July 2022 Newsletter – Community Building: Building Community with Children

Keeping in mind the characteristics of positive communities, here are some ways programs can build a sense of community with children.

  • Common goals
    • Set book-reading or physical activity goals that the class can work toward. Celebrate when goals are reached.
    • Introduce project-based learning that encourages children to cooperate and explore new topics together.
    • Identify a local charity to support by raising funds or collecting goods.
    • Before children enter learning centers, encourage them to create a plan for their play. The plan will likely change as children dig into their play, which is perfectly acceptable.
  • Freedom of expression
    • Ask children to share their opinions about a variety of topics during planned and spontaneous conversations.
    • Allow children time to share their feelings, especially if they are upset about something.
    • Collect children’s thoughts about their work. Write down the stories children tell about their construction and artwork.
    • Encourage children to share their interests and gather their input on topics and activities to explore.
  • Address member concerns with sensitivity
    • Make time to listen to children’s concerns without dismissing their feelings.
    • Address children privately. Avoid public shaming.
    • Acknowledge and validate their feelings, while encouraging them to consider the perspectives of others.
    • Offer children options for solving problems in the future. Help them create positive plans, rather than punishing them.
  • Set clear policies and obligations
    • Work with children to create classroom expectations (rules). These expectations should be positively worded.
    • Develop classroom books about options children can use to solve problems or express their emotions safely.
    • Explore different prosocial traits such as kindness, helpfulness, and caring. Read books, and plan activities that allow children to practice these skills. Point out when children engage in these skills often.
  • Fairness
    • Hold all children to the same standards and expectations and respond to situations in a consistent manner. Ensure this consistency exists across all staff members.
    • Encourage all children to participate in cleaning up after meals and playtime.
    • Ensure all children have the same opportunities to interact and explore. Seek support from others to support children’s unique needs.
  • Celebrate heritage and traditions
    • Encourage children to share their favorite traditions and celebrations with the group. Collect their stories in a class book.
    • Invite children to share stories and symbols of their cultural celebrations with others.
    • Integrate words and phrases from the children’s home language into daily conversations.
    • Reflect diversity in displays and materials available in the building and field trip locations you visit.
    • Share stories about inventors and contributors from different cultures.
  • Promote interactions among members
    • Encourage children to engage with others. Provide sample language they can use to enter into play with others.
    • Assist children in solving conflicts with other children. Help them come up with possible solutions and put the solution in place.
    • Play team and paired games that rely on cooperation.
    • Utilize small group learning as much as possible.
    • Help children connect to the broader community through field trips, visitors, and positive interactions with neighbors.
  • Elect leaders that stand by community values
    • Encourage children to recognize other children who display the character traits the group is exploring, such as the Helping Hand award. Look for opportunities to spread these recognitions to each child throughout the month.
    • Invite children to participate as student representatives on the family committee or other event planning committees.
  • Prioritize effective communication
    • Model active listening skills. Remind children to listen to other children when they are speaking.
    • Start spontaneous and meaningful conversations during mealtimes.
    • Show genuine enthusiasm and interest when interacting with children.
    • Greet children each day by using their name and a special greeting of their choice, such as a hug, high-five, or special handshake.
  • Make smart decisions
    • Help children make connections between their actions and how others feel. Promote empathy.
    • Remind children about the expectations, character traits, and solution options that they created. Help them to compromise and make good choices.
    • Talk about the choices characters in books make. Ask children if they think the decisions are the best ones or whether they would make a similar decision if they were in that situation.
    • Create opportunities for children to vote on activity ideas or make group-based decisions on elements of program planning.


For the main article Community Building, CLICK HERE

For the article Characteristics of Positive Communities, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Community with Families, CLICK HERE

For the article Building a Team Community, CLICK HERE