It All Started with Wooden Building Blocks...

Posted: Monday, December 06, 2010

Little Ivy Students learn to Care and Share

Sometimes the building blocks for acts of kindness begin with, well... actual wooden building blocks.

During this holiday season, the two Senior Nursery classes at Little Ivy Learning Center are participating in the Volunteer Center of Bergen County's "All Wrapped Up Holiday Giving Program". Each class has "adopted" two local children in need with holiday gift wish lists that would otherwise go unfilled. Along with their families and teachers, the students in each class are combing through the wish lists of their adopted brothers and sisters and making plans to make those wishes a reality.

"The key for this important lesson in sharing and caring for others is that the ages of the children we've adopted (three-years-old) are the same as those in our classes," said Little Ivy Senior Nursery Teacher Heather Hubert.

From her students' point of view, "they're everyday kids. They're you, they're me," she said.

In Mrs. Hubert's class, such acts of kindness are more than a one and done lesson for the holiday season. Lessons in sharing and opportunities for caring about others are a daily part of life in her classroom. In fact, these lessons oft-times begin in her classroom's building block center, a popular destination each day for many of her three-year-old students.

At the start of a new school year, when the typical three-year-old needs an extra building block or two to complete their construction effort, they naturally don't think twice to take it from the classmate who is building their own structure nearby. This provides Mrs. Hubert with an opportunity to build a foundation for her students to learn about caring for and sharing with others.

"Kids first need to learn, 'Would we like someone to do this to us?'"

"Once they understand how they would feel, they start to understand that someone else would feel the same way, and from there they begin to learn about caring for others, and then to share with others," she said.

As Thanksgiving approaches, the time is ripe to build on these early lessons by reaching out beyond classmates, friends, and families to the broader community. Mrs. Hubert uses stories about the Indians and Pilgrims sharing food as a jumping off point for participation in Little Ivy's annual school wide food drive for the Social Service Agency of Ridgewood and Vicinity.

Searching for a way this year to extend these lessons from school to something her children could participate in with their parents, Mrs. Hubert remembered that her family has been adopting a family through the All Wrapped Up program for several years.

"Instead of my little family doing this, I thought, why not have the whole class do it?"

After reaching out to Miss Dee, the head teacher in Little Ivy's second Senior Nursery class, Mrs. Hubert enlisted the help of the Senior Nursery class moms, who she said also were enthusiastic about the idea of having their children adopt children in need and providing them with toys, clothes, and food from their wish lists.

"This provides an opportunity for parents to talk to their kids about helping kids in need, and shopping with them for these gifts," she said.

...And it all started with three-year-olds playing with building blocks.

Additional Information: Little Ivy Learning Center provides thoughtfully crafted childcare, pre-school and kindergarten programs for children ages 12-months through age 6 with an emphasis on personalized learning and small classes in bright, cozy classrooms.

They offer their students and their parents with a range of flexible, full-day, AM or PM programs from 7a.m.-6:30p.m., including PreschoolPlus and KindergartenPlus (12-month childcare, plus academic pre-school/kindergarten and summer camp); Preschool (toddler/junior/senior nursery school and academic pre-K); PM Kindergarten Enrichment (with transportation from select local schools); Transitional Kindergarten; Kindergarten and Summer Camp.

Little Ivy Learning Center is a private independent preschool, kindergarten, and childcare center located in the Education Building on the historic campus of the Old Paramus Reformed Church, 660 East Glen Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ. To learn more, visit www.mylittleivy.com or e-mail Little Ivy's Director, Stephanie Bassler at info@mylittleivy.com

The All Wrapped Up Holiday Giving Program is sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, founded in 1966 by the Junior League of Bergen County and a group of concerned community representatives who saw the need for a clearinghouse to match volunteers with social service agencies that needed their help. To learn more, visit, www.bergenvolunteers.org.

The Social Service Association of Ridgewood & Vicinity, provides a full range of services throughout the year for local individuals and families in need, including its food pantry, clothing and food vouchers, housing assistance, various scholarships and senior citizen case management. To learn more, visit www.ssa6.org.