Teaching Empathy and Respect for All Living Beings

Teaching respect for all living beings, as well as for each other, for our families and for ourselves is paramount to the Cedarsong Way. We were so encouraged to hear a 2 year old caution the other kids not to step on a bug and a 4 year old then chime in "because it’s a living being". One day, we noticed a root becoming exposed by our digging and talked about it with the children. We collectively decided to move to another digging spot to protect the plant’s root. We teach the children how to assess, by looking for evidence, whether a branch is alive before breaking it.

We also place a high priority on teaching empathy no matter what the child’s age. If someone falls in the forest, we encourage the children to stop and check in by asking: “Are you okay, friend?” We teach children how to watch others’ body language, facial expression and body orientation as clues to how a person is feeling.

Although we encourage children to use their power voice in the forest, we teach them how to orient their bodies so their yell has room. We talk about using a gentle voice for requests and using our words instead of our bodies to get our needs met. It was so wonderful to hear a 3 year old say one day, “I feel upset when you break my fairy house” rather than lash out in anger.

Although we discourage references to movie or tv-themed play for several reasons, those references still emerge. When children want to play a Disney superhero or princess game, we encourage them to be creative in imagining a forest superhero or princess. As a result, we have seen many different flower fairies as well as the winter fairy and the spring fairy. One little boy who like to play “ninjas” was encouraged to co-create the play scenario where he was the castle guard for the snow fairy princess.

We often encourage the children to use teamwork and repeatedly say “What’s gonna work?” To which the kids answer with gusto “TEAMWORK!” One day, out of the blue, a three year old starts saying “Teamwork makes the Dream work” and now we repeat that every time we get a chance!

 

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