February is designated as the Month of Kindness and couldn’t we all use just a little more kindness these days?
Young children have a natural inclination to be helpful and with guidance and modeling, they can develop a greater sense of their role in the larger world. By bringing a child’s awareness to someone’s greater need, we teach kindness, empathy, responsibility, and sympathy. The ability to empathize has been shown to start as early as a year old. Children use “social referencing” by looking to caregivers for information and how to respond. Modeling kindness, helpfulness, and empathy early provides important cues to a child. However, teaching empathy involves more than just having a good role model. Also required is involving them in opportunities to help other people, foster a love for outdoor spaces, and care for their environment. This develops prosocial behavior that grows and becomes an integral part of a child’s mindset. Some suggested activities include donating gently used toys, finding appropriate volunteer opportunities to serve those less fortunate, joining clean up and recycling events, and even taking regular nature walks to notice and appreciate trees, birds, and insects while being mindful of litter and discussing its effects on the environment.
Because young children make sense of their world through hands-on activities, keeping a journal can help them be mindful and create connections with their actions. I’ve created a short journal in Keynote you can download here. This can be added to student iPads and it provides some prompts and activities for young children to engage in and record their thoughts. You can also add other pages if needed.
I would love to hear how you are using it and see your students’ work!
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”-Aesop