We are approaching the end of the school year and the end of our final theme for the year, בִּיקוּר חוֹלִים (bikur cholim – visiting sick people). The children in שׁוֹרָשִׁים (Shorashim– ‘roots’ for nursery) and שְׁתִּילִים (Shteelim– ‘saplings’ for kindergarten) have done so much growing over the course of the year!
Their perspective has changed a number of times just during this theme. At the beginning, children could talk about their personal experiences with being sick:
Child 1: When me and my sister got sick we both got the same medicine.
Child 2: …I mostly get medicine. Sometimes I have a spoonful of honey.
Child 3: I’ll tell you about the flu. I had to rest, drink gatorade… Everyone was sick so we all got out of bed to get our own gatorade.
Child 4: I got a present. I got a stuffed animal that has 3 hearts.
Only one of the children had experience with בִּיקוּר חוֹלִים (bikur cholim – visiting sick people). Together, we were able to imagine beyond our own experiences. As 3-5 year old children with empathy for others, our group was truly able to develop our ideas about being helpful and kind visitors.
Child 1: If you have a scared face then the sick person could get scared. They might know something that’s bad and make him hurt more.
Child 2: …They feel happy because they got the card from the visitor.
Child 3: It feels good to get a toy and they can play with the toy until he is done being sick.
One of the most significant shifts in perspective took place when we started talking about communal responsibility for taking care of people who are sick. This shift also helped us connect the various aspects of בִּיקוּר חוֹלִים (bikur cholim – visiting sick people) that we had previously explored.
First, we talked about who is in our community, not just at the Jewish Enrichment Center. We included people we know in Hyde Park!
Then, we played about being a בִּיקוּר חוֹלִים (bikur cholim – visiting sick people) team that takes care of people in the community when they are sick.
Child 1: We could bring him a card.
Child 2: And like a couple of stickers.
Child 3: I guess they could run errands for me and take my sister to the dentist.
It was so amazing to see how the children changed their perspective as the theme progressed! Even though our year together is almost finished, we can continue our empathetic and growthful play!