November 19, 2016

Self-Affirmation- Fourth Grade Girl's Group

I love elementary school girl’s groups. They are always such a challenge. Girls are dynamic, you have to tread lightly with them. They are hard on each other, on themselves and they feel everything so deeply. Validation from their friends is so important at this age. Most of them do not validate themselves and cheer themselves on in positive ways. I love changing their mindsets and self-images. It is awesome to be the one that gets to help them become open to the possibility of loving themselves.

This was my goal with my fourth grade girl’s group; to help them build their confidence and learn how to love themselves.  In six short weeks, we did just that.


We spent some time getting to know each other. We introduced ourselves, told three fun facts and chit chatted as a group. We established norms and took the time for everyone to become comfortable with one another. It was the perfect time for me to decide if the members were all a good fit for the group and each other. Luckily, they all clicked instantly. Once everyone was introduced and comfortable, we played with our Self Affirmation Conversation Cube.


Each girl took a turn rolling the cube and answering the question they landed on. Examples of the questions are: "What is a compliment? Can you give us an example?".
“How often do you compliment others? Can you give us an example?”
“What do you like about yourself?”

It was the perfect icebreaker to get the girls thinking about themselves and how they treat other girls. We ended with all of the girls stating their favorite part about our time together.

Week Two:
We started by reviewing our group norms. It is super important to me that the members of my groups show each other respect and feel comfortable opening up. I like to remind all members that this is supposed to be a safe place, but that it can only be as safe as we all make it. We then talked about our high and low for the week. It was awesome watching the girls congratulate each other on their highs and cheer each other up and offer advice for the lows. Even just being in this group seems to be changing their mindset.

I wanted to dive deeper into our conversation about loving ourselves and treating other girls with respect. We utilized some conversation cards and had some really interesting discussions about the questions. The cards include statements such as, "What about yourself makes you most proud" and "What are you best at when it comes to school?"

I learned a lot about each girl based on which questions they could answer quickly and which gave them some trouble.


I store the cards on a keyring just to keep better track of them. When the girls came, I took them off the ring, put them face down in a messy pile on the table and let them choose a card one by one. The girl whose turn it is picked a card, read it out loud, answered the question, and then we talked about it as a group and each group member was able to answer the question (unless they chose not to or did not feel comfortable for some reason).

At the end of our time together, each girl said their favorite part about our time together and something that will stick with them when they leave.

Week Three:
After going over group norms and our highs and lows of the week, we started talking about self-affirmations. I bound a bunch of self-affirmation posters together to create a “Throw Compliments around like Confetti” book.


We looked at each page and talked about if it was something that we currently say to ourselves, something we should say to ourselves or if it was something that personally we wouldn’t say to ourselves.

 


If it was something they would say to themselves, they wrote them down on the worksheet I provided so that they could refer back to them to practice pumping themselves up.


To close out the session, we talked about what we learned and I had them each pick their favorite self-affirmation statement. Once they left, I printed those in poster form and hung them in my office so they would see them the next time they came in.

Week Four:
They just about have the group norms memorized and can repeat them to me without even looking at them. They started telling their highs and lows to the group without prompting. They’ve bonded quite well together.

This session we build upon last week’s lesson and made our very own mini self-affirmation booklets. I gave them the printed sheets. They cut apart the individual statements and decided to order them in their booklets based on how important the statement was to them. It was so fun listening to them talk about and think about how each statement applies to them and their life. “Do I need to tell myself I’m awesome more often? Yeah, that one’s definitely going in the front.” I was pleased they were taking it so seriously.

We bound the books with keyrings (next time I would use ribbon) and they decided to keep the books nearby for days they are feeling down. They said they can flip through the book and repeat the statements to themselves when they need a little boost.


As always, we ended the session by discussing what we learned and our biggest takeaway from the lesson.

Week Five:
After norms and high/lows, we dove into our foldable activity. I love this thing. You print the pages double sided but must set your printer to flip on the SHORT side. If you don’t, it will print all wacky and won’t fold correctly. To save time, I premade the foldables for them and watched in amusement as they tried to figure out what was so special about it.


They were mystified when I showed them the secret compartment. If you push the foldable into a W shape, slide your finger in between the two center flaps and pull so it lays flat, it reveals a secret compartment.  They loved that they could fold, hide and manipulate which of their personal answers were showing.


We only got about 2/3 done with the foldable when we ran out of time. We talked about what we learned and what will stick with us the most and then they all happily went back to class.

Week Six:
We finished up our foldables and did one last worksheet together to instill that we would keep working towards daily self-affirmations. 


We closed out our group by reviewing all we have learned and discussing the impact this group had on us. I was thrilled that they all felt like they had learned so much. I could feel it, the girls had changed. They were loving and respecting themselves much more than they had. I’d call this a successful small group and time very well spent.



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