It’s so easy for kids to miss out on vital education about kindness and understanding of others.
It’s not a formal subject learned in school, and as far as I know there is no marking system for how well a child is getting to grips with his peers and becoming conscious of others’ feelings, aside from reaching a basic level of social function. Why? Functioning with others underpins everything else!
There is no greater music to my ears than hearing from teachers or parents that V-bot has been kind and inclusive, or any manifestation of her being *aware* of others’ feelings. That’s a breakthrough that sets her up to progress in every other area of her development. Grace and courtesy is a key part of Montessori education and the reason is two fold:
It’s not just that kids getting a grounding in grace and courtesy would benefit the world *massively* by creating much more conscientious adults, it’s also that the success of the child clearly rests on his ability later to understand the people around him and be conscious of how they might feel. Forget the maths degree from Cambridge, in the City for example, it’s the people who understand people who rock that world! (A degree is necessary too though, don’t get me wrong…)
In the New York Times bestselling, influential book by Paul Tough, How Children Succeed, conscientiousness is identified above all others as the main driver of success.
These books help V-bot start to understand the need to think about others at an age when she is naturally self-centred (up till 6 this is a *normal* and productive part of the child building themselves). For us, some awesome conversations were sparked off in the process of reading these!
by AlikiAliki is a hero in our house. I’ll post some more links to her amazing books under a Science heading later. Little known in the UK :)This book, aimed at older children (3.5 is about right to start), explores in a picture-based (rather than story-based) way, various feelings and how they come about. GREAT conversation starter!The Berenstain Bears – The Trouble With Friends
The Berenstain Bears – The Trouble With Friends
Stan & Jan BerenstainThis series is little known in the UK but we have at least 20 of them that formed the basis of our reading from age 1 onwards! This one is about making a new friend and understanding compromise. Lovely story that really stuck with my newly school-age daughter.
Princess Poppy Ballet Shoes
by Janey Louise JonesI’m not a huge fan of these books as a series as I think Poppy is not a fabulous role model. However, I did like the story in this one – Poppy wants to be the main role in a ballet, and her friend is cast instead. The story is not totally resolved, which I really liked as it sparked off some interesting conversation.
The Little Red Hen
by Ronne RandallA super simple book that could be read at any age, but pre-school and school-age kids will start to get the message in here, which is that benefits need to be worked for! Little Red Hen gets no help from his friend planting corn and preparing bread, but they all want to eat it! Great first foray into kindness and generosity. Individual review here.
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
by Carol McCloudProbably one of the best-known books in North America, this book imagines that everyone has a bucket: kind people *fill* buckets by being kind and helpful, whereas being a *bucketdipper* is removing from others’ buckets by being nasty or unhelpful. A nice analogy that will resonate for kids 3+. We tried this at 2.5 with V and she was uninterested, but 6 months later engrossed in it!
PS – On the subject of self-centredness, I think the key to this topic, as always, is to keep it fun. Focus on what it’s nice to do, and what’s really impressive, not on what’s bad or naughty. We just don’t do naughty in our house at all – we say we are still learning.