Dear Families,

Do you notice your child speaking up more lately? It might be because your child has been listening to and working with a new song from Uncle Jim, called Speak Up. This song reminds children that in the IM4U learning community, it is safe to express their thoughts and feelings, and that they will be listened to. It helps them learn that they can express their ideas, needs, and feelings without judgement. Isn’t that what we all want for our children?

And yet, sometimes it is difficult for a young child to do this. Studies show that a positive sense of self is essential for learning. When children feel comfortable with their personal identity (self-awareness, self-esteem) within a classroom they are more likely to be a powerful contributing member of the group (self-advocacy) and feel safe, secure, calm, engaged, and kind to others. Interestingly, these children also do much better on future standardized tests.

The WE ALL HAVE POWER Principle in this unit is helping your child learn about herself while exploring the power to speak up and express and help herself- and others. Its discussions and fun activities build essential social skills of self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-advocacy. This is the power we are talking about and celebrating. This is the power that lends to a caring classroom community.

Enjoy this topic together. Remember, WE ALL HAVE POWER.

Sending Smiles, Uncle Jim and Prof. Ellen

Principle Overview

What does the word “power” mean to you? Some people associate the word “power” with control or authority and even destruction. It is essential when discussing the word “power” that it is seen in the IM4U context as the ability to affect positive change in the world! Exploring the “ripple effect” analogy of WE ALL ARE VALUABLE, students can see there is power in understanding that their abilities, interests, and personality can create positive change. Because we all have an effect on each other, WE ALL HAVE POWER.


How does each family member use their power to make the family better? How do you work together? The activities your child has been experiencing at school have helped him to think about his own power and how to use it to help himself and support others.

Important Ideas about the IM4U Principle, WE ALL HAVE POWER:

  • When you think of the word “power,” there are probably a multitude of images and thoughts that arise. It is essential that when discussing the word “power,” it is seen as the ability to realize our highest potential and contribute to the world in the most positive, helpful way to benefit others and ourselves.
  • As a parent of a young child, it is natural to wonder whether your child will be successful in future schooling and out in the world. Recent studies reveal that learning how to contribute to a group, how to speak up, how to share an idea, and how to take risks with creative thinking are essential for future success. Major corporations are interested in candidates that demonstrate entrepreneurial, risk-taking, and collaborative behaviors. Interestingly, these are the very social and emotional skills we are developing with IM4U!
  • Within the safe container of the IM4U learning community, your child can feel safe to share how she feels, what she sees, and what she wonders. This helps your child build a positive sense of herself, both personally and with the world.

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 Self-awareness, Self-esteem, and Self-advocacy.

As children work collaboratively with others, they begin to see there is power and a feeling of value in understanding their abilities can be used to positively work in a group. Self-awareness, self-esteem and self advocacy are three social emotional concepts that support children in sharing their power with others. Self-awareness is the ability to recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values. Self- esteem is a child’s confidence in his abilities, or self worth. The concept of self-advocacy encourages children to use their power positively to speak up, take action, and make a choice for what they want or need. As children grow and learn, they can see and begin to understand that they can use their power to make things better for themselves and others.

Songs and Stories

Your child is listening to, watching, and singing along with a calm and comforting song called Speak Up. The melody reminds your child that she has a voice— she can share what she sees and ask for what she needs. Best of all, the song tells your child that when she does speak up, she will be listened to and she has the power to help herself and others.

Encourage your child to speak from her heart by speaking from yours. Share how you are feeling and what you are wondering. You will be modeling and supporting your child’s inner and outer social and emotional growth.

