Relationships & Community (3 - 5 yrs.)
Essential learning happens for your child through her relationships with friends, siblings, and family members, and as she engages with members of the community. The caring moments that your family shares, and even some of the everyday conflicts, help your child to grow stronger and to build skills that will allow her to thrive in school and in life.
The relationships your child builds with family and friends help her to feel confident and secure and help her to form her identity and sense of self. Through these relationships she learns valuable skills such as how to collaborate, listen, take turns, understand the perspective of others, and solve problems. Whether through sharing a favorite toy with a sibling or friend, hearing a story from a grandparent, eating a meal together with cousins, or snuggling with you at bedtime, the experiences your child shares through close relationships provide a foundation of support and an opportunity for learning and growth.
But important relationships don’t end at home. When your child engages with people in the community, she discovers some of the many ways that we are all connected and learns that we must work together, help one another, and learn from one another. Knowing that she is part of a community builds your child’s sense of belonging and her sense of responsibility. It also helps her to appreciate all the ways that people are alike and all the ways that we are different, too.
Building relationships and connecting with a community can happen at any time and anywhere. For instance, on a trip to the grocery store your child can discover all the different people who help families get the food they need to live, such as farmers, delivery people, and store employees.
In this video you’ll meet children from four families:
- Marli (age 3) as she interacts with helpers at her neighborhood store.
- Joaquin (age 4) and his older brother Tariq (age 12) as they play together at home.
- Twins Mike and Luke (age 4) and their little sister Amelia (age 2) as they learn from a grocery store employee.
- Yoong (age 4) as he uses technology to grow his long-distance relationship with his grandparents.
Watch as these children learn from their relationships and their communities.
A Child’s World. In the video you saw children interact with family, friends, and community members. Joaquin practiced sharing, collaborating, and listening as he built with his brother. Twin brothers Mike and Luke interacted with some neighborhood helpers as they bought groceries with their parents at their local store. Everyday experiences like these help children to discover that they are connected to others and that we must all work together and respect one another.
In the video you saw Marli’s father help his daughter make connections to her community and interact with the store clerk. Her father prompted Marli to talk with the clerk and ask him questions, and he also involved the clerk in helping Marli to count the eggs. What are some other ways that the parents in the video helped their children engage with people in their community and build community connections? What are some of the things that you do to help your child interact with others?
Try This. Together, talk about all the people who play an important role in your child’s life. Include family members, friends, and community helpers. Encourage your child to draw a picture of each person. Then staple the pages together to create an “important people book.” You might try sharing stories about the people in this book with your child at bedtime.
Building Relationships. In the video, Yoong connects with his grandparents on a video chat. Together they share news and even sing together. Although Yoong and his grandparents use a computer and a video chat, other families might connect by visiting if they live near by or by phone, email, or mail. As your child connects with grandparents and other relatives, he learns family traditions and develops a sense of who he is and where he comes from. The love and support he gets from these relatives also helps to build his confidence and gives him a strong foundation of support.
Try This. Look through photo albums and tell stories about the family members that you see. Try telling stories about times different family members helped one another. Make a plan to call, video chat, write, or visit these loved ones and encourage your child to ask them to share more family stories.
Part of a Community. In the video, Marli meets the store clerk who sells some of the food her family eats. Mike and Luke learn that the people they encounter at their neighborhood store can be a helpful source of information. When your child participates in her community and gets to know the people who help make her neighborhood function, she learns that we are all connected and must help one another, listen, share, and collaborate.
Try This. On your next walk or errand, point out the different community helpers that you pass. You might draw your child’s attention to a fire fighter, librarian, nurse, postal worker, store clerk, crossing guard, or teacher. Describe the responsibilities that each person has and discuss how those responsibilities help members of the community.