The Experiential School of Tampa Bay addresses one of Shorecrest’s five Core Values and how it relates to young students.
When Shorecrest sought to determine the school's five Core Values, there were a few similar terms to decide between. Among them were empathy, kindness, compassion and a few others. Though they are similar in nature and all related and important, compassion seemed to go a step further than the others. Unlike empathy, which is identifying and understanding the feelings of others, compassion includes the desire to help those who need it. Compassion embodies a feeling and an action.
Young children, by nature, are egocentric; they are preoccupied with their own feelings. In today’s society this stage, which according to Piaget begins around two years old and developmentally should end at seven, often extends far beyond. Therefore, we must work with even greater awareness to combat this trend and to help children develop an awareness of the feelings and plights of others. When our children and students see us treating others in caring ways, they are more apt to act that way themselves. Saying nice things to others, checking on how people are doing or feeling and offering help are all easy to model and encourage children to do.
Developing an awareness of the feelings of others is a facet of every minute of every day in The Experiential School. Individual, small and large group conversations, modeling and facilitation help the children learn to identify emotions by looking at facial expressions and body language, and then to acknowledge and respect those feelings. Teachers model, supply appropriate language and encourage children to say complimentary words to each other about their creations or actions. When someone falls or is accidentally knocked down, the children learn to stop and ask if their friend is okay, and, if not, how they can help them feel better.
Beyond personal interactions, compassion for others in difficult circumstances is also desirable and an integral part of service learning. If students bring items to school for a Food Drive without understanding what they are for, for example, they are missing an opportunity to develop compassion. Talking with your children about service projects and letting them join in the process will add to their understanding and positive feelings about helping others.
We hope that you engage in conversations with your children to further the work we are doing at school. It will help them make the world of the future a better place.