Character Chats

What is awareness with our surroundings?

Every month we have a character word of the month called True Character Program.

This month’s word of the month is awareness.

We define awareness for our young students as “I pay attention to my surroundings.” For our older students we say, “I see people’s feelings. I know where I am and I ask great questions.”

Noticing things

So, what is awareness? Awareness is being aware of things around you. When we have awareness, we notice stuff.

Have you ever noticed that when you discover something new, you find out that it’s actually all around you all the time?

I’ll give a story:

When I was younger, I bought a motorcycle. My mom was not too happy about that. Now that I’m a parent of teenagers, I think I can understand why she was not too happy about that.

Well, after I purchased the motorcycle, she said, “I actually see motorcycles all around now that you got one.”

Same thing happens when, let’s say, you go to a car show, right? A lot of times we shop for new cars at the car show. You get to see every one of them there.

You walk around the car show and you see all of them, and you find one you really like. You didn’t really realize what’s around before — redesigned model, something like that.

Then you get in your car. You’re driving home, and all of a sudden you notice that car everywhere. On the way to the car show you didn’t notice, but now you’re aware of it and you notice it all around you.

Awareness of our surroundings is a skill that we all need to work on.

Understanding awareness could be several things. For example, there’s awareness of where I am physically. And there’s awareness of things that can hurt me.

Physical awareness

What we want to do in our physical surroundings is always be aware of what’s around us.

For example, when you cross the street, you look both ways. When you walk into a door, you take a look around the room. You always want to be aware where you are in space.

Am I too close to somebody? Did I notice somebody behind me? Have I seen that person sitting over there? Did I notice when I was walking down the sidewalk, that there was a big stick in the way? Did I notice when I was walking out in the yard, that my dog left a pile and I don’t want to step in it? Those are all awareness.

That last one is a good example of one. When my kids have friends over, we let them know: by the way, we have dogs. Be aware of every step in the yard.

Having physical awareness is something that we can all work on, and it’s something that we are always reminded of.

So, with our kids, we want to bring up those awareness lessons. They will not naturally be aware of everything around them. You are not aware of something you don’t realize exists. So, as they learn and grow and develop, we help them through that.

We point out things to be aware of. Here in class, we have spatial awareness drills. We call one a fishbowl, where we all run around in a circle and they pretend like they’re fish in a fishbowl looking for food, but they can’t bump Into any of the fish. It makes them go around and be fully aware.

We then have an expansion on that, where you quietly follow one of the fish until they turn around and make eye contact, trying to make us all aware of people around us and behind us at the same time.

Having that physical awareness is something that we really can develop and work on over time.

Awareness of people around you

We also want to have awareness for those around us, and we need to ask questions.

For example, if we see a friend sitting by themselves, we need to ask if it’s safe to ask them to play.

So, what do you think? Is it safe to ask a friend sitting on a bench to play? Yeah.

Let’s say you see a stranger sitting on a bench. You can ask that question. Is it safe to ask them to play? Probably not. Well, they don’t want to walk up to a stranger sitting on a bench and ask them to play.

How about riding your bike and walking around? Is it safe to ride your bike around?

Sometimes in the summertime, my son and I will ride our bikes. We ride around his old grade school. When there’s nobody in the school, it’s safe to ride a circle all around it. There’s a nice path. Goes all day around, and it connects through. The parking lot, we can circle in. It’s empty. There’s nobody in there.

But would it be safe to ride your bike all around the school at the time school lets out? No, probably not. Lots of kids running around, lots of cars pulling in the lot.

So, being aware of your surroundings and whether or not it’s safe is a question you always want to ask yourself.

Asking questions

If we can’t find a toy, what can we ask ourselves to work on our awareness?

Where did I last leave it? When did I play with it last? Where do I generally put it? Could somebody have moved it somewhere?

Being aware of things tends to start with asking yourself some questions. That way you can wake up your mind and understand you’re looking for things.

When you ask yourself those questions, you can wind up finding answers you didn’t know were there. Just like when you discover that new car that you didn’t realize was around, and now you’re aware. Just like when you see a motorcycle that you didn’t know was there. Just like when you notice your new favorite thing and you start seeing it everywhere.

Those are all aspects of awareness, and things that we can work on both physically and with each other.

Thanks, and we will see everybody out on the mat.
–Master Helsdon