Children’s social skills begin to develop the moment they are born and how well those skills have developed from kindergarten onwards has a significant impact on their relationships decades later. The sooner we start to teach young children about their role in the co-creation of relational and social worlds, the better.
The co-developers of CosmoKidz, Marit Eikaas Haavimb and Kim Pearce, knew how important it was for even very young children to have opportunities to talk together about their social worlds and to learn how to shape their environments and relationships with others in more mindful and compassionate ways. Yet, Marit and Kim also knew that these kinds of conversations are often in very short supply for young children: typically, not something attended to in any systematic way at school and not something that many parents seem to focus on at home.
Drawing on their understanding of CMM, Marit and Kim began a long-term reflexive, co-constructed process with young children to learn what was in their minds and hearts regarding their social worlds and how the CMM Institute might contribute to providing opportunities for them to learn the skills and abilities that would serve them and their relationships with others well.
In 2012, a number of discussion groups with 5 to 7 year-olds occurred in the United States and Norway in which young children told us what social issues were important to them. Of the 31social scenarios in our final set of CosmoKidz discussion topics, all but a very small handful came from the children in these early discussion groups. We beta-tested these conversational topics with children in a variety of contexts and geographical areas in multiple states and countries and found that these topics resonated with children regardless of where they lived.
Marit and Kim have continued the Cosmo line of activities with new and yearly CosmoKidz topics and two CosmoTweenz activities: Three Choices and Then What Happens and Environmental Awareness Conversations/Activities researched and developed by educator and environmentalist Erin Taylor. Consistent with their belief that activities for this age group need to begin with the voices of the children, every topic in the deck of 51 cards for Three Choices came from tweens ages 8-12 from around the world. A working group led by Marit and Kim are in the early stages of developing CosmoTeenz (ages 13-17) working with a diverse group of teens and the CMM Institute to develop the actual CosmoTeenz products and not just the topic areas.
Why are we spending our time and energy developing activities and conducting research to measure what differences these conversations and activities are making in the lives of children and the schools of which they are a part? One answer is that the CosmoKidz activities fit in with the new move in educational thinking: a shift from training students for cleverness, competition and success to helping them become fulfilled individuals, whatever their talents, and active, compassionate citizens.
We know from our decade long research and development program, that CosmoKidz helps to cultivate:
- an appreciation of the importance of our interpersonal worlds and how we become who we are in relation with others
- the development of compassionate persons, sensitive to what is made in communicating and respecting diversity in its fullest sense
- the capacity to be curious, creative and self-reflexive
- understanding our obligation to others and the broader environment in which we live
- dialogic and deliberative skills as the means of making better social and civic worlds.
Want to learn more?
Latest news on CosmoKidz
CosmoKidz is growing up: Here comes CosmoTeenz
Our Cosmo resources for children and youth continues to grow. We are now moving on to developing creative, relevant, fun and reflexive activities based on building awareness and capacity in relationships, and suited for various stages of being a teenager.
More exciting CosmoKidz developments
While CosmoKidz is growing up into CosmoTweenz and Teenz it is also continuing to expand its activities for younger children. We have a new set of activities under development on race, culture and identity and another grant to continue our longitudinal research on the impact of CosmoKidz
Are you in any way connected with teenagers (13-17)? Can you ask them to help us by completing a survey on communication issues important to them?
CosmoKidz in Romania: Small steps, large impact
Iulia Georgescu and Carmen Greab have been working with teachers and students in Romania using CosmoKidz and have now translated the work into Romanian in order to make it even more accessible.
CosmoKidz in a Whole-of-School Trial
Independence Leadership Academy in Louisiana has whole-heartedly embraced the CosmoKidz ethos, implementing CosmoKidz and deliberation activities throughout the school from pre-kindergarten to 4th grade.
CosmoTweenz D’Club kids open their hands to help others
We are already starting to observe the positive impacts of using our latest educational resource kit for tweens. Read how tweens in the D’Club, an after-school deliberation club based on CosmoKidz and Tweenz practices, are putting their learning to good use by raising funds for others in need.
New CosmoTweenz resources
We have started developing our CosmoKIdz for Tweenz educational resources. The first activity set to be released is “Three choices…and then what happens”—a resource for helping 8-11 year-olds work through difficult social choices.
Developing cosmopolitan communication: The latest research on CosmoKidz
Our research into the effectiveness of CosmoKIdz activities for developing cosmopolitan communication skills in young school children continues. The latest findings further shore up the strong evidence-base in support of the program.
CosmoKidz stand in Louisianna
In April, Chipps Taylor and Nicole Wells, a 2nd grade teacher, spent the day at the Capital building in Louisiana to showcase CosmoKidz as part of the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund. The woman who made the last set of puppets also made the table cloth for us. Big smile!!!
Cosmokidz in Romania—a new and exciting experience
CosmoKidz was first introduced in Romania in 2016. Carmen Gabriela Greab and Iuliana Gabriela Georgescu describe this new and exciting experience for them. They have been so inspired by the effect of CosmoKidz, they are now exploring ways of expanding the program.