By Kim Korona
It recently came to our attention that there was a lack of humane education resources for pre-K students. Through a partnership with Volunteers of America Los Angeles (VOALA) and Social Compassion, we were given the opportunity to develop Kindness for All, a seven-lesson curriculum designed for three-to-five-year-olds, which aims to inspire children to act with kindness toward all living beings and the natural world.
As explained in the introduction to the guide:
[Children at this age] are moving from complete dependence on their parents to their first steps toward self-sufficiency. They are also developing their prosocial skills and an awareness of their personal identity. This stage of development is an exciting time when young children begin to form relationships with their peers through play, imagination, and discovery. It is critical that during this time, children learn how to relate to others—both people and animals—in respectful and harmonious ways. It is also an opportunity to nurture and respect their own identity awareness by fostering their appreciation for themselves and for the similarities and differences they share with others.
The Kindness for All program aims to capitalize on this natural stage of development by cultivating values of inclusion, respect, and kindness within youth when they are learning how to form relationships with others. There is a natural progression that occurs through the lessons within the unit. It begins by offering children the tools needed to identify and express their feelings, as well as strategies for handling their feelings when they become overwhelming. Then, children participate in activities to develop respect for others by recognizing the ways in which people are similar and celebrating the beautiful differences between oneself and others. The next two lessons focus on the feelings and needs of animal companions, followed by a lesson on respecting wildlife and the natural world. Finally, the last two lessons give children a chance to review and demonstrate what they have learned by engaging in various activities that delve into what kindness toward others looks like in practice.
This program is being piloted in over 35 Head Start classrooms in California. The educators teaching the content will complete pre- and post- evaluations to help us assess the effectiveness of these humane education resources for pre-k in addressing social and emotional learning competencies and fostering empathy and compassion toward people and animals.
In the meantime, we are making the new humane education resources for pre-K available for free download to anyone who would like to utilize it, including educators, parents, and guardians. Our goal is to make well-developed humane education resources as accessible as possible so that teaching humane education becomes commonplace in all educational learning environments from pre-K to grade 12. If you utilize the content, we would be thrilled to hear from you…please let us know what you and your students think of the Kindness for All curriculum.
You can read more about this joint effort in a recent Laguna Beach newspaper article.