Disclaimer :: Primrose Schools sponsored this blog post; however, FWMB contributor Laura crafted its contents based on her own experiences as a parent of a child who attends Primrose Schools.
I couldn’t help but crack up when I got a picture of my son last week from his Primrose school — a photo of him bandaging up a baby doll’s “boo boos” after an alleged night of fun. I chuckled to his teachers that I couldn’t imagine what type of fun these babies got into that would have resulted in an eye patch (they have a good sense of humor)! In spite of my kiddo’s clearly sub-par medical skills, my heart was warmed by the empathy and compassion the picture provoked.
He’s going on three years old and couldn’t be more typically “almost three” if he tried. By that, I mean he is asserting his independence, loudly and frequently, and learning constantly about how relationships and people work. When I envision him as an adult, I imagine him as a loving, kind, honest, and trustworthy man who will treat others with compassion because that’s just who he is. But as a two year old, he, and most other toddlers, have some work to do before they get there.
His father and I talk frequently about how we will help him and his baby sister develop these traits as they grow. We both grew up volunteering and developed a passion for helping others, and we want them to be involved in volunteering too. We hope they’ll become people who take responsibility for their actions and choose their actions thoughtfully and with consideration for others. But in all honesty, we’re not with them 24 hours a day, partly because we are working parents who spend much of our day engaged in that very work: helping others. So, how can we ensure they are learning these positive traits each day?
Character development seems to be a slow burn. No single event or activity seems to make a child honest, or grateful, or compassionate and kind. But these traits are learned over time by watching others and engaging in activities that promote these values. Given that we can’t be with them all the time, it was important to us that their child care facility and school curriculums focus on giving back.
I’ve been so impressed by how my son’s teachers model these great character traits and how the Primrose curriculum builds them into lessons each week. Right now all the classrooms are participating in the Caring and Giving Food Drive, collecting nonperishable foods for those who need them this holiday. To my kiddo, the cans and mac & cheese boxes lining the hallway are excellent building blocks (#toddlers), but when he stops each day to stack cans of corn and beans we’re able to have a conversation about caring for others and giving without the expectation of receiving.
Beyond this, our school adopts a family each year for the holiday. This year families are coming together to help a father and his four young children who recently lost their mother to cancer. Together our school families are going so far as to repair the family vehicle, refinish their floors, decorate, and fill their home with gifts and food so that this family’s first Christmas without their mama and wife will be just a bit less painful. This stuff matters, and the kids both see and participate in it while in and out of school. For example, I’m excited to take my son to purchase some of the items on this family’s wish list so that we can talk about why it’s important to think of and do for others.
While my son’s good character is certainly a work-in-progress, my heart pitter patters each time I see him give a friend a hug goodbye when I pick him up each day. And even on the days where I learn there has been more work than progress, I hear how they’ve talked to him about being soft and sweet and are helping him work toward developing empathy for others. I know that our family and his school are on the same page, and that feels really good.