A lesson plan by Harriet Heath, Ph.D. Dr. Heath is Director of the
Parent Center at Bryn Mawr College. She is the author of numerous
books, articles and curricula on parenting and caring, including
the curriculum for children, Learning How to Care: Education for
Parenting. For more information about this curriculum, visit Prepare
Tomorrow's Parents' resource page at www.preparetomorrowsparents.org/resource.html
Contact: Dr. Harriet Heath
is knowing, feeling, and acting in the interests of others. It
means to be concerned about and to facilitate the growth and actualization
of other people, the planet, and even oneself.
care requires knowing what the situation is, thinking of ways
to deal with the situation and from there making a plan that will
meet the needs of those involved.
care involves implementing this plan and reflecting on its effectiveness.
is an example of an intense form of caring because of the closeness
of the relationship between parent and child, the length of time
involved and the degree of responsibility.
who understand this parenting process can apply it to many other
are many activities within the school program that provide an opportunity
for teaching students how to care such as when older students read
to younger ones, or share an activity when a student more competent
in a field teaches another student or when students visit the elderly.
In these kind of caring situations the student taking responsibility
for the activity is called the “lead partner” much as
a parent is with their child.
Students will plan for, implement and reflect on a caring experience.
To be most effective, teachers need to plan to coordinate their
students for a shared activity such as more advanced readers reading
to students who are less advanced. Students might be First Graders
reading to Kindergarteners or students with a learning difference
reading to younger children or Sixth Graders to First.
program offers a wonderful opportunity for students who have found
reading difficult to read interesting books written for much younger
children. The older students would be embarrassed to pick up these
books for themselves but can do so when preparing to read to younger
The planning must consider who is going to read to whom, when the
activity will occur and how frequently. A series of three or four
sessions provides for more grasping of what is involved in caring
and the learning that comes to the lead partner reflecting on the
The teacher of the younger partners will introduce the program as
an opportunity to hear a story and to get to know an older student.
teacher of the lead partners will guide them through the planning
Describe the situation:
the children need to be read to.
reasons may be that no one reads to them, that reading is fun,
reading is a way of getting to know other children in the school.
will the children be and when and where will the reading take
What are all the ways that we could read to these children?
on a blackboard or newsprint as quickly as you can as students
give ideas. Encourage students to think of as many ways as possible,
workable ways and less appropriate ones. Students should mention
ideas related to where and when the reading will take place,
the tone of voice used by the reader, the speed of reading,
the expression, body movements, how pictures are or are not
shown, kinds of books, who will choose the books.
(If writing is easy for the lead students, have them write
the ideas … two students writing can keep the process
moving which is good for the flow of ideas.)
We have many ideas, now which ones should we implement? We need
to ask“What are our goals for reading?”
for students to talk about wanting the reading time to be fun
and enjoyable. It is an opportunity to share one’s gifts
and feel needed and effective.)
Choose an Option: Which of your ideas for reading
to the children will be more apt to achieve these goals?
should include reading in a comfortable place, having a book
that is interesting to the child being read to, reading with
expression, and being friendly towards the child.
students will need to explore and expand some of these ideas.)
a student demonstrate reading with expression by reading in
a monotone and then with expression, reading very slowly or
about how you hold a book so all can see.
what is a comfy and non-distractible place to read.
Discuss what makes a book enjoyable?
Story; Theme of interest)
find out what will appeal to a child?
need to get to know the child, know their age, interests, needs,
find out …
to child or a child’s teacher
One might plan for students to write to their partners asking
about their interests. This brings in a writing activity.
One might plan a visit to the library with or without the child
to be read to.
plans: (See box below)
(Have the students discuss their experiences).
following questions may guide the lead partners in their discussion:
Did the children being read to like the book? Did they seem to
have fun? How do you know?
What do you feel went well? What will you change next time?
partners at this time may write out their plans for their next partnering
experience.The partners may want to share their stories, tell about
their experiences and maybe write thank you notes.
lesson plan is part of a curriculum, Learning How to Caring:
Education for Parenting, teaching caring by teaching parenting.
The focus of the curriculum is the parent infant monthly visits.
Students, planning for those visit use the caring paradigm outlined
above. (Harriet is this what you meant by saying you have another
box?) They observe and hear about caring by watching the parents
nurture their children and by asking questions about what it means
to be a parent.
The Caring Process taught in Learning How to Caring: Education
for Parenting can be easily integrated into traditional
academic subjects as well as developing rules for classroom management.
Planning for and reflecting on the parent-infant visit, as well
as the actual visit, incorporate problem-solving skills. The observations
of parents and their children and the reflections of students about
their own childhood experiences makes rich content for written work.
Reading assignments can include books that have caring as a theme.
(lists of such books are available.) Work in science on preserving
the environment can integrate the caring process. Teachers encourage
students to apply the caring process in their social relationships.
The program also involves helping teachers use the caring process
in relating to parents, teachers, students, etc.
of the curriculum meet specific needs of specific groups of students,
schools and programs such as after school programs, religious settings
and mentoring programs where older children care for younger ones.
that if children were to learn to care they needed more opportunities
than once a month parent/infant visits, important as these were,
Dr. Heath, Dr McDermott with several other Quaker educators organized
The Caring Project, which expanded the program
to encompass caring in all components of school life. For more information
Her guides for making her plan: Developmental level Interests,
Information about Samatha's developmental level and interests.
She used this information to make her plan … the story she chose…
Zoey will be a lead partner. She will read to Samatha. Zoey
found out that Samatha was from Mexico and liked to play jump
rope. She chose a short story about a girl in a jump rope contest.
She found a quiet spot in the health center of the school for
them to read in. She practiced reading the story before she
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