Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another. Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together.
— Ephesians 4:2-3
After a bleak winter, the cheerful, sunny yellow of daffodil blossoms are a sure sign that spring is upon us. On the Mount Paran Christian School campus, more than one thousand such reminders sprout each year. The blossoms have special meaning for preschool and lower school students at MPCS, with the daffodils serving as a reminder to love and respect others. As part of the WingTips “Innovation in Education'' series, which explores best practices for teaching and learning through real-world examples, read on to discover how planting daffodils teaches the youngest of learners empathy.
A REMINDER TO LOVE OTHERS
The message you heard from the very beginning is this: we must love one another.
—1 John 3:11
During the past two years, preschool and lower school students at Mount Paran Christian School have planted more than 1,000 daffodil bulbs on their 68-acre campus. MPCS kindergartener L. Curtis says, “We planted them to remember to be kind friends to everyone.” Indeed, the effort is part of “The Daffodil Project,” a worldwide initiative to remember the children lost during the Holocaust. The Daffodil Project, begun in 2011, “aspires to build a worldwide living Holocaust memorial by planting 1.5 million daffodils in memory of the 1.5 million children who were killed during the Holocaust, and in support for children who continue to suffer in humanitarian crises around the world today.”
And now I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
— John 13:34
The project has grown exponentially and geographically, with gardens planted in Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, and around the world. The idea for the project came from the daffodil itself, a yellow flower, “which is symbolic of the yellow star that the Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. Yellow is the color of remembrance. Daffodils are also resilient because they return each year after a dark winter, giving us a sense of hope for the future.”
MPCS second grader Blakely P. says, “Daffodils are in the shape of a star. It helps us remember that people long ago, who wore a star, were treated differently.”
Above everything, love one another earnestly, because love covers over many sins.
— 1 Peter 4:8
VALUE ONE ANOTHER
My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.
— 1 John 3:18
Each October, preschool and lower school students plant 500 bulbs around the MPCS campus. Students also participate in a chapel, where all are reminded to love others and treat others how God has called us to treat one another. Students are reminded that God created each of us just the way He wanted us to be. As Christians, we have no other choice but to honor and value each other as God’s creation.
Each spring, our community has a visual reminder to love others, remember those who have not been treated the way God intended, and value and respect each other. Participation in The Daffodil Project is a tradition that MPCS plans to continue by planting an additional 500 bulbs on campus each October. Prayerfully, the daffodils will be a reminder to all of us to put God’s love into action as we engage with those around us – those we know and those we do not.
TREAT OTHERS WITH RESPECT
Be under obligation to no one—the only obligation you have is to love one another.
Whoever does this has obeyed the Law.
— Romans 13:8
In an article for Parenting Science, Gwen Dewar, Ph.D. outlines research-based tips for parents to work with their children to develop empathy. Dr. Dewar asserts that although children are born with some innate empathetic skills, such as recognizing the emotion of others, empathy can actually be learned. By practicing coaching, discussing issues in an age-appropriate manner, and teaching children to recognize and cope with emotions, we can help children exercise their “empathy muscles.”
By pairing a hands-on project such as The Daffodil Project with a chapel that discusses the inherent value of each person, MPCS is teaching children how to develop/deepen empathy for others. MPCS fifth-grade teacher Carly Harvey shares, “The daffodil project is a sweet spot for our school, particularly our fifth-graders who learned about the Holocaust in social studies. What a beautiful way to honor Jewish heritage and showcase God’s love.”
Dr. Deborah Davis is the Head of Lower School at Mount Paran Christian School and is committed to providing an education that allows students to grow, not just in the area of academics, but also in the area of personal and spiritual development. Her background as a teacher, counselor, and administrator provides insight into the importance of educating the whole child.