From the time children are born, they begin to feel the security that their parents provide for them. As they grow, their sense of security comes from who they spend time with and how others treat them. A child’s sense of self develops in positive ways when they feel secure within their family and friends, respected by others and accepted into their peer group of friends. Helping children develop empathy and sincere caring about one another is no small task; however, there is a skill that will help a child develop into a responsible and responsive individual who is aware of others and how to help them.
Today, in playgroup at the FACE Center, I witnessed two young children caring for one another. The group had made pancakes for National Pancake Day and were delving into their portions, when an almost 3-year-old realized a younger child wanted to eat her blueberries but they wouldn’t stay on her fork. “I help you, me get a spoon for you.” The child went to the counter and came back with a spoon, handed it to the other child, who smiled. The younger child used the spoon and ate most of her blueberries. As the two children sat there and ate, the smiles between them for being successful were amazing. Nothing more needed to be said. This is a perfect example of a child being aware of a friend who needed help. The intrinsic satisfaction the helping child received by the smile on the other child’s face was praise enough. No one was left out or suffered loneliness. The skills they showed are wonderful and will last them both a lifetime.
On Feb. 10, Beyond Differences sponsors “No One Eats Alone Day,” a national day of celebration of how special every student is in our country. Normally undertaken at the middle-school level, helping children to be empathic and kind to others should begin at the preschool level. Danbury Public Schools has grasped this concept and has received awards for successful programs led by our students.
In Danbury, we will be combining the Feb. 10 event with “World Read Aloud Day” on Feb. 16, sponsored by LitWorld (www.litworld.org). We will be reading books about belonging, curiosity, friendships, kindness, confidence, courage and hope. These seven strengths develop the characteristics we want to see in our children and as Pam Allyn says, “The seven strengths has a social-emotional emphasis which ensures children a sense of safety and well-being as readers and builds lifelong connections to textual experiences and higher-leveling thinking skills.” These are the skills we want to develop in our children.
This is a wonderful opportunity to combine reading with the social-emotional skill development of becoming aware of others and how to treat them, while developing into super readers. Join us at the FACE Center for our events during the early part of February and please save Sat. April 1 for Family Camp, an un-conference day for families. For more information, go to www.danbury.k12.ct.us or call the FACE Center at 203-797-4734.
Anne E. Mead, M. Ed., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.