Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing Column 39
This editorial article was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.
Ways to Spread Love and Grow Literacy Skills
The Children’s Book Review
Volunteer to Read to a Pet at a Local Animal Shelter
Many animal shelters offer programs that invite you to help an animal feel calmer and more loved by reading to them. Life in a shelter can be chaotic and lonely. Kids are encouraged to bring a favorite book, or use available books, to read to dogs or cats that are waiting to be adopted. The sound of you or your child’s voice can really soothe and calm a stressed animal. Reach out to your local shelter and see if they offer a program like this. If they don’t, encourage them to do so, or offer to help them set it up!
Write a Letter to an Elder
Did you know that “Write a Letter to an Elder Day” is February 26th? Encourage your kiddos to write a letter to elder family members, friends, neighbors, or someone in a retirement community who could use some extra love and sunshine. Whatever your child feels like sharing—such as a letter, a drawing or any piece of artwork—is certain to bring a smile to an elder’s face. There are organizations such as Love for our Elders that have names, descriptions, and addresses ready for you to get started spreading the love!
Read these Books to Help Fill Your Buckets
Carol McCloud, the author of several books about filling your bucket, such as Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids, sparked a revolution to create a kinder, more loving world. Did you know that everyone has an invisible bucket? The concept is simple: fill your bucket and those of others with kind deeds—as simple as smiling and greeting someone warmly—or dip into other’s buckets, and your own, when you are unkind to others.
Add McCloud’s books to your home library, or to your library list. The official website is also full of fun resources, tips, ideas and more, on how to be the best bucket-filler you can be!
Start a Kindness Club
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has an entire guide to help kids start their very own kindness clubs at school to spread love, positivity, and of course, kindness. This is a very helpful resource for kiddos ready to take their bucket-filling to the next level! Present the idea to your child and see if they have any interest in doing this at their school. If they are on the fence, encourage them to discuss with a helpful teacher or principal.
Kindness Starts at Home
It’s also important to go back to basics and ensure that our homes are the ones where kindness is the norm. Sibling squabbles and grouchy attitudes make this a challenge a lot of the time, but as parents we can start by taking simple steps to make our homes kinder places. Simple acts, such as writing “I appreciate you because…” sticky notes, or encouraging affirmations at the dinner table, can help us start to fill our buckets after the stress of sibling disagreements, or general crabby moods.
One way we’ve started to lift our moods and the kindness in our home is through a ritual of S.T.A.C. time during shared meals. S stands for Shout out, T stands for Thank you, A stands for Apology, and C stands for Compliment. Why not give it a try? This practice can also help boost conversation and discussion skills.
Spread Love and Kindness Through Art and Creativity
Carving time for your family to express themselves through any art form they love can help bring kindness to others, as well as helping with their own personal self-care. Creating art has many emotional and health benefits. It can “increase positive emotions, reduce depressive symptoms and anxiety, and improve the function of our immune systems.” The Journal of Positive Psychology supports these findings, stating that “spending time on creative goals during the day is associated with higher activated positive affect. Positive affect refers to positive moods people experience including joy, happiness, and optimism.”
Encourage your family to spread their love through their art—whether by displaying it for others in your home to see, putting it in the mail for family far away, or dropping it off at your neighbor next door. How will they choose to spread their awesome art? Where do they think it can bring someone a little joy? This is an awesome activity to help fill someone’s bucket, as well as their own. It’s really a win-win!
Thank you for reading the Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing column. Bookmark this Growing Readers Column link or subscribe to our e-newsletter so you do not miss out on the monthly reading tips. Ways to Spread Love and Grow Literacy Skills in February and Beyond was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.—follow her on Instagram: @wildflower_learning_denver.
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