Cultivating Young Artists: Teaching Tolerance & Respect for All


One of my first blog posts was highlighting the wonderful land of creativity, artistic freedom and teaching methodologies at Spring Hollow Community Learning Center. This is the preschool that Emma and Jacob are attending. 

Beyond the organic approach to art and children, they are creating an environment of tolerance and respect for everyone with a method called Green Circle. Green circle involves the children gathered together to discuss feelings about being a part of a social group and how it feels to be excluded. They talk about methods to include each other in cooperative efforts, what to do if someone feels bad and how to express their feelings in a healthy manner.  Each child has their picture take and laminated. They use a large wall with a green circle on it with all of the kid pictures when they discuss being included in the circle or excluded.

While this may sound so very basic, it is the approach that is unique. Many preschools/daycares will teach young children that you can’t hit other people. It’s against the rules, it’s not nice, etc. But very, very few schools take a methodical approach teaching children how it feels to be hurt by your friend or someone you dont know and why it is important not to make anyone feel that way. One may think that kids are too young to grasp or vocalize these teachings, but children are remarkably intuitive and pick up on this so easy.

There have been many examples of children taking their picture down during the day as a signal that they are having trouble with their feelings. This allows the teacher to discuss it with them.  Often younger children know they are upset but dont know how to articulate those feelings. This gives them a method of signalling they need help. This is especially helpful for Emma & Jacob during this very critical, over emotional and stressful time in their young lives.

The visualization and song that is used in the teaching is key. 

Green Circle
Green Circle

Circle Green, Circle Green

Finest circle we have seen.
The greatest task that we know
Is to make the circle grow.
Smallest one circles me
Then we add the family.
Friends will make it larger still
Further we must spread good will.
People here, people there
All the children everywhere.
Are of one big family
In the circle they should be.
 *****
Circle round, you must start
In the home and in the heart.
And everywhere that you will go
You will make the circle grow.
Circle green, circle green
Happiest circle ever seen.
For all the children everywhere
We will make the circle there.
*****
Circle green, as you grow
All  your love will overflow.
Show love for the world to see
That’s the way it ought to be.
Circle green, circle green
We can love and we can sing.
Help us love and help us care
Circle, circle everywhere.

 In a world that is growing smaller, how we interact with each other is so important. I’ve been in the preschool/daycare setting and witnessed how cruel children can be. Most often teachers discipline with time out or separate kids, etc. What I have not witnessed is a school that embraces and teaches as a whole this level of tolerance and respect for all.

I am so in love with this school.  It works for me.

This post is a part of Watercooler Wednesday and Works for Me Wednesdays.

 

http://www.svcn.com/archives/cupertinocourier/09.23.98/GreenCircle.html

http://www.volunteerinfo.org/greencir.htm

National Crime Prevention Council – http://www.ncpc.org/topics/hate-bias/strategies/strategy-diversity-and-tolerance-education-in-schools

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2 thoughts on “Cultivating Young Artists: Teaching Tolerance & Respect for All

  1. That is really good stuff.
    I’m a high school teacher, and after a student killed herself last year they put up this huge piece of butcher paper and left markers out. Kids were free to spend time, writing to the departed and expressing their feelings.
    One child wrote “I’ll see you soon.” and signed it. Guidance, of course, acted on this and checked in with the student.
    Whether people are a preschooler, a Senior in high school, or an adult, sometimes we need to just give people a forum to explain where they are it. Actually using words to do this face-to-face is really scary stuff… It’s nice when we can take some of the fear out of this.

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