A Christmas tree made of Christmas boxes
EACH week, students from Kindergarten to Year 6 at Dubbo South Public School pass through Alexandra Prince’s classroom for music and drama lessons but it’s not just a cultural learning experience for them, there’s a very real embodiment of community.
“There is a sign at the front of my classroom which says ‘Our purpose is to help others’,” Mrs Prince said.
“Every week, no matter what the lesson, we always find a way to bring this idea into what we are talking about.
“With this purpose in mind, children have been encouraged to take action and make a difference to the lives of others less fortunate than themselves,” she said.
One of the ways in which the students have taken action is by supporting the Christmas Box program for a number of years, and the number of boxes donated is growing each year.
Inside each box are gifts that include: something to love, something to wear, something for school, something for hygiene and something to play with.
“Children are encouraged to write a personal message and are also able to choose the age of the child the present is for,” Mrs Prince said.
Once all the boxes are collected, a school handover assembly is staged where a huge Christmas Tree is built, using the Christmas Boxes, so the students can see that each box counts and is part of the bigger picture.
She said each box has been thoughtfully and carefully packed for a child who has never received a Christmas present in their entire life.
“We as a school community have contributed 289 Christmas
presents this year, this is a result of us working together – children, teachers, support staff, parents, grandparents, and the children, grandchildren and friends of the staff at our school,” Mrs Prince said.
“It is a wonderful project to teach children the important lesson of thinking of others as well as appreciating and valuing the life we have.
“It provides our children lifelong lessons in kindness, generosity and gratitude, and the smiles on our kids’ faces knowing they have made a difference to someone else is truly wonderful,” she said.
WHILE kids at South Dubbo Public School get a good dose of learning how to care for others less fortunate, thanks to the dedication of individual staff members, in Denmark empathy training for school students is part of the national curriculum.
The United Nation's (UN) World Happiness Report ranked Denmark among the happiest countries from a field of 155 nations. It's been in the top three for the past seven years and apparently the biggest factor contributing to Denmark’s record is the ‘empathy hour’ they observe in their schools.
Since 1993 all Denmark schools dedicate one hour each week to Klassens tid, where students of from ages six to 16 have to attend this fundamental class focused on empathy.
Students work on being more empathic which helps them build better relationships and be more successful later in life, and it also helps prevent bullying in schools.
Leaders across this happy society maintain the importance of empathy and believe teenagers especially can greatly benefit from empathy classes as kids can often develop narcissistic traits at this age.
The empathy classes encourage students to discuss current problems they face in their school or personal lives, and by sharing with their classmates and teacher they then try to work out potential solutions based on that shared listening and understanding.
A huge Christmas Tree was built using the Christmas Boxes donated by Dubbo South Public School students. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED