Raising Empathetic Children

emapthetic children

Earlier this week I wrote about how much I love this month in Kindergarten.  I invite families to come to school to teach us about one of their holiday traditions.  Today we learned about one that was right up my alley!

A mom came to school and told us that every year around the holidays, her family finds another family who is in need.  Sometimes they are in need of comfort, other times financially….anything…and they do something special for them.  She read the class a beautiful picture about how kindness can spread. It was called, A Circle of Friends, by Giora Carmi  After she read it the class talked about kindness and how good it feels to do something for another person.

Then she told them that each of them were going to get a bag filled with homemade Christmas cookies BUT they couldn’t eat them because they weren’t for them.  They had to think of someone that they were going to give them to instead. They would make a card for that person and we would attach them to the bag of cookies. My first thought was, “Uh, oh.  Are a bunch of five and six year old children going to be able to handle this?” Once again, they surprised me with their empathy.

The joy on their faces as they thought of who they were going to give the cookies to was enlightening. Some of them chose family members.  Others chose friends in the class.  One wrote his card to all of the teachers in the after-school program he attends. Not one of them complained that the cookies were not for them! It was such a sweet project.  Such a great lesson.  Every one of those children left school today with their present in hand, excited to give it to their recipient! It went right along with the little girl’s statement from our Hanukkah lesson on Tuesday, “Some people believe that Christmas is all about getting, but actually, it is all about giving.”

Today, I think they all understood.

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