For these preschoolers, Valentine's Day message is 'love yourself'

Students at a Milford preschool have been learning for Valentine’s Day that it’s just as important to like themselves as it is to share their love with others.

At the Milford Preschool at the Margaret Egan Center, children ages three to five have been drawing self portraits and talking about what they like about themselves, while also gluing sparkly decorations to paper hearts.

Ava, for example, likes the fact that she’s a good friend.

Cooper likes that she is silly.

Arthur is proud of his video game skills.

And Coryn likes her face: She said she’s always smiling.

When the children started their Valentine’s Day activities recently, teacher Cheryl Fitzpatrick told them she was going to make a Valentine’s Day card for herself. Arthur, one of the young students, laughed and said, “You can’t love yourself.”

And so Fitzpatrick explained that they should love themselves, that they are all unique and special, and she encouraged them to think about that this Valentine’s Day.

“Valentine's Day is a man-made holiday basically which emphasizes finding that perfect someone, someone to make you happy, fill that void within yourself, complete you,” Fitzpatrick told the Milford Mirror.

“I would like to change this perception about love,” she continued. “Believe it or not at age four children are already filled with the notion of ‘needing’ others’ love and attention. I would like to place the emphasis on loving oneself. After all, before one can be in a healthy, loving relationship one must love themselves. Our relationship with ourselves is ultimately the most important relationship we will ever have.”

Fitzpatrick spent the last two weeks helping her preschoolers see the positive aspects of themselves.

In the colorful classroom at the Margaret Egan Center, the children have been experiencing art, literacy, music and dance around an “I love me” theme, and even learned a song called “I am Special.”

They have been reading books and sharing stories, like Louise Hay’s “I Think, I Am,” which aims to teach children the power of affirmation and about their ability to choose to be positive.

It’s hard to tell just how well the message has sunk in, but Fitzpatrick thinks the children are getting it.

Recently in class, one of the children said she couldn’t do something that the class was doing. And Arthur, the positive classmate, reminded her that she could indeed do it and that she shouldn’t talk negatively about herself.

And so the preschoolers this week took something home in addition to the little cards, Valentine’s goody bags their teachers had created, and the pink paper hearts they made in class.

They took home pride in themselves.

Four-year-old Matthew said what he likes most about himself is that he loves people.

Johnavi said one of her best qualities is the ability to be a very good judge of quality ice cream: She says vanilla is the best.

Lucas thinks he’s special because he’s quite open-minded. For example, he is willing to agree that vanilla ice cream is good, but he is quite fond of all the flavors he has tried.

Cayleigh says she is beautiful, because she looks like her mother. And Maya is very proud of her skill at playing Chutes and Ladders, and she said the game makes her happy even if she doesn’t win.