Fostering empathy through building connections.
YW3CA’s Early Education Center is continuing to innovate and provide social-emotional support to our students.
Currently in year three of implementing Conscious Discipline curricula, our leadership team has recently introduced Persona dolls in each classroom. Persona dolls are a fantastic way to support and nourish social-emotional skills in children. One of the main goals of Persona Dolls is cultivate empathy in children in order to help them continue to grow and develop. “Persona Dolls help children learn the concrete skills they need to use their innate empathy effectively.”
So, what are Persona Dolls?
To put it simply, persona dolls are classroom friends. Teachers intentionally build relationships with the dolls by formally introducing them as members of the classroom. Each persona doll has a name, birth day, family, likes, dislikes, and more. These characteristics remain constant just as they do for each child in the classroom. In addition, these dolls have life experiences that unfold just like the children in the classroom as well. This combination helps each child connect to the doll and make them and their stories even more powerful.
We keep each classroom persona doll in an area of the classroom that children do not have immediate access to but rather they can be seen by children at all times. It’s important that children must have the opportunity to ask to hold the doll or ask for them to be included in the day’s activities. Keeping the persona doll out of reach helps our teachers maintain some control over the doll’s ‘safety’. In addition, it allows our teachers to monitor that children are treating the persona doll with dignity and respect. Keeping the dolls in view allows for a greater chance of them becoming integral members of each classroom.
Each teacher team in every classroom develops stories for persona dolls with four key components in mind: building connections, validating and supporting differences, managing conflict, and introducing diversity.
A story about something that most of the children have experienced creates a sense of community and connection to the doll. Building these connections helps children relate to the doll in a safe and comfortable setting. We also include stories for our persona dolls that validate and support differences, while celebrating similar differences that our students may find in themselves. In addition, persona dolls help teachers manage conflict through storytelling. Our teachers include some aspect of diversity that isn’t represented in the classroom as part of the persona doll’s background in order to introduce diversity in a relatable and accepting way.
Persona dolls are just one aspect of our evolving educational environment that supports our mission and fosters empathy in students to practice in the classroom and in their community. Learn more about our Early Education Center, and learn more about our enrollment process at: https://www.ywcatricountyarea.org/we-educate-we-empower/early-education-center/.
YWCA Tri-County Area envisions a world that holds equal promise for every person, celebrates diversity, practices inclusion, and promotes equality. YWCA Tri-County Area is known as an organization where all people, but especially women, girls, and families of color, receive trauma-responsive, culturally competent education services that will support the enrichment of their lives.