Third grade students learn about celebrating differences

Created by Lower School Diversity Coordinator Acacia Kelly, T.I.E.D. (Teaching Inclusivity and Embracing Diversity) Together exists to teach children how to view themselves and others as Christ does through age-appropriate conversations. To support the mission of T.I.E.D. together, lower school teacher plan time each month for conversations centered around diversity and inclusion. 
Third grade teacher Madison Thomas ‘09 recently opened the door to a meaningful discussion about how to celebrate differences and show kindness to others. To explore these concepts in a way that resonates with third grade students, her class read Jacqueline Woodson’s book Each Kindness. 

Each Kindness tells the story of a new student named Maya who dresses differently than the rest of her class and appears to belong to a different socioeconomic background. The main character, Chloe, and her friends reject this new student because of her differences. After Chloe learns about small acts of kindness and the ripple effect kindness has in the world, she wants to make amends with Maya. Around this time, Maya stops coming to school, and eventually the story concludes when the teacher announces that Maya has moved away. 

“The ending of the book is always hard because we want happy endings,” explained Thomas. “But I actually do think it’s a great ending because something did happen in Chloe’s heart. Something changed.” 

Thomas explained to her class that Chloe realized that she had mistreated her classmate, and she desperately wanted to make it right. She wanted to learn to celebrate her friend's differences through small acts of kindness. Though Chloe was unable to apologize or right her wrongs, Thomas shared that the next time a new student came to school, Chloe would likely go out of her way to make that student feel welcomed despite any differences.  

Following the discussion of the book, students brainstormed what small acts of kindness might look like towards themselves, their friends and family, and their community. Some examples included... 
  • Including others at sports practices. 
  • Being nice to their siblings. 
  • Forgiving themselves. 
  • Saying sorry.
  • Having good manners.
“Ultimately, the whole reason we are learning about kindness is because Jesus loved us first. He is the ultimate example,” explained Thomas. 

Way to go, third grade!