Sunday, August 30, 2015
Fill up our cups.
Shivi came up to me to tell me something.
"Do you know that we have a cup in our heart?"
When children ask me questions like that sometimes I just return the question back to them. Maybe they're not looking for an answer but just want to tell me something.
"Do you think we have a cup in our heart?"
"We do. And when you smile at me it fills up my cup. And when I smile at you it fills up your cup."
I was endeared, of course, and couldn't help smiling at him smiling back at me.
"I think I can feel it filling up."
Last week at a really excellent Conscious Discipline workshop I attended with the staff they asked the question, "What motivates children to behave?" I could agree with their answer wholeheartedly, I'd seen it, more importantly felt it happening in our room. Their motivation comes from their feeling of connection with the people around them. A bunch of rules alone doesn't do it. Learning to be a part of a community, feeling loved and accepted, feeling safe, and a desire to belong does.
I've been finding this particularly important with the new children this year. We have many who had negative experiences in their previous day cares, and some with no school experience at all. Suddenly they're thrust for six hours a day in a place with a bunch of kids and random adults. During these weeks much of our work has been about developing that connection. Home visits were really helpful in that process as was the gentle orientation week.
We're three weeks into our school year now so most of the new children are by now feeling safe and comfortable with the adults, so now the question is How to get them to connect with each other? How to foster positive connections among them? Much of it surely we just leave up to the children, who can be so good at bridging differences of language, age, and ethnicity. But there are many moments where we can facilitate that process among them.
We've had the older children in the room on their own during the afternoons these weeks when most of the new children go home after lunch. We've taken some time every afternoon to do Grace and Courtesy about inclusion, read stories about helpfulness, cooperation, and what it looks like to be kind. I'm looking forward to doing more of this since I think a good foundation early on will set a very positive tone for the rest of the year.
Does anyone out there have recommendations for books on values such as generosity and gratefulness and inclusion?
Any ideas to share about how to improve connections among the group?