Thursday, July 22, 2010

Teaching Compassion

My son's daycare center used to do this little project where they would "feature" a child a month in each class. When you were chosen to be featured, then the child and/or the parents would make a poster to hang beside the classroom door.

I really enjoyed this project. My son spends most of the day with these kids and I know most of their names but that is about all I knew about them. When they were featured and a poster was done it would always have pictures of their life outside of school and pictures of them with their families. It would include their likes and dislikes, their pets and favorite toys or any other thing the parent wanted to include. This was always lots of fun to see what the other kids did and the classes could discuss the posters during the days and maybe even try out some of the favorite foods or activities that were featured on the poster.

We are very fortunate that our daycare center has a diverse background of families. Everyone does not look the same, everyone does not speak the same and everyone certainly has not developed and met milestones the same. This adds a degree of humanity to my child's life that I may not be able to add on my own. I am appreciative of the families that have embraced my child and are bringing knowledge of other cultures to his life.

We use daycare as both my spouse and I work full time but you do not have to use a daycare to find diversity in your child's life. If you are a stay at home parent there are still ways to meet other parents that may not be just like you. Go to story time at the library or local bookstores, go to the children's museum, go to the local playground or even to an indoor playground in the mall or fast food restaurant. Try not to be shy about introducing yourself to other parents but if that is not something you can do then think about joining a local parenting group. In this area there are several groups that get together during the day for play dates and they are almost always looking to add new members. You can go to Google and do a search for playgroups in your city.

It is important for kids to know that not everyone will look like them or have the same amount of money as them. Kids need to learn that being different is not a bad thing. The sooner a child learns humanity and compassion for people that are different than he is, the more likely we can battle playground bullying together. Compassion begins at home and it is one of the most important lessons you can teach your children. They learn by watching you so before you are rude to a cashier or scream at a driver that cut you off, remember that your child is learning how to interact with people by watching you. We all want our kid's lives to be better than our own but in order to achieve this we must first improve our outlook on our own lives.

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