NOTE TO SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS

Children and students are shaped by their school years into young adults influencing what their role in society will be in the future. In the 21st Century, children and adolescents are exposed to increased risks which may include bullying, mental health issues, domestic violence and suicide. Challenges that influence their identities can include questions of gender identity and sexual orientation. Our educational settings can be safe places where children and students seek clarity and share experiences and feelings.

 

The aim of the Kindness Curriculum is to provide activities that teachers can utilise in classrooms to address and explore social emotional learning and pro-social skills and traits that support wellbeing. Scientific studies have shown that kindness has several physical and emotional benefits, encouraging well-rounded individuals who can flourish cognitively, emotionally and socially. It is recommended that engagement in these activities take into consideration:

 

  • school policies
  • school strategy and missions
  • individuals’ experiences and class contexts
  • student demographics, and
  • teacher experience

 

Importantly, the Kindness Curriculum and associated activities are not a substitute for, and should not be relied upon as, medical, mental or other heath advice. Further, not all teachers have the knowledge or experience to deal with mental health needs that present in their classrooms. It is recommended that School Leadership teams are consulted and advised of particularly concerning events and disclosures that occur in the classroom (in accordance with School policies). Clinical care providers, with certain specialist expertise, may need to be consulted in particular circumstances. Clinical care providers include psychiatrists, specialist mental health nurses, psychologists, general practitioners and others with specialised mental health training.

Got a question about the Kindness Curriculum? Have a look at our FAQs! If you are curious about anything else send us a message via our Contact Us page.

Educators Notes for the 12 Attributes

Collaboration is essential in almost all aspects of life – in the playground; classroom; families and in every work environment! Collaboration is when a group of people come together and contribute their expertise for the benefit of a shared objective or project. Meaningful collaboration promotes the building of peer relationships, and enables people to understand different perspectives, and to give and receive feedback.

Successful collaboration and team work requires communication (verbal, nonverbal, and written); active listening; social awareness, turn-taking; problem solving; respect and cooperative spirit. Trust is also central to successful collaboration activities as peers take risks together. Online platforms provide people with opportunities to connect with peers locally and around the world extending types of collaboration and teamwork. The activities sourced and designed provide opportunities for people to engage in tasks that require them to work together as they tackle new concepts and build new understandings

Exploring Compassion

Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” It is the capacity to understand the emotional state of another and have genuine feelings for other people’s circumstances and feel motivated to support and assist. It requires a certain level of awareness, concern, caregiving and empathy. Compassion requires action. The benefits of showing compassion are numerous: increased happiness and decreased depression; social connection; increased self-esteem, empathy, and well-being. Self-compassion is the care and nurturing we offer ourselves when we make mistakes, do not achieve or are disappointed with our actions. It serves an important function for self-kindness and forgiveness reducing feelings of anxiety and depression. Self-compassion is also an essential life skill that supports peoples’ mental health and emotional resilience. The activities sourced and designed provide opportunities for people to look and reflect internally and to understand emotions, and responses to life events. The development of positive self-love will better equip people to have compassion and respect for others and themselves.

Empathy is the awareness and understanding of another person’s thoughts, feelings, and circumstances.  The ability to co-experience the feelings and thoughts of other people, is probably one of the most important skills a person may have. Understanding others’ feelings and needs helps people maintain friendships, encourages tolerance and acceptance of others. Empathy promotes good mental health and wellbeing. Being empathetic assists people in building and maintaining strong and healthy relationships with their friends, family, co-workers, and community. Helping people to develop a strong sense of empathy is beneficial because it promotes social harmony, reduces the likelihood of prejudice, lowers levels of stress and contributes to emotional and social growth. In an ever-changing and diverse world appreciating and being sensitive to others’ experiences, backgrounds, and cultures is essential.

Gratitude is from the Latin word gratus, which means “thankful, pleasing.” Gratitude is a feeling or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive. Gratitude is an emotion like appreciation – taking the time to appreciate what you have is one of the keys to cultivating gratitude. Gratitude is the single best predictor of individual well-being contributing to life satisfaction, happiness, optimism, hope and positive affect. Gratitude is different from other caring emotions such as empathy and compassion and it develops as it is intentionally cultivated. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude requires people to look at their situations from a point of appreciation rather than from a deficit.

Honesty is defined as fairness and straightforwardness of conduct. It is when one speaks the truth and acts truthfully and is often connected to sincerity, integrity and trustworthiness. But honesty is not just about telling the truth. It promotes openness, gives clarity and empowers one to be authentic. Being honest requires courage, realism, trust and it takes practice. Learning honesty can be a challenge! Often social media and the virtual world create unreal perceptions of honesty and different concepts of reality. Honesty has connections to other traits that support kindness, in particular self-compassion and self-acceptance. The activities sourced and designed provide opportunities for people to explore authenticity and integrity in their own lives, classroom, workforce and community.

