WE TEACH CHARACTER VALUES, COPING SKILLS & MINDFULNESS
PURPOSE OF SMALL GROUP TIME
To give children the social and emotional building blocks for a positive and productive life.
Young children must cope with more pressure and uncertainty at an earlier age. There are fewer and fewer opportunities for moments of quiet and reflection. Unstructured time to ponder and imagine is a rare occurrence. Time for relationship-building is often limited.
At Mandala, we make time to offer children a different experience, with plenty of time for self-discovery and emotional connection. Small Group offers a special time to care for each child’s spirit.
We have designed our very own curriculum: “Nurturing the Spirit,” to teach interpersonal life skills. Children need “soft skills” (social behavioral skills) as well as “hard skills” (cognitive skills). People skills are as important as facts and academics. Many large companies claim that soft skills may be more critical for long term career development and organizational success than more specific occupational skills.
DAILY “REFLECT and RESPECT” TIME
During our Small Group period we cultivate the soft skills. Each teacher gathers with her eight children for a quiet time of reflection and social-emotional skill-building. The children participate in activities related to a monthly theme such as one of these:
- Growing Gratefulness, Nurturing Compassion, Caring for Mother Earth, Facing Fears
- All About My Feelings, Managing My Anger, Celebrating Me, Calming My Motor
Through the use of relaxation exercises, puppets, symbolic play, story-telling, and creative art, we help young children develop awareness, discharge emotion, build relationships, and learn problem-solving skills. Parents follow their child’s experiences through our monthly newsletter.
We teach empathy, compassion, helpfulness, responsibility, and a respect for differences. We also teach children how to regulate their strong emotions instead of acting them out. Although we teach universal human values throughout the day in all our classrooms, Small Group is the place where we intentionally cultivate these values.
EARLIER IS BETTER
Research tells us the brain is hard-wiring the emotional building blocks for the future during the first years of a child’s life. Empathy, trust, and conscience are built into each child’s internal “roadmap” in the very earliest years. This knowledge makes character-building even more critical during preschool years.
One of our objectives in Small Group is to introduce children to the “language of feelings.” Children who are able to understand and name their feelings have more skills for coping with disappointment and frustration. They can “use their words” rather than simply acting out their distress.
Human beings require an array of life skills to be emotionally healthy and to function successfully in our complex world. Stress-resistant children have certain protective factors that help them deal more effectively. Coping skills and strategies are important protective factors that can be taught early to strengthen resiliency.
TOOLS FOR LIFE
Children at Mandala not learn only to count and recognize their numbers. They also learn to manage emotions, to respect differences, to make amends, and to sit down together and resolve conflicts. When children leave Mandala, they take with them their own “Tools for Life.”