Kindergarteners Learn Respect for Others through JA Experience

JA volunteer Zulfiya Abdukhalikova from Kazakhstan was teaching JA Ourselves? in Rochester, New York. Initially, she has having a difficult time getting through to the students because English was her second language. But when the teacher intervened and taught the students to open their minds and listen in a different way, the students learned more than an economics lesson.[Kids on rug]Patty Leva, president and CEO of JA of Central Upstate New York, shared the letter her office received from kindergarten teacher Mrs. Roth:In kindergarten, many times concepts are very difficult to understand and to relate to everyday life. With JA, the lessons were reinforced by the great stories we listened to. Students learned that we need to have an understanding of how food is produced, the way we make and save money to buy the things that we need and want and to be respectful of our natural resources. Students were eager to learn new lessons. But the most valuable lesson, in my view, was learning respect for others. Our volunteer was new to our country and was still learning English. She did a great job in our classroom, but little did I know that some students had another view of her. I started to hear comments about the way she spoke and after she left, I decided to give the students another view of the situation. Our children need to understand how people from other countries have traveled a long way to live in America. Sometimes we all take for granted our own freedoms.This young woman had to learn English, which is difficult even for those born here, so you can imagine what it is like for others who speak a totally different language. I explained to students that she came to our class without being paid, which meant she was a volunteer?and we should give her encouragement and not make fun of how she speaks. I continued by saying we were lucky to have her with us. The next class, the students were respectful and listened eagerly to the volunteer?s story. When she left, one student said to me, "Guess what? You were right! I could understand her today because not only did I listen with my ears, I listened with my heart." We could all benefit from lessons like this.

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