Two weeks ago, I attended my daughter’s second grade open house. Fortunately for us, school drama at the beginning of the year was kept to a minimum because my daughter is in a looped class (same teacher/students, grades 1-2). I expected the usual run-down of the upcoming curriculum, pack an extra set of clothes reminder…you know or remember the drill. So, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the teacher begin the parent meeting by talking about the importance of social skills and how the students would be learning about the importance of community.
Community. Other people besides themselves.
Perhaps this does not seem significant to you, but as the parent of an almost-eight year old girl, this is a big deal. This means she is learning she is not the center of the universe. She may be special, but so are others. She may have needs, but so do others and it is her responsibility to be aware of others.
The teacher informed parents that she describes the classroom to the students as a community. The other students that make up this community should be treated like family. You may not like your family members all the time. Sometimes you may be upset with a family member. No matter what may occur, the other students are family and are to be respected.
Needs vs. Desires
As part of the social studies curriculum this year, students will research three cultures. The goal of this exercise is to not just memorize a bunch of facts, but understand that other people have different needs, desires and challenges. This is teaching children to view things from another perspective and determine the difference between needing something for survival and wanting a material item.
Just as students are being taught to think of others as family, they are being encouraged to be aware and elevate others to elevate self. The students are responsible for writing goals that are not exclusive to their own growth, but the include the needs of others. This exercise is to help the children be more aware of the needs and challenges of fellow student and be solution-oriented and help find others solve issues.
Take a lesson from these second graders: Social skills are the foundation to a healthy and well-rounded person. Find the balance between individual and community. Learn to live and let go.
*Also, I am thrilled to report that my daughter used the word “funky” to describe herself in a magazine print collage. This should say everything.