In the hopes that we can begin to celebrate holidays socially again, we start off with a soft reintroduction to the February holiday of Valentine’s Day and honouring Black History Month in North America. Celebrations of kindness and love while encouraging awareness of diversity and the power of inclusion, are at the focus of these two important winter dates. If we’ve learned anything through this shift in our world norm, it’s that kindness and inclusion matter, now more than ever. Teaching and modelling traits like empathy and acceptance are the foundation of a civil society…and it begins with our most important citizens, our children.
“…it is clear to me that the mission of schools must include teaching kindness.
Without it, communities, families, schools, and classrooms become places of incivility where lasting learning is unlikely to take place….”
~ Maurice Elias, a professor in the Rutgers University Psychology Department
In the early learning centres of Reggio Emilia, where the decades-old educational approach of the same name was founded, the most important goal of our approach to inclusion is the child’s own well-being. The ‘image of the child’ is a core-component of a Reggio-inspired education; the belief that all children are born capable, creative and competent. How can we work together to help teach and then to continue to nurture the qualities of kindness and inclusion?
Confident behaviour, positive coping mechanisms, and the comfort to push beyond boundaries to grow and learn without fear of failure can be attributed to positive relationships within the classroom. The ability to nurture the growth of citizens who care for others and the common good, to show kindness everyday, and to uphold ideas of fairness and justice to support what is right are pillars of everyday behaviour…yes, even with toddlers.
“Children are not born simply good or bad and we should never give up on them.
They need adults who will help them become caring, respectful, and responsible for their communities at every stage of their childhood,”
~ Making Caring Common Project Harvard Graduate School of Education researchers
Atelier Kids Early Learning & Care and Atelier Kids Kindergarten (coming September 2021) practice the Reggio-inspired belief that we are all, with our own individual abilities, members of an interdependent society. We emphasize the value and importance of finding positive connections rather than emphasizing our differences. By prioritizing encouragement, acceptance and support of others we raise the value of connections and positive relationships to a greater sum than of our differences.
Children learn more from what they see us do than what they hear us say. Are we modelling positive and kind behaviour? In our highly competitive society, we often become concerned with achievement and personal happiness for our children. What if we found success in knowing that, in their day, our child cared for others and showed empathy and kindness toward another?
Toddlers and school-aged children alike need help managing their emotions and self-regulating to promote kindness toward themselves and to others. Are we as parents reacting with patience and calm or are we allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed with shame, guilt or other reactive behaviours?
The Reggio-inspired approach we practice at Atelier Kids Early Learning & Care and Atelier Kids Kindergarten is supported by the goal of always educating with purpose and intention. Practice makes perfect…or least a better outcome. Can you provide more opportunities to help your children notice moments for demonstrating kindness and practicing active attempts of inclusion?
Throughout this past year, we believe that kindness and inclusion are on a progressive path, and just like our soft reintroduction to celebrations of social holidays, we take it one step at a time knowing that we are making plans and taking steps toward a more civil society and a better place for our children to explore their own full potential.