flickr photo by Carrie Kellenberger I globetrotterI http://flickr.com/photos/globetrotteri/3743758719 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
One of my favorite new resources is Harvard University’s Making Caring Common Project. Their mission is to “help educators, parents, and communities raise children who are caring, respectful, and responsible toward others and their communities … [And] to make these values live and breathe in the day-to-day interactions of every school and home.”
MCC in the news —
PBS Parents published a piece called Expanding Your Child’s Circle of Concern.
The real question, says child psychologist Richard Weissbourd, is not whether kids are kind but to whom.
“Almost all kids are kind to somebody and have empathy for somebody,” says Weissbourd, co-director of Harvard’s Making Caring Common project. “The real work is getting them to be kind and empathetic to people outside of their immediate circle of concern,” including people of various races, nationalities, ages, and abilities.
This effort, says Weissbourd, “is important as a kindness matter but also a justice matter. Kids develop a clear and sturdy sense of justice as they take the perspective of people who are different than them.”
Tip 1: Put Other People On Their Radar
For young children, expanding their circle of concern begins with “putting other people on their radar,” says Weissbourd. It’s easy for kids empathize with people they are close to, such as family members and close friends. But parents get them in the habit of noticing people outside of this circle and seeing needs that others might have.
As a starting place, “point out the kid on the playground who may not be playing with any of the other kids,” says Weissbourd, or ask your child to tell you about a new classmate — and then talk about how to welcome them.” Read the rest of the piece here.
MCC has a toolkit for educators:
“Our toolkit generally supports all schools interested in building and strengthening a positive school-wide community of caring and respect and includes strategies focused on cultivating respect, empathy, positive relationships, and community building. Our toolkit also includes resources more focused on utilizing school climate for schools that have chosen to collect data using the MCC Student Survey or another survey tool. Please use the links to the left to access the toolkit, which has been divided into the following sections:
- Strategy Guides: step-by-step implementation guides that aim to increase empathy, positive relationships, etc.
- Resource Lists: compilations of websites and resources by topic (e.g. social media)”
MCC also has additional resources on YouTube to support the work of educators and parents.