Starting the School Year with Kindness

Starting the School Year with Kindness

Starting the School Year With Kindness

Tips and Strategies for Starting the School Year with Kindness at Home and School

What we need now, more than ever is kindness.   We must treat each other with kindness, compassion and empathy.  We say it, we know it, but often what we forget is that kindness must be taught, it must be practiced.  Telling others to be kind is a great reminder, but as mothers and as teachers, we must teach our children how to be kind, foster and encourage the skill  By starting the school year with kindness we can embed it into our lives and the lives of our children.

Routines of Kindness

Home

Kindness starts at home, our actions are reflected to the world.  The way we treat each other at home is how our children will treat everyone they come in contact with.  If we want a kinder world, a world that treats everyone with kindness and respect, we must teach this to our children.  A way to do this is to create routines for your home that actively teach kindness.  There are many ways to do this:

  • A phrase that you greet one another with
  • A phrase that you end every phone call with
  • A prayer that included kindness before meals
  • Give a daily compliment to every family member
  • When a family member is talking, listen and make eye contact
  • Always remember manners
  • Family Kindness Tracker (Free Family Kindness Tracker download)
School

As teachers, we are role models for our students.  It is unfair to expect them to do anything without actively teaching it, this includes kindness.  We may not be able to change what we have to do in the classroom, but we do have the power to change how we do it.  If we teach with kindness in our hearts and establish routines of kindness, we create a safe and caring environment for our students.

  • Greet students at the door individually
  • Start class with a phrase of kindness
  • Have a personal interact with every student every day
  • Smile
  • Make eye contact with your students, ask them to do so in return
  • Always start a constructive conversation with a compliment

Kind Act of the Week

Home

As a family, decide upon an act of kindness that you will complete each week.  This can be completed as a family or each family member can decide on their own.  Actively taking time out of your week to do something kind directed at someone reminds us how important it is work on making the world a better place.  Possible kind acts to complete each week are:

  • Volunteering at a soup kitchen, shelter, rescue agency
  • Pack up and donate unused toys and/or clothing
  • Visit or call an older/lonely family member or friend
  • Complete another family member’s daily/weekly responsibility (cook dinner, take out garbage)
  • Take the unexpected opportunity to help another person (carry someone’s groceries to the car, help the person who broke down in front of your house
School

As a class community explain that part of being a member of your class comes with the expectation that everyone will do their best to complete a kind act a week.  Every act of kindness will be posted, anonymously, on a post it and placed on a bulletin board in the classroom.  Kind acts will be shared, but not for individual recognition, but to acknowledge all the good being done.  Ways for students to complete an act of kindness at school:

  • Helping someone carry their books
  • Picking up something someone dropped
  • Giving someone a pen or pencil when they need it
  • Listen to a friend who is having a hard day
  • Give a compliment and expect nothing in return
  • Play, share or talk to another student that appears to not have anyone else

Kindness Project

Home

As a family, decide upon a long-term project to involve your family in that will help to make this world a better place.  This does not have to be the biggest project in the world.  Often times, we take on too much and never finish it.  Start small, a project is anything you need to do more than once to complete.  Once you and your family get the hang of it, add more time and depth to your projects.  Here are some ideas to get your family started:

  • Train for and complete a fun run for a cause
  • Participate in any type of a-thon (dance-a-thon, read-a-thon) for a non-profit organization
  • Help raise money for an organization
  • Become a volunteer at a nursing home
  • Grow something at a community garden
  • Become a board member for a volunteer organization
  • Foster a rescue animal
School

A class kindness project is a great way to bring a class together and have them work on something with real world applications.  As a group, the class can decide on a project, work together on it and see how their work has helped to make the world a better place.  Spending time, returning to a project and seeing your work make difference is lesson that will stay with our students forever.  Some possible ideas to get your students thinking are:

  • Identifying a local issue and make steps to improve it
  • Design and paint a school mural
  • Create a school club dedicated to kindness
  • Write a group children’s book about kindness
  • Identify a local non-profit organization and create a relationship with them

Ground Rules

Home

Everyone gets frustrated, everyone gets angry, but by setting home ground rules before these things happen is a way to keep kindness always present at home.  Some kindness home ground rules are:

  • No name calling
  • Listen first and respond
  • Make eye contact when talking
  • Stop and try to think about how the other person feels
  • Acknowledge other people’s feelings
School

Every class needs ground rules.  These rules depend on a teacher’s style, but if we make sure our rules are rooted in kindness, we can create a place where everyone feels respected and cared for.  Some possible rules are:

  • Make eye contact with others when talking
  • Listen and let others finish talking, try not to interrupt
  • Respond to what other say, rather than just saying what we want
  • Include new people in our groups, don’t let anyone feel left out
  • Be open to new ideas, new experiences and new people

Dedicate Time for Sharing

Home

When school starts it is so easy to get caught up in the hectic routine that is created, that we forget to talk to one another.  Taking time out of the day or week to share what we done and how we feel is necessary.  By sharing we can empathize with one another, an important skill to practice and we will also have our own feelings and our family members’ feelings validated.  Ways to share are:

  • Sharing during dinner
  • A Caring about Sharing jar – Write a note about something you want share, drop it in the jar and once a week share all the notes in the jar.  (Free Caring about Sharing jar labels download)
  • Have a weekly family meeting
  • Have a family signal for when someone needs a person to stop and listen to how they feel
School

When deadline approach and assignments need to be finished, one of the first things that teachers do is begin to move a little faster, cut out unnecessary things.  But remember, listening to students, letting their voices be heard, discussing how they feel and what kind things they have done is important.  Here are some ways to build in sharing time in your class.

  • Schedule time weekly for open sharing about kindness
  • Spend time talking and sharing during passing or transition times
  • Create a weekly warm-up activity that includes sharing thoughts of kindness
  • Meet with groups of students and share about your life, listen to stories about theirs
  • Ask students questions and honestly listen to their responses
  • Share details about yourself and allow questions

 

We must teach kindness and empathy at home and school if we expect our children to act through kindness and empathize with others.  If you want the world to be a better place, you must actively try to make it better, just talking about it doesn’t change it, you must do something.  We have all heard the phrase from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  If you wish to see a kinder world, be kind and teach kindness.  By starting the school year with kindness at home and school, you will embed it not only your life, but in your children as well.

Don’t forget to download your freebies!!  They are a great way to help with starting the school year with kindness.

Family Kindness Tracker

To use the Family Kindness Tracker, hang in a very visible place in the house.  Write every family members name down  on the top of the tracker.  Every family member gets a check for every day of the week that they are kind, have good manners and follow directions.  Checks can also be earned by completing random acts of kindness, showing kindness to your family or any other way the family decides.  Check are added up at the end of the week.  The higher the family total the more kindness the family has shown.  Use it to challenge your family and yourself.

Caring about Sharing jar labels

Attach Caring about Sharing labels to a mason jar.  Every time anyone has something that they would like to share, but no one is around or everyone is busy, write a note and drop it in the jar.  Schedule a time once a week to read and talk about every note.

We all need more kindness in our lives.  If you have any other ideas we can add to the list of Starting the School Year with Kindness, please share your ideas in the comments below.

 

If you like Starting the School Year with Kindness, consider reading, A Dream of Kindness.

Starting the School Year with Kindness

 

4 thoughts on “Starting the School Year with Kindness

  1. almbacon@gmail.com says:

    Thank you! I feel like if we all spend more time focused in kindness we really can make a difference.

  2. Marie says:

    I really like the Caring about Sharing jar idea. It would be a great way to talk about feelings and different things happening in our lives. Thank you for the post!

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