What better way to foster kindness, build character and encourage positive school communities than awesome visuals that students see each and every day. Like anything else we want our kids to learn, positive values need to be constantly reinforced and lived every single day.
Bullying is often a hot topic among parents and teachers. It has been for as long as I can remember and sadly, not a lot has changed. But, I feel we are starting to make some headway with educators now using social and emotional learning programs in their classrooms to build emotional intelligence.
I've been advocating for kindness to be taught in schools for around a decade now. For me, it has always made sense because kindness is the antithesis of bullying. It stands to reason that infecting a school with the kindness bug is going to have a positive effect on children who struggle with antisocial behaviour. A kind majority will eventually have an impact on an unfriendly minority.
Book Title: Ella & Mrs Gooseberry – Discovering what love looks like
Author: Vikki Conley
Illustrator: Penelope Pratley
For Ages: 4-8
Themes: love, empathy, compassion, kindness, understanding, giving, character, community
Related learning areas: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), feelings awareness, character education
The crumpled paper lesson is a very powerful bullying activity which we believe was originally used by a teacher in New York to show her students the lasting impact that anti-social and cruel behaviour can have.
We love this bullying lesson but adapted it to use in conjunction with our primary and elementary school curriculum during assemblies and in the classroom. We substituted a plain piece of paper for a red heart or cutout of a person (an activity in the curriculum for older students) to make it more relatable for kids.
4 - 10 years
Friendship, Problem-Solving, Bullying, Judgement, Respect
The story is narrated by a young boy. He was looking forward to a really great summer. That was until Jeremy Ross moved into the neighborhood!!
After laughing at him when he struck him out at baseball and not inviting him to his trampoline party, Jeremy Ross became the first person on the boy's enemy list.
He talked to his dad about his problem. His dad said he has a sure fire but secret way of getting rid of enemies. Enemy Pie!!
It can sometimes be difficult to get students, especially those in higher grades, to open up but this is a fun way of encouraging students to let their guard down a little.
If you are looking for classroom incentives for positive behavior and effort I highly encourage you to create a Punch It! Board. It’s super easy to make and something the students in my class never tire of!
This is an incentive system that can be adapted to any classroom and great for use at home use as well.
"Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be."
- Rita Pierson
This is especially true in education. So many kids get lost in a system that's geared toward the masses. A system that favours academic achievement over personal growth.
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.
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.
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.
Stories of Kindness
- 27 Feb 2020I’d rather be swindled by someone that doesn’t need it than to pass by someone that does.
- 19 Feb 2020Food stamps over junk food
- 12 Feb 2020Our plans of helping a family went to hell
- 06 Feb 202030 Easy Acts of Kindness for Teaching Your Kids to Make the World Better
- 05 Feb 2020This teacher saves kids who are struggling to connect