What have I been saying all along? That day care is more than a necessary evil? That it is good for children to have social interactions even when they are little little little? That there are hidden benefits to spending time in a group with others? And that mixed-age groups have incredible results that I can’t even describe because there are too many positive interactions to count?
Well I just found somebody who believes me. “Fighting bullying with babies,” posted on the New York Times website last night, explains everything I’ve been trying to say. When bigger kids are around little ones, they are nicer. They quit bullying and take care of each other. The article perfectly describes this little social experiment in which I live and work, except they’re doing it in classrooms.
I would even go so far as to disagree with the statement in the article that “Empathy can’t be taught.” That’s silly. I teach it all the time. Kids get it, all you have to do is live it and they see. But it has to be real, and it has to be constant – that’s the only way they’ll buy it. Otherwise their internal BS detectors go off, and then they write you off. Oh yes, kids are very good at seeing through us. So it’s hard to teach empathy – because we can’t tell them to be nice and then go treat someone like crap – but it’s not impossible. It’s hard to LIVE empathy.
But that’s beside the point. Score one for the day care providers!!! If I’m exuberant, it’s because we don’t win very often. It feels good to be vindicated.