The youth of today are more connected, more involved and becoming more socially aware; but what is an appropriate age for parents and educators to start thinking about instilling philanthropic values in children? What age is the prime time to instill values and concepts like charity, generosity, and social responsibility? For Brooklyn moms Jennifer Cullert, Debra Sapp, and Jaimee Schultz, the perfect age is the 3 to 5 year old pre-school age group.
Little Givers is the brainchild of Jennifer, Debra, and Jaimee, who noticed that while there was an abundance of classes for music, gym, and art, there were a lack of offerings that would engage their children in social awareness and their role in the community. “Our children are getting to the age where they are able to grasp the concepts of giving back to the community,” says Jaimee, mother of two young boys, “But there were no classes that would put all those activities, such as music and art, together in a more meaningful way.”
On August 4th, FLiP had the pleasure of visiting the introductory class of Little Givers, a charitable giving and social awareness oriented enrichment program for pre-school aged children. Little Givers will be held in 11-week sessions, with a curriculum (developed and taught by a certified early education specialist) that infuses fun, age-appropriate activities with the concepts of charitable giving and social awareness. Each week, the children will participate in projects that support various community organizations, and an end-of-semester family field trip will solidify the lessons learned by involving the parents in the Little Givers experience.
During the introductory class, the children explored the question: “Who makes you feel good”, and how they would like to help and thank those people in return. The lesson was designed to familiarize the children with the concept that they should help people the same way that others, such as their parents and friends, help them in their everyday lives. The activities were engaging and thought provoking, and taught the children that helping others feels good for everyone involved.
One of the art projects involved the children decorating leaves on which they had written a person or thing that made them feel good, and placed it on a “giving tree” on the wall. The children then explained why those individuals or things made them feel good. One little boy explained that his mom made him feel good because she would hug him, and another little girl said that running with her friends made her feel good because they like to play together.
At the end of the class, the children were presented with handouts for their parents, which detailed the core concepts behind the session and gave suggestions for at-home instructions and activities that would reinforce the lessons taught that day. The Little Givers curriculum is designed so that every session has a theme. These themes build upon each other throughout the course, aiming to help children understand their role in society and how they can become active citizens of the world.
Philanthropy is no longer viewed as limited to those with financial wealth, and the desire of younger generations to actively contribute to the community in a hands-on manner continues to grow. While community service is de rigueur in secondary education, the opportunities for pre-school aged children are few and far between. The Little Givers curriculum aims to fill this void by instilling the values and concepts of philanthropy at the crucial developmental ages of three to five year olds. When asked about future plans for Little Givers, the co-founders responded, “We would like to expand locations and age-groups, and as we are able to expand, we would like to develop a program that can be used within schools. The New York City Department of Education has mandated that all public schools engage in at least one service project during the academic year, and we hope that in the future we can develop Little Givers into a fully incorporated part of the community service curriculum.”