@Heidi Van Amburg,I think it is great that you are teaching kindness and what it means show care and compassion for others. Know that with young children, it is the consistency over time that makes your efforts lifelong lessons. Here are a few resources I have used in my classrooms to build a sense of caring among my classroom community:
The Kindness Curriculum: Introducing Young Children to Loving Values.
This is a great teaching resource full of activities that you can include in your daily interactions and weekly lesson plans. I love it and encourage my teachers to use it with their children.The Great Kindness Challenge is this week (Jan. 28th - Feb. 2nd) --please google for more info. Children are encouraged to do random acts of kindness throughout the week. I usually combine this with the book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today and How Full is Your Bucket?. These books provide a great concrete way to conceptualize what happens to people's feelings when someone does something "not nice" and when someone does something "kind". I use these terms with children my classes to help them understand how what they did impacted others, "You dripped from her bucket. What can you do to fill it back up?"There's another book that I loved to read as well, Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons. I would usually do one word from the book and discuss what it means encourage the children to find others displaying that word throughout the day. If I spotted one of the children displaying the word, I would say, "That's cooperation", so that they could connect what was discussed with their everyday actions.Hope this helps!~Tiffany------------------------------Tiffany SmithFounder/OwnerTeaching Foundations, LLCColumbia MDTiffanyjsmith@teachingfoundationsllc.comHttps://www.teachingfoundationsllc.com------------------------------
I hear your struggle with this age group about understanding compassion. We teach a curriculum called
Second Step which uses puppets, role play, etc. to teach about emotions and how to handle them. I LOVE when I see them using the skills on their own later on. One tip I have is how us teachers use modeling to show how to treat one another. We all know that children learn from modeling. Sometimes we create a scenario and sometimes we use what is already happening. For example, if a child is having a meltdown and hits another teacher, I will say "Please do not hurt my friend. You are making her sad". I go over to her and say "are you okay?" and sometimes hug her. This also shows you can stand up for your friends. If a teacher says "that makes me sad", I will give her a hug and show sympathy. We use parallel and self talk then as well. I will say what I am doing. "I am going to go make Miss April better". If a teacher, or child says "I can't do this", One of us will say "I have confidence in you. Keep trying" or " I will help you". By the end of the year, many children will see another hurt and go over to hug them or we will see they will bring the child a toy. It is so heartwarming and gratifying to see that what we do as educators work (AND matter)! I don't know if this helps but it is just one way we teach about being aware of other's feelings.
Hope this helps!
Heidi:It's so great that you want to teach this to the kids in your class and it can create an important foundation about how to be in community, which is the essential work of the classroom. As you're discovering, it takes time, and needs to be developmentally appropriate. I would advocate for some 'study' of emotions in general, not simply kindness. It's hard to figure out how to be kind when you're upset, angry, or scared. Or a study of friendship, because friendship is complicated at any age and not always just about sweetness and light. Am I still your friend if I don't feel like playing with you in this moment? Are you still my friend when you're angry with me? If I want to play with A it must mean that I'm not B's friend any more. There are lots of great books about kids working out conflicts with each other.Emotions, including those that lead to compassion and caring, are complex. I think that even very young children know this. Remember that King was also very angry towards injustice and those that created it. He was fiery. Perhaps broadening the scope of the conversation would deepen the learning. Hope I'm being clear.
Greetings Heidi Van Amburg,
Thanks for starting this conversation. Children understand death differently than adults, so their reaction to someone passing is going to be different than that of an adult.
It does not mean that children do not care, but most children have a minimal understanding of the permanency of death.
Here's a great thread from the community on the topic of death and young children with lots of info:
Here is a thoughtful post on our NAEYC blog on the topic of death and young children:
Heidi:It sounds like you did a beautiful job of creating a deep learning experience for the kids at their level. It was wonderful to hear all of the suggestions and see the resources that people use, and especially lovely to hear about how you followed up with the children and your co-teacher. You made a beautiful repair and I'm sure it had a positive and healing impact on the children and the adults.