Unit 2 – WE ALL HAVE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

WELCOME

Dear Families,

If you look around at your friends and family, you will notice those who are really good at some things and those who are not so good at others. What about you? What are you really good at? What is challenging? We all have strengths and weaknesses! But does your child understand this?

As a part of our social emotional learning program, your child is learning what it means to say “WE ALL HAVE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES.” In this unit, activities and discussions are designed to help your child embrace what they are good at and not be embarrassed about things for which they do not show great talent or are struggling to learn. In the Ooops and Yays song, your child is exploring the feelings that arise when he meets a challenge, when his weaknesses deter him from learning or accomplishing a task, or when he makes a mistake.

As you well know, your child may need encouragement in dealing with these experiences, which aren’t easy for anyone. The amazing part of these experiences occur when we use them in a positive manner to learn, grow, and develop.

In this section you will find suggestions for ways you can support your child as he begins his educational journey in these early years. Encourage your child to celebrate strengths, help another, and keep trying! As one verse of the Ooops And Yays song says:

Ooops! This is new and so hard to get
Ooops! And I’m starting to get upset
Ooops! I don’t know what to do
But I’m going to keep on trying. What about you?

This is a good message for all of us! Enjoy this topic together. Remember, WE ALL HAVE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES.

Sending Smiles, Uncle Jim and Prof. Ellen

Principle Overview

Look around and you will notice friends and family who are really good at some things and not so good at others. While adults might grasp this as something normal, students often don’t and can perceive their own strengths and weaknesses in distorted ways. When we demonstrate our own strengths and weaknesses, we help students come to terms with their own, and help dispel the illusion that any of us are better, worse, more, or less worthy than others.

WHY WE ALL HAVE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

Important Ideas about the IM4U Principle, WE ALL HAVE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES:

  • Often children don’t understand the simple fact that it is normal to be good at some things and not at others. Young children in particular can be embarrassed when they are struggling with a new skill. They may feel fearful of making a mistake and even stop trying.
  • When children have success with one thing, their enhanced self-esteem can inspire them to try other and tougher tasks. It all starts with small steps. For example, many children learn to swim by first being willing to put their face in the water.
  • Understanding strengths and weaknesses helps children navigate friendship. They learn to celebrate differences, offer support, and extend forgiveness to others when things don’t go as planned.
  • Remember, it is the lessons learned in the journey that are often more important and meaningful than the destination. It helps to view the goal not as something finite like swimming, dancing for a performance, or catching a ball. Instead, put your attention on the real prize—developing your child’s self-confidence, resilience, and belief in his ability to learn.

Each of the IM4U units connect to important social emotional learning concepts. The social emotional concepts that are at the heart of this unit are resilience and growth mindset.

Resilience is defined as the ability adapt, adjust, or make-do to handle setbacks and face challenges. A definition of resilience from Psychology Today states:

“Merriam-Webster defines resilience as “the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” The ability to bounce back or recover is important, but it’s not the whole picture. A resilient child recovers from challenges, but they’ve learned to do more than that. They actually hold a different mindset. A mindset of resiliency that deeply believes: I am not my mistakes, I can try again, things will get better, and I am not alone. (Yes, optimism is positively correlated to resilience).”

Growth mindset is believing in the ability to learn despite setbacks, challenges, or mistakes. Stanford psychologist and author Carol Dweck offers this:

  • Growth mindset is the belief that intelligence is not fixed but is actually dynamic and can be developed through the process of learning.
  • Encourage children to take risks in thinking, engage in challenges, and learn from mistakes, seeing it all as “food” for the brain. Children’s success in handling future situations lies in being willing to recognize the potential to grow through challenges and mistakes.
  • Click Here to Read more about Growth Mindset

Songs and Stories

Are you hearing the words “ooops” and “yay” lately? It might be because your child is listening to and working with a joyful and deeply meaningful song by just that title. The Ooops And Yays song celebrates that our strengths and weaknesses are unique to each of us and can be used to help ourselves and others, and highlights the fact that we all make mistakes but we can learn from them and turn them into a success.

