What Makes Children Happy
By Magda Zambet
Educational Director, Gradinita Rasarit kindergarten in Bucharest, Romania
What makes children happy? Who has that key? As parents or teachers, we would love to know the secret of children’s happiness. As adults we delight in sharing in a even a drop of the pure happiness of childhood.
Even if there is a child deep down within, the innocence and spontaneous joyfulness of childhood tend to remain hidden. Nonetheless, as adults we provide an example to children emotionally. When we are smiling and relaxed we transmit wellbeing to the child. However it is not realistic to expect that we should make children happy all the time. Children need to learn to tolerate a certain amount of upset feelings as well.
Each achievement in life increases children’s confidence and satisfaction in their own abilities and strengths. We just need to take the time to give them encouragement. Accordingly, in our neohumanist kindergarten in Bucharest, we strive not only to bring happiness and love into the child’s life but also to help him learn from his mistakes, to be persistent and disciplined and ultimately to experience success through his own strengths.
Our kindergarten teachers encourage the children to express their emotions, but that works only to the extent that the teachers are able to recognize and control their own states of being. All of the kindergarten staff teach children to love unconditionally, to accept, to tolerate, to give and to help. These are simple and common sense principles underlying neohumanist education. We teach children from a young age, how important it is to help others who need our support and to be involved in activities that have no personal benefit, but rather help someone else.
Our teachers help the children to form a taste for activities that help others, thus developing their spirituality. We organized visits this past year to other associations, including the “Friendship” Association, which houses adults with developmental disabilities. There we had a chance to weave alongside some of the adults living there. We also had a the chance to learn
We also visited a local nursing home “Baroness” twice, as well as reaching out to families who have family members with a disability, in order to involve the children as volunteers who can make a difference to others in the community. We do as much as we can to involve the children regularly in being part of solving social problems or ecological problems. Indeed, in our Neohumanist Curriculum we decided on three main themes: I discover the world! (Vistara), I love (Rasa), and I can help (Seva). The thematic content reflects these themes, and we always extend any current theme to also look for ways we can help others or be in the flow of love. In this way, children leaving our Neohumanist program will have these two messages – about love, and also about helping others as an ongoing way of life.
Whether learning to protect nature, or visiting lonely elderly people together, or interacting with disabled children, volunteering offers opportunities to the children to be involved in helping a fellow human being. It also encourages socializing and stimulates creativity. With our help and that of the neohumanist education system, children who grow up in this system, learn from a young age to help those who need extra support, without expecting anything in return or any material benefits. The thanks they receive is that inner satisfaction which is anyhow much greater than what they have already received.