Humility means “the state of being humble.” Both the word humility and humble have their origin in the Latin word humilis, meaning “low.” A low focus on the self is not self-deprecating but rather an accurate recognition of one’s accomplishments and worth. Being humble allows a person to acknowledge their limitations, imperfections, and mistakes. It means learning to value oneself in a way that isn’t dependent on outperforming other people or being the best. Being humble also means putting the needs of another person before your own and thinking of others before yourself. There are many emotional and social benefits associated with humility including self-control, generosity, tolerance, acceptance and a lower sense of entitlement.

Humour from the Latin word umor means to be fluid and flexible. Defined, humour is a quality in something that makes you laugh – it could be a situation, someone’s words or actions, something that is heard or seen. If you are in good humour, you feel cheerful and happy, and are pleasant to people. Humour is considered a character strength because it can be used to make others feel good, to build relationships, and to help buffer stress resulting in increased feelings of emotional wellbeing, cohesion and optimism. Humour encourages enjoyment, increased engagement and communication, teamwork and enthusiasm.  Research also suggests that humour reduces negativity and depression. However, if humour is used divisively or to disparage others it can have negative impacts on self-esteem and confidence. The activities sourced and designed provide opportunities for people to comprehend, appreciate, and produce humour. A happy environment where laughing together is prioritised will promote a warm, secure space where individuals are valued.

Mindfulness is the human ability to be fully present. Being engaged in the moment means that we are free from distraction and open to an attitude of acceptance, curiosity and calmness. Cultivated in Buddhism, mindfulness embraces an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life. Mindfulness supports and enriches meditation, while meditation nurtures and expands mindfulness. Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which there is an intense awareness of what is sensed and felt in a moment, without interpretation. Research suggests that there are many benefits to mindfulness including improved wellbeing and physical health by relieving stress, lowering blood pressure and improving sleep. Mindfulness meditation also improves mental health being an important element in treatment for anxiety, depression and a range of disorders.

Positivity is the practice of focussing one’s mind affirmatively on the good and constructive aspects of a matter to exclude negative or destructive attitudes and emotions. Having a positive mindset is a mental and emotional attitude suggests an optimistic rather than pessimistic outlook on life – “Is your glass half-empty or half-full?” Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism suggesting the benefits include lower rates of depression and levels of distress; better psychological and physical well-being. The positive thinking that usually comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. A person with a positive mindset encourages and motivate others making them feel good which builds friendly, caring and safe environments. Positivity can change the way one feels about themselves and others, which can in turn have a huge effect on the well-being of all. Positivity is a state of mind we would all like to achieve which is lucky because it is also a skill that improves with use. The activities sourced and designed provide children and students opportunities to explore ways to think and act positively. Becoming positive and optimistic is a skill that will assist students to engage in happy and healthy relationships, be confident with a ‘can do’ attitude!

Self-acceptance is the awareness of and satisfaction with one’s strengths and weaknesses, the non-judgemental realistic assessment of one’s talents, capabilities, and general worth. It results in an individual’s feeling about oneself, that they are of “unique worth”. When we’re self-accepting, we’re able to embrace all facets of ourselves—not just the positive, more “esteem-able.” Building capacities to accept oneself is critical to a sense of wellbeing and crucial to mental health.  Benefits of self-acceptance include increased positive emotions, sense of freedom, self-worth, autonomy, and self-esteem. Strong self-acceptance also decreases fear of failure, and self-critique, depressive symptoms and an overwhelming need for approval. People have the capacity to develop self‐acceptance – to learn to be more attentive to the thoughts and beliefs ‐ especially judgments we have about ourselves and others and their impact on our relationships and daily lives.

Trust is the confidence that a person or group of people has in the reliability of another person or group. It is the degree to which one feels they can depend on the other party to do what they say they will do and the belief that a person will behave in certain ways. The predictability of an action or behaviour builds a feeling of confidence and security contributing to trust. People who trust are happier, relaxed and more functional. Trust has many benefits including increased optimism, higher levels of self-confidence, lower stress levels, peace of mind and more meaningful social connections. It is essential that in our contemporary world that dimensions of trust and social media are also investigated as ‘fake news’ has the capacity to damage personal and public trust. Trust as a process is heavily influenced by individuals’ experiences, context and history.

Kindness Curriculum Poster

The benefits associated with giving and receiving kindness are tangible and result in overwhelmingly positive outcomes for the world around us. Science confirms the advantages to the body and mind.

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Additional Resources

We aim to continue to provide updates that may interest teachers who want to embed Kindness Curriculum attributes in their schools and classrooms. Parents may also find many of these activities suitable for use in their home.