Today I had the pleasure of sitting with a group of preschoolers who were excited about their upcoming in-house field trip with the fire department. While the firemen were delayed I asked the children what they were thankful for. Children at this age are so egocentric. They think mostly about recent past experiences such as being thankful for their breakfasts and their moms bringing them to school. As we talked about the meaning of ‘being thankful’ the children moved onto foods, i.e. cookies and ice cream. I said I was thankful for my home and my family. That comment elicited children’s further ideas such as “my sisters,” “I got new bedsheets and it is so comfortable when I sleep on it,” “my blue house with gray strips,” “my new house and my mom’s cooking” and lastly “my house on the 5th floor. I take an elevator to get to it.” Being able to hear what children are thankful for in today’s world shows the innocence children possess. Most children are not really aware of the turmoil in today’s world and how it is affecting many families and their children in Danbury and other areas of the country.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all the good in the world and our families that surround us. It is important to think about those less fortunate in the world and how their families are impacted. As adults we know what is happening but though the children’s eyes they do not. Their sense of innocence and caring for others is what need to be fostered in every child. In the last edition of the Tribuna, I wrote about developing empathy in children. Not only should we being teaching that to young children but encouraging the sense of wonder and being observant which helps develop appreciation. Norman Juster’s book “The Hello, Goodbye Window” is a perfect example of how having these qualities enriches a child’s life. Based on a young child who stays with her grandparents while her parents work, Juster and illustrator Chirs Raschka have written the perfect book that is a voyage of discovery and celebration of the commonplace wonders that define children. Not only is the story beautiful, the observant behaviors of the child ‘s wonderings around her are amazing.
Helping children develop this sense of being observant is the beginning of being aware of others and what is going on around them. As children grow and learn developing an awareness of both good and bad is helpful for a child. It helps to develop a sense of appreciation and thankfulness. These attributes developed early on in life give parents the opportunity to talk about right and wrong that expounds moral behaviors. Coupling moral behaviors with being observant benefits a child to see what is happening in the space around him and to describe and report something that doesn’t seem right. With all of the good and bad events going on around the world we live in, if we can see the goodness of the world through a child’s eyes we will be able to maintain ourselves as we prepare for the upcoming holiday. Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers.
Anne E. Mead, Ed. D., 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.