Grin Bins and Smile Piles
Humor in School-Age Child Care
by Arlene Swatson
How lucky are we to work with kids - a constant source of humor, laughter and fun. Having all three in plentiful supply in your school-age program will assist in the creation of the warm, caring environment every child needs. In the NSACA Standards for Quality School-Age Care, the first thirty-two standards deal with Human Relationships - staff/child, staff/staff, staff/family, and child/child. All of these relationships will be enhanced by an infusion of a healthy dose of humor.
What are some of the benefits of humor for adults working in your program?
A good laugh is known to reduce anger, fear and stress; improve attitude; and relieve anxiety, frustration and irritation. Laughter comes naturally, helps everyone maintain a healthy emotional life and cope with life's normal ups and downs in a pleasant, effective way. Once a hearty laugh clears your mind and lifts your mood, you are better prepared to relate to the children who count on you.
What are some things you can do to encourage everyone's sense of humor when dealing with daily challenges?
Keep a supply of stress-reducing "toys" where staff can take advantage of them. Have a bulletin board where amusing articles, posters, comics, cartoons, and bumper stickers can be posted. Keep a "Grin Bin" of funny magazines, jokes, games, books, and props so folks can take a humor break. Make humor a regular part of your staff development.
What are some of the benefits of humor for the children attending your program?
Humor is a splendiferous way to get and hold children's attention - it is the great communicator. Humor can motivate, promote teamwork and positive thinking, increase morale, relax everyone, and release creativity. Children can more easily build positive relationships, if they have developed a sense of humor.
What are some things you can to do help the children in your program liberate their senses of humor?
The staff sets the tone and establishes the atmosphere; they are the role models. Since children may spend the majority of the leisure part of their day in an after-school program, humor, laughter and fun should permeate every part of it. An ideal way to encourage humor is through books in the quiet area. Children enjoy the humorous poetry of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky. Keep several collections of jokes and riddles. The amusing series of books by Beverly Cleary about Ramona or Harry Huggins are popular with children; they find Barbara Park's Skinny Bones hilarious as well. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge are just two of the many funny books by Judy Blume. When in doubt about what humorous books to add to your collection, just ask the kids.
Children have a natural sense of humor that should be encouraged whenever possible. Can there be a better job than having the daily responsibility of creating an exciting, enjoyable environment where everyone can have fun?