It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, Mister Rogers Neighborhood. Each episode began the same way. Mister Rogers comes through the door, singing his theme song “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, and changing into sneakers and a zippered cardigan sweater. A documentary was recently released, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, about Mister Rogers and the impact he had on children. Mister Rogers dedicated himself to teaching children about the world they live in and how to live in that world together. He believed in children, believed in their ability to change the world with kindness and understanding. Mister Rogers focused on social skills, understanding differences, facing challenges with empathy, and teaching children how to look at the world like everyone is your neighbor. Your “neighbor” is your community, a community of caring. How can we teach children to be a good neighbor? “The world has changed” parents say, “times are different” is often heard. Yes, times are different, there is beautiful diversity all around us. Help children see the differences and appreciate them.
“At the center of the Universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything that we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service.”
― Fred Rogers
3 Ways to Teach Children to be a Good Neighbor
1. When a child points out a difference in another person, it’s an opportunity to talk about it. “Look, he’s in a wheelchair” should be followed by, “yes, he’s in a wheel chair, his legs might not work and he needs it to move like you use your legs.”
2. Teach children to be helpers. Pick up trash in the neighborhood, pull weeds at the local park, and talk about doing things for others on a daily basis.
3. Sit and listen to people speaking other languages and talk about it. “Do you hear that? She’s speaking Spanish. It’s another language people speak. People around the world speak different languages. Isn’t that exciting?”
So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day. Since we’re together we might as well say. Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor? Won’t you please, won’t you please? Please won’t you be my neighbor?
Great Start Readiness Program is a Michigan state-funded preschool program for four-year-old children with factors which may place them at risk of educational failure. The program is administered by the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Great Start. Funding is allocated to Wayne RESA to administer the program locally.
These blogs were developed and funded under a grant awarded by the Michigan Department of Education.
Research on preschool programs and specific research on GSRP indicates that children provided with a high-quality preschool experience show significant positive developmental differences when compared to children from the same backgrounds who did not attend a high-quality preschool program.