Kindness is so important, but doesn’t come easily to everyone. Sometimes we need to explicitly teach and model this trait for our students just as we would for academic skills. Here are some easy ways to encourage kindness in the classroom.
WAYS TO ENCOURAGE KINDNESS IN THE CLASSROOM
Read and Share Books about Kindness
Books reach students in unique ways, so don’t underestimate the power of your read aloud choices. Not only will books about kindness deliver an important message, but they are a great way to start meaningful discussions in the classroom. You can find my favorite Kindness Books here.
If you want your students to be kind to one another, they need to see kind adults in action, too. When students see their teachers treating others with kindness, they are more likely to copy our behavior. Some easy ways to do this are to greet your students at the door, use polite words, make eye contact and actively listen when students are speaking, and offer to help when others are in need.
Recognize Kind Kids
Once students start demonstrating kindness towards others, it’s important to acknowledge these acts publicly, no matter how small. I like setting up a Kind Kids Station. Kids and adults can stop by and jot a quick note about someone helping a friend, sharing school supplies, or using their manners. These kind acts can be shared throughout the day or during class meetings. By recognizing the acts we hope to see, students will continue to demonstrate these behaviors.
You can grab the materials to make your own Kind Kids Station here.
Use Classroom Meetings to Practice Kindness
If we want our students to be kind to one another, they need to know what being kind looks like and sounds like. One way to help is through repeated practice. This can be done during classroom meetings. Choose a common situation your students might face and invite students to role play.
For example, there might be a group of friends playing a game at recess and one student who is walking around all alone. Allow students to recognize how it feels to be in the group (happy, laughing, playing) as well as how it might feel to be alone (sad, left out, worried). Help your students brainstorm ways to help others feel included (invite someone to play, offer to change the game, etc).
By explicitly practicing and modeling different ways we might address these situations, children are more likely to know how to take the action the next time it happens.
Create a Kindness Challenge
You can join an existing kindness challenge or start one of your own. Get your students involved by brainstorming different ways they can show kindness in the classroom, around the school, or in their community. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- invite someone new to play with you at recess
- give someone a compliment
- hold the door open for someone
- say please and thank you
- let someone else go first
- donate a gently used item to a community drive
- write a thank you note to a school helper
- put positive notes or quotes on the walls around the school
When students complete a challenge, be sure to celebrate and recognize how it feels good to help others. You can even make it a classroom goal and track their progress along the way.
How do you encourage kindness in the classroom?