beliefs or traditions, and loss. All of these factors can cause children to feel anxiety or sadness at a time when the mainstream media (not to mention their family and friends) is screaming, “Joy! Happiness!! Merriment!!!” As educators, what can we do to help them embrace this season with hope rather than trepidation?