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Even teachers and other adults can learn from this book. As a teacher, I was always “personalizing" student names. One boy I labeled “Cookie" because he always solved brainteaser puzzles and I said he was a smart cookie. Another girl, whose name was Ashley, I called Suzy because there were two other Ashleys in the room. Other classmates joined in with the name calling in the classroom, which, at the time, I considered harmless and affectionate. It wasn’t till later in the year that I discovered that these “labeled" students were bothered by it but afraid to tell me. A lesson learned.
Friends should be honest and speak up when their feelings are being hurt. True friends will respect those feelings and stop the hurtful behavior. Address the issue of name calling in the classroom with two well-chosen preschool books.
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Rose is a good friend. She has a great sense of smell and her friends depend on her to find things for them and she always does. But when they start calling her “Nosy Rosie" it bothers her. “ Don’t call me that," she said, but nobody listened. That’s the key: Nobody listened.
1. Why did Rose’s friends call her Nosy Rosie?
2. Were her friends trying to be mean to her? (Sometimes name calling is all in fun. Rose’s friends still liked her and depended on her. Other times name-calling is meant to be mean.)
3. Did Rose tell them how she felt? (Yes, she did. This is what bothered Rose. If they were really friends, they would have respected her feelings.)
4. What did Rose do when they continued to call her “Nosy Rosie"?
5.Did Rose’s friends finally understand?
6. When something a friend says or does is bothering you, what should you do?
Choose students to role play these scenarios and find a solution:
a. Jack is the tallest child in the class. One day Jill noticed how large his shoes were and she called him Big Foot. Several children laughed and started calling him Big Foot. Jack is embarrassed.
b. Sarah has red hair and lots of freckles. A boy in her class calls her “Red". She doesn’t like it.
c. Jason stutters when he talks. Brandon mimics him by calling him “J-J-J-Jason". Jason feels sad.
d. Emma wears her favorite dress to school. Her friends call her a show-off. It hurts Sarah’s feelings and she wants to go home.
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How to Be a Friend
Read How to Be a Friend by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown.
This is a helpful book to use for teachable moments when you have a sudden issue to address. It is written as a guide for young children, in chapter form. Some of the chapter titles are “Bosses and Bullies" and “Feeling Shy". The illustrations are colorful and useful for little ones because they show age appropriate situations.
The chapter on which you should focus for this lesson is called “Ways not to be a friend" on page twenty. It addresses name-calling and teasing. Read and discuss.
Young children are just beginning to confront uncomfortable social situations. Issues such as teasing, bullying and name calling in the classroom can be ongoing. Address them as they happen. Take time to role-play situations so the students will gradually learn how to deal with a variety of situations. Above all, be a good role model. That is a powerful tool that could make a difference in a young child’s life.