It’s a given that most parents want their children to grow up with good values and character traits. Kindness, compassion, perseverance and honesty are just some of the traits we want to instill in our kids. But how are character traits developed?
Charles Starkey, Associate Professor of Philosophy studies emotion theory and moral psychology. He says that character traits are determined by our values but that emotions also play a huge role. In short, kids need emotional intelligence and to see positive character traits in others to adopt them.
As a child, the arrival of the weekend meant playing make-believe and romping around outside with the stipulation that you had to come in once it started getting dark. Things are a lot different now. Kids enjoy video games, YouTube videos, and watching movies, but that doesn’t leave a lot of room for exploration, knowledge expansion, and learning. Your child likely sees the weekend as a break from school, but what if you could make learning something new fun? Put away the worksheets and check out these weekend activities both children and adults will enjoy.
There's nothing fun about a classroom that's out of control. It's stressful and unproductive. Thinking about kids running amok reminds of something my husband often says. "Start how you intend to finish!" For me, that means starting the year with strong classroom management strategies in place. Setting the rules at the start of the year means everyone is on the same page. Start planning before you head back to school and be prepared to involve the students in your new grades.
I constantly research and try to stay in touch with what's happening in the world of kindness. During one of my web surfing sessions, I came across some advice in a school newsletter by Tanya Uren, principal at Kingston Primary School in Western Australia.
I love that she encourages her whole school community to show kindness and prompts parents to nurture it at home. I felt it is something that other schools may also like to highlight in their communication to parents so I asked Tanya if she minded me sharing her insights with you below.
GP’s are now making community referrals for art activities, creative writing, Mindfulness, volunteering, group learning, and sports, etc., to facilitate wellbeing and recovery. ‘Social prescribing’ is becoming ever more important as we become increasingly aware of holistic approaches to wellbeing and embrace the idea of the ‘whole person’. Being conscious of our own physical and mental wellbeing over our lifetime requires self-awareness and a personal investment in our physical and mental health.
Bostian Elementary in North Carolina is a school that cares about building character and empowering students with kindness and empathy. I recently connected with 4th Grade Teacher, Donna Rymer about the great work the teachers are doing to make kindness the norm in their school.
Donna explained that they saw a problem in the world with a lack of kindness contributing to sadness, and saw a need to bring happiness and compassion back. They decided they needed to start in their school and launched their kindness initiative to encourage more empathy and ensure less anti-social behaviour.
Their campaign was triggered by a conversation she had with a colleague who had been given a wristband by a kindness ambassador. They decided to invite Rebecca Sutton from The Kindness Revolution to speak to their grade 4 students. Once they heard her speak they were convinced that they needed to expand on her presentation and turn it into a full-blown PBL (Project Based Learning) to reach the whole school and community.
Donna was keen to share how staff and students have worked to promote kindness in the hopes that it will inspire other teachers to also start a kindness initiative at their school.
I stumbled upon this video for a clever DIY teaching resource that can be made and used by both teachers and parents to expand vocabulary and improve spelling and literacy in children. What I really love about it is that with the use of pegs, children are not only flexing their mind muscles but also building coordination and strengthening the fine muscles in their hands that are used for writing.
Experts advocate for teaching kindness and empathy in schools to reduce bullying. Why? Because kindness is the antithesis of bullying and empathy is the foundation of kindness.
Being kind means that you consider the needs, feelings and concerns of others to ensure you act appropriately. Having empathy means you're able to put yourself in someone's shoes to understand their needs, feelings and concerns.
A Kindness Tree is a creative and beautiful way to encourage and acknowledge acts of kindness within a school. As a whole school project, it's a heartwarming way to help foster kind, supportive relationships amongst students and teachers. Watching the tree come to life as good deeds are added creates positive and uplifting feelings and behaviour, making it a highly effective way to build character and reduce bullying.
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 encourage student involvement. For the tree itself, you can use paper, fabric, paint, crepe paper or real tree branches. Tree leaves upon which kind deeds are written can be made from paper or card in the shape of leaves, hearts or even hands.
We're so fortunate to have several kindness days and weeks throughout the year that help highlight the importance of teaching kindness in schools. While these days are amazing for prompting educators, kindness and giving are values that should be integrated into the culture of every school, every day!
To help you instill kindness as a natural and instinctive trait, we asked educators, who have very successfully made kindness the norm in their schools, to share their top tips.
I'm so happy to see more schools adopting kindness as their overarching value for teaching character and fostering a peaceful school culture. I always say it's the foundation for all other values and something that should be taught in every home and school for optimum well-being and importantly, to prevent anti-social behaviour.
Recently, I've been fortunate to connect with several amazing ladies who have started Kindness Clubs! Yep, there are actually clubs dedicated to this good old fashioned value and they're doing a lot more than just teaching kids to be kind!!
Have you ever had a discussion with your children about gift giving? Most children see the act of giving as customary at particular times of the year but do they really understand the reason behind giving a present?
If you haven't talked about the difference between giving for the sake of it and giving with meaning then perhaps it's time to explain the heart factor that should lie behind every gift we give.
Gifts are a way of acknowledging someone and showing our appreciation for the positive attributes that we love about them. It's important for children to understand that a large, more expensive gift doesn't equate to greater appreciation. In fact, parents and grandparents in particular, generally appreciate homemade gifts far more than something bought because they know have been made with love and given from the heart.