Since the beginning of the school year our kindergartners have been learning that it is not someone else who controls their actions; it is a choice they make. This is something that throughout our lives - even as adults - we always want to "blame" someone or something else for actions that we chose to do. Teaching our students at Cerritos, a leadership academy, Habit One: Be Proactive, is something that is a life-long lesson and will change these students' lives forever. It is hard to believe that such a difficult concept is being taught at such a young age, but just as in everything, we need to expect the unexpected with our children.

According to a kindergarten student at Cerritos, being proactive means: "That I'm in charge of myself and will do the right thing." These students are capable of more than I will ever imagine, and in most cases, my students have been able to create a common language with each other that is positive and proactive. They have also created a common understanding about this habit, such as "That character in the story is reactive, because he complained about cleaning his room, when he could have been proactive and said, ‘OK mom, I will clean my room without whining about it.'"

When we read stories in the classroom, the students create the language for the characters in the story. When we are on the playground, students use this language to make proactive choices for themselves while playing. When we are in the classroom doing our class work, the students understand that they can do it, even if it seems too hard at the time. Everything that we do in our classroom relates directly back to this habit and how when making choices in school, it relates back to the person making the choices, not the people surrounding the choice that needs to be made. Being proactive is the foundation of our leadership qualities, and this foundation will create life-long understandings in our students' lives. They will be able to make more concrete decisions, not react to situations, and make a positive impact on the people that surround them in their life.

Submitted by Kali Burch, a kindergarten teacher at Kyrene de los Cerritos Elementary School.

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