Each day in America, it is estimated that 160,000 students stay home from school to avoid being bullied. If you take a look at the media headlines in any given week, it’s easy to see that bullying is a growing problem in our schools. The good news is that it is a problem that many teachers can help tackle by creating a bully-free classroom, something that is easier to do than one might think.
“We all know that bullying is a major concern in our schools,” explains Peter J. Goodman, author of the book “We’re All Different But We’re All Kitty Cats.” “But there are things teachers can do to help address this problem and prevent it from happening.”
Goodman has now bundled his popular book with an educational curriculum package, which helps children identify and work through their emotions and feelings. The combined tools use cats as characters to help teach children about bullying and accepting others even if they have differences. The curriculum, titled “Bully Free Students Make Bully Free Classrooms,” focuses on such lessons as what bullying is and feelings and bullying, helping children to identify feelings and how to make the right decisions when they do.
“Being able to integrate a bullying curriculum into the classroom is an effective way to help tackle this problem,” says Julia Anderson, Ed.D, a primary school teacher at Arlington Public Schools. “The subject needs to be there at every level during the elementary school years so that the foundation has been laid.”
Using a fun, interesting, and educational curriculum such as “Bully Free Students Make Bully Free Classrooms,” which has been designed for pre-K through grade 3 students, is just one way that teachers can help create a bully-free classroom. Other tips for doing so include:
· Teaching kids to be upstanders, rather than bystanders. Children typically bully others because they believe they are in a power position to do so. But if peers stand up for the child being bullied, the power is taken away from the bully.
· Place an emphasis on teaching kindness. Show kids ways that they can be kind to one another, and recognize it when they do, complimenting them on it.
· Pair up kids who need a buddy. There are, at times, new kids or those who have a harder time in social situations. Teachers can help with this situation by pairing the child up with someone who has a stronger social personality, so they can stay together during particular activities.
· Work with students to brainstorm a list of classroom rules regarding kindness, tolerance, and bullying. Include ways that they can handle conflict resolution, as well, so that they know what to do if situations arise.
“When you combine several of these factors, you will have a much greater chance of creating a bully-free classroom,” added Goodman. “Children learn when they have fun, when the information is repeated, and when they can actively play a role.”
“Teachers have to be more proactive in this area so that we can create a safer classroom,” explains Karen Goldberg, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with parents and families. “Addressing the issue now and creating a bully-free classroom can save a lot of problems from occurring later on. Plus, the kids learn skills they can use for a lifetime.”
The Kitty Cats book and curriculum has been written for children in pre-kindergarten through the third grade. The earlier children learn about the importance of preventing bullying, the better. To learn more about the book series, the curriculum bundle, or to purchase the volume that addresses bullying, visit www.kittycatsbook.com.