This Month's Lifeskill: Common Sense


Why does my youngest use his shirt to wipe his face while a napkin sits in his lap?  Why does my middle child go outside without a coat when it’s 30 degrees and snowing?  And why does my eleven year old complain about lost items, when her room looks like a black hole? Why, why, why?!?!?!?  And so begins the study of our second to last Lifeskill: Common Sense.  What is common sense?  Webster Dictionary defines it as “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts”.  It’s not about a set of rules to memorize or a certain level of intelligence.  Common sense is a practical way of thinking; using good ordinary sense.   So... where can we (and by we, I mean my children) get some of that?!
Children’s books are rich with examples of characters acting both with and without common sense.  Take The Three Little Pigs, did the first little pig really use his common sense when building his house out of straw?  So while I reach for the stain remover, grab a winter coat and locate a missing shoe, choose from one of the books listed below where you and your child can find characters using (or not!) some good ‘ole common sense.  Enjoy!  
  • They Didn’t Use Their Heads by Jo Ann Stover - "There are many ways to use your head," begins author-artist Jo Ann Stover in her rhyming tale that centers on the misadventures of certain whimsical characters and at the same time makes an unforgettable case for good behavior.
  • Sorry, I Forgot to Ask!:  My Story About Asking Permission and Making an Apology by Julia Cook - RJ is making a lot of trips to the time-out chair! Without telling anyone, he and his best friend Sam decide to walk home from school instead of riding the bus. Later the two of them are caught trying to use Dad’s computer to get on the Internet. After their piano lesson, RJ and his sister Blanche snack on Mom s triple-layer double-chocolate cake with whipped cream frosting and spoil Grandma s birthday party surprise. Dad helps RJ learn how to do a better job of asking for permission, and when RJ and Sam return to school their principal has them practice making an apology. RJ feels a lot happier when he says he’s sorry to his teacher, the bus driver, and Grandma, and he learns that asking for permission will mean fewer trips to the time-out chair!
  • The Worst Day of My Life Ever! by Julia Cook - RJ has a rough day. He wakes up with gum stuck in his hair, misses recess because he's late to school, earns a zero on his math homework and messes up Mom's kitchen. With his mother's help, RJ learns that his problems happen because he doesn't listen or pay attention to directions.  Author Julia Cook's new book shows RJ as well as all K-6 readers the steps to the fundamental social skills of listening and following instructions. When RJ learns to use these skills the right way, he has the best day of his life!
  • What Were You Thinking?:  Learning to Control Your Impulses (Executive Function) by Bryan Smith - Third-grader Braden loves to be the center of attention. His comic genius, as he sees it, causes his friends to look at him in awe. But some poor decision-making, like ill-timed jokes in class and an impulsive reaction during gym that left a classmate teary-eyed and crumpled on the floor, forces the adults in Braden's life to teach him about impulse control. But will the lessons shared by his teachers and his mom really help Braden manage his impulses? Find out in this hilarious story by Bryan Smith.
  • Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish - When Mrs. Rogers leaves Amelia Bedelia alone in the house on her first day of work, anything can happen. And it does!  With a list of what is to be done before her, Amelia Bedelia sets about her duties. And no one could possibly accuse her of not following directions—for that is precisely what she does. But when Amelia Bedelia draws the drapes or dresses a chicken, the results are hilariously different than might be expected 
  • Freckle Juice by Judy Blume - More than anything in the world, Andrew wants freckles. His classmate Nicky has freckles -- they cover his face, his ears, and the whole back of his neck. (Once sitting behind him in class, Andrew counted eighty-six of them, and that was just a start!)  One day after school, Andrew gets up enough courage to ask Nicky where he got his freckles.  And, as luck would have it, who should overhear him but giggling, teasing Sharon.  Sharon offers Andrew her secret freckle juice recipe -- for fifty cents.  That's a lot of money to Andrew -- five whole weeks allowance! He spends a sleepless night, torn between his desire for freckles and his reluctance to part with such a substantial sum of money. Finally, the freckles win, and Andrew decides to accept Sharon's offer.  After school, Andrew rushes home (with the recipe tucked into his shoe for safekeeping). He carefully begins to mix the strange combination of ingredients -- and immediately runs into some unforeseen problems.  How Andrew finally manages to achieve a temporary set of freckles -- and then isn't sure he really wants them -- makes a warm and hilarious story. 
  • It’s Up to You... What Do You Do?  by Sandra Mcleod Humphrey - If a friend had wronged you, how would you react? What if someone could give you all the answers to a big test in school? Is there an "easy way out" of hard work? Is being "popular" important? From about age six through elementary school and junior high, young people are exposed almost daily to questions of personal values just like these and their responses help to develop those unique virtues that govern their actions for years to come. The twenty-five contemporary anecdotes in this book offer challenging situations involving school-age children who must make their own choices in life.  Whether reading alone or sharing these stories with an adult, young readers are asked to think about what they would do. 

2016-17 Lifeskills:

All Lifeskills:

Caring: To feel and show concern for others 

Common Sense: To use good judgment 

Cooperation: To work together toward a common goal or purpose 

Courage: To act according to one’s beliefs despite fear of adverse consequences 

Creativity: To imagine ways to solve a problem or produce a product 

Curiosity: A desire to investigate and seek understanding of one’s world. 

Effort: To do your best 

Flexibility: To be willing to alter plans when necessary 

Friendship: To make and keep a friend through mutual trust and caring 

Initiative: To do something, of one’s own free will, because it needs to be done 

Integrity: To act according to a sense of what’s right and wrong 

Organization: To plan, arrange and implement in an orderly way 

Patience: To wait calmly for someone or something 

Perseverance: To keep at it 

Pride: Satisfaction from doing one’s personal best 

Problem Solving: To create solutions to difficult situations and everyday problems 

Resourcefulness: To respond to challenges and opportunities in creative ways 

Responsibility: To respond when appropriate and be accountable for one’s actions  

Sense of Humor: To laugh and be playful without hurting others

The Walden School elementary and middle school utilizes the Lifelong Guidelines and Lifeskills to foster students in building character and confidence. Students at The Walden School enjoy the positive approach Lifeskills offers, and they embrace the philosophical foundation as guidelines for themselves in class and in life. Throughout the year students engage in activities that promote their understanding of each lifeskill, and students celebrate their own as well as their peers demonstration of the Lifeskills.