Grade One Gold

My daughter started Grade 1 this week. We were all a little nervous since her time in school (2 years so far) has not been particularly enjoyable for her. The idea that she was going to have to go every single day was appealing to me but not at all attractive to her – an energetic five-year-old who has no interest in sitting still. Even worse? The news I gave her over the summer that there are no toys in the classroom, unlike the kindergarten playroom she was used to.

I couldn’t have been more surprised to see her actually enjoy herself this week! She’s so excited, she’s singing in French (phew, another relief – French immersion is going well!) and telling me all about the things that her fantastic teacher is doing in the classroom. Like the bucket.

As I desperately tried to get her to calm down and go to sleep after the first day she said to me, “I love you Mommy. There, now I filled your bucket”. My caring response? “Mmm hmm, I love you too now go to sleep”. I didn’t think too much about the bucket comment.

The next day she came home talking about pom poms and the difference between bucket fillers and bucket dippers. If I take a moment to clear the cobwebs from my long-term memory bank I do recall hearing about this idea. The theory is that we all have an emotional bucket and when we do good things for people and say nice things to them we fill their buckets. If we say or do mean things we are bucket dippers – we empty their buckets. My daughter’s amazing teacher has implemented this idea in the classroom. I’m not getting a clear picture of exactly how she’s doing it there but I have a vision of colourful buckets and pompoms and a very positive classroom. I’ll find out how accurate that vision is at our open house in a couple of weeks.

In the first 3 days of Grade One my daughter’s teacher achieved something I hadn’t been successful with yet. She gave my little girl – who is extremely expressive yet has difficulty putting some ideas into words – a way to express how it makes us feel when people are nice to us and we’re nice to them. She’s reinforced ideas that I’ve been trying to teach for 5 years about how it affects us when people say mean things or purposely hurt us. Same message, different method. Hers worked, and I love her for it.

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