In 1982, Paul and Marcy Erwin opened the first Primrose school. This leap of faith took courage, and there are now more than 260 Primrose schools across the country. This month, our students celebrate the birthday of Primrose Friend Percy the Rooster, who is named after our intrepid founders (Paul + Marcy = Percy). Just like the Erwins, Percy is known for courage, and his actions set an example for children as they start understanding the decision making process.
Percy encourages children to try new things and helps them reach new milestones. As adults, it‘s important to help children become physically and morally courageous. Whether it’s learning to ride a bike or sticking up for a friend, children must learn to be confident and independent, two skills that are essential for taking on new challenges.
As a parent, children learn from you and imitate your actions. When difficulties come up during your day, how do you deal with them? Make sure that you provide a positive example. If you praise your son for his progress while teaching him to ride a bike and calmly tell him to try again when he falls, your confidence in him will give him a boost of courage.
To make sure children know the difference between courage and taking unnecessary chances, explain that physical courage must be balanced with common sense. Courage doesn’t mean that children should attempt anything dangerous, and knowing how to tell the difference is a skill that must be learned.
In addition to providing good examples, reading books in which characters struggle with being courageous is another great way to help children grasp the concept of courage. Here are a few of my favorites:
Peep!: A Little Book About Taking a Leap by Maria van Lieshout illustrates to children ages 2 to 4 how to overcome fear and take a leap. In the story, Peep goes out for a walk with his mother and sisters. When they hop off a steep curb, Peep gets scared and doesn’t think he can make it. This book is great for teaching children how to face any challenge, big or small, and can help spark conversation on your child’s own experiences with courage and being scared. For younger children, be sure to encourage them to imitate some of the sounds in the book for increased phonological awareness.
Kevin Henkes’ Sheila Rae, the Brave is a story best suited for children 4 and up. Sheila Rae is a fearless mouse who walks backward with her eyes closed and steps on every sidewalk crack. When Sheila gets lost on the way home from school, however, it’s her “scaredy-cat” sister, Louise, who teaches her about bravery. Both engaging and amusing, children will respond to the humor in the story and the challenge of facing their fears. With plenty of fun illustrations to hold your child’s attention, she’ll learn about different kinds of courage and how even the most fearless can get scared at times.
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt is an imaginative tale that teaches courage to children ages 3 and up. Scaredy Squirrel hides in his tree to avoid the potentially dangerous outside world, but then discovers how great it can be to experience the unknown. Watt illustrates the book with bold lines and fonts to appeal to children and draw the reader forward. While simple and easy to understand, this book delivers a grand message. The courage to change routines and try new things is difficult for many children, and Scaredy Squirrel teaches them that they’ll never know how wonderful change can be until they try.
Bernard Waber’s Courage is a story about different kinds of courage for children 4 and up. There’s the courage it takes to rescue someone from a burning building, but there are also everyday kinds of courage that normal people have, like going to bed without a nightlight or being the first to make up after an argument. Your little one will learn that courage comes in big and small moments, and that both kinds bring out the hero in each of us. This book is a natural read-aloud that is likely to encourage parent-child dialogue, help young children conquer their fears and teach them to value their own courageous accomplishments.