My favorite scene in Disney’s Princess Diaries zooms in on sweet, teenage Mia. She has just found out she is a princess in a foreign country. She must decide whether or not she will take her throne or reject it to the next relative in line. Terrified, she resolves to escape a ball in her honor and frantically begins to throw clothes, books etc. in a suitcase. You get the picture. Total chaos. But then, a letter drops from a favorite book. From a father she never knew. He explained her heritage, why he could not leave his country and how sorry he was that he never knew his little girl. He speaks about courage and quotes Franklin D. Roosevelt – “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” Mia is undone and shot through the heart. She is running because she is afraid of the unknown. And that she must never do. Nor should we.
2020 has been filled with chaos. Our collective emotional health has been bombarded with disease, unrest, financial instability, incivility, with unchecked fear. Our emotions steer our thinking on a wobbly tight rope. As individuals, communities and a country we lash out against things we cannot control in efforts to tame the things we can. May we have courage to seek out what we can change, and wisdom to embrace what we cannot for what we might learn and how we might grow.
In this new curriculum adventure – this work at its core will effort to remind us that what we feel affects what we do and how we act. Sometimes emotions become meaningful change agents for individuals, communities, and society at large. Far too often however, unchecked emotion wreaks have on logic, rationale thought and perspective taking. We fail to thrive because we cannot rise above a tide of fear, anger, disgust, embarrassment, unhealthy attraction or even indifference.
Naming and taming emotion by recognizing what these emotions are, how they feel and the decisions that we make as a result of them must be a skill we learn early and often as we grow, mature, and strive to make healthy choices without unhealthy emotions at the helm.
As parents and educators, it is important for us to teach courage and bravery early and often to counter unchecked fear that prevents our students and our children from experiencing life to the fullest. Check out the lesson frameworks and recommended resources below to explore what courage is and how we can use it to fight our complex web of fear in a unique moment in history. And, if you haven’t seen Princess Diaries, I highly recommend it! Spoiler alert, Mia does take the throne and replaces her fear with an embrace of the unknown!
Childrens Books about Courage
- Spaghetti in A Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are.
- The Doghouse
- Only One You.
- The Bravest of Us All.
- The Daddy Mountain.
- Sheila Rae the Brave
- Scaredy Squirrel
Lesson Frameworks about Courage
Preschool – First Days of School
Finding Courage and Fighting Fear
First Day of School Jitters – A Morning Meeting Skit
Learning Targets: 1) I can identify how fear feels. 2) I can recognize the meaning of courage.
Materials needed: Usable hand or finger puppets that mirror classroom students and an adult figure, teacher
Student Puppet One: I have a feeling in my tummy.
Student Puppet Two: What kind of feeling?
Student Puppet One: I don’t know. Not good. I feel sad. Maybe sick.
Student Puppet Two: Me too? This new place is scary. I like it, but I think I’m scared.
Student Puppet One: How do we make it go away? I think I want to go home. I want mommy.
Educator Puppet: Ok boys and girls. Let’s gather around on the carpet for a story. We are going to learn about a new word – Courage!
Student Puppet One: Oh my tummy hurts! But it looks so fun on the carpet.
Student Puppet Two: Look she has a book!
Student Puppet One: I’m still scared, but I want to try…
Student Puppet Two: Then I’m coming with you!
Educator: “Ok friends, raise your hand if you feel like these two?” What else does your body feel right now? Point to where your body says – “I’m afraid”. What does your face look like when you are scared? (Show picture)
When I feel scared or afraid, my body says _____________________________________________________. Sometimes your body tells your brain that it is not sure about a new thing or a different place or new people. This month we will talk about a new word. Courage. We will find our courage when we feel scared.