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12

Aug

“Help please…” and other hard conversations…

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)
AlyssaM Help please... and other hard conversations...

Alyssa McGarigal, MA, PPSC
Director, Program & Community Advancement

As coaches at Soccer Shots, we spend countless hours a day, influencing young minds. We remind them to keep their bodies safe, to respect friends and toys, and to ask for help when they need it. In fact, when I am on the field, “I can’t do it…” is one of my least favorite things to hear, and I immediately respond with, ” let’s try one more time together,” or “you can say… I need help, please.” 

When I heard about Robin Williams’ passing yesterday, as an educator, and a counselor, I couldn’t help but think to myself… What happened? At what age does asking for help go out of style? What makes it so difficult to have hard conversations? How do we prevent these things from happening…? 

Some of my favorite characters crossed my mind a hundred times. Genie in Aladdin, Lovelace in Happy Feet, Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, Jack, Alan Parrish in Jumanji (even though I was terrified of that movie for quite some time), Professor Phillip Brainard in Flubber, Peter Pan in Hook, John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society, Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting… the list goes on and on.

Working with kids, we are consistently modeling the behavior we want to see from them. If we want them to dribble their soccer ball, we dribble with them. If we want them to sit criss-cross applesauce, we sit with them.

At age 3 and 4, a seemingly hard conversation might start with, “you have short hair, are you a boy or a girl?” Or, “that bug isn’t moving anymore, what happened to it?” But, as mentors, coaches, educators, friends, and parents, we have to have the hard conversations. We have to model this behavior too, so that at some point, kids (who become adults) don’t shy away from these conversations.

Here are some tips for having hard conversations with kids: 

1. Listen and acknowledge. Recognize feelings, and provide reassurance or comfort if needed.

2. Ask and answer questions without judgement. Find out what your child thinks or already knows. Try to stay openminded.

3. Be honest. Know yourself. Take time to think of a response if needed. Follow through, make a point to revisit the conversation if you say you need time.

4. Explain simply. Tailor your response to the child’s age and developmental level.

5. Keep the lines of communication open. Provide encouragement to come back and talk more if needed.

 

“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” – Robin Williams as Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting

If you, or someone you know, needs help or even just someone to talk to, know that there are always options.

NSPL Logo Help please... and other hard conversations...

08

Aug

Week Seven: SHARING!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Seven: SHARING!The word of the day this week is SHARING.

SHARING is a word that most of our kids know. Whether they like to share is another thing all together but this is one word they all should know.

SHARING is defined as to participate in, use, enjoy, or experience jointly or in turns. This perfectly describes what we do in soccer. We are constantly talking to the kids about how we are SHARING our soccer balls and how we should share our things with others.

I like that during this season, SHARING is paired with Passing and Trapping. In other seasons, Passing is paired with Teamwork, which is another great word, but Passing in soccer really is SHARING. It is easy to show the kids SHARING just by having them pass the ball to us or to the other kids. Kids may have a hard time when it comes to SHARING. It isn’t easy for them to share the soccer balls, to wait their turn to kick a goal or to share the cones or other items when we ask them to clean up. It is innate for us as humans to want to keep things for ourselves and not give anything to anyone else, but learning to share is important. It is important because it is how we learn to co-exist and help each other.

We want to make sure that we are showing them as much as possible how we can share anything we have with us at soccer and reward our friends who are SHARING by letting them shoot a goal first and pick out their sticker at the end of class first, this way everyone can see how that SHARING is a great and fun thing to do.

04

Aug

Week Six: HONESTY!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Six: HONESTY!

The word we are talking about in many of this week’s classes is HONESTY. I love this word because of how important it is to our kids. Teaching our kids to be truthful and honest in all they do is teaching them how to be ethical and fair, which will be needed in adulthood

HONESTY is defined as fairness and straightforwardness of conduct as well as adherence to the facts. I like this definition because it is clear-cut and makes sense, but to a child it may be a little wordy, so we can just say: tell the truth. Saying to tell the truth is easy but how do we show them what that means? We like to use small examples ofHONESTY; such as saying our shirt is green when it is green or saying a student’s name correctly, etc. These examples get part of the point across but we need to also explain to them what being dishonest does.

