Culture of compassion key to long-term sustainability

A pre-schooler from the Church of the Holy Trinity kindergarten interacting with a senior from Apex Harmony Lodge.
A pre-schooler from the Church of the Holy Trinity kindergarten interacting with a senior from Apex Harmony Lodge. PHOTO: CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY KINDERGARTEN

We can become a more gracious society when we learn to be more inclusive by looking out for people in need.

The shift in children's perception of the elderly after participating in inter-generational programmes, from a drawing of a lonely old man to a drawing of a group, is a good start for a young child to realise that the elderly do need meaningful social activity and companionship (Kids learn to see seniors in different light, May 20).

I hope the key takeaway for young children involved in such programmes is to develop a sense of social justice, and to care for the vulnerable, which can in turn be passed on to their family members, making these programmes sustainable.

Can families be persuaded to set aside weekends for engaging the elderly in meaningful activities, instead of spending that time in shopping malls?

The survey of pre-school teachers that showed that they are keen on receiving training for inclusive education is also encouraging (Pre-school teachers keen on inclusive education: Survey, May 20).

Teachers are human beings who have limited time and energy to meet a classroom's diverse needs.

In addition to training, teachers also need various forms of practical support to be effective.

These include a smaller staff-child ratio; ongoing onsite coaching; appropriate environmental design that stimulates learning and development; funding; provision of teaching and learning resources to help a teacher create learning aids; and time off from classroom teaching for planning, administrative matters and collaborative meetings.

Teachers also need training in communication skills to allow them to work in partnership with families.

To ensure that inter-generational and inclusive practices are not a mere fad, we need to nurture a culture of compassion imbued with a strong sense of self and other awareness to sustain such quality programmes in the long run.

Rebecca Chan (Dr)

Inter-generational programmes

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2019, with the headline 'Culture of compassion key to long-term sustainability'. Print Edition | Subscribe