Young hearts embrace kindness on Pink Shirt Day

Issue: Volume 103, Number 8

Posted: 27 June 2024
Reference #: 1HAh2D

Sunshine Christian Preschool in Manukau recently celebrated Pink Shirt Day, engaging tamariki in activities that promote kindness, compassion, and anti-bullying. Ruth Solomon, head teacher at the preschool, shared insights into the event and its impact on the children.

Pink Shirt Day is widely celebrated across Aotearoa, with schools and kura participating across the motu to work together to stop bullying by celebrating diversity and promoting kindness and inclusiveness.

Sunshine Christian Preschool, based in Manukau, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, took the opportunity to create a day of embracing this messaging and use the momentum to carry it through to their everyday lives. The preschool’s dedication to fostering a nurturing environment is evident in their planning and enthusiastic participation in Pink Shirt Day activities.

During mat time on Pink Shirt Day, Sunshine Preschool head teacher Ruth Solomon and other kaiako led discussions about bullying and its effects, emphasising the importance of kind words and deeds.

Dressing up in pink set the tone for a sense of belonging.

Dressing up in pink set the tone for a sense of belonging.

One of the activities involved each child writing down characteristics they love about themselves as part of a pink shirt collage. This creative task was designed not only to engage tamariki in a fun and artistic project but also to reinforce self-esteem and self-awareness.

“This activity helped us pause and revisit each child’s traits, affirming their contributions to making our preschool a joyful and conducive place for learning and playing,” says Ruth. The process was reflective, allowing children to consider what makes them unique and valuable individuals.

The response from tamariki was overwhelmingly positive, and the kaiako inform us that the children had many discussions as they found words to describe their traits. These discussions were more than just about identifying traits, it was a chance for children to hear affirmations from their peers and kaiako, improving their confidence and sense of self-worth.

Pink shirt collage

The process of creating a pink shirt collage was a group effort, involving the collection of pink items like pompoms, papers, streamers, hearts and ribbons.

“The main contribution we valued was the conversation around Pink Shirt Day as we made the art,” affirm their kaiako. Through these conversations, tamariki learned about the significance of Pink Shirt Day and how small acts of kindness could make a big difference in someone’s life.

The children designed the shirt according to their creativity and wrote down their characteristics with the help of their kaiako, including ‘I am kind’, ‘I am funny’, ‘I am quiet’, ‘I am patient’, ‘I am gentle’, ‘I am serious’, and ‘I am helpful’.

Dressing up in pink set the tone for a sense of belonging.

Dressing up in pink set the tone for a sense of belonging.

Sunshine kaiako share that it took time for the children to discuss and reflect on the meaning of these traits before affirming them as their choice. This reflective process was crucial in helping children understand and appreciate their own and others’ unique qualities.

“Acknowledging their characteristics helps children to be more responsible and intentional in their interactions with others,” Ruth added.

Daily incorporation of values

Sunshine Preschool incorporates the values of kindness and anti-bullying into daily routines and interactions. These values are discussed daily during free play and mat times. This consistency helps tamariki reinforce these values and apply them in their interactions.

“We made our class treaty wherein the children volunteered rules that align with anti-bullying, and we often refer to them in our class,” their kaiako informs. This treaty is a living document, reflecting the commitment to a safe and inclusive environment.

The preschool integrates Christian principles, breathing exercises, and communication strategies to support children in regulating their feelings. These practices help children manage their emotions and reactions, contributing to a peaceful and harmonious classroom atmosphere.

The class rules – “Use gentle hands, use kind words, try your best” – play a crucial role in creating a safe and happy learning environment. These rules are simple yet profound, setting clear expectations for behaviour and interaction.

“The children give us the rules they want to follow, setting clear boundaries of acceptable behaviour. During Pink Shirt Day, we discussed these rules again and came up with new ones like, ‘Do not say yuck to other people’s food’.”

This ongoing dialogue about rules helps keep them relevant and meaningful to the children.

Memorable moments

Dressing up in pink helped the tamariki feel connected to the cause and the larger community. This sense of connection is vital for young children, helping them understand that they are part of a larger movement towards kindness and inclusivity.

“Things are a lot more memorable when we can physically join in. Children were delighted as they arrived in preschool wearing the same colour, which set the tone for a sense of belonging.”

Recounting some memorable moments from the day, a few kaiako recalled hearing the children say, ‘I am funny’ and ‘I am quiet’ was heartwarming.

“These little moments of self-affirmation were really powerful. They highlighted the children’s growing confidence and self-awareness.”

Positive affirmations are to be celebrated, says Ruth, as they show that “we value different characteristics and that not all children are the same”.

Sunshine Preschool plans to continue promoting the values of kindness and compassion throughout the school year. The lessons learned on Pink Shirt Day will be woven into the fabric of daily life at the preschool, ensuring that the spirit of the day continues to inspire and guide the tamariki long after the pink shirts have been put away.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:26 am, 27 June 2024

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts