For many parents – and their kids – August marks a seasonal shift. School's either already starting or just about to. When you're aiming to be a shareable parent, though, your child's education in the art of sharing isn't tied to the wheels on the bus; your efforts must go round and round even outside the academic year. To aid your endeavors, here are Shareable's top five how to guides for parents.
How to Teach Your Kid to Share
When sharing isn't a globally modeled behavior among adults, teaching kids to fall for the whole “it's good to share” propaganda can be rough goings. Still, we must forge on and find readily available examples to lean on. Jeremy Adam Smith suggests that we needn't look too far: “The fact that we struggle so long and so hard with our children to teach them to share their freaking trucks and dolls tells us that sharing can be like going to the dentist – and yet it's essential (not unlike dentistry's relationship to our bicuspids) to a healthy life and society. … But look at life in most of our homes. … The intrinsically altruistic nature of family life provides us with a model for a more shareable society.”
How to Raise Non-Competitive Kids
Along the same lines, rearing kids who aren't competitive can be a mighty challenge. This is particularly true in the United States where getting ahead, winning at all costs, is a way of life for so many. From musical chairs to spelling bees, children are forced to go head-to-head from a very early age. This, according to progressive education advocate Alfie Kohn, is how we learn a behavior that is not actually part of our human nature: “The message that competition is appropriate, desirable, required, and even unavoidable is drummed into us from nursery school to graduate school; it is the subtext of every lesson.”
A single butterfly holds numerous lessons for kids. Photo credit: Jackie Adams. Used with permission.
How to Start a Nature Group for City Kids
In addition to coming together to start a new farmers' market, the residents of the Noe Valley neighborhood in San Francisco, California, decided to create something for their kids. They secured a mini-grant from First 5's San Francisco Parent Action program and hopped to the task of bringing their idea to life. Quite simply, they wanted to teach young children about bees and butterflies. The group's co-founder, Beth Saiki, explained, “We felt these insects would provide a wonderful opportunity for our children to learn about the natural world, ecological interdependence, and the importance of caring for our environment.” Some of the learning experiences have included field trips, candle making, and garden planting.
How to Plant a Habitat Garden at the Local Playground
As mentioned, one of the projects undertaken by the Noe Valley Bees and Butterflies group was planting a garden. It just so happens, they chose to do so – with the city's permission, of course – in a small patch of dirt at the neighborhood playground. Beth Saiki, the group's leader, observed, "We hope that the habitat garden in Noe Courts will capture the interest of children and help them to learn about our pollinator friends and their habitat. Who knows, the habitat garden may even inspire children and their families to plant habitat gardens in their own backyards."
How to Share an Education
Up in Ithaca, New York, community members have united to offer an alternative education to their kids and themselves – one that includes mushroom hunting, bike repair, know your rights with debtors, and D.I.Y. movie making. The volunteer-run Ithaca Freeskool provides a space for people to share their knowledge, interests, skills, and passions. As Lily Gershon wrote, “Anyone can teach for the Freeskool, so the semesters take on the flavor of whatever people are interested in at the time. … On the other hand, some classes arise out of a need. An issue becomes important in the community and there is a sudden hunger for information – the Freeskool becomes a vehicle for sharing, processing and problem-solving.”
Do you have other ideas for passing on lessons in sharing? Please add your wisdom in the comments.
Be sure to check out our complete list of sharing how-tos. Here are more of our top how-to stories: