Students Across the World Join Forces in the Pursuit of Kindness
Last year, more than 36,000 schools in 110 countries joined together to celebrate The Great Kindness Challenge week. Nearly 18.5 million students across the world committed more than 900 million acts of kindness in an effort to create a better, safer culture on their campuses.
“The Great Kindness Challenge provided an opportunity for our students to care for each other in ways that went above and beyond their normal interactions. As a result, we noticed a real impact on the school’s culture with a decrease in bullying and an increase in compassion, unity and respect.
-Tom Torlakson, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Based on the idea that all students deserve to learn in a safe and supportive environment, The Great Kindness Challenge is a proactive social-emotional learning (SEL)– based program that aims to enhance both student engagement and school climate. It is a week dedicated to reminding students that kindness is powerful and there are opportunities to show it every day. By bringing students together to focus on performing as many acts of kindness as possible, schools take an important step toward strengthening a school culture and climate rooted in compassion, unity and respect.
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As you plan for this year’s Great Kindness Challenge, here are some ideas to get your students excited and involved:
For students in preschool to second grade, suggest these simple acts of kindness:
- Invite a new friend to play during recess
- Give your friend a high five
- Smile at as many people as possible
- Compliment a friend
- Be kind to yourself and eat a healthy snack
- Lend a pencil to a friend
- Thank someone who helps you
For students in grades 2-12, share these possible acts of kindness:
- Pick up any trash you see around campus
- Tell a joke to make someone laugh
- Help a younger student
- Invite someone new to sit with you at lunch
- Help your PE teacher put away equipment after class
- Tell a past teacher who inspired you
- Help a classmate struggling on their classwork
- Say thank you to the custodian
- Hold the door open for someone
PBIS Helps Foster Kindness Year-Round
If your school has implemented a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) initiative, you may find that acts of kindness come easier to your students. After all, PBIS recognizes and supports the development of positive behaviors, and kindness is definitely a positive behavior!
The positive behaviors established by your schoolwide matrix can serve as a foundation for an event such as The Great Kindness Challenge. For example, many schools have identified Respect as a core value. Brainstorm with your students – how can they demonstrate this value through acts of kindness? Add those behaviors to your matrix during The Great Kindness Challenge week and be sure to recognize students when they perform those kind acts. PBIS Rewards can make it easy to acknowledge students any time you observe them engaging in a random act of kindness!
One big bonus to random acts of kindness: Both the giver and the recipient experience a flood of “feel good” neurochemicals when engaged in kind acts. In addition, witnesses to kind acts also benefit by merely seeing the act take place. Performing, receiving, and witnessing random acts of kindness can positively impact mental and emotional health and strengthen interpersonal bonds.
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