Explaining lying can be hard and making sure the kids truly understand it is tougher. Plus, the younger they are, the harder it will be. Make it simple. Telling them a story always helps. There are many different stories you can tell, for example: “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” We just need to make sure that the story reminds them that telling the truth is important but also that the story doesn’t scare them.

HONESTY is also about trust. We want to make sure that our kids know that Soccer Shots is a safe place and that they can trust us no matter what. HONESTY with our kids is very important and showing them we are true to our word and presenting ourselves in the same way every time is crucial to showing them who we are and that they can trust us.

24

Jul

The Soccer Shots Experience – Meet Noemi

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

We take great pride in The Soccer Shots Experience… Take a look to learn more about who we are and why we do what we do!

Meet Noemie. Noemie is 4 years old and in her third season with Soccer Shots. Noemie and her mom represent thousands of children and parents who experience Soccer Shots each day, and thousands more who will.

You can see the first video in the series, by clicking HERE.

23

Jul

Week Five: ENCOURAGEMENT!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Five: ENCOURAGEMENT!For this week we get to go over the word ENCOURAGEMENT. This word is important because it can unify the kids and show them care and empathy for their teammates and friends.

ENCOURAGEMENT means to inspire someone with courage or confidence to do something; to stimulate something or someone to do something by approval or help; support. This really hits the nail on the head about what we do with our children. We as coaches are constantly encouraging our kids with high fives and praise. This shows them we care for them and show them we are paying attention to what they are doing.

The best time that we can show our children ENCOURAGEMENT is during the goals time of class. It is very easy to show our kids how we can cheer for our friends by simply cheering for them. This can be done in many different ways. Saying “Go, friends, go” or inserting the name of the child for the word ‘friend’ when they are shooting a goal. Also giving them a high five after the goal and saying “great job” is showing them ENCOURAGEMENT.

Showing our kids ENCOURAGEMENT, no matter what we are doing in soccer is important. As is encouraging our kids to encourage each other.

15

Jul

Week Four: APPRECIATION!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Four: APPRECIATION! This week’s word of the day is APPRECIATION. APPRECIATION is a great word and ironically enough, even though it is a long and hard word to say it is one of the most remembered words we have. In the older curriculum and other seasons it is usually one of our last words, which means we don’t get to go over it as much as we could, so I am glad that it comes earlier in the Summer Season.

APPRECIATION is defined as thanks, gratitude, or an assessment of the true worth or value of persons or things. I like this definition because it truly shows how important this word is. A basic human need in all of us is to feel valued and at this stage in the children’s life it is important that we get this across to them. 

I love the easy way that this word can be shown to our kids as well. It can easily be explained as showing thanks. The easiest way APPRECIATION can be shown is during water break, as well as when we are passing out the soccer balls. Since APPRECIATION means thanks, as a coach I like to praise the children who say thank you by telling them: “by saying thanks you are showing coach APPRECIATION” or “look how Billy showed Coach Kim APPRECIATION by saying thank you.”

It is easy to remind the children how you can show you appreciate someone. Showing the children our APPRECIATION for them is important too. Making sure we are always showing them their value and importance is paramount because this may be the only APPRECIATION they are receiving all day.

07

Jul

Week Three: COURAGE!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Three: COURAGE! Welcome to Week 3 of the Word of the Day blog! This week is all about COURAGE. What’s great about this word is that it can be explained in many different ways. The dictionary defines COURAGE as: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. But what I like better than this definition is the second definition, which is: the heart as the source of emotion. That one really hits home with me because as a coach we really are touching these kids hearts and emotions each and every day. 

