By Shannon Anderson, author of Mindset Power: A Kid’s Guide to Growing Better Every Day
As teachers, we make it our practice to model, teach, and encourage kindness every day. But why not kick it up a notch for Random Acts of Kindness Day? This national holiday provides a great opportunity for extra practice around this important interpersonal skill.
Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Acts of kindness can bring a smile, boost a mood, and show others we care for them. In honor of Random Acts of Kindness Day, here are some ways you can encourage your students to be extra kind to classmates, staff members, and family members, as well their communities and the world we share.
Kindness to Classmates
My favorite classroom kindness activity actually takes several weeks to complete, but you can kick it off on Random Acts of Kindness Day. Choose one student each day that you will celebrate. Have everyone in your class write personal notes to the chosen student. Instruct classmates to write at least two specific strengths or qualities they appreciate about the person.
While everyone is writing, including you, the student receiving the notes can decorate an envelope into which the notes will be placed. Do this every day until the class has written notes for every student. Then, watch kids’ eyes light up and smiles abound as you pass out the envelopes and let them read all the kind things their classmates have said about them.
Kindness to Staff
Using the yearbook or staff directory, go over each staff member in the school with your students. Point out the things each person does to make your school a better place to work and learn. Brainstorm acts of kindness kids could do to uplift each of these important people, then put their ideas into action. You can work on random acts of kindness as a class or divide kids up into groups. For example, one group of students could do something for the cooks, while another group does something for the janitors, and a third for the bus drivers.
Ideas can include plastering a person’s work area with paper hearts, positive messages, and thank-you notes; creating a banner to hang in their workspace to honor their service; creating a kindness video in which each student shares a personal testimony of how a staff member’s work makes an impact; or making a handmade gift as a thank-you for being dedicated to your school.
Kindness to Family
Have kids write heartfelt letters, send emails, or write poems to capture their affection and appreciation for parents, siblings, and other caregivers. Another idea is to have kids create coupons for services outside of their normal household chores. For example, one coupon could be good for doing another sibling’s chores. Another coupon could be redeemed by the recipient for a 10-minute shoulder rub.
Surprises can be a great way to show appreciation as well. Students can brainstorm one thing they could do when they get home from school that they know their family would appreciate. Maybe it is cleaning the living room or reorganizing a closet or junk drawer.
Kindness to the Community
Use Random Acts of Kindness Day to kick off a community service project. You might organize a coat drive or food drive or take donations for your local animal shelter. Have kids help with the planning and publicity for the project. Most importantly, when the drive is over, include students in picking up and delivering the items collected. This way, they can see how much their donations are appreciated—a heartwarming experience that can inspire them to do more acts of kindness.
Kindness to Our World
Kids need to understand that the world we live in is a shared space. The small things we do can make a big impact. Planting a few trees or cleaning up parks and roadsides may not seem to help the whole earth, but imagine if only half of the nearly 100,000 public schools in America were to plant a few trees and clean up trash in their areas on Random Acts of Kindness Day. It would make quite a big difference.
Another way to make a difference across the globe is to send cards to members of the military. Military members always appreciate being remembered when they are far away from their families and friends.
Being kind and compassionate in the words we use and the ways we treat others can have a ripple effect that can impact our friends, school, family, community, and the world around us. So use this Random Acts of Kindness Day to kick off a meaningful service project, launch some positive habits, or start a new tradition that will make a difference year after year.
Shannon Anderson has taught for 25 years, from first grade through college level. Her career highlight was being named one of the Top 10 Teachers who inspired the Today Show. Shannon is also the author of many children’s books and a national speaker. She was named the JC Runyon Person of the Year for her work helping kids with social and emotional issues through her writing and speaking. To find out more, you can visit: shannoisteaching.com.
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