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Teaching Children to be of Service

Colette B. Cross

Today I proudly watched our Kindergarten students bring holiday song, cheer and handmade gifts to the seniors at our local senior residential home.  This is an annual tradition at our school for our oldest students who, as leaders in our school, have earned this great privilege.  Observing this interaction never fails to bring every adult watching to tears.  The mix of multi ages all experiencing smiles, innocence, joy, and with kindness abounding warms every heart present.   It is true that it is never too early to help children be of service to others.
Every year, and throughout the year, our school supports our local food pantry. Each class takes a turn to bring in needed items on a monthly basis.  It is difficult sometimes to understand that there are hungry people right in our back yard, but there are.  It is an easy lesson to teach our young children: how can we help people who are hungry and make a difference?  Children can choose a can, or packet, or food item from their own pantry at home, or from the store shelf whilst shopping with mom or dad, and then bring it to school and place it in our special container.  Because our parents are so generous the bags are often heavy and the children watch as their parents deliver the items and then assist in the unpacking.  This real and visual experience can make a huge impact, and can develop a great sense of lasting empathy and kindness.

At this time of year and during the holidays many opportunities to help others present themselves, from toy drives, clothing drives, soup kitchen support, adopt a family plans, and various food drives.  Many families participate in their own way, in their own communities. What a wonderful example for children.   However, in order to develop the life skill of helping others, it is important to role model kindness and giving every day.  Allow and expect children to help out at home regularly, assign chores and responsibilities, and talk to them about giving and kindness to others as part of their daily lives.
Research shows that showing kindness brings greater happiness and greater friendships to the giver.  It is definitely nice to receive but infinitely more rewarding to give.

The joy and smiles of our children strengthen our commitment to a Montessori early childhood education. Westmont, an accredited school with the American Montessori Society (AMS) and Middle States Association (MSA-CESS), stands as one of the premier Montessori schools in NJ. We welcome you to discover Westmont.