The way that I went about explaining COURAGE to these kids was by telling a story. Some of the words of the day are easy to explain by just explaining the definition. However, I feel that COURAGE is a little harder to explain so I use a story that demonstrates how characters the kids know have been brave.

I talk about how the characters Woody and Buzz from the Disney film Toy Story get lost at the arcade. They were scared, but they showed COURAGE, and even though they were scared they stuck together and found their way home. Now of course any story will work, whatever you think your kids can relate to and provides an easy way to explain COURAGE.

What I love is that after the story, the kids who understand what you mean, eyes will get big and they say “ohhh,” and you know that you got through to them. To me, that is the most important thing. At the end of the day those moments make everything we do just that more impactful.

27

Jun

Week Two: CONFIDENCE!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week Two: CONFIDENCE! Welcome to Week 2 of the Word of the Day blog! This week is all about CONFIDENCE. This is definitely a harder word for some of our children to say and to remember, but for me it isn’t as important that they necessarily remember the word but that they remember the meaning and feeling behind the word.

CONFIDENCE means belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities or self-assurance. This is something that the children we are coaching are just starting to recognize in themselves. Also our children are very impressionable at this age and it is crucial that they are learning how to have self-CONFIDENCE. The best that we, as coaches, can do this is by constant praise. More important than just praise is specific praise. So for example not just saying great job to a child, but pointing out an exact thing they are doing, such as: “Great stop position Sally” or ” That was a great pull back Billy”. Being specific is important because is show the children that you are paying attention and care about them.

We always want to be modeling the behavior we want our children to have so modeling CONFIDENCE is very important. Seeing us being confident in what we are teaching them helps them be more confident in themselves and their abilities. At the end of the day self-CONFIDENCE is very important and we, as coaches, need to do what we can to set these children up in the right direction for them to continue to build their CONFIDENCE for the future.

20

Jun

Week One: RESPECT!

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

(Guest Post by Lead Coach Kim)

 Week One: RESPECT! Welcome to Week 1 of the Word of the Day weekly blog!

This week I will be talking about the word RESPECT. It is definitely the most remembered word in all of our classes. All of us know that when we get to talking about the word of the day, the children who have taken a class before always love to guess which word it is, and more often than not they say RESPECT. It is fantastic that our kids remember this word, but sometimes I wonder are we really making sure they know what it means?

I love the way the coaches I work with introduce the word of the day. Water break is a great time to talk to the kids about anything, but since it is a quieter moment in our session it is also a great place to bring up the word of the day. I also like how the coaches always say what the word of the day is and then ask the kids what it means. With the word RESPECT, some of the answers I’ve heard have been: being a good listener, being nice, being kind or being quiet when others are talking. These are all amazing answers and what I really love to hear is when a child may give an answer that doesn’t really fit what the word means and I still hear the coaches acknowledge that child and tell them “great job” and “great answer”, while still letting them know that it doesn’t really fit with this particular word.

Screen Shot 2014 06 20 at 12.28.58 PM Week One: RESPECT!

The biggest challenge I see is making sure that we always explain to the kids how to show the word of the day. For example, if Billy is listening to coach when coach is explaining how to do a stop position, it is great to point that out by saying “Billy is showing RESPECT to coach by listening to what they are saying”.  I saw great examples of RESPECT this week with my classes. In one class, one child saw that a friend was talking over coach so the child responded by saying: “you need to show Coach RESPECT by listening to her”. I thought it was great that the child was learning how certain actions do or do not show RESPECT, and how they wanted their friends to show it too.

RESPECT is definitely a foundation word that many of our words of the day stem from. Making sure our children really understand this word will set them up for a bright future.

22

May

One family’s Soccer Shots story…

  • By Soccer Shots (Alyssa McGarigal)

We received this message from a parent in one of our park programs, and it filled our hearts with so much joy, we just had to share! Truly, this is why we do what we do, and we couldn’t be more proud of our team and the impact they have on kids and families in Los Angeles every day!

