Sarah Shares: Growing in Empathy
A Kindergartner headed to his hook to change into his outdoor shoes to go to recess. Seconds later, he popped back in with a concerned face: “I need some help with something…” I followed him to the hallway, and he gestured dramatically to the floor, where I saw……nothing. We looked more closely together, and […]
A Kindergartner headed to his hook to change into his outdoor shoes to go to recess. Seconds later, he popped back in with a concerned face: “I need some help with something…” I followed him to the hallway, and he gestured dramatically to the floor, where I saw……nothing.
We looked more closely together, and he showed me a tiny ant on the floor, circling frantically—“We have to help him! Get him outside!”
The Montessori method teaches the whole child, and provides a foundation and context for all they are learning—a context of caring, community, and collaboration. Part of the spring feeling of excitement at Greene Towne that we all feel at this time of year is inspired by seeing not just all of the academic growth of our students, but also their personal growth as self-aware community members.
All this week, our Primary children have barely contained their excitement at watching eggs from Quiver Farm hatch, and seeing little chicks grow in their first week of life, from damp creatures who couldn’t even use their legs, to fluffy eager curious birds, tumbling over one another, just getting their first feathers popping through their downy coats.
I can’t help but think of the parallel in the growth we have the joy to experience in our multi-age classrooms, where our students grow, and as they do, learn to care so well for themselves and one another. While the Montessori approach certainly helps to refine and develop children’s social-emotional skills, our work in strengthening empathy is like all other areas of the curriculum—cognitive, psychological, physical—it is drawn from the innate abilities and drive that our children have naturally.
Strengthening our children’s innate sense of empathy provides the powerful context within which they will use the academic knowledge they gain.
Researchers have found that “empathy plays a crucial role in creating positive change and solving deep-rooted systemic problems…Empathy must be as essential as math and literacy. We need a world full of individuals that have the ability to cultivate change where it’s needed, and to recognize they have the ability to do so.” (Autumn Williams in the article, “Why We Should Teach Empathy to Preschoolers,” (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_we_should_teach_empathy_preschoolers)
As we prepare our children for their futures, we can see clues of their power and impact in even the smallest gestures.
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