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Bananas or Blueberries? Student-Led Citizenship in the ELP

Some people sit around waiting to be told what to do, while other people go out looking for ways to make the world better. At KCS, we always teach our students to choose the second path.
 
That’s why we’re constantly looking for ways to empower our students to initiate positive change. Because it doesn’t matter how old they are – every student can find a way to help others.
 
This year we saw a beautiful and organic example of student-led citizenship in the Early Learning Program (Pre-K to SK). At the start of the year, one of the SK classes began using a Pre-Kindergarten classroom in the afternoon for occasional lessons and work sessions. After a little while, the students started to figure out that the space wasn’t just a classroom for them. Some other people seemed to be using it as well!
 
So they started a very simple – but meaningful – inquiry project. They left a note on the PK classroom whiteboard, asking some questions about the room and its inhabitants. You can imagine the joy they felt when they arrived the next day and found a response waiting for them from the PKs and their teachers!
 
Over the next few months, notes went back and forth between the two classes. Questions were asked, suggestions were made, and compliments were given. The SKs came to visit the PKs, and the PKs made a special “field trip” to visit the SKs in their main classroom.
 
In the midst of all this back and forth communication, the SKs began to focus their attention on one of the most important things in any young student’s day – snack time! They noticed that the PK class took a vote each week to decide what to have for snack. So they decided to see if the PK teachers needed any help with this vital job.
 
To prepare for their role as snack coordinators, the SK students researched past snacks, talked about healthy vs. unhealthy choices, and brainstormed a series of snack options for their PK friends. They then wrote and drew pictures for the PKs to vote on each week – a task that they took on with great care and seriousness. There was even a magical day when the PKs had their snack outside during the SK’s time in the outdoor classroom, and the SKs were invited to help actually distribute the snacks!
 
The thing we love about this story is the fact that it all came from the kids themselves. These young five- and six-year-old SKs first became aware that they were part of a wider whole. Then they reached out and forged a connection between themselves and others in their community. Finally, they found a way to put their empathy and desire to help into action in a real and meaningful way. All the while, their teachers went out of their way to encourage and validate the entire experience.
 
We adults might not think picking between bananas and blueberries is a big deal. But to a special group of SKs and PKs, choosing a snack became a way for them to discover the fact that a little self-motivation and compassion is all you need to make the world a better place. 
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