We believe who children become is as important as what they know. That’s why fostering a sense of belongingness is at the center of the Primrose Balanced Learning® curriculum. For 40 years, Primrose schools have been nurturing character and social development alongside skills like reading and math.
Every day, Primrose school teachers foster belongingness in classrooms across the country to help children feel valued and included. In turn, those children are better equipped to show kindness and compassion to others, including those who are different from themselves.
To help you create these learning experiences at home, here are some fun and easy activities rooted in our Balanced Learning approach.
Alike and Different: Look at mirrors, books and pictures with your child as you describe details. For infants, show facial features like eyes, noses and hair and point to these features as you say them out loud. Older children may explore a wide range of books representing characters from around the world, then discuss the many things they have in common (such as we all sleep, eat and like to have fun).
Understanding Emotions: When you read picture books, help your child notice emotions as you describe details in the pictures to build vocabulary and language skills. By identifying emotions in others, your child is more likely to use words to communicate their own emotional wants and needs. You can also use puppetry to role–play helping others who feel sad, angry or scared. Teachers at Primrose schools use our Friends puppets to hold conversations with students so children can have a chance to practice their social skills.
Role-Play: Use puppets or dolls to role–play a variety of challenging social situations and ask your child, “What should they do to help?” or “What would you do?” Engaging in these types of scenarios will help your child begin to develop the skills to handle challenging real-world situations.
What I Like About You Cards: Encourage your child to create a special, handmade card letting a friend or family member know what they like about them. Include a painted handprint and list one special about the person on each of your child’s fingers.
Photo Keepsakes: As your child goes to school each day, this simple item will help them feel an immediate sense of belongingness. To make the tiny photo keepsakes, print color photos of family members on a sheet of thick paper. Cut out each photo and set to the side. Create a tiny frame out of thick cardstock and add a photo to each frame. Your child can keep this in their bookbag and take it out when they want to feel that immediate sense of belongingness!
Friendship Bracelets: Help your child extend a warm welcome to their new friends at school by encouraging them to make friendship bracelets with their friends’ favorite colors and symbols. Ensure each child in the class receives one so that all children feel welcome!
Music and Emotions: Listen to our new song “You Belong” from the National Day of Belongingness. Discuss the different instruments and encourage your child to talk about how the song makes them feel. Do they want to dance? Sing? Run? Music makes each of us feel different ways, so encourage your child to listen to “You Belong” as much as they like to see if they can find new things to love about it. a few of their favorite songs.
Story Time: As you read a book together, talk about the characters of the story, how they solve their problems and how it relates to your life. Encourage your child to discuss what the characters have in common with themselves (e.g., we both like ice cream or both like orange shirts) as well as what differences they have (e.g., they like chocolate ice cream and I like vanilla).
Giving Without Expectation: Look for community service opportunities your family can participate in together like beach or local park clean-up days, delivering meals to the elderly and more. The list is endless!
For more on the Primrose approach to character development and belongingness, check out:
- Fostering a Sense of Belonging in Every Child
- 4 Character Traits That Preschoolers Can Learn
- Fostering Positive Character Traits with the Primrose Friends
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