The most important lesson I want my students to learn in my classroom is how to show kindness to each other. I would far rather my own child be the person who sits by the lonely kid in the cafeteria than be the person with straight A’s. Reading, writing and math are of course extremely important, but kindness can most dramatically change the world. Sadly, there is far too much unkindness in our world, therefore it ‘s crucial to take just a few minutes each day to create and maintain a culture of kindness in your classroom by teaching and reminding children how to treat others. Students will quickly learn that when they make someone else happy, they actually feel happier themselves. Here are some ideas to use throughout the school year to create and maintain a culture of kindness in your classroom:
- Model and Teach: It’s important to model what kindness looks like, sounds like and feels like. Unfortunately many students don’t see a lot of kindness in their homes and haven’t been taught by example. Teachers should guide discussions about different ways people are kind to us and how we feel when people treat us kindly as well as unkindly. Everyday there should be modeling and teaching of kindness.
- Kindness Quotes: Read and discuss several kindness quotes. Place students in teams and have them choose a quote to write and illustrate on poster paper. Refer to these quotes often during the school year. Students could also choose a quote and write about why it is important in an opinion writing assignment.
- “Kindness is free, let’s pass it on.”
- “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Aesop
- “The highest form of wisdom is kindness.” The Talmud
- “How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it.” George Elliston
- “Kindness like a boomerang always returns.”
- “Kindness is like sugar, it makes life taste sweeter.”
- “Be kind to unkind people. They need it the most.”
- “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Dalai Lama
- “A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.”
- “Kindness makes you the most beautiful person in the world, no matter what you look like.”
- Be Aware and Take Action: This picture breaks my heart! So many students today are being teased or bullied. Any act that makes another student feel intimidated or abused is not acceptable. Teachers should watch for this unkind behavior and talk to all students involved privately, get parents involved if necessary and make sure the behavior does not continue.
- Smile-Grams: Keep a basket of these smile-gram postcards in your classroom. Teachers and students can write happy notes on the back of the card to give to fellow class members. It’s amazing how the power of the written word can bring such great joy. My students would keep and treasure the smile-grams they received. You may download these postcards in color and black and white.
- Acts of Kindness Board: Have an Acts of Kindness bulletin board where the teacher and the students can add examples of kindness in drawings, photos, sticky notes, or news articles. Add to this board and refer to it often during the school year, to remind students to show kindness everyday.
- Literature Books: There are a wealth of great literature books that give examples and non examples of kindness. Use these during your read aloud time and conduct class discussions about the importance of kindness. You can also add acts of kindness from literature books to the bulletin board. Encourage students to write in their reading response journals about how they feel about the message in the story. Click here for a list of book titles about kindness.
I hope you create a culture of kindness in your classroom and hopefully it will stick with the students throughout their lives and spread to others as well.