“Start With Hello”

If you have an elementary student at home or living next door, ask them about school last week. Chances are, they might say nothing out of the ordinary happened - because we all know when we ask our kids, “How was school today?” they say fine. “What did you do?” They reply, “Nothing.” But if you ask them a more specific question, like “Did you meet anyone new or find out something interesting about a friend?” They might have an entirely different answer and be excited to tell you all about “Start With Hello Call to Action Week.”

The program is part of the nation-wide Sandy Hook Promise which encourages students to take “small but powerful actions to promote connectedness and inclusion, and to identify and help lonely students who are showing signs of social isolation.” Eagle Grove Elementary Guidance Counselor Carrie Niehaus was excited to bring it to the young students in her building in a fun and conversation-provoking way, including both the students as well as outside community members.

Monday began with a video explaining how easy it is for kids to reach out to one another; to include one another; and how to make sure no one is left out. On Tuesday, they began a Helping Hands Wall where they took smiley faces (the trademark of the program) and filled them out with ways they have reached out to others or ways others have reached out to them. Wednesday was “Hey Day!” Every student wore a name tag so they were able to greet new friends by name. During lunchtime, whereas students are usually seated together by grade, on this day, the teachers mixed the students up. This gave them the opportunity to sit by someone new. To encourage conversation, Niehaus placed conversation starter cards on the table. On Thursday, they did the lunch mix-up again, but only this time they invited some adult community members to join them. The kids had a lot of fun getting to know each other and the adults seated with them. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of smiles, and a lot of new friendships being formed from these questions and answers taking place.

For the full story, see this week's Eagle Grove Eagle. Subscribe by calling 1-800-558-1244 ext 122 or email Deb at circulation@midamericapub.com or by clicking here