While practicing reading, writing, and presenting through Language Arts, we are continuing to study and practice our “Strategies for Success.” Our first strategy in September was all about effort and positive thinking through the Mindset Unit. Our second strategy was about intellectual curiosity through the Mentorship project. And we are currently sinking our roots into emotional intelligence through our Kindness Project.

Our first foray into discussions of kindness focused mostly on giving gifts and “random acts of kindness.” Kids identified fairly surface level ideas such as giving a cookie to a friend, or complimenting somebody on their clothing. Others viewed kindness as an enormous task such as donating organs, or starting a recycling program. Most acts of kindness were shared among a small circle of friends, and kids had to stretch their minds pretty far to identify how to be kind, at least in conversation. Like any muscle and any skill, we have to practice being kind. So that is what this month is all about.

Within just a few days, I’m already seeing glimmers of joy, happiness, and an expanded idea that attention on other people can feel really good. Our premise is this: 1. The way we treat others has an effect on their feelings. 2. People see how we treat others, and they develop feelings about us. This simple two part equation will be the basis of quite a bit of discussion.

We have brainstormed a list of different ways of being kind, including: sharing, comforting, asking questions, solving a problem, forgiving, apologizing, standing up for somebody, listening, trusting, complimenting, including and inviting, making others laugh (without hurting anybody), giving advice respectfully, smiling, noticing people, responding appropriately to body language (inferring other’s emotions), and the list will certainly grow.

Hopefully this Language Arts theme might trickle into your home, and as you notice your child thinking about their behaviors, please be supportive, and acknowledge their intention. You might ask them what types of kindness they have noticed lately, and ask them about our 12 Ways in 12 Days journal project. Later this week we’ll be using book studies as a means of identifying the effects of kindness on characters and plots. And next week we’ll be studying a pretty intense poem called To This Day, about what happens in the absence of kindness (this poem is worth talking about at the dinner table next week; we won’t watch it until next Monday or Tuesday so keep it on the quiet ’til then).

For today, I see a lot of kids smiling as I’ve committed to sharing at least one act of kindness with them each day for the next three weeks. Hopefully we can create a contagiousness, even an epidemic.

P.S. I’ve been reading a book called Unselfie, by Michelle Borba about developing empathy in kids. It is an excellent read, and full of many strategies for developing caring kids at home, and in school. If you’re looking for a helpful book and ways to support at home, I’d strongly recommend it..