Kindness. It’s truly one of the simplest ways to connect with one another. It can be exchanged through a smile, a wave, a handwritten note, or a hug. Kindness doesn’t need to cost anything, and it doesn’t have to be extravagant.
Growing up, my mother always told me to be kind and that it pays to be nice. When I was young, I knew that you should hold a door for someone, take a moment to smile and say hello, and offer help to those who look like they may need it. I grew up believing that you should go out of your way to care about and be thoughtful of others, from all walks of life. Now, I’m doing my best to impart that same simple wisdom onto my daughters. I tell them they should always say please and thank you and that gifts (no matter how small) should be followed up with a note of appreciation. I tell them that each of their classmates deserve kindness, even if there comes a time when one of those classmates isn’t kind to them. We talk about empathy and taking time to really think about other people’s perspectives. I explain to them the importance of including others who look like they may need a little extra compassion. When my girls leave in the morning for school, I always tell them “Be good to your teachers, and be good to your friends.” They are learning that those few words have great and powerful meaning behind them.
Teaching our children to be kind, compassionate, generous, and appreciative is perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can give one another. I believe that it’s our responsibility as adults, role models, leaders, parents, and educators to not only teach these behaviors to the next generation but also to model them ourselves.
Here are a few resources to help all of us share more deliberate kindness in the world.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to encouraging kindness in homes, classrooms, and communities. Their website is overflowing with free resources as well as ideas for how to spread kindness like volunteering at a community garden, donating old books, writing a poem for someone you love, or simply saying good morning to a stranger. In addition, you can read about and share your own stories of kindness. This site is truly an invaluable resource.
Founded by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance helps teachers and schools fight prejudice, promote equality and celebrate diversity. I have used many of these lessons year after year in my elementary classroom. Be sure to read about the national campaign, Mix It Up, a Teaching Tolerance initiative that encourages students to step outside of their comfort zone and get to know someone new at lunch. Mix It Up inspires students to make connections and develop relationships with classmates across social boundaries. This can be easily adapted in the classroom as well.
The Kindness Journey
This website follows twelve-year-old Jaden Winn and his mother Amanda as they embark on a yearlong journey across the United States. Their main goal is to educate and inspire people along the way to join in the #kindnessmovement while raising funds for Life Vest Inside, an organization dedicated to uniting the world with kindness (http://www.lifevestinside.com). If these two don’t move you to spread the love, I’m not sure what will!
Picture Books that Promote Kindness
- Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
- The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
- The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
- Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein
- Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
- Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
Chapter Books that Promote Kindness
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
- The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Finally, use the printables below to spread more kindness in your home, classroom, or community. What will your deliberate acts of kindness be?
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