WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN HOW TO HELP OTHERS

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Donal Brennan, Headmaster of The Hampshire School, Chelsea, on the importance of teaching children the value of kindness and charity as global citizens in a turbulent world…

There is a great deal of suffering in our world. Sadly, this is something that our children are accustomed to; they are growing up exposed to images of natural and man-made disasters alike, but it is of the utmost importance that we do not allow them to accept this as the norm. It is vital that we do not allow our children to believe that they are powerless in the face of disaster, and that these events are happening in a world separate to theirs.

Empowering children with the mindset that ‘we can help, we can make a difference’ is therefore a priority at The Hampshire School. Broadly speaking, we do this by placing a great deal of emphasis on the values of caring, giving and kindness.

It is not a case of holding lessons in empathy, or teaching about charity, but ensuring that these principles are embedded in the education that children receive

I firmly believe that this philosophy should be a focus for all schools. It is not a case of holding lessons in empathy, or teaching about charity, but ensuring that these principles are embedded in the education that children receive. This allows children to learn about these principles directly, but also to soak the information up subconsciously. Our commitment to this is demonstrated by our school mission statement: We care for each other.

Never has this been more pertinent than earlier this summer in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The tower is just three miles from our school and the severity of the situation was immediately apparent. We, like many other schools, businesses and families in the area, did what we could to support those affected with donations.

Our contribution though, was driven by our children. I was greeted on that morning by children asking what they could do to help. In the days that followed, this was one of things that stuck with me about that truly horrendous occurrence.

Never has this been more pertinent than in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. We, like many other schools, businesses and families in the area, did what we could to support those affected with donations

For children to fully grasp the importance of principles such as giving and charity, it is important that they also possess the necessary contextual knowledge. By this, I mean an understanding of the world outside of their immediate surroundings. It is important for children to be aware that there are people who have far less than they do and that all over the world there are people living in vastly differing circumstances.

There is, of course, a balance to be found between educating children about the world they are living in and exposing them to harrowing, disturbing and upsetting information. This is a balance that we take very seriously, and are able to judge based on our experience and the understanding we have of our children.

We do not, though, allow this to detract from the importance we place on educating our children about the value of kindness and charity. It is embedded in everything we do, and crucial in our commitment to creating global citizens, prepared for the 21st Century world.

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