It was purely accidental. We were looking for a specific event on the yearly calendar. As we searched, we found an unexpected holiday in November. World Kindness Day…an entire international day dedicated to acts of kindness.
The Random Acts of Kindness website stated, “On World Kindness Day participants attempt to make the world a better place by celebrating and promoting good deeds and pledging acts of kindness, either as individuals or as organizations.” The Wikipedia’s site said, “World Kindness Day is to highlight good deeds in the community focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness which binds us. Kindness is a fundamental part of the human condition which bridges the divides of race religion, politics, gender and zip codes.”
The setting aside of a day to purposefully be kind to others gives one pause. Why aren’t we simply kind every day to all people? Because we simply aren’t is the best explanation that can be given. Kindness is an important life skill and it is hard because, for most of us, it requires intentionality of thought and action.
At the beginning of the each year in Early Childhood, students walk into the classroom and take a deep breath. Their eyes light up and their self-talk might sound like, “Look at all of this stuff. All of this stuff is awesome!” Tensions arise because the perceptions of kindness and sharing differ from one student to another. Sharing and kindness might sound like, “What I have in my hand is mine. What you have in your hand is mine because I had it yesterday. What that kid has is also mine because I might want it in a little bit. All of this great stuff is mine because I saw it first. If you are kind, you will give it all to me.” Tensions quickly turn into conflict!
Early Childhood has implemented Conscious Discipline structures and strategies to teach self-regulation and conflict resolution skills. Staff are intentional in the attention given to children and their behaviors. The philosophy of “what you focus on, you will get more of” is the basis for interactions. Kindness structures are present in all classrooms, in the hallway and cafeteria. When a helpful or kind act is noticed, it is celebrated.
Celebrating with individual students or the class as a whole brings about a feeling of unity and school family. The idea of a classroom family encourages connections between students and creates feelings of safety and belonging. When students – and adults – have a place to fit in, they feel accepted, respected and loved. It is through these lenses that students learn to see the best in others. Seeing the best in others leads to kindness.
After much teaching and learning, a student’s self-talk might now sound like, “Look at all of this awesome stuff. I wish it was all mine. But my friend likes it, too. I’ll play with it for a while and then share with my friend because sharing is kind and that is what we do in our school family.”
Conflicts are fewer because students know they belong in their school family. They own a spot in the classroom. Their place is important, and they are accepted. They feel safe to love, share and be kind to friends.
So, participating in World Kindness Day didn’t take much thought. The Long Cubs bought into the day. Adults and students wore the shirts. The district’s youngest students read books about friendship and wrote thank-you letters to community partners. Paper hearts were sent home to record random acts of kindness and returned to school to be placed on Kindness Trees in classrooms and hallways. Maybe the life skill of kindness isn’t so hard after all.
As we move into the holiday season, the Long Early Learning Center school family wishes the AISD’s school family kindness, a sense of belonging and abundant joy. We wish you well in this moment and every single moment in the coming 2019. Happy holidays.