I first learned about the Girls Leadership Institute about a year ago in California through a friend. GLI offers classes, workshops and camps that focus on "emotional intelligence, assertive self-expression and healthy relationships, giving the girls the skills and confidence to live as leaders." They have classes in California, Colorado, New York and New Jersey. I've followed them ever since and finally a parent-daughter workshop came along that worked for our schedule.
Our particular workshop is focusing on true friendship and has touched on topics such as resolving conflicts, body language, apologies, expressing feelings, personal responsibility and being true to yourself. It sounds like a lot for a group of six 2nd and 3rd grade girls but these girls are pretty amazing. They get up and role play scenes from the playground, work out conflicts, and build skills that they can take back to their real lives. Maintaining eye contact has been a challenge for Ella but she's realizing what a valuable tool that is.
It's also been a real learning experience for me as well. I find I often don't have the language to help Ella through what is starting to be the typical girl issues at school. When she tells me of her troubles on the playground I tend to give her the pat answer of, "Well then just don't play with them. Find someone else to play with." That isn't helpful. That doesn't give her any useful ideas to try out next time. This class does that. And what's better, the girls actually get to role play the solutions so that they aren't just intellectualizing the ideas, but really practicing them and learning them.
The icing on the cake is that Wednesday evenings have become a very special time for the two of us, one on one.
(By the way, her t-shirt reads, Girls Can Save The World)