Romantic love may not be on the minds of the students in Amber Benjamin’s pre-K class at George G. Blaisdell Elementary School, but they know the importance of friendship.
With Valentine’s Day near, the 4- and 5-year-old students let The Era visit Wednesday to see them take part in a Compliment Circle.
“We tell people compliments and sit down when they have to,” said one student, Brecken.
Chase further explained, “Our friends tell us something that you like.”
At the start of the activity, the students sit in a circle on the carpet, legs straight in front of them with their feet in a pile in the center. Then they start to compliment each other.
Each student who receives a compliment pulls his or her legs out and sits criss cross applesauce — with their legs crossed. When the last person crosses his or her legs, they know everyone received a compliment.
Adding to the explanation of the game, Lucas said, “Being proactive.”
Benjamin told The Era that being proactive is one of the seven habits taught in The Leader in Me program at GGB. With help from their teacher, the students explained that being proactive means, “We are doing the right thing even when nobody’s looking.”
The Leader in Me program is based on author Stephen Covey’s book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
As part of the program, the students learn how to “fill buckets,” said Benjamin, explaining that they learn to “make people feel special and happy.”
No game is without its rules, and Benjamin went through the rules with her class as students chimed in to recite what had become familiar customs.
According to the rules, the game starts with one person choosing another to compliment. The praise-givers must look their friend in the eyes and say the person’s name when sharing the compliment. The procedure then calls for the recipient to say thank you.
Compliments are given out one at a time.
“I like when you sit by me at lunch,” Kylie told one friend, beginning the game.
One by one each student received a word of praise, and soon all the center of the circle was empty of feet.
“I like when you play with me outside,” said another student, Jackson.
Dana told her friend, “I really like your shoes.”
“I like you to play at the park with me,” Chase told his friend.
Benjamin took a turn, too, choosing a student who made a homemade Valentine at home to bring to a friend. “I really enjoyed that he was thinking about a friend when he was home,” she said.
Isaiah complimented his teacher, saying, “I really like your keys.”
Later, Benjamin would ask the students who their favorite Valentine is.
For Kylie, her favorite Valentines are her dogs.
For Lila, her favorites are “my mom and dad and Delaney.”
Isaiah’s favorite Valentine?
“I like my mother and my dad and my teacher,” he said.
Benjamin explained the Compliment Circle evolved from a Kindness Challenge that George G. Elementary School students did in November. Now, she tries to do the Compliment Circle with the students every Friday.
Since that time, the children have embraced the task of coming up with compliments. Benjamin said that when the circles first started, the children would repeat the same compliment the first person said.
Now, “Everybody’s coming up with their own reason that they like their friends,” she said.