By Bevin Reinen, M.S.Ed., NBCT
Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.
Love is in the air!
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, followed by Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17. This means our little ones will be nothing but nice to each other all week, right?
A girl can dream!
Early learners are just discovering how to learn, play, and work together in the school setting. And while some educators wouldn’t consider “kindness” to be an objective, it certainly is teachable! Kindness is a skill that can and should be cultivated just like reading, writing, and math.
It takes real, strategic efforts to grow happy, caring kids. Here are 10 tips for incorporating kindness into the classroom:
- Model, Model, Model: If we continuously show students what kindness looks and sounds like through our actions (as well as what it feels like on the receiving end), they will likely follow suit.
- Morning Meetings: Facilitate daily morning meetings to create a strong sense of community while reinforcing social-emotional skills. Responsive Classroom meetings consist of four components including a greeting, sharing, group activity, and morning message. Students LOVE to give and receive compliments during share time!
- The Mulligan Rule: If a student says/does something hurtful to a classmate, ask both students if they’d like to press the rewind button and try again “the kind way.” This encourages self-reflection and often makes both parties feel better.
- Tell Me Something Good: Are there certain times/places that are more challenging than others? Recess? Lunchtime maybe? Flip the script by asking students to tell you something good that happened. They’ll start keeping an eye out for these things, as well as practicing them!
- Kindness Counts: Collect or visually display the number of times students are “caught being kind” by you or each other. Kindness jars, paper links, or sticky tab shout-outs work great!
- Mindfulness Matters: How can we expect students to be their best if they’re stressed? Incorporate mindful practices to help them channel their inner peace! Check out Becker’s Mindfulness Card Set which is full of awesome activities. GoNoodle offers some excellent breathing, yoga, and reflective brain break videos, too!
- Kindness Constitution: Create a kindness pledge during interactive writing time. Have each student sign it afterward! Be sure to post it in your classroom for easy reference.
- Make Connections: Have students reflect upon/relate to various scenarios played out in books or movies. Allow them to role play through the characters’ dilemmas. This Random Books of Kindness Set includes powerful stories which illustrate both kindness and friendship.
- Speak the Language: Have students participate in the Kindness Rocks Project or write messages on cards to be hidden throughout the school. On a sunny day, take students outside to decorate the sidewalk with positive affirmations.
- Service Learning: Find ways for the students to address community needs while integrating the curriculum. Doing something as simple as having the kids write/decorate “Be Brave” cards for children in the hospital can make a lasting impact.
How do you cultivate a culture of kindness in your classroom?
Bevin Reinen is an educator, blogger, writer, speaker, and consultant who has held numerous leadership positions throughout her 15 years in education. Bevin holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, and is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in K-12 Leadership. Bevin was named the 2011 Hampton Roads Magazine Top Teacher Overall and the 2015 Virginia Region II Teacher of the Year. Bevin is National Board Certified as an Early Childhood Generalist and was identified as an emerging leader by both ASCD and NAEYC. Her work appears in numerous print and online publications and she is the proud founder of TeachTrainLove.com.
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