|PARKDALE A SHINING EXAMPLE FOR KINDERgarten|
MONTREAL, JANUARY 16 , 2015 - The English Montreal School Board was inspired to introduce the new KINDERgarten initiative thanks to teachers like Jackie Dare of Parkdale Elementary School in St. Laurent, who continually promotes good citizenship among her students.
When it comes to teaching children about life lessons and values that they will take with them afterwards, it’s always best to start at the beginning. Ms. Dare believes that teaching her students what social values and kindness are all about, and understanding what bullying is, so that it can be prevented. Because they are not aware of what the term “bullying” means at such a young age, they can focus more on treating their fellow students and other people with respect and kindness.
“It is not just one particular lesson or period of time, but it is more of an ongoing thing that we do throughout the year,” said Ms. Dare, who has been a teacher for the past 26 years -- 20 of them at Parkdale. “It starts from the first day of school when we discuss as a class what makes us happy and how do we make others around us happy.
“I feel that it is very important to instill goodness, kindness and being good citizens from a young age. As I tell my students every year that we are like a ‘family’ and we need to take care and be nice to each other,” she added.
To promote this spirit of kindness, goodness and social responsibility amongst her kindergarten students, Ms. Dare conducts a series of activities on a daily basis. First, there is a unit called “I Am Special,” in which the class is encouraged to highlight and celebrate as a group all the things that make them special, whether it be a certain talent or something that is unique about them. The class also brainstorms through a list of different acts of kindness and decides which one from the list they want to focus on throughout the week. Then there’s the Threads of Kindness, which begins every morning and the class reviews that afternoon or the following morning. A Random Act of Kindness Tree is located outside the classroom in the hallway, and when one is witnessed, the teacher will write out that specific act -- along with the name of the child who performed it -- on a paper leaf and placed on the tree for everyone to see. As a means of incentive for the students to perform as many acts of kindness as possible, Ms. Dare established a daily “Pocket Points” system, in which each act of kindness, or situations when the children work together as a team and are cooperative, are represented by a bingo chip and is placed in a jar. When the jar is filled with these chips, the class is rewarded with a treat or special activity that they get to choose themselves (which can range from going to the park, to seeing a movie, having extra play time, etc.).
One of Ms. Dare’s goals is to establish a buddy up system, in which her students would be, paired up with students from the school’s Cycle 3 classes, and spend the day or a period where the older students help out or work with their younger counterparts. “It is great for both the little ones and the older children,” she says. “It builds on being a good role model for older children and also helps with their self-esteem.”
Dynamix, an organization that conducts fun, hands-on activities to teach kids about teambuilding, character development, respect and cooperation, comes into the kindergarten classes at Parkdale for four sessions – as part of its Kinder Coop program -- to work with the students on how they can build team spirit, good sportsmanship and cooperation skills. And whatever activities and lessons that are learned through the four Dynamix sessions are incorporated into the class curriculum.
Ms. Dare admits she is delighted with the tremendous impact her initiatives, which are going to serve as the basis for the EMSB’s KINDERgarten program, are having with her kindergarten students at Parkdale. “I noticed that my students are beginning to make a conscious effort to help each other more, to share better, to be more cooperative in group activities,” she said. “And no one is being left out during play time or group activities. They don’t poke fun at each other, and they are using their words to tell their friends about how they feel when someone is making them feel bad.”
Michael J. Cohen