"This is the place of love", one of my boys said as he walked past the art table where the children were making Valentine's Day cards.
This was what I was hoping to create in our kindergarten last week in honour of Valentine's Day. This year we've had more snatching, grabbing and hitting then I'm used to seeing. Gorgeous individual personalities, but many children who have been the only one for three or four years and who are finding sharing and compromising a bit challenging. I'm hoping they can start considering others a little more, and I know they will with guidance because I'm seeing it happening beautifully with last year's children. I see last year's children standing patiently in the line to scrape their bowls, saying nothing, while the younger children push in front of them to be the first in line.
Some of them seem to have arrived with a kind of 'famine' mentality, like they have to grab as much of everything as they can in case there is not enough to go around. I've always reminded the children that we have plenty of everything, so it would be nice if they would offer the tongs to someone else so that they can get their fruit first. Sometimes they do this, and I give them lots of positive acknowledgement for it. When they hurt each other I ask them to check to see if the other person is alright. I don't ask them to say sorry. I want them to stop and acknowledge that someone is hurt whether it was unintended or happened out of frustration.
As well as writing cards to their parents telling them that they loved them, we had some talks about how we can make other people happy. I kept saying that this week it's 'all about love' for Valentine's Day. We had a wonderful, romantic candlelit lunch on Friday. The children picked and arranged the flowers and set the tables. They made sure everybody understood how important it was to be safe around the candles. They were not perfect, there was still competition about the fruit, but they tried. On Friday afternoon, as she walked out with her Dad, I heard one of the girls say, "everybody loves". Well, I'm glad to know that they understood me in theory, if not yet in practice.