As everyone tries to come to grips with the reality that is COVID-19 or Coronavirus, we find ourselves in situations we have never experienced before. These are trying times where people fear for the safety of themselves and their loved ones. My hope is that we find a silver lining by coming together to support, share and care for one another. I truly believe we can find a new sense of community and belonging throughout this pandemic.
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
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.
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.
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.