Bully! It’s an ugly word because it involves ugly actions. This little word can stir the strongest emotions in people from all walks of life. Why, because it doesn’t discriminate and a high proportion of the population have been either directly or indirectly affected by it.

Bullying has become an overwhelming social crisis. When it touches the life of a child, it can have a devastating and long-lasting effect not only on them but also their family and friends.

Childhood bullying can negatively impact the physical, emotional and mental health of bullies, the bullied, and bystanders well into adulthood.

A meta-analysis of 80 studies reported a mean prevalence rate in 12-18-year-old students of 35% for traditional bullying and 15% for cyber bullying involvement. Given that another study reported that only 36% of bullying victims reported being bullied, it’s difficult to know how accurate these figures really are and frightening to think they could be much higher.   read more →

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A book. One single book. Many people don’t realize how important having one book can be in the life of a child. But believe me, just one book can mean the world. I know this because I have seen the joyous expressions on children’s faces as they receive a book to keep. read more →

When one of your children, (student or biological) is hysterical because they’ve just had an accident or some sort of perceived trauma, what’s your first challenge? You need to understand what has happened, so you can soothe them. This of course is impossible if the child is blabbering and sobbing incomprehensibly. Your naturally wise self invites the child to calm down. What’s the most effective way to help calm a child? “Alright sweetheart, take a deep breath, ooh there you go. Lovely, well done. And another deep breath and blow it out. That’s it. One more…” and voila, the little person is already calmer and quieter, has decreased the adrenalin and cortisol (stress hormone) in their cute little body and is now well on his or her way to being well again. They are more empowered because they can be understood and you are more able to help them because you can comprehend the situation.

Now how would it be if we applied this simple yet awesome process to ourselves and our young people before we/they get in a pickle? How would it be if we chose to apply this simple mind/body technique to everyday living? How much calmer would you, your students and your classroom be? read more →

In September of 2005, Martha Cothren, a social studies schoolteacher from Arkansas did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal, and the building supervisor, she took all of the desks out of the classroom. The kids came into first period, they walked in; there were no desks. They obviously looked around and said, “Where’s our desks?” read more →

A large percentage of employees globally are disengaged and business is struggling to know what to do about it. The disengagement problem cost the US economy more than $500bn in 2014 so why, when the stakes are so high, is this such a difficult problem to solve?

In fact, an employer cannot directly engage any employee no matter how much money is thrown at the problem. The employee themselves has to feel engaged from the inside. This is a feeling that can’t be bought with movie tickets, achievement certificates, team lunches and the plethora of other rewards that may be available to middle managers who are tasked with keeping their teams motivated.

So if money can’t fix this, what will?

Ironically the fast track to engaging employees might cost nothing at all, and is one that everyone is equipped and empowered to start using today as either a manager, a co-worker or a customer.

We’re talking about gratitude… a no cost solution! read more →

World Kindness Day is a celebration of what most people consider our species’ best set of qualities: compassion, consideration for others, respect and generosity.

Kindness shouldn’t be limited to any particular gender, race, age group or even species. In fact, showing kindness and compassion to the most vulnerable of our fellow earthlings (i.e. other animals, particularly under human care) is often seen as the most telling sign of a person’s capacity for the traits we hold most sacred. As Gandhi famously said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Teaching children to be kind to animals and emphasising the importance of extending compassion and consideration to other living beings, is an important and valuable life lesson.

Here are five helpful tips for teaching kindness to animals on World Kindness Day and each day thereafter: read more →

You often talk about the positive influences of teachers on Ripple Kindness and I couldn’t agree more, and I want to share how a teacher has helped me.

I’m a student and I was struggling recently with an issue that I didn’t feel comfortable sharing with my family. I have a teacher who is a very compassionate woman but also quite firm in the sense that she doesn’t overlook bad or cruel behaviour. She noticed that I was upset and because she is such an empathetic and thoughtful person, I felt comfortable enough to confide in her. read more →

 

Love of the Elderly
Image supplied by Love for the Elderly.

