For some people making new friends can be a bit terrifying. We’ve put together a fun interactive project for students of all ages. Younger students can make posters or simply do a small presentation on flash cards, while older students can utilize technology and create a PowerPoint presentation or iMovie. The sky is the limit.
List of Interview Questions
Do you see students at your school sitting alone or having a hard time making friends? For many students, navigating the schoolyard at break or finding a lunch buddy can be challenging and overwhelming. Sitting by oneself is a lonely experience. In some cases, students who are by themselves become targets for bullying. Feeling socially isolated can also cause poor academic performance. What does your school do to encourage students to engage with others outside their groups or who may be feeling alone and ostracized? We have a few ideas below to help your students find a welcoming place at school.
For older students, a new app called Sit With Us helps students who have difficulty finding a place to sit for lunch or hang out find a welcoming group. The app allows students to designate themselves as “ambassadors,” thereby inviting others to join them. Ambassadors can then post “open lunch” events, which signal to anyone seeking company that they’re invited to join the ambassadors’ table. Sit with Us is a mobile app that is designed to create a kinder more inclusive school community. It was designed by 16-year Natalie Hampton after she experienced bullying and loneliness during her seventh-grade year. Hampton told Audie Cornish on NPR’s “All Things Considered” that the reason why she felt an app like this was necessary is because it prevents kids from being publicly rejected and being considered social outcasts by their peers. She is definitely on to something - recent studies conducted by Princeton, Rutgers and Yale University show that when students, especially the “cool kids,” stand up to bullying it has a significant impact. During a 2012-2013 school year, over 50 New Jersey middle schools provided their most socially competent students with social media tools and encouragement to combat bullying, and saw a reduction in student conflict reports by 30 percent.
We think Natalie's app is a great idea, especially for middle and high school students. For those schools where phones aren't allowed or whose students are too young to bring them to school, here are a few other ideas to give kids a chance to feel included:
Help your child build the confidence he or she needs to create new friendship connections at school. The beginning of school is a great time for parents to talk with their children about how to build new friendships. Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, author of Smart Parenting for Smart Kids, discusses four ways you can help your child create new friendships.
These four ways are outlined in the video:
Are you thinking about bringing the 21 Day Kindness Challenge to your school, but concerned that it might take too much time or effort? The 21 Day Kindness Challenge is easy to run and effective.
Easy Implementation & Continuous Support
The Kindness Challenge is simple to plan, easy to run, and makes a huge impact! We have kindness programs for all school levels! We offer age appropriate programs for every educational level: elementary, middle, and high school programs, as well as our cost-effective classroom program.
Be the Change: Bring Kindness to Your Campus!
During any given week children spend more time at school than they spend at home; that gives schools the awesome responsibility to create an environment that emulates family. A place where they are loved and encouraged. A place where they learn to be kind, caring, respectful and engaged.
How do we create a school environment where children feel like they are loved and encouraged, and how do we teach them to be kind, caring, respectful and accepting of differences? Here are five secrets to help you get started on creating a kinder school campus:
Create opportunities to talk. Sit with your students when they are on their snack break or lunch break. Families engage in conversation around the dinner table, so why not use this special time to establish relationships with your students? Create table topics or buy pre-made TABLETOPICS Best Things Ever: Questions to Start Great Conversations (there are several options on Amazon) and have teachers, principals, and staff sit with students during lunch time or breaks. Watch the magic happen! Think of this as an icebreaker that will allow you and your students to develop a stronger connection and open the door for deeper conversations in the future. When this transformation happens, it is important to remember, to be honest, clear, and open.
Encouragement of individuality.
Children, no matter what age, want to be seen, and feel like they belong. Encourage your students to “show off” their uniqueness; all the while cultivating a sense of belonging. This will help build a stronger school community. There are several ways to allow your students to “show off” their uniqueness. At your next staff meeting come up with a list of monthly activities that you can do on campus. Here is one to get you started: at the beginning of the school year give out a whole school homework assignment. Ask every student to create a poster-board with an attached (recent) photo of them that says, ‘What Makes Me Unique.’ When posters are complete, hang them throughout the school.
Commitment to the School.
Create a strong allegiance by creating a team environment. From buddy classes to pep-rallies, make sure everyone feels like they are an important part of the whole. Think win-win when devising a ‘team spirit’ plan for this coming school year. Tell good stories about overcoming challenges, teamwork, togetherness, and toughness. A great resource for these stories is the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series. Our suggestion: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive: 101 Inspirational Stories about Counting Your Blessings and Having a Positive Attitude.
Developing a value system and moral code for your school will ensure you are on the road to success. Governing your school community by an agreed-upon and known set of values or principles is essential. Work with your students, staff and parents to come up with a list of principles and then write your moral code together. Prominently display the code and value system on campus and refer to your values when making decisions. Ensure you and your students are upholding your school values by creating weekly advisory classes for all students (mix grade levels) and do activities that coincide with your school values.
