by Susan Gingras Fitzell, M. Ed.
We Can Work It Out!
Creating Peace in the Home
By Fran Schmidt
I was on the phone with Fran when she excitedly told me of a handbook she had written for parents. After working for years in schools and with various parent organizations, she acknowledged that parents want to do right by their children. They want the help parenting books offer but often find themselves torn between reading a parenting book and cooking dinner, doing laundry or carting their children to activities. There just isn't enough time to read a book.
Fran asked parents what they wanted. They told her they wanted a simple, easy to read book that had very practical hints, tips, and skills that they could immediately reference and use. So Fran wrote just that booklet!
We Can Work It Out: Creating Peace in the Home offers parents countless tips on parenting, discipline, sibling rivalry and conflict resolution in forty-eight pages. She introduces the Foozles, characters that represent the hurtful words and actions that people often use in frustrating situations. Her poster, "Stop Foozles!" encourages children and parents to cool off, use their brain, and think before reacting.
As an added bonus, Joey Martinez' delightful graphics bring home the points that Fran is making in this easy to read, bulleted booklet.
You can get We Can Work It Out by calling Fran Schmidt at Peace Education International, Inc. 305-673-8299.
By Susan Fitzell
Songs for Howard Gray
Video and audiotape renditions
By David Levine
"Howard Gray" is a song, which tells the true story of a student who is different and ridiculed by his peers because of his difference. The song helps the listener identify with the realities of the way people are often mistreated and the social issues that people face when in those situations.
I listened to the audiotape "Howard Gray" first. I've heard many songs about bullying and hurtful behavior, so I didn't anticipate my reaction to this song. I cried. Maybe I could relate all too well, or maybe it is simply a powerful song.
Since that first time, I've used both the audio tape and videotape with students from six years old through adult and it has the same impact: powerful. What makes this song different from others is that it is a song about a real person. This isn't fiction that children or adults can dismiss as an editorial on bullying. It's real.
In the video, Lee, the "boy" who wrote the song based on his childhood experience meets the real Howard in their old high school. The conversation between the two along with the final verse in the song, which asks for forgiveness, brings the impact of bullying and peer pressure home. It opens the door for discussion and learning around empathy, consequences of bullying, cooperation, sociability, forgiveness, and understanding of human differences.
Levine provides a handbook and discussion guide with the audio and videotapes to assist the facilitator in addressing the powerful emotions the song evokes and drawing out meaningful discussion around the issues presented.
I highly recommend Howard Gray be a part of social skills and bullying prevention programs. Empathy is a very difficult emotion to teach; yet, the latest research on emotional IQ and the brain indicates that development and nurturing of empathy is critical for internalization of pro-social skills and behavior. Howard Gray opens the door, powerfully.
You can get more information about Howard Gray by calling David E. Levine at Blue Heron Press (845) 687-8772 or email David at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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