Oct 01 2004

Lihikai Elementary Teacher Hawaii

Suzee FujiharaTeacher at Lihikai Elementary (Lihikai, Hawaii)
When we were told to do Positive Action three years ago, I was skeptical. I thought that it was another thing that we had to do. We were told to do Positive Action lessons first thing in the morning and daily.

As when any new program is introduced, it takes time for teachers to become familiar with it. I was no exception. However, that mandatory guidance of doing the lessons consistently was a priority of the school at the time, and it became mine also. Thus, I am able to see what an impact the program can have on children, even as young as kindergarten. Parents are even seeing the impact it can have.

Positive Action gives children strategies to change negative attitudes to positive ones. The children are actually taught how to help themselves, and others, to be positive when negative thoughts/actions are present. They also learn what factors affect being positive: a good diet, sleep, cleanliness, and exercise. One chapter teaches the children that there are three things that can change attitude: themselves, family, and friends. One child’s parents have shared that she has talked about how she told them she was negative but changed her attitude herself to be positive.

She has shared how her younger brother was negative and how she helped him to be positive. Other parents are even trying to support their children by reminding them about Positive Action strategies. One student’s mom has shared how he had a hard time coming to school one day. She reminded him to be positive and he responded by saying, “I’m so sick of being positive, positive, positive!” I can see the humor and realism in that statement—we all feel that way at times. But, more importantly, his statement shows that he does know what being positive is, although he chose not to change his attitude immediately.

Positive Action teaches children to problem-solve when situations are difficult. They learn that they can manipulate a seemingly negative situation into a positive one. The children are learning from the experiences of the characters in the program and applying it to their situations. One student gives examples of how she would solve problems, which is the first step to changing the situation around. We talk about problems we have as a class and go through the steps to solve them together. One example is what to do if we find someone’s pencil or what to do when someone hits us.

Positive Action teaches empathy and acceptance of others. The children are guided through lessons on how they would feel when things happen to others or if they were different from others. Because young children are so egocentric, this is a hard concept to master. But it provides a foundation for the children to fall back on when there is a situation that happens on the playground or when there is a new student. The children are more willing to help out and begin to realize that kindness and helping others can be positive actions. Children feel good when they help others and can be redirected when they are not kind to others.

Positive Action provides a common language within the school. For example, when one child is having a hard time doing positive actions, the PSAP counselor brings up Positive Action terminology to reinforce what was learned. The reward system of “gotchas” and reward day help to reinforce that the school is united in doing positive actions. This provides the consistency for children and helps them to practice positive actions not only in the classroom, but even when they are not with the class. Giving kindergarten children “gotchas” reinforces what positive actions are and makes it more concrete for the five-year-olds.

Positive Action allows the children to realize that they are responsible for their actions. It makes them more independent in solving their problems and gives them the feeling of power to change their attitudes and actions themselves. Teaching Positive Action does not end only in the first 15 minutes the lesson is taught—children learn how to be positive and empathetic to others. What a wonderful world we would have if everyone learned that they should treat others the way they want to be treated.”


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