Saturday, January 5, 2013

Authentic Interactions: A Key to Compassion

A special thing about Tumbleweed is our support of interactions between our different age groups.  It is a natural thing at the infant house for children to ask and often enter the different classrooms.  This is especially common in the infant room.  We have many visitors through out the day, even preschoolers if they come to visit.  Our room is available if everyone is awake and we are in a settled moment.

W, 4  holding a bottle for H, 6 months.  
Visitors are reminded that they are entering into an infant space, so it is important that you keep what it means to be an infant in mind.  I invite children, and even adults, to lay on the ground and imagine what it might feel like to be an infant.  Your muscles are learning to hold your head up, to move your body around.  Maybe you can't move.  Maybe you are just learning to stand.  Maybe you like to make the same sound over and over again.  And these achievements are joys to be shared.

I have found by bringing this to the attention of children, they begin to be able to see things from another persons shoes.  For many, coming into the infant room is a fun new place to play.  But I have seen the preschoolers take this ability of being able to see through another's eyes and put it into play with their more advanced social interactions.  

I take this approach from an article I read from the NY Times which shares a program that has been created and set into practice to build understanding and compassion and children.  It is designed for elementary aged children and works on building respect for others by learning how to see things through another's eyes.  When I read this, many bells went off because this is what we do already!  It is built into the nature of our interactions with each other, and it made me very excited to see the results it has brought when it is done with older children.

It is my goal in interacting with children to help them actualize their fullest potential, become contributing members of their society, while being constantly inquisitive and full of wonder.  Giving the opportunity for the children to interact efficiently as possible, gives them skills that they can apply throughout life.  When it is normal to have compassion, our entire school community benefits. 

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