Talking to our students and children about subjects that may seem difficult for them to understand is an important concept in starting early. I have found that the subjects that I was not sure was really getting through to the students would come back later, with them speaking of them with authority.
A couple of months ago we talked about ‘CHARITY’. Days, weeks and now months later our students are still finding ways to demonstrate that they understand the concept of charity. Here is a student and his younger brother who have taken charity seriously and brought in their shoes that they have outgrown for Souls 4 Soles.
Souls 4 Soles is an organization that collects shoes for those millions of individuals around the world that do not have them. Some of the shoes are slightly used, some are brand new and supplied by manufacturers from around the world. Balanced Life Skills started our relationship with them through the efforts of Brian Williams and the Think Kindness organization.
Along with Balanced Life Skills, several high schools from the area have supplied over $10,000.00 to help pay for the delivery of shoes around the world along with over 10,000 pairs of shoes. Teaching our children young to be concerned about their neighbors in the world, and to grow in their desire to give to those in need.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes it takes a natural disaster to move people to open their hearts to give to others. We saw this great outpouring in the hurricane that destroyed New Orleans, the Tsunami that struck in Indonesia, a fire that strikes a neighbors home, a disease that hurts a child. But when we take the time to be aware of the needs of others, even when there is not a tragedy involved, and give of our things, talents or time, we not only make the world a better place, but we also are helping ourselves.
Philanthropy is about making the world a better place. I have noticed that when I speak to children about this idea of giving to others without expecting anything in return that they are a bit quiet at first. It is like they are absorbing it and trying to grasp the concept. Then they many times want to act on it. Just this week I have heard of our students setting up a lemonade stand to raise money for a cause. Others have been talking about things that they could create – and give all the money to a cause.
As parents the example we set in giving, using our talents and time to the advantage of others, will have a long term impact on our children. What can you do to make a difference with an individual, in your community, or in the world? Every good act – Every act of kindness is charity.
I have been moved by the stories I have heard this season about the use of the ‘Christmas Jar’ by families in communties around the United States. I would like to propose that we start our own tradition at Balanced Life Skills with all of our classes. The concept teaches a number of lessons that are valuable for all of us.
One lesson is how a little bit of action on a daily basis adds up to a total that yields great results.
Second lesson I draw from this is an awareness we can develop of the needs of our neighbors and the satisfaction we gain by taking action to be kind to others.
Third lesson is taking a moment each day to contemplate what we are grateful for that day. I would suggest that taking a moment to consider all we have to be thankful for would reduce the desire we have for wanting more.
I added a page to our site – Christmas Jar Project. If anyone in our community would like to join in this project please do so on a personal level or with us. What a great way of practicing kindness.
The most valuable thing that we have to share with our communities are our time and our talent. The theological author, Richard Whatley once said, “A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbors.” All of us have some talent, whether we are young children or adults. The question we can ask ourselves is, how can I use my time or talents to help others in my immediate community, or in the larger more distant communities.
They may be simple ways of using our talents like reading or performing a play or playing an instrument. It may be helping to build a house or some other renovation. It could be walking a dog or simply picking up trash in a park. None of these require any more than our time and our talent.
If we can help our children see that time and talent is just as valuable or more, we will be guiding them to to become great citizens of their community and of the world.
What is it that makes us a good citizen? it is not just about our intentions or where our heart is. It is about our actions – what we do, for and with the community that we are a part of. Our communities include our family, school, extracurricular activities, our neighborhood, and yes the world.
As a part of a group we need to follow the rules. Most of the time these rules have been set up so as to provide protection and safety for all the community. Most times the rules make things fair for everyone also.
In the family at home we have rules like cleaning up our own messes or toys, not hitting, respecting the privacy of others. In school we have rules like raising our hand to answer, waiting our turn in lines, and showing respect for the teacher. In our community we agree to follow the traffic laws, not littering, not stealing or hurting our neighbors. In the world we are beginning to understand more and more that everything we do and consume has an impact on others in different parts of the world.
When we follow the rules, we make things fair for others too. It simply is not fair if one person does all the picking up and cleaning. As a good citizen we would share those responsibilities, even if we are a young child. As we teach our children about those responsibilities as a citizen we are also teaching them about fairness and helping others. Good citizens follow rules. Just think what our world would look like if everyone followed the rules and pursued peace by being good citizens.
This month as we have looked at the character of respect with our students, we must examine ourselves as adults and ask how we can encourage respect, even when disrespect an rudeness is found everyday. Of course we have to be sure that we do not begin to believe that it is acceptable to act in that manner. In fact we may ask ourselves, how individuals we spend the most time with during the week speak to one another. Do they show respect in their communication and how does it affect us? How do we do as individuals on a scale of 1-10 of showing respect for others? Do we create drama in our relationships and show disrespect for others? As we think about this we have to wonder about the affect it has on us and the way we speak to others and how they speak to us. Do adjustments need to be made?
Robert Ingersoll said, “Give to every human every right that you claim for yourself.” I would add our children are watching and our neighbors children. They are learning how they will act toward others. It is our responsibility to set the best example we can to ensure that the ‘rules of respect’ are preserved with our children.