Though traditionally teaching values and social skills has been left to parents, it is increasingly becoming incumbent on teachers to teach these skills. The stories on this site will give you many opportunities to discuss and teach children important social skills and values which will help children in your classroom get along better and become better human beings. Here are some tips for using the stories in your classroom.
It is unrealistic to expect your students to achieve all of the behaviors in the stories at the same time. Though you can certainly read all the stories to the children, pick a few stories that embody the skills your class needs to work on. Don’t expect children to learn all the social skills at once, but gradually establish some expectations in your classroom using the guidelines and the characters in the stories.
The stories on this site are ideal for teaching social skills to children. First, decide which skill you believe your class needs to work on. Then select a character or a story to use to introduce this skill. For instance, if your children aren’t respectful of each other, use Gilbert the Goat Learns Respect to teach children to take turns, to be fair, and to be considerate. If the children in your class don’t share well, use the story Sharing with Friends. Ramon Stand up for Himself is ideal if there is bullying going on in your classroom. Cory Learns about Honesty the Hard Way and Cory Learns to Tell the Truth teach children truthfulness, while the story A Tree Grows teaches patience, self-esteem and diversity. Silly Lilly Remembers her Manners teaches children good manners. All of the stories on the site have something valuable to teach children, and it is up to you to decide which ones to use for your group of children. Introduce the character or the story, and discuss the message in the story. Use the discussion questions and activities associated with each story to help the children understand the message of the story. By introducing a specific skill, you are raising children’s awareness of the skill.
Once you have introduced the character and skill you want the children to learn, give them opportunities over time to practice the skill. Make posters using the character you want the children to learn (you can print the stories for use in your classroom). When situations develop that are similar to the ones in the story, ask the children what the character would do. Then ask what they should do, and explain what your expectations are. Children will develop a common vocabulary in the classroom, and ultimately will develop the skills you are working on.
As needed, revisit the skills you have taught and the children have practiced. Model conflict resolution skills. Use situations that happen to children often in your classroom or that appear in the stories. For instance, if a girl calls a boy a name, have the boy state how he feels, and ask him to say what he wants the girl to do. (i.e. I feel mad when you call me names, and I want you to say you’re sorry and not do it again.) The girl then would respond by saying what she can do to meet these demands. (i.e. I’m sorry, I won’t do it again. I’ll be more respectful next time.) Rosa Learns Forgiveness teaches theses skills. Introduce new skills through different stories as the children become comfortable with the previous skills taught. By teaching children these skills, you are enhancing their ability to get along with others, to be responsible, and to do well in school. You are also creating a common vocabulary in the classroom which will help children understand expectations and proper ways of behaving.
Tell the children’s parents what you are doing, and what skills you are working on. Encourage parents to use the same language at home, and to have the same expectations from their children. You are teaching your parents good parenting skills and giving them helpful tools when you show them how to teach values and social skills. Direct them to the story on the website you are using which will enable them to help their children develop the targeted skill. They may also find helpful the section on the website called Teaching Values to Young Children, which lists parenting tips for the values described in each story.