By Barbara Gruener, Monthly Columnist
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had a difficult time with certain conversations. Nose picking, for example. Surely I can not be the only one who thinks it’s just plain yucky. If I catch a pick and roll while kids are in my office, I quickly offer up a tissue because I seriously do NOT want to see what’s going to happen with it – goodness, I can hardly even type the word!
So you can imagine my delight to find a workshop recently called Gross Guidance. I’ll admit that I initially chose it because I thought that it was going to be about gross motor activities. Then I got really excited when the presenters were warming up with guitars because anything that involves music totally has my name on it. My enthusiasm exploded when the session started and they sang us some simple songs – The Toenail Collection, Stinkin’ Thinkin’ and FlushR Down. They then taught us The Booger Song, available for download on iTunes! Go ahead, powersearch it. It’s gross, but goodness
nose knows it’s a conversation that we need to have as we teach social skills and appropriate behaviors. We cannot just assume that kids know that it’s not okay to pick and eat. If you want a book to go with this lesson, check out Julia Cook’s I Am A Booger; Treat Me With Respect. This is an excellent enrichment resource, especially for our littlest learners, because it explains exactly why picking your nose is a problem from a germs standpoint.
Having Those Gross Guidance Conversations
What other difficult conversations do you have with your students? It was in a guidance lesson on trustworthiness when I asked if anyone knew what little white lies were. A hand shot up SO quickly that I just had to call on the student to whom it belonged, and her rambling response went something like this: They’re bad because when you get them then you have to go home because you can’t stay in school because the nurse will send you home and you have to wash them out of your hair and you can’t come back to school until they’re gone for good! OK, totally not the direction I was going with that discussion. So yes, lice, for example, is one of those issues that comes my way. And kids who self-soothe in inappropriate ways. That one’s really tricky. What about body odor? Really, do you need a counselor for that chat? Not that I’m trying to get out of it, but let’s be honest; I do NOT want to hurt that little friend’s feelings by telling her that she doesn’t smell good.
So back we go to the Gross Guidance session. The presenters asked what other tough issues we
have get to talk about and then encouraged us to write a little ditty to address those very challenges head on. My trio came up with these lyrics about cleanliness, set to the tune of I’ve Been Workin’ On The Railroad:
We’ve been working on our hygiene, cause we want to be clean.
Bathe, then brush, and change our undies, so B-O won’t make a scene.
Start with soap, then get the toothpaste, and don’t forget your hair.
Take pride in your appearance to show friends that you care!
Use this song as a springboard for a conversation about personal hygiene. What does the word hygiene mean? What do the letters b-o stand for? What parts of our body can get super smelly if we don’t wash them regularly? Why is it important to take a shower or bath? How often? Does it really matter if we use soap or not? (I vividly remember the “soap makes water wetter” lecture talk with my dad when I was little!) Why is it important to wear clean clothes? Piggyback the lesson with a service project; research where there might be a need for new undergarments, then host the Undy 500 and collect underwear for the underprivileged. We did this a few years back in hopes of sending 500 pairs of undies to an orphanage in the Ukraine. When we ended up with 2439 pairs, we also had some to distribute locally to a CPS facility and a homeless shelter.
Whatever the topic, always make sure you confront issues, but CAREfront people so that tough topics are handled with compassion and sensitivity.
About the Author
A bilingual educator who was raised on her family’s farm in Wisconsin, Barbara Gruener has been the counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales Elementary School in Friendswood, Texas for the past ten years. She’s also a motivational speaker and loves to influence and impact workshop participants in her signature Sing, Dance, Laugh and Build Character sessions. When she’s not at school, Barbara likes to write, read, knit, bake, and spend time with family and friends. Check out Barbara’s uplifting blog, Corner on Character, to read her inspirational stories about positive people and elevating experiences.