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As you’re setting your goals this school year, keep kindness in mind!
Getting back into the swing of things doesn’t always go smoothly. School’s a challenge, whether it’s learning harder stuff, getting used to your new teacher(s), dealing with a rough school or the social side of things—there’s a lot of change for everyone!
But there’s something you can do to make things better for you and your school, and that’s to learn to BE KIND!
So as you’re setting your goals this school year, keep kindness in mind!
“In some way, try to incorporate kindness,” encourages Helen Gomez, the new Executive Director of Ben’s Bells. This Arizona non-profit organization seeks to strengthen people and communities by teaching them about what intentional acts of kindness and trying to understand others can ACCOMPLISH.
Schools & Education a Key Part
You may have seen the flashy Be Kind mosaics around town or even on the wall of your school!
Schools and kindness education are key COMPONENTS of Ben’s Bells. “There are a lot of little ways to show kindness—and if you can do that on a weekly basis, I think that would be a great goal for the school year!” Gomez says.
She points out that there’s a difference between just being nice and actually making the effort to be kind. “Oftentimes people are nice, but they don’t actually take the time to do something that’s really meaningful and impactful— that’s going to help somebody else in some way,” she explains.
“Around campus kindness could be doing something like having lunch with somebody who’s sitting by themselves, who maybe doesn’t have a friend,” Gomez suggests. “Something little like that can make a huge difference!”
Kind Campus is a fun and upbeat program of Ben’s Bells that your teacher can sign up for and begin at any time. It’s designed for different age levels, but geared mostly for elementary school kids.
Broken down by week, “It’s a whole year’s worth of free curriculum for teachers that they can INTEGRATE into their school day. Basically it covers various ways to intentionally practice kindness. It’s like a little hidden gem!” Gomez describes.
Knowing how busy teachers are, the activities are straightforward and don’t take up too much time or require a lot of planning. It provides easy ways to talk about kindness, has students practice kindness and shows the great variety of ways to be kind (check out the list to the right!). “Kindness is a skill and you have to practice it,” encourages Gomez.
She points out that the new school year is a time of a lot of new circumstances and new people, so be kind to those around you and remember to
be kind to your family—they’re affected, too!
Gomez suggests, “A weekly act, whether it’s helping your teacher, volunteering somewhere, or at home, saying, ‘I’m going to feed the dog every day this week without mom telling me.’”
For more Kind Campus info or to sign up, visit: https://bensbells.org/kindness-education/kind-schools
Always Be Kind to Yourself!
Sometimes you can be your own worst critic. But if you’re down on yourself—maybe you didn’t make the team or don’t understand what’s being taught or feel you aren’t attractive enough—it can be really hard to be kind to others.
“In terms of image, as a society, we’re very self-critical,” Gomez explains. Know that you’re an individual, beautiful person, and take time out to treat yourself well. Maybe it’s setting aside a half hour to take the dog for a walk or to watch something silly on TV. Maybe it’s reading a new book for an hour. “Then you recharge, and you’re able to better deal with difficult situations or difficult people,” she continues.
School can be far from easy. It might be a rough school, someone who bullies you, or maybe it’s socially a tough place. “I have a 9- and a 10-year-old, and so often (they share) ‘this person was mean to me’ or ‘they did this’ or ‘they did that.’ We really talk through it,” Gomez says.
How might you handle it? “Think about it from their point of view—there may be something going on. It could be something as simple as they’re hungry. Their parents might be going through a divorce. There could be a lot of things that could be happening behind the scenes,” Gomez explains. “The fact that somebody lashes out—they’re trying to get that emotion, that feeling out. So for most kids, I think the best way to practice kindness is to try to understand where the other person is coming from in trying to understand their actions.”
Kindness Isn’t Just for Kids!
Being kind often involves learning how best to connect and communicate with others. “A lot of the things that we teach our kids, we need to remember to practice in our lives as adults as well,” Gomez points out. “Some of it is really teaching kids and adults to communicate better, more effectively, so it doesn’t become a big heated situation, and feeling comfortable and being able to communicate with someone else.” At school, learning to be kind goes beyond students—it’s for teachers, coaches, counselors and administrators, too!
“We’re building communities—kind communities, which is great!” Gomez concludes.
25 Ways to Be Kind!
Ben’s Bells believes everyone has the capacity to Be Kind and that we can help each other work toward this goal. Here are 25 ways you might practice kindness at your school. Share these ideas with others, and at the bottom, add some of your own ways to be kind as well:
1. Make your own “be kind” signs and hang them around your school as a powerful visual reminder to be kind.
2. Write or draw a note of appreciation for someone and give it to them as a reminder you’re thinking of them, especially someone who is having a hard time.
3. Create a gratitude jar for your classroom. Jot down what you’re grateful for and see if your class can fill it!
4. Be kind to yourself and eat a healthy snack.
5. Write a Thank You note to a staff member who helps keep your school clean and safe.
6. Read a book together as a class and talk about moments of kindness between characters.
7. Smile and say “hi” to 10 people when you walk by them.
8. Make a “What Is Kindness?” bulletin board or poster for your classroom. Brainstorm ideas together.
9. As a class, talk about why sleeping well and eating well are important for self-kindness.
10. As a class, talk about some great things about living in your community.
11. Welcome new students to your school by showing them around and introducing them to other students.
12. Write kind messages with sidewalk chalk in a common area at your school.
13. Share your snack with another student.
14. Write Kind Notes to several people in your school’s neighborhood and deliver them.
15. Learn as many people’s names as possible and practice using them.
16. Share your ideas with a younger student about ways to be kind and why it’s important for your school.
17. Practice ways to stay calm if you begin to feel angry or frustrated, like taking a short break by yourself or thinking about three things you are grateful for.
18. Compliment five people on a quality that helps them be kind.
19. Learn to say “thank you” and “hello” in a new language.
20. Hold the door open for students entering school in the morning.
21. Be sure to include new students when playing on the playground.
22. If you see someone sitting alone at lunch, invite them to sit with you or with you and your friends.
23. If you feel stressed or overwhelmed, take three deep breaths in order to build awareness of your body and your thoughts.
24. Find a bracelet or rubber band to wear on your wrist. Every time you feel grateful, move the bracelet to the other wrist. As you soak it in, become aware of your gratitude.
25. Get excited for opportunities in the new school year to learn new things and make new friends!