Painting a picture of ” nice” for a kindergarten student

be nice button

I used to volunteer at a church in the children’s ministry. I worked with a woman who had a large harp and she would strum it as the children entered into the room. It was magical! I didn’t have the power of the magical harp nor did I have much experience at that time working with young children. I remember asking the kids to ” be nice”. I’ve made so many mistakes and I am sure that this was one of them. What does nice look like? and Why does nice sound so funny when you say it, ” Be nice to your friends.” I did not come to the knowledge of demonstrating what a nice  sentence sounds like for children on my own, although I wish I had. It took hours of practice and lots of reading, reflecting, and repeating the mistake.  I would exclaim “Be nice” but then little would change or be learned. I was very influenced by Dr. Becky Bailey and her incredible ability to break it down for educators and parents alike. I still do it out of habit! I tell the kids, ” sit nicely” . What I really want to say is, ” Sit so that you can see the story and make space between yourself and your friends.” Teaching kids how to say things is important. “Be nice” just won’t do the trick. I often tell children a sentence that they can repeat for example I might tell a child: , ” Say to your friend; ‘Please don’t take my markers, I don’t want to share them right now.’ ” Teaching what words to say and how a child can say them is very important. So next time you want to say, ” Be nice.” Try saying something like, ” Touch your friends arm gently like this ( demonstrate how)” Or you can say, ” When you say hello to your friend look them in the eye and say it like this, ” Hi, I’m happy to see you today.” You might even try having a conversation about nice: What does nice this look like, sound like, and feel like?

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