FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS…
•At P.E.T. Club, alongside other children in a small group setting, kids discover and build upon their KID POWER/MEPOWER (the power that they actually aleady have inside of them!) through fun activities and games which teach tools and strategies for confidence, resilience, and success.
•This program teaches concepts for success in all areas of life. When we have the tools necessary to build and maintain confidence and resilience, life gets easier, more fun, and we are more confortable with ourselves – even in uncomfortable situations!
•Summer Camp also includes a leadership program, in which children learn and practice personal and group leadership, such as presentation skills and team spirit, through team-based, hands-on activities and fun group games.
•Each child chooses and personalizes his/her own stuffed animal “pet” to bring home at the end of the session.
•Kids enjoy wholesome & motivating cartoon animations, led by Andy the ANTeater, followed by interactive reinforcement discussions & activities.
•Everyone gets his/her own P.E.T. Club coursebook to keep for review, reference, and reinforcement.
•Children learn how to create their own PETs (Positive Empowering Thoughts) and how to recognize those sneeky ANTs (Automatic Non-supportive Thoughts).
•Children enjoy fun, experiential games & activities that motivate and reinforce how to use one of the powerful PET strategies that chase ANTs away!
•Kids build and practice using MEPOWER through activities which rotate about every 10 minutes to keep them engaged & moving.
What do you mean by KID POWER/MEPOWER? Do children begin to think they’re more powerful than their parents or other authority figures?
Most young children can understand and relate to the words KID POWER or ME POWER. “Empowerment” is a bit more abstract. Our goal for children is to have the confidence that no matter how powerful & persistent ANTs can be, that they (the children) can be even more powerful and persistent. KID POWER/MEPOWER motivates children to learn and practice these new tools & strategies for building the success mentality and resilience to overcome whatever life throws at them!
What if I think my children would benefit from the program, but I’m afraid they will protest?!
Some decisions we have to make as parents can become a tug of war between our heart and our brain. Our brain knows what’s best for our child, yet our heart wants our child to have whatever makes him/her happy at the moment. We’ve all had to make what can be difficult choices for our children about such things as going to school, attending religious events/studies, setting limitations, etc. If you find that this is the case for you/your child with regard to our class/camp, be reassured that, in our experience, almost every child that protested initially, once at class, has ended up liking or even loving it!
Meanwhile, try the following approach to increasing the chances for a smooth transition from home/school to class/camp. (This process works very well for all situations in which you want to do what you believe is the “right” thing, yet your child is passionately opposed.)
- “Plant the seed”: Several days or weeks (if time allows) before class/camp, in no more than one or two sentences, let your child know about the program and that he/she is enrolled. This gives the child’s brain time to get more comfortable with the idea. We call this planting the seed. Let the seed grow, without watering it to death 🙂
- Next, and very importantly, let them protest! Just listen, and kindly acknowledge their feelings. (You can understand how they feel without agreeing with them or changing your mind.) This is a great opportunity to practice being a loving, kind, and understanding parent that is comfortable making & sticking to decisions, even when your child disagrees. Don’t try and encourage or convince them, or defend your decision. JUST LISTEN and LOVINGLY ACKNOWLEDGE.
- Since you will not be objecting to him expressing his feelings, he may ask, “Does this mean I don’t have to go?” Kindly respond, “I can see how uncomfortable you are with this idea. I believe I am making a wise decision so, even though my heart feels your pain, I am sticking with my decision.” Just love them through it, without changing your mind or defending your position.
The good news is that, typically, by following this process of allowing your child to voice her negative feelings and showing her you understand her perspective, she usually gets more comfortable with the idea as time goes on. But, remember, if you try to explain or convince your child how wonderful and useful this program is, he/she may get even more frustrated and negative.
My child is not negative? How will this program be beneficial?
We all have ANTs from time to time. Everyone benefits, sooner rather than later, from learning and using tools and strategies to Smash our ANTs (we call these strategies PETs – Positive Empowering Thoughts). The idea is to “train” our inner critic to react to difficult and/or uncomfortable situations in ways that are helpful not hurtful; supportive, rather than unsupportive. By learning about ANTs, ANT Smashing and PET Strategies, we can consciously choose thoughts that are more apt to move us in a positive direction, making life easier and more fun by being comfortable with ourselves… even in uncomfortable situations.
Why can’t parents just ask their kids to stop being so negative?
When parents say things like, “quit being so negative,” “stop saying you can’t when I know you can,” or “please be more positive,” children typically get defensive. They don’t like feeling as if they are doing something wrong, especially when they don’t think they are. They believe that they’re feeling how anyone would feel if they were in their shoes. That’s why Smashing ANTs is so helpful. Learning how to Smash ANTs with PET Strategies gives families a new language that allows them to have discussions without the child becoming defensive. Children are motivated to hear the messages in a way that enables them to really apply them to their lives.
Will this program help children with behavioral issues?
P.E.T. Club/Smashing ANTs Kid Empowerment is not designed to help with classroom behavior challenges. Students in the after-school and summer programs are expected to understand and be willing & able to follow appropriate classroom behaviors. A reward system is used to help motivate children to “self-regulate” their behavior, so the teacher can spend his/her time facilitating the program instead of policing the children. This system follows the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) model, consistent with HCPSS. Please note that Amazing Futures Foundation reserves the right to dismiss, without a tuition refund, any student who AFF deems unable or unwilling to follow appropriate classroom behaviors.
After-school Program: The program is made up of several modules which are rotated season to season and year to year, and therefore the fall, winter, and spring sessions vary within a particular school year. The modules are designed to enable students who are new to the program to try it out while at the same time accommodating our “veterans” – those children who enjoy the program and wish to continue to learn and practice ANT Awareness & PET Strategies throughout the school year(s).
Summer Program: Each week-long, full-day summer program session is either an “A Session” or a “B Session”. A & B Sessions have different content and one is NOT a prerequisite for the other. If your child is taking two weeks of camp, you may choose any of the A weeks and any of the B weeks, in any order or combination. Each session contains a variety of content, topics, and activities which explore and reinforce ANT and ANT Smashing theories, tools & strategies. Leadership skills are integrated into both sessions of the summer program with fun, interactive group activities incorporated throughout.
What is the average class size & student/facilitator ratio?
The average class size is 8 – 14 kids. We like to keep the facilitator to student ratio small (1:8 maximum) to ensure the children have special attention and gain as much from the program as they possibly can. The after-school program sometimes has a parent volunteer at each class, depending on the school’s/PTA’s rules. Each of the summer program classes have a facilitator and an assistant.
What does a typical day at class/camp look like?
There are a variety of activities within each hour of both the after-school and summer program. To keep everyone interested and engaged, a new activity begins every ten minutes or so, except for group activities which usually last a bit longer. The flow of a typical hour goes something like this: After settling in, there is a brief introduction to the topic of the hour typically with the assistance of a short (5-10 minute), animated cartoon lesson about the ANT, PET Strategy, or leadership subject-at-hand. Students follow along in their course books and the lesson continues with a brief reinforcement discussion led by the facilitator, either in the form of a responsive video or a group conversation/informal Q&A.The children then enjoy a fun game or other group activity in which they can practice the tool, strategy, or topic they’ve just learned. We then move onto the next ANT, PET, leadership topic, or reinforcement group activity, and so on. The program is designed to have enough variety throughout, so that there is something for everyone’s taste.The summer program, because it is full-day, also incorporates several breaks of free play throughout the day, some of which are enjoyed outside, weather permitting.