Speak up, speak up
Won’t you tell us about it
You can ask, you can say
And you can sing
Speak up, speak up
And if you’re outside you can shout it
As long as it’s straight from your heart

Maybe you need
A snack or a hug
Or an extra potato chip
If somethin’ is achin’
It’s not time for fakin’
There’s something special only you can do

Speak up, speak up
Won’t you tell us about it
You can ask, you can say
And you can sing
Speak up, speak up
And if you’re outside you can shout it
As long as it’s straight from your heart

Sometimes we wonder
If it really matters
What’s the best thing to do?
Well that’s all right
You can give it a try
‘Cause every day
Is brand new

Why oh why
Does a kitty cat meow?
And a coyote howl at the moon?
Looks like they found
Their very own sound
And it feels so good
To be true
And it just might work
For you too

Speak up, speak up
Won’t you tell us about it
You can ask, you can say
And you can sing
Speak up, speak up
And if you’re outside you can shout it
As long as it’s straight from your heart

Why Is Speak Up So Important?

Uncle Jim says, “Perhaps the one of the greatest powers we can instill in our children is the ability to speak up for themselves.”

Do you agree? Of course! But how do we help our children learn the delicate balance of speaking up and listening at the same time? One way is to work with engaging and inspiring songs, discussions, and activities. Part of the power of a music-based program is the ability to help children find their own “voice.” Songs have a way to say things that might be difficult to express in a discussion. The Speak Up lyrics celebrate the voice of the child. When children feel supported to speak in their own words and even in their own way, they build the foundational skills of self-esteem, self-awareness, and self-advocacy.

How To Use The WE ALL HAVE POWER Principle At Home

You can celebrate the idea of power in many ways at home. Children are understanding that they have the power to show kindness, friendliness, and love, and the power to help, listen, and speak up to help themselves and others. You can help them think about and practice using these powers at home by focusing on listening, speaking, and interacting in other ways with the family group. Happily, this focus will lead to more cooperation with household tasks, communication, and even rules! When your child feels good about herself, she is more able to speak up and listen.

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

–Pass The Speaking Stone.  Dinner time is an excellent time for practicing speaking up. Bring a small, attractive stone or shell to your meal time. After people have started eating, begin the speaking and listening game. Start with yourself. Hold the speaking stone and share something about how you are feeling today or something you did. Then pass the stone to the next family member around the table. This continues until the stone is back to you. Encourage children to practice respectful listening rules such as not interrupting the person who has the speaking stone and using body language to show the speaker that they care.

– I Am Listening!  Extend the speaking stone game by asking children to remember one thing that was said when the speaking stone went around the table. This helps children feel comfortable to speak up and that they are being listened to.

– Our Family Superpowers. This unit introduces your child to the concept of using the “superpowers” of kindness, listening, helping, etc.. What superpowers does your family use (Do you volunteer together, visit friends and relatives to spread cheer, do chores, have any rituals to show kindness and love?)? Write these down and display them on the refrigerator. Review these periodically and add more superpowers as your child studies the IM4U principles and units. Your child can use art materials and paper to create her own superpower cards!

– Speak Up And Ask Your Child For Help. If you have a problem that could be solved with cooperation, ask for her opinion about what to do. (“All your blocks no longer fit in the plastic milk crate”). You will be honoring her innate wisdom and modeling speaking up!

– Play Telephone. Do you remember this game from your childhood? It is still popular with children and is a great way to use both speaking and listening skills. This game works best when you have a large group of family and friends together. Sit in a circle and whisper a simple short phrase into your child’s ear. She then whispers it in the ear of the next family member. That person whispers to the next person, and so on. When it gets back to you, check to see how accurate the listening and speaking was!

– Use The Word “Cooperate” Often. Clearly define what you mean by cooperation, emphasizing the importance of each individual expressing their power to contribute to solve a problem or improve a situation. Praise your child when she cooperates with you and others. Be specific about what she is doing. You might say “You are cooperating when you listen to your brother and help him with his block set.” “You are cooperating when you use kind words to ask your sister for a turn.” “You are cooperating when you help us set the table for dinner.”

– Play Charades With Emotions. It can often be difficult for young children to speak up and express how they feel in words. But their face can say it all. In this game you whisper an emotion to your child (such as happy, angry, bored, worried). Your child then uses her facial expression and body language to depict the emotion as others try to guess what it is. Talk about how body language can sometimes speak as loud of words. Being aware of the body language we use when we communicate matters. It can support what we are trying to say, or it can get in the way.

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