Promoting self-esteem in kids Frazier teaches third-graders to respect others, selves

Chad Dryden Published:

In her younger years, Kori Frazier, a senior at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, was all too familiar with the expression kids can be so cruel.

So when it came time to develop her Senior Seminar service learning project at Roosevelt, Frazier decided to use her past experiences to teach young people that words can be just as hurtful as sticks and stones.

Project S.E.E.K. (Self-Esteem Establishment in Kids) is the product of that decision. The program, which culminated in a workshop Frazier recently held for third-graders at Davey Elementary School in Kent, includes an activity book she designed to teach the students about the harmful affects of peer abuse a lesson she learned the hard way in grade school.

As an elementary school student, I was forced to deal with negative criticism and abuse from peers on almost a daily basis, she stated in her project outline. Their rude remarks, hurtful actions and the insensitive way they acted had a lasting impact on me and greatly affected the way I felt about myself.

Project S.E.E.K., meanwhile, accentuates the positive. Frazier focuses on promoting individualism, recognizing personal strengths and respecting differences in others. She feels that by teaching children these lessons at an early age, they might be able to avoid the self-esteem issues that plagued her into adolescence.

In most cases, a students lack of self-esteem derives from negative experiences from childhood, in particular, elementary school years, she said in her project outline. These comments can have lasting effects on the way they perceive themselves.

Fraziers research revealed that peer abuse in children usually begins in third grade. Using this information, she decided to focus the workshop portion of her project on the two third-grade classes at Davey Elementary School.

Frazier used the workshop to engage the students in activities that presented the concept of self-esteem in ways they could understand. The workbook, which was designed for and distributed to third- and fourth-graders city-wide, played a significant role in this interactive teaching approach. Through puzzles, games and writing exercises, she was able to capture the childrens attention with activities that both entertained and taught.

Judging from her students written evaluations, Frazier accomplished her goals. The students said, in third-grade terms, that they learned to respect both themselves and others and not to take much stock in the condescending words of others.

Through the support of her family and teachers, along with her own increased involvement in school activities, Frazier was able to overcome her own self-esteem issues by the time she reached middle school. Shes hoping Project S.E.E.K. will continue to help give young people the head start she never had.

Elementary school students must gain a sense of respect for each other and their differences to keep self-esteem issues from escalating, she wrote in her project outline. Their futures depend on it.

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