If your child attended BELA or you follow our school you have probably heard us talk about buckets, bucket filling and the dreaded bucket dipping!!But what do we really mean when we talk about teaching our students to be bucket fillers? And why is it a focus at BELA?
Our program is based on 4 "Building Blocks". One of these is Character Development. We focus on the development of a strong sense of identity, self esteem and sense of belonging. These provide the foundation for children to become active and responsible citizens in their community. Children begin to develop their identity and citizenship through active inquiry into their social, physical and cultural environments. We are committed to giving our students experiences that allow them to discover how they are connected to other people and their community. We encourage them to express interest, sensitivity and responsibility in their interactions with others!
We use the Bucketfiller concept with our students to make Character Development even more accessible to them; allowing for age appropriate explanations, examples and activities. Our children learn that we all carry an invisible bucket, containing our feelings. When people have a full bucket they feel happy and positive. When someone says or does something that makes another person feel badly, their bucket can be emptied. At BELA we both teach and model the bucketfiller lifestyle and it is directly tied to our focus on character development.
Through our daily interactions, stories, songs, free and directed play; we find opportunities to enhance each child's character development. We work to take things even further by allowing for active inquiry into their social environment. Our annual food drive for the Brooks Food Bank is one example where we have the opportunity to discuss and model the virtues of caring, responsibility and respect. Its an opportunity to give our students the chance to fill some buckets, both figuratively and literally! They understand that sometimes other families need our support and they feel good about helping. Its a win-win!
This year we have been fortunate to have another great opportunity for our students to be actively involved in the community through our visits to the Newbrook Lodge. Our students have been spending time with the seniors who reside at the Lodge, sharing some songs, crafts and enjoying some visiting time!
Through this experience we are able to discuss aging, family, health and emotions, as well as our impact as a member of the community on all our friends! We have the opportunity to extend this learning into our play as well. It's the perfect time for our parents and staff to model behavior for our students, all the while discussing the virtues of kindness, respect, caring and empathy.
While we know the value of this experience for our students, it is also important to acknowledge the value for the seniors. 43% of older adults experience social isolation which is correlated with loneliness and depression which impacts both physical and mental health. "Socially isolated seniors are less able to participate and contribute to their communities. Yet seniors benefit from volunteering and participating in their communities due to a sense of satisfaction and efficacy, and communities benefit from the services and social capital seniors are providing. A decrease in contributions by seniors is a significant loss to organizations, communities and society at large." (National Seniors Council; Report on the Isolation of Seniors) Our seniors are such an asset to the community and hold a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with younger generations.
We hope that by continuing this partnership with the Newbrook Lodge, we will be able bring them experiences that will build self efficacy and bring a sense of accomplishment. While we continue to work on this relationship we will look to current research and best practices regarding children and seniors to guide our activities and time with them. In the meantime, just by looking at the smiles of both our students and our new friends I think its safe to say we all have some overflowing buckets!!
Character Development will continue to be central to our program at BELA. We are always looking for new ways to have our students actively engaged in the community; and now that you know what all the "bucket talk" is about, you can support us in the work that we do at school, at home and in our communities!