February brings visions of love to the minds of many, whether it's displayed in the form of a dozen roses or a cartoon-inspired Valentine from a box.
Annually, The Goddard School, a national early childhood education chain, spends a week during this lovey-dovey month promoting not only romantic love, but friendship, empathy, respect and compassion among its young charges.
The Goddard School in Wayland participates in the national activities and for local program director Jan Tiger, it is a fun week with an important purpose.
“Every day the kids have been doing something different – all of it revolving around friendship and confirmation," Tiger said.
Tiger said that the students, they range from 6 weeks old to 6 years old at Goddard, each approached the tasks of the week in a different way, but all of them in a way that is intended to be play-based, a curriculum method The Goddard School employs.
“A key benefit of this approach to learning is its emphasis on building self-esteem and confidence as children try, and succeed at, new challenges," said Joe Schumacher, CEO of Goddard Systems, Inc., in a press release. "A confident child is much less likely to develop into a bully or to accept bullying from another child."
On Monday, the students helped write and then perform a song about friendship; on Thursday, they wrote and sent cards to U.S. troops serving overseas; and on Friday, Community Hero Day, the kids met and interacted with Natick police officer Thomas Butler and Armstrong Ambulance Service Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) A.J. Krebs and Ari Winograd.
“Not all heroes have capes and super powers," Tiger said. "Community Heroes Day makes the idea of a hero more real for kids. A hero can be anyone who helps people. So really a kid can be a hero just by helping someone else.”
The week's events culminated in the Goddard Community Games on Saturday, a day when parents who are typically working during their child's school day could come to Goddard and experience the play-based learning along with their child.
"It's an opportunity for families of current students to do something as a family,” Tiger said of the Saturday games. In addition, the day was open to families from the community who are not currently enrolled at Goddard.
"The kids are really into it," Tiger said of the week's activities. "We hope we are building the esteem of the kids and building their confidence and empowering them to use their words."