Connect with others in your community and other neighboring schools. Invite community members to participate in school events such as talent shows or festivals. Encourage grandparents or the retired community members to read stories to younger students, invited community members to an after school or weekend class on a subject they are passionate about, celebrate community members such as police officers and firefighters. Create a community outreach plan and work with your PTA on the details.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Creating a kinder school and a more inclusive environment will take time. Like with any larger undertaking, creating a kinder campus will take hard work, strong leadership, enthusiasm, and dedication.
Let us know.
Share with us how what steps you are going to take to ensure your campus promotes kindness by commenting on this blog post or by sharing on our social media channels Facebook and Twitter.
We have five book picks for the month of August!! We know school is about to get real for you all and so we wanted to equip you with some books that will surely aid you with your goals of creating a kinder, more inclusive campus.
We’ve chosen books for all grade levels from pre-k to high school. These books will allow you to open the dialogue about kindness. Please let us know what your students thought of these books. Happy Reading!
As summer transitions into fall and students head back to school, many are looking ahead towards college admission requirements and submitting applications. They are readying their quiver of accomplishments in order to meet the stringent requirements necessary for acceptance into the college or university of their choice. As they prepare their schedules and fill their days with academic success and athletic prowess, students may want to also consider doing something kind for their neighbor, help the homeless, volunteer at a local animal shelter, or any other altruistic action that makes a difference for other people and makes them feel good.
Harvard Study Supports Being Kind
A new study from Harvard shows that being kind may be just as important to college admissions departments as doing well academically and athletically. The study, Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions, advances a new, widely shared vision for college admissions. It makes the case that college admissions can send compelling messages that both ethical engagement—especially concern for others and the common good—and intellectual engagement are highly important. The report states that the admissions process should value concern for others and the common good and describe what kinds of service, contributions, and engagement are most likely to lead to responsible work, caring relationships, and ethical citizenship.
The report offers three specific recommendations for college admissions:
The team at 21 Day Kindness Challenge applauds these new recommendations!
Whether a student is coming to your school for the first time or they are advancing to a new grade, it is important to help everyone start off on the right foot. The beginning of a new school year is a great time to start something new by encouraging community and create a culture of kindness by getting everyone involved.
Two fun DIY kindness projects that will surely engage your students, teachers and staff in creating a culture of friendship, kindness, and excitement.
The Buddy Bench
You may have heard about the buddy bench movement; Christian Buck is one of the pioneers for the buddy bench moment in the U.S. Bucks presented a TedTalk back in 2014 about being a new student and how it was hard for him to make friends. He was feeling lonely, and so Bucks found a solution. Thus, the Buddy Bench was created. You can read more about Bucks in this Washington Post article: Kids don’t have to be lonely at recess anymore thanks to this little boy and his ‘buddy bench’
Build it, Buy it or Deem it.
There are several ways to create a buddy bench on your campus. You can build one from the ground up, buy one or deem a current bench a buddy bench. Get creative and make it inviting for all!
Create a list of questions.
Wherever you decide to put your buddy bench, we suggest you offer tools to help students engage in conversation by creating a list of questions they can ask one another. You can laminate the questions and attach them to the buddy bench.
Here is a list of questions you can use:
- Who is your teacher?
- What are some of your favorite foods?
- What kinds of games or sports do you like to play?
- What is your favorite book?
- What book would you like to read?
- What is your favorite movie?
- Do you have a brother or sister?
- How many people are in your family?
- Do you have any animals at home?
- If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
- What do you like doing when you are not at school?
- If you are new our school, tell me about your other school.
- What is your favorite TV shows?
- What is your favorite video game or App?
Take a Seat & Make a Friend Ball Pit.
This kindness project would be perfect for middle school and high school campus’. Take a seat & make a friend ball pit is a fun way to get students talking to one another. SoulPancake Street Team mission was to encourage people of New York to make friends with a total stranger. Check out their YouTube video: Take a Seat, Make a Friend.
Build it, Buy it & Place it.
If you are (or know) a carpenter then you can build your Make a Friend ball pit. Otherwise, you can simply create the same effect by using a kiddie pool. We suggest you place your ‘make a friend ball pit’ in the quad or other prominent location that students, teachers, and staff walk through.
Create a few questions.
Write a few conversation starter questions on balloons or bigger bouncing balls to help break the ice. Encourage students, staff and teachers to join in the fun! Empower your student leadership group or student club members by asking them to be the first to start participating.
Here is a list of questions you can use:
- Find something you have in common.
- What teachers do you have this year?
- What freaks you out more heights or spiders?
- What are two things on your bucket list?
- If you could visit any country, which one would you visit?
- If you had a million dollars to give to any charity, which one would you give it to and why?
- What is your passion?
- Would you rather play a sport or create art?
- What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
- Who do you get along with more… your mom or dad?
- What would you say your best quality is?
Lay the foundation.
Create an environment of togetherness from day one. Breakdown the social cliques and encourage students to get to know others on campus. The more experiences people can create with others the stronger the connection.
Let us know.
Share with us which project you are going to do on your campus by commenting on this blog post or by sharing on our social media channels Facebook and Twitter.
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Note From the Founder
Hello. I am the founder of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge Program.