Extending their influence: taking action in the Infant School
By Alice Whitehead, Grade 1 Teacher, Head of Primary School Global Concerns, Dover Campus
“So what is ‘service’ and why do we do it?” I asked a group of K2 and Grade 1 children who are attending the Infant Service after school activity this season.
“It’s about helping the world and taking care of people that are sick,” says Cathal.
“It’s planting trees and taking care of the environment and not hunting down animals,” claims John Jae.
“We do it because it helps the world and the environment and it helps us,” says Bhavia.
These understandings may seem simplistic, but to an Infant School child the problems in the world are fairly simple. If things are broken, they can and should be fixed, and this can be done by all of us pitching in to help, and above all, being kind.
The Infant Service activity is a new addition to the optional after school activity programme at Dover Campus and aims to introduce some of our youngest students to the concept of ‘service’ and to build on the understanding of what it means to serve others and take responsibility for shaping a better world, in line with the UWC mission.
This activity runs in addition to the Service curriculum in the Infant School, which includes learning about the Global Concerns projects the Infant School is affiliated with and a yearly Service learning experience. Service experiences for K2 and Grade 1 students include hosting an afternoon tea for elderly residents of a local care home, and visiting senior community homes to deliver gifts (purchased with money earned at home through doing jobs). K1 students have looked closely at how to make people feel welcome and created activities for hosting children from Street 11, a local kindergarten, and they spent a number of weeks playing together and building relationships.
The students who participate in the Infant Service activity can eventually become Service ‘ambassadors’ in the Infant School who talk to their peers and families about what ‘service’ means. “We listen very carefully to tell our parents so we can do it one day. We teach our parents about Service often,” says Joaquin. Each week the ambassadors report back to their class, sharing what they have done at the activity the day before. This is made easier by the use of a blog which includes photographs and video about each week’s learning.
One of the key components of the activity sessions is the concept of taking action. The children undertake small tasks around the College to learn in a hands-on manner how they can help. This includes things like picking up rubbish on campus or watering plants. Last season the students worked on a bigger project and organised a bake sale to raise funds for the two Global Concerns projects that the Infant School are connected to: Mumbai Mobile Creches and ACRES. Where possible the action taken is student-initiated and we have found our young learners have plenty of ideas about how they can help! As part of the sessions there have also been visits from older students to talk about the Service work that they have done. The children learn about how action in Service can start and at this level much of it begins in their immediate environment by helping people they know. The Service team recently visited the Facilities Department on Dover Campus and helped them to clean up rubbish and leaf litter. As Lyla, a Grade 1 student says, “Service makes the world a better place. It brings peace and love to the earth.”