“A person who has never made a mistake never tried anything new.”Albert Einstein
Ooops! I knocked over the blocks
Ooops! And I can’t find my socks
Ooops! Now my feet don’t know what to do
We all make mistakes; no blame with me and you
Yay! I did it again
Yay! Now’s the time; now is when
Yay! I’ll do my best
Keep my mind on myself don’t worry ‘bout the rest

Sometimes things go bad
We might feel sad or mad, or uh… something else
We hurry and we worry and we can’t help but frown
Our up is upsy daisy and our down is doublin’ down

Ooops, can you show me how to do that?
Ooops, sing a song with a finger snap?
Ooops, my finger slips, but that’s okay
As long as I keep trying, I’ll – come – back – to…
Yay, I learned something from you
Yay, I know just what to do
Yay, now we have a plan
The more we listen the more we understand

Ooops, you know… I know how to do that well
Ooops, If you like, I’d be happy to tell
Ooops Yessss it was hard for me too
Isn’t it easier to say, than do?
Yay! We got through that
Yay! Now we’re chilling like a kitty cat
Yay! Perhaps this is a good time to stop
Thank you for listening at the Ooops and Yays shop

Why Is Ooops and Yays So Important?

We all make mistakes, and we all learn from them. Young children, and adults for that matter, can be afraid to offer an idea in a group or test out an idea for fear of making a mistake. It is so very important for your child to freely offer an idea, a way to solve a problem, or a new thought without fear of being seen as “wrong.” Your support of looking at a mistake as a means of learning instead of something to be feared builds your child’s resilience and growth mindset.

The confidence that comes from this also helps establish an appreciation for the strengths and weakness of others. When we work together and understand that we all make mistakes (ooops!) and we are all successful (yays!), we can use our strengths collaboratively to create ideas and solve problems.

How To Use The WE ALL HAVE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES Principle At Home

Do you remember learning how to swim, tap dance, or catch a ball? The process may have felt daunting at the time but the elation of success was so sweet! Didn’t you feel like you were so big? Your young child is going through this stage right now with everything from tying his shoes to learning to read. He is learning what comes easily and what can be challenging.

What are the different strengths and weaknesses of your family members? How does each family member use their strengths to make the family better? How do you work together? The activities your child has been experiencing at school have helped him think about his own strengths and weakness and how to use them to support others.

Here are a few simple things you can do at home to support this learning at home.

– Play “Me too! Oh, Wait! Not me!” at home. At school, your child has been using these two phases to address their strengths and weaknesses and those of others. This is a simple way to begin a discussion at home. Share one of your strengths or something you are still learning. Your child and other family members can say “me too” if they have a similar strength or weakness or “not me” if they do not. Continue the game by having another family member share.

– Create a family “Strengths and Weaknesses” chart to show where you can help each other and support learning at home. Celebrate when your child uses a strength or shows growth in an area of weakness.

– Notice your child’s strengths and provide opportunities to use them.  Give your child a big “yay!” when you see him use his strengths. For example, if he is good at painting, have him create some artwork for your wall at home.

–Notice how you offer praise. Studies on growth mindset suggest that it is more important to praise your child’s effort over success or results. Be specific with your praise. You might say, “I notice the way you tried different strategies to solve the problem,” or “I can see that you worked very hard to do this. You stayed with it even when it was challenging.”

– Use the power of “yet.” Help your child understand that it is not the end of the world when he makes a mistake, and in fact, a mistake just means something hasn’t been haven’t figured out…yet. Encourage them to try small steps. Let them know about a time that you had to try many times to learn something.

– Say “oops!” when a mistake happens and ask your child what they could do differently if the same situation occurs again. Focus on what they can learn from the experience. Be open about your own failures, too, and how you meet them with renewed effort.

– Demonstrate and model when you are learning a new skill or taking on a difficult task. It is important for a child to know that you have to learn new things, too. For example, you might say “I tried this new recipe for dinner tonight. It was challenging because I had a hard time getting the flavor right (this demonstrates the weakness or challenge) but I tasted it and added some different spices (this demonstrates resilience). I knew I could get it right if I kept at it (this demonstrates growth mindset). How do you think it tastes? I think next time I will…”

– Take on a family challenge. You can try something simple like a jigsaw puzzle, a new board game, an obstacle course, or a scavenger hunt. As you play, focus on:

  • Strengths – Ask each family member to think about and share what strengths they have that will be helpful in the game.
  • Weaknesses – Ask each family member to think about what weaknesses they have that they will need help with in the game.
  • Growth Mindset – Model the mindset that you believe you have the ability to learn even if the game is challenging.
  • Resilience – Model the ability to adjust, adapt, and make-do in a challenging situation.

– Encourage your child to tackle the tough stuff by asking her to identify something she’s been wanting to learn. Maybe it’s riding a two-wheel bike, snapping her fingers, tying her shoes, or writing her name. Encourage her to use the ideas of growth mindset and resilience as she works to master this new skill. Celebrate when the new skill is learned!

Remember—any shared activity with your child is an opportunity to see how everyone has strengths and weaknesses!