Image of a kindness tree and positive note in the playground. Tips to help you nurture a culture of kindness at your school.

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.

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A collage of tear off kindness coupons, painted heart rocks, school girl drawing with chalk. Wording says 11 DIY gifts to help teach kids the meaning of giving.

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.

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Image of kindness advent calendars with a cartoon girl holding a flower and copy that says build character this Christmas with kindness advent calendars. Free printables for kids and adults!

Ho, ho, ho!! It's almost Christmas!!

Many of us are in denial that the festive season has arrived again SO SOON!! I'm pretty sure science hasn't proven it but I'm convinced that time goes faster the older we get! 

Though parents and teachers are usually pretty busy at the end of the year, it's actually a great time to get your kids involved in doing good. Encouraging kindness should, of course, be a year round endeavour because it's shown that after the fourth grade, positive perceptions of kindness decrease in children.  

Because we know you've got other things on your mind right now, we've put together a kindness advent calendar to help you nurture the positive values we all want our kids to adopt. 

The hard work has been done and all you have to do is inspire your kids to participate!

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This Christmas while you’re thinking about the gifts you’ll get for those you love, perhaps you could give one to a stranger in need.

When you’re living on the street, gifts are the last thing on your mind but as shown in this video, something that brings a great deal of joy. We hope you’re inspired to add an extra gift to your shopping list this year!

Can kindness be taught? 

While researching for our school curriculum many years ago, I came across the work of Maurice J. Elias, a Professor of Psychology. His view about kindness being a teachable quality mirrors my own and like me, he's a huge advocate for teaching it in schools. 

Like me, he believes that children have an emotional response to kindness but that emotionally intelligent kids have a better understanding of the feelings they're experiencing. 

"Kindness depends also on possessing certain learnable skills, and these are included in most evidence-based efforts to promote children's social-emotional and character development."
- Maurice Elias

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Phrases like "random acts of kindness" and "pay it forward" have become popular terms in modern society. There are even special days dedicated to performing good deeds and organisations who specialise in altruism.

But why has kindness become so popular? Perhaps it's best explained by those who have identified a deficit in their lives that can only be filled by giving.

Science proves there are good reasons why so many of us can't get enough of those addictive, feel-good emotions. Research shows there are many physical, emotional, and mental health benefits associated with kindness. It's a powerful and free resource to reduce anti-social and bullying behaviour.

"Unlike previous generations, today's adolescents are victimizing each other at alarming rates leading adults to ask why."
- Shanetia Clark and Barbara Marinak

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When I teach Kindergarten or first-grade children, I always teach my students a little song called “Five Little Bluebirds”. I developed some motions for the song, and always end this subtraction-type song by making a very sad face and saying, “No little bluebirds in the nest.” The kids find this hysterical!

We sing the song through a second time with them joining in with more enthusiasm, and I can see in their mischievous eyes that they cannot wait until we get to the last line and they get to see my sad face AND make a sad face of their own. They laugh with their entire bodies, as 5 and 6-year olds are prone to do - and yes, that means some of them end up “prone” as they fall over on the carpet with laughter.

Whether you teach your children a song like that, or find some other way to introduce emotions, you can lead them to discover their Superpower.

I ask them to show me their sad face. Show me their surprised face! Show me their sleepy face. Show me their angry face! And finally, show me their happy face! Then I tell them that we are going to do a trick.

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Our elementary school serves approximately 800 students PreK-3rd grades.

The week of February 11th, 2018 happened to be “Random Acts of Kindness Week” so I challenged the staff to a Kindness Challenge — I challenged them to complete these simple, kind acts that would make our students’ and colleagues’ days just a bit brighter!

little-star Complete a challenge – mark it off on the challenge sheet
little-star Each challenge completed earned a TICKET in the raffle
little-star Earn an EXTRA TICKET for each challenge that is completed and shared on social media with the challenge hashtag
little-star The WINNER of the raffle… earned a HALF DAY OFF!

This also rewarded me with an amazing opportunity to sub in the classroom for the winning teacher. - Melissa Kartsimas, JF Kennedy Elementary

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

I am crazy about kindness. Sharing it, spreading it, promoting it, talking about it, practicing it, blogging about it, teaching it, quoting it, buying t-shirts about it… crazy. about. kindness.

I am SO crazy about it that I felt the need to come up with a unique way to share this passion with my students and to practice kindness in a way that they would remember forever. I wanted to not only read cutesy little books about being kind (even though one of my favourite books is “What Does it Mean to Be Kind”) or practice kindness within the fours walls of our classroom (our number one rule in the class is “Be Kind”) or watch videos about examples of kindness (even though I always love me a good ugly cry kindness story on Ellen…). I wanted to LIVE kindness in our community. I wanted people to think about kindness and associate it with my kiddos and be hopeful that a bunch of 4, 5 and 6-year-olds could change the world. I wanted my learners to know that there are some lessons that aren’t in the curriculum but that will be important to them for the rest of their lives. From that place, Kindness Capes (#kindnesscapes) was born. read more →

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 →

Launched on 15 July 2016, it’s been an exciting time as Nourish Network finds its feet and place in the local community.

Nourish is a volunteer-based, holistic outreach program developed to educate, empower and support parents and guardians finding it difficult to provide for their families.

Working with local schools in the Yarra Ranges (outer east of Melbourne), families are selected based on circumstances and their willingness to participate and eventually give back to their community.

A member-only program, Nourish partners with SecondBite and local businesses and organizations to provide a weekly allocation of fruit, vegetables, bread, eggs, recipes and nutritional information, wellbeing resources, friendship, and support.

As well as providing nourishment for their bodies, we also aim to help heal their souls by providing a place for respite where people can connect with others in similar situations and enjoy a variety of activities and therapies.

We used 2016 as a pilot year with a small group to gain insight into the social, emotional and financial struggles our members face so we are better able to provide for their needs. read more →