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Fostering Compassion in Children

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Through the practice of deep looking and deep listening, we become free, able to see the beauty and values in our own and others…
—Thich Nhat Hanh
Today I would like to talk about a vastly important curriculum topic that starts in the early years of a child’s life and continues with him or her all throughout their education and into their adult years. What used to be called, in the “olden days”, manners, is now referred to as a code of ethics of behavior. If we are to look at ourselves as kind, compassionate individuals who care about each other, our environment, and the planet in which we live, there are simple rules to live by to make this happen. We, as humans, unfortunately come from a barbaric past; sometimes in our world today we see remnants and reminders of this aspect of our historical roots. If we want to change the course of such behavior, we have to be conscious and mindful in our thoughts and in our actions, and above all, in what we are teaching and modeling for our children.
Montessori  and Waldorf-Steiner educational philosophies describe well these aspects of mindful and compassionate teaching and living. While Peacock Family Center does not call itself a “Waldorf” or a “Montessori” School, the principles I will be referring to can be universally applied to all educational institutions.  Each day, teachers at Peacock are using these principles. My hope is that you, as parents, will use them too, and reinforce what Peacock is trying to instill in our children as we all help to plant the seeds towards raising children to be loving,  respectful, and caring  individuals.
*I will show respect to my parents, to my elders, to my teachers at all times.
*I will appreciate my parents and  let this appreciation be evident.
*I will show respect and love to all my peers.
*I will be kind to my siblings.
*I will be kind to the natural world around me, to the plants and animals that live around me.
*I will live my life without lying, cheating, and stealing.
*I will be helpful.
*I will treat property at school, at home, and in my environment with care and respect.
*I will freely express myself towards others because I know they care.
*I will try to be quiet and listen when someone is speaking. When a teacher, a parent, or an elder is speaking I will listen.
*I will listen to those who are speaking to me.
*I will stay with any child I accidentally injure as long as it takes to see them feeling better.
*I will include others in games and conversations that I begin.
*I will try to smile and greet teachers, parents and my peers when I see them.
*While outside walking, I will never run away when an adult has requested I stop and wait, especially when it comes to my safety.
*Also when walking, I will hold a teacher’s hand or another child’s hand when I have been requested to do so for means of safety.
*I will share with my peers as much and as often as I can.
*I will not say disrespectful things about others behind their backs.
*I will show courtesy to others and use proper manners as often as I can.
*I will smile and laugh as often as I can.
Kindness, compassion, respect, and mindfulness are simple gifts, really, that we can give to each other every day. Classrooms and communities that live by these principles are inviting and are conducive to learning, creativity, and expansiveness…
So, on that note, what has been happening at Peacock this past week?
In the Infant Room our babies are growing up, and the teachers reminded me the other day that in two months, two of them will be ready for our toddler/waddler room. It is amazing how fast a baby grows up, and becomes a toddler. At Peacock we continually treasure these valuable infant moments that too soon disappear…
In the Toddler Room art projects were a highlight of the week. The children loved painting with dot markers. Dot dot dots everywhere. Simple coffee filters turned into beautiful painted treasures. And the waddlers had a great time coloring with large crayons. First they tasted them, and then they made pictures! The toddlers’ and waddlers’ hands are loving the fake snow, and their inquisitive minds are trying to figure out how our CD player really works. Pushing buttons continues to be a favorite event.
In the Green Room, the children were very creative this week. They made feelings puppets, and play dough, and turtles out of paper plates. Their creations continued as they painted a pond for their turtles. The Letter G was the letter of the week, and after talking about this letter, they traced it in the sand outside. Many books were read to the children. This week’s favorites were The Little Engine that Could, and Brown Bear Brown Bear What do You See? and The Giving Tree. The children were immersed in discovering and observing worms outside after the rain. The studies were done with great care for the worms as well as with an infectious curiosity for these animals so different than the human species.
In the Blue Room, creative puppets were made and later used to work on ways to speak to each other with kindness, and the children got to act out ways to handle different types of conflict scenarios that occur in their every day play. A highlight of the week was the creation and implementation of an act of kindness chart, where the children learned about acts of kindness and then got to implement these as often as they wanted with their classmates. When they performed an act of kindness, they got to put a dot by the name of their classmate they were kind to.  The children also did some valuable teamwork and trust lessons while linking their bodies in a chair-like fashion, going from sitting to standing. The letter “L” was the highlight of the week, and for a creative snack creation, the children made banana sushi. Our intern did a fabulous presentation for the children on the human brain. In a very mature discussion that could easily have been for a third grade audience, she captivated the children, engaging them the entire time on how the brain works. She brought in a model she had made of the brain and talked about the different lobes and each of their functions. Very impressive, and especially the questions the children raised that showed their excitement for the subject and their focus on what she was talking about.  Earlier in the week the children began talking about quilts, as this will be one of the themes of next month. Also, starting next month will be the introduction of show and tell, which will happen on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. Look for information on this in your child’s file.
So this is our week. I wish you all well. Enjoy your weekend one and all.
 

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