Teaching Children Empathy, By Jessica Lahey, the New York Times

When Harvard University’s Making Caring Common Project released their report, “The Children We Mean to Raise: The Real Messages Adults Are Sending About Values,” many parents and educators — myself included — were surprised to learn that despite all our talk about instilling character and empathy, kids may value academic achievement and individual happiness over caring for others. In the report, the authors explained that the children’s values reflected what they believe adults value.

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Credit Jessica Lahey

In the wake of these dispiriting study results, the Making Caring Common Project and the Ashoka Empathy Initiative created a set of recommendations for teaching empathy to children.

Empathy goes beyond being able to see another person’s point of view, Rick Weissbourd, the co-director of the Making Caring Common Project, explained in an email. He points out that sales people, politicians, actors and marketers are able to do this kind of “perspective-taking” in pursuit of their professional goals. Con men and torturers use this ability to manipulate their victims for personal gain. In order to be truly empathetic, children need to learn more than simple perspective-taking; they need to know how to value, respect and understand another person’s views, even when they don’t agree with them. Empathy, Mr. Weissbourd argues, is a function of both compassion and of seeing from another person’s perspective, and is the key to preventing bullying and other forms of cruelty. Continue reading

Water Bucket

Pouring water into the water basin #concentration #montessori #preschool #toddler #pouringwater #carryingbucket #handeyecoordination #balance #apron #practicemakesperfect

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10 Montessori DIY Holiday Activities to do with your Children

This has to be my favorite time of year. Everyone seems to be in the holiday spirit. Our crafty and clever teachers have incorporated a variety of holiday-themed crafts and projects into the childrens’ daily routine. Several of these crafts are extremely easy to incorporate into your home environment. If you’re anything like me, you’re already planning activities and works for your child to do over the winter break. Several Montessori works are surprisingly very affordable, and very easy to recreate at home.

(helpful links have been included so that you can purchase supplies for yourself!)

  1. Threading with Jingle Bells – Fine Motor Activity

What you’ll need: bamboo skewer, styrofoam, large jingle bells

Simply press the pointy end of the skewer into the styrofoam and you’re ready to go! My three year old loved doing this step.

On the back of each jingle bell, there is a slot for threading, usually ribbon or string, but the skewer fits just perfectly. Simply slide the jingle bells on the skewer and listen to the bells jingle as they slide down.

2. DIY Foam Geoboard Trees

DIY Foam Geoboard Tree for Seasonal Fine Motor Fun
DIY Foam Geoboard Tree for Seasonal Fine Motor Fun

What you’ll need: green/white foam cones, golf tees, rubber bands

This is a great work for hand-eye coordination, and requires lots of concentration as your child ties each rubber band onto the golf tees. Continue reading