Monday, 1 October 2012

A lesson in kindness

As a parent, I am fully aware of a child's ability to shock and awe.

As an educator, I have learned from experience that a child's mind is an amazing thing. Children can be mean. Everyone has heard that before. We've all met mean children. Children can be selfish. In fact, most children are selfish. They look out for themselves first and foremost. This is something that I think with proper guidance and positive role models-many children outgrow as they become kind, caring empathetic adults.

In the first 3 weeks of school I learned one unbelievably astonishing thing. SOME children-at the ripe old age of 5 can be more kind then an educated adult who knows better.

The 3rd week of school I was blown away by the most random out of left field remark by one of our kinders.

While working with a group of children at our graphic communication center (writing) a girl who was playing in drama walked over to me and said with a ridiculous amount of confidence and certainty, "Mrs. Adams-you know what you should do sometimes?" And I responded "No. What should I do sometimes?" Which was retorted with "Sometimes you should donate some food to your local food bank."

Yep. Just like that, and then she went to walk away.

I was blown away. Seriously taken back. I mean, she's 5!!! Most children at 5 don't know what a food bank is do they? Because most of our class had no idea. But she did, and she knew that there was a demand for food in them. She knew why. She knew there were hungry people in our community and she knew that it was up to our community to help them when times are tough. I wanted to cry. I wanted to hug her. I wanted her to meet my own children so she could rub off on them. (My children are kind too. Very kind in fact. But i immediately thought 'Have I ever talked to my own children about a food bank?' I went home that night and discussed it with them.)

At 5 years old. She knew. She knew about kindness.

This got our wheels turning and turning and we decided if the children were interested, this could be a very big project.

The next day we took this to our community circle, and our little girl told the class her idea. We voted and decided that we would in fact donate to our local food bank. We discussed why there are food banks. We discussed why we would want to donate to the food bank. We discussed what we could do once our donations started coming in. We knew this project would have many teachable moments hidden in it.

SO. We went to our administration and got permission to take this on. I did up a quick newsletter explaining the project so that our families would want to be a part of it. CLICK HERE TO SEE THAT NEWSLETTER!

We got an immediate response. Some children brought a couple things. Some children brought none. That's okay. We made it very clear to them that not every ones family would be able to donate, but that they would still have an important part in the project!
Some children have been bringing one item per day.

Today we took on the task of sorting our items, and counting them. This is what that looked like.


The final tally.
Our chart that had our tally on it, as well as how we sorted the items (soups, tomato sauce, treats, fruit, pasta and extras-along with how many of each)

A structure we built using soup cans!
And another. They are really into the whole structure thing since we introduced our Block Challenge.
This project is meaningful. It was child directed. The kids get excited about it. They love to hand in their donations, they loved counting and sorting and talking about what is a "sometimes food" compared to an "anytime food". This week our deadline comes to hand in donations. We will then decorate a box to deliver it in and we will deliver it.
 I think that many children are memorable. Most will be remembered for something or other. I will ALWAYS ALWAYS remember this child and the compassion for others that she already knows about at this young age. Kindness is part of my philosophy of life. Implementing this project has made my first month with this kinder class one of the most memorable months of my life :) I have much hope for the future.
Sorry about all the words again. I just loved this project, and really wanted to share the valuable experience with you.


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