I have so much to say!!!!!!!! This group, has touched my heart in so many ways! It’s sometimes hard to find the words. We are faced with putting our trust into those who are mentors, teachers, coaches, and friends. We place our trust and depend on them as we start and continue to build our village, because I do STRONGLY believe it takes a village to raise my special lil guy!! 

The first soccer session, I ended up at the wrong park, drove around in circles, once I got to the right park, I literally walked around not knowing really who to look for. I see a guy and assume he is a coach with Soccer Shots so I ask, ” Is this the group my son is registered in?” He replies .. “Yes..hi, I am Coach Stewart..” I immediately start explaining and apologizing for being 30 minutes late, explaining that I went to wrong park, drove around in circles and here we are!! Kinda expecting a “you’re too late response.” Team One familys Soccer Shots story...
Coach Stewart immediately comforted us, introduced himself to me and D, got him a Soccer Shots shirt, and walked D over to his team, his group of new friends!!! He then said to me, “no worries!!!” Little did he know I was tearing up, I was so worried and mad at myself; worried that I messed up D’s first day, his first soccer experience!! 
Instead, I realized that was not the case at all!! Coach Andy immediately embraced D and gently threaded him into the group seamlessly!! This moment was huge for me!! As a parent I love experiencing those first time moments, that I’ve so come to realize as much as it is a HUGE deal for our little one…it’s just as HUGE for us too!! 
Watching my son merge in with people he had never seen before… a moment I so wanted to call my mom … That, mom to mom moment, sharing D’s first day of soccer..I know in her way, she was there with us!!! 

When the class was over, I walked over to introduce myself to Coach Andy. He reached out to me, shook my hand and said Hi. I was again apologetic for being so late..and had a million questions .. “Do you need me to fill out anything, forms? Did we miss an introduction.. Blah blah blah” 
Coach Andy, with the sweetest smile said.. “No no no don’t worry, your son D is awesome and welcome!!” 
I was like, “really, no lecture, you know that coach talk on the importance of being here on time?!” He was completely the opposite and said your son is great! Balboa Park One familys Soccer Shots story...

From that day forward here is what I see every Saturday… Character building, sitting together, for what I would love to be a lil fly and listen .. But I do love watching them sit together building trust and relationships!! Learning about how to respect, appreciate, encourage, and mostly how to have FUN with each other! With much thoughtfulness Coach Andy and Coach Geo embrace the kiddos with lots of happiness, fun, smiles, and an amazing amount of genuine authentic love for the them!! 
D has just graduated from his second season, he has more confidence in everything he does from school work, to now swimming and jumping into a pool, to taking those first steps into things that before felt too scary..believing in himself.
Coach Andy guides and coaches in a way that allows them to have freedom .. He gives them the space, allowing the learning process to be natural, comfortable and at their own pace!! His teaching skills build self confidence and his ability to be so IN THE MOMENT with each kiddo, individually and as a group of friends is incredible!!

Example: just about to practice the hocus pocus move.. But then you hear one child say to another .. “Hey that’s my ball, he took my ball, that’s my ball!!” Coach Andy immediately responded.. “Ok boys and girls let’s practice how we share with our friends”, and immediately had them practicing on sharing the soccer ball with one another , teammates, playing, shouting with laughter and having so much fun in sharing the soccer ball!! What could have turned into a melt down on someone took my ball, was brilliantly turned into laughter and sharing!!! 

I love this group so much!! You all have become a great friends, and have made my son’s first sport an amazing, very positive experience! When its time, any new coach that comes into D’s life will have VERY VERY big shoes to fill. I am ever so greatful to each and every one of you!!! 


From my heart, from D’s heart, 
We thank you so much Soccer Shots team. A huge blessing to have you all be part of “our village.” Xoxoxo

 

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