 

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A Kindness Tree is a beautiful way to focus on and acknowledge the importance of showing kindness within a school. The tree helps foster more kind, supportive relationships amongst students and teachers, and everyone loves to watch the tree “grow” as each good deed is recognized.

As you’ll see by the examples below there are many variations, some big, some small, but each one beautiful and unique. There are no rules when it comes to creating your kindness tree. Use your imagination and get the kids involved. For the tree itself, you can use paper, fabric, paint, a stencil or real tree branches. Tree leaves can be made from paper in the shape of leaves, hearts or even hands.

Alta Vista Elementary

A kindness tree in the cafeteria at Alta Vista Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida is part of the Kindness Starts with Me program. Students fill out smile cards, color-coded by class, to acknowledge each other for the kind things they’ve done which are then attached to the kindness tree. read more →

In the book, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, she writes about Choosing Kind as the best option in life. This phrase resonated with me and sparked a new appreciation on how I discuss bullying with my 6th graders.WonderBook I then came across an article on the Edutopia website titled, “Why Teaching Kindness in Schools is Essential to Reduce Bullying” and knew this was the right angle to take with my incoming 6th graders. They have all heard the lectures about how bullying is wrong. I wanted to attack bullying from a different point of view. After reading the Edutopia article, I decided to teach kindness. What does it truly mean? I wanted my students to reflect on the meaning of kindness. I wanted them to pay it forward and start applying kindness to their peers at school. How would I do this as it is not as easy as it sounds?

Our school philosophy is SPIRIT, which is an acronym for Selflessness, Pride, Integrity, Respect, Involvement, and Trustworthiness. I knew I wanted to bring this philosophy in to my classroom kindness lessons as well. After much thought, and since I teach English Language Arts, I figured the most appropriate way would be through our daily writing prompts. My goal was to share a new picture book, video clip, short article, or poem each week that spoke to us about being kind, compassionate, and showing gratitude. I wasn’t sure how the students would respond to these types of texts and media. read more →

Gratitude … goes beyond the “mine” and “thine” and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past, I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.

– Henri J. M. Nouwen

Several years ago I had the opportunity to attend an education conference in San Francisco, CA. While I was there, I learned many exciting findings from the “science of happiness.” That weekend revolutionized my perspectives related to teaching and parenting. Since then I have been on a quest to create a happier classroom and to help other teachers do the same thing.

One lesson I learned at the conference pertains to the relationship between happiness and success. As recent research has shown, success does not always lead to happiness. Many of us know this from experience. For example, landing a highly coveted job and buying your dream home may not necessarily result in a blissful state. On the other hand, people who are happy tend to find success in school, at work, and in every domain in life. read more →

Some children spend more of their time awake at school than they do in their own homes. That’s a big thing when you’re still growing and learning. It’s a big thing too for parents to entrust their precious ones to others, sometimes strangers, during these vital years. Especially as much of a child’s developing personality and morals can be so easily influenced by those around them.

During the early years of my own children’s education, I worried about the role models they would encounter at school. It concerned me that my hard work instilling good values may be lost if character education wasn’t a priority in the classroom.

Fortunately, these days, educators are more aware of the need to prioritize social and emotional learning at school. They realize the important role that kindness and empathy have in nurturing happiness and self-esteem.

“It’s no secret that kindness sparks kindness. The secret is that kindness takes wings when it is modeled and taught with passion and purpose. When we intentionally help and encourage our students to put kindness into action through their thoughts, words, and deeds, then the world will truly be a gentler, more peaceful place. Simply put, we’ll be better.

Girls holding handsKindness in schools can look like a smile, feel like a hug, sound like a sweet greeting or a sincere compliment. A genuine inquiry about how someone is doing can mean so much. And when we have created that climate of kindness and caring inside our school walls, the natural next step is to take it home to our families, out into our community and then beyond our borders into our global world. And when kindness ripples, prepare to bathe in a tsunami of goodness.”

Barbara Gruener, Counsellor, Westwood-Bales Elementary, Friendswood, Texas, USA read more →