At ConnectKids, we believe that children are the future, and that if we truly want a better future, we need to start teaching our children to love themselves and each other more.
But how do we teach children to embrace diversity, learn tolerance, compassion and self-compassion?
We believe in the power of stories. We believe that children not only love stories, they learn so well from them too. They identify with characters, and can use the stories to think about things that might otherwise seem uninteresting to them, or perhaps, too sensitive for them to discuss.
So we have created an online educational programme using stories, and activities around the stories, for schools and parents to teach children to behave with compassion towards themselves and others, and cross national, religious, racial and other divides, respect the environment and engage in charitable activities from a young age.
The programme has been created for primary school children anywhere in the world, and aims to connect children wherever they are, but we have specifically tailored the material to fit into the UK curriculum’s early Key Stage 2 (i.e. children in the UK aged 8+) PSHE and Citizenship course. The content also links well to other parts of the curriculum, including English, Art, Geography and RE.
The programme brings concepts such as democracy and dictatorship alive by putting children in charge of deciding how they should create the rules of the game “Capture the Flag”.
It uses “feeling” stories such as the Ugly Duckling and Clarence the Clumsy Calf (who is bull-ied by the bull-ies and needs to learn life skills to cope), to help children to empathise with characters and situations, and perhaps explore their own feelings about being different, and engage with these feelings, without feeling exposed.
There are four “thinking” stories about a parrot, called Pete, and a young boy and girl, called Tom and Tami, to allow children to think about and engage in activities about the differences and commonality we have as human beings, consider why some people may be different to them, what those differences might be, and whether the differences are of any significance at all.
There are also "doing" stories about individuals who have managed to make their mark on history by doing something such as overcoming adversity, standing up to prejudice of whatever kind, or somehow highlighting the plight of a people or group – these are stories about real life heroes with whom children can identify, such as Malala Yousafzai; Iqbal Masih; Nelson Mandela; Helen Keller; Emmeline Pankhurst; Martin Luther King; Mahatma Gandhi; Anne Frank; Mother Theresa; and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.
We also use Butterfly Blue - a story about how children save a species of butterfly from extinction - and Relate to a Cause bracelets, so the children can get involved in learning about, and raising money for, various causes, and understand, that even though they are young children, they can still effect positive change in this world and make a difference to their own and other’s lives.
The early Key Stage 2 material has been written, and our website has gone live, but we now need you to help this business launch.
The next stages include the following:
- The programme envisages that the children jointly create class-illustrated versions of various books - we are busy working on creating a seamless system for the books to be created, printed and purchased online.
- We then want to actively market the resources here in the UK. This could include school visits, training days, etc. We intend to use a subscription model, but the programme is being offered for free at present.
- Once we have a critical mass of schools using the programme, we aim to facilitate online school links to enable children throughout the UK to communicate, co-operate and learn from each other, and work together on projects to change our world for good.
- We also plan to write content for an older age-group of primary school children, with a focus on teaching negotiation skills, so that the future generation has the skills to go beyond taking positions, and can learn to compromise and meet each other’s interests instead.
- Finally, once we have consolidated this work in the UK, we aim to broaden our base, reach out and provide the programme to schools throughout the world and link them to other schools, everywhere, so that we can truly connect children, globally.
Vote for ConnectKids - and together we can inspire and empower our children to effect some positive change, and teach them that we have got to love to live.