Why Connectkids?

Why Connect Kids?

World leaders seem to agree that there’s an urgent need to teach our children to respect and understand each other more. But how do you teach children to embrace diversity and learn tolerance?

We believe in the power of stories. We believe that children not only love stories; they learn so well from them too. They identify with characters and can use the stories to think about things might otherwise seem uninteresting to them or, perhaps, too sensitive for them to discuss.

So we have created a programme using stories, and activities around the stories, for schools and parents to teach children to learn to love themselves and each other more. These stories aim to teach children to cross national, religious, racial and other divides, respect the environment and engage in charitable activities from a young age.

The programme has been created for primary school children anywhere in the world and aims to connect children all over the world. We have specifically tailored the material to fit into the UK curriculum’s early Key Stage 2 (i.e. children in the UK aged 7-8) PSHE and Citizenship course, but the content also links well to other parts of the curriculum, including English, Art, Geography and RE.

Why Stories?

Discussing difference and how we deal with difference isn’t exactly easy – right? This isn’t just about having a chat about difference on an intellectual level. This kind of discussion will inevitably raise some emotional issues and the last thing we want is to leave our children feeling exposed, named and shamed. The playground is a tough place – we all still bear the scars of things that were said to us when we were very young and learning how to be. The aim is not to draw attention to difference in a way that will arm those playground fiends with more ammunition – the aim is rather to teach our children to better understand and celebrate themselves and their differences and learn how to stand up for themselves and others and so quiet those playground fiends – in the playground and in our children’s minds.

We believe that the way to have these sensitive discussions is through story. We believe that stories allow teachers and parents to raise these sensitive issues and engage children in discussion around these issues without children feeling so exposed, and perhaps vulnerable, or even ashamed. Children are by nature imaginative and this can be used to help them to understand diversity and learn tolerance.

We have used stories in three ways:

  • The first type of story we would describe as “a “thinking” story”. These stories raise some sensitive issues for discussion and exploration. These stories are intended for use in an academic way and on an intellectual level and are aimed at stimulating discussion around the fact that people could be of a different nationality, language, religion, colour, gender, age, etc. to that of our own, but we are all human beings after all, and despite our differences, we should behave with compassion towards one another because of our commonality. These stories, and the activities that accompany them, are intended to allow children to simply think about the differences and commonality they have as human beings, why some people may be different to them, what those differences might be, and whether the differences are of any significance at all. See: Say “Hello” Pete; Pete the Faithful Friend; Colourful Pete; and Pete’s View.
  • The second type of story we would describe as “a “doing” story”. These stories are about individuals who have managed to make their mark on history by doing something such as overcoming adversity, standing up to prejudice of whatever kind or somehow highlighting the plight of a people or group – these are real life heroes with whom children can identify. See: The Gallery of Heroes (which includes brief biographies of Malala Yousafzai; Iqbal Masih; Nelson Mandela; Helen Keller; Emmeline Pankhurst; Martin Luther King; Mahatma Gandhi; Anne Frank; Mother Theresa; and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama)
  • The third type of story we would describe as “a “feeling” story”. These stories use image and metaphor to help children to identify and empathise with characters or situations and so get in touch with their own feelings about an issue. With these stories we aim to provide an avenue for children to explore their own feelings about being different (such as feeling lonely, feeling left out or bullied), and engage with these feelings without the child feeling exposed. See: Clarence the Clumsy Calf and the online videos of The Ugly Duckling and Lambert the Sheepish Lion.
  • We also aim to provide an avenue for children to learn, through stories, that even though they are children, they can still effect positive change in this world and make a difference to their own and other’s lives. See: Butterfly Blue and Let’s Make a Difference.

How to use this Programme

We suggest that you follow the programme as outlined and that each story is read through with the class first, and the activities then completed as described, but you are, of course, free to do as you choose. There are enough lesson plans for you to teach this programme once a week, but you can cut down on the material and choose only a few.

Each lesson is explained to you in the lesson plans and, where applicable, is accompanied by resources for you to use and handouts for you to print off and provide to the children so that they can complete the activities described.

You may edit the lesson plans and handouts and may print off or photocopy as you deem fit within your school/ organisation only. No part of this material may be edited and/or used outside of your school/organisation for resale purposes without the prior written permission of the author.

We strongly recommend that you get the children to keep a journal and encourage them to write down their thoughts about the journey they go on by doing this programme.

We hope that you and they enjoy the journey and that, together, we can touch, move, inspire and empower our children to effect some positive change and teach them that we have got to love to live.