Of all the learning that is experienced by 3, 4 and 5 year olds, I think the learning of kindness is one of the most important. There is lots of unkindness in our world and sometimes it can be too easy to be sucked into unkind thoughts and actions. But if we have a foundation of practicing kindness and observing kindness in others who are close to us, we will more easily revert to the kinder option in a situation.
Of course parents and families are our children’s first and most important teachers/mentors, but as early years educators, there is lots we can do to build on that foundation and help build good habits.
Encouraging an atmosphere of kindness is quite easy when you have a consistent plan of action and a way of kindness that is understood and practiced by all educators involved.
When planning any activity, including fun and developing engaging visuals will help to deepen learning.
I would like to share with you some learning experiences that I have set up for children in my care over the last number of years to enhance and encourage the spread kindness. They are simple ideas that were engaging and really got the kids to think about kindness and notice it around them. 😊 I tend to do these activities in December as the run up to Christmas often invokes a sense of giving.
The kindness tree idea was prompted by a children’s book that I had for years about showing kindness to others. It had lots of real-life pictures of children spreading kindness like sharing, hugging friends, minding the baby, giving gifts etc. I removed the pages from the book and cut around each photo. I did this bit alone so as not to deface a book in front of the children 🙈. When I did this activity a couple of years later with another group of children, we printed some ‘kind’ images from the internet and cut them out.
The children decorated a large paper tree with green paint and when dry, they stuck the ‘kind’ pictures onto it. As they were attaching each picture, we spoke about what was happening in the picture and about a time that we may have done a similar kind act.
They then continued to decorate the tree with glitter and sequins because it was Christmas after all!
We had a visit from little “Robbie Robin” one year. He fascinated the children with his adventurous story of his travels around the world. He did have a problem though. He found that his breast was losing its vibrant colour as he travelled but discovered that when he witnessed kindness, his breast would brighten up beautifully again. He decided to rest at our preschool for a few weeks as he felt he needed a ‘kindness boost’. Well, Robbie sure was glad that he decided to stay as the children did their very best to show kindness to one another as the robin watched on. And low and behold, we noticed how beautifully bright his breast became 😉
A food donation box is a very simple and rewarding thing to do. The act of placing food stuffs into the box reminds the children that there are real people who don’t have cupboards full of goods and will be delighted to receive what has been left for them.
Each year, our local St Vincent de Paul organisation collects our offerings and distributes much needed boxes to local families to help them through the Christmas period.
Do you have other fun and engaging ideas of how to encourage kindness in your children? We would love to hear!