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:
Kindness really does make a difference in our world. The 21 Day Kindness Challenge team is proud of this teen who is reaching out and doing what he can to spread kindness in his community. With a simple yet very helpful act of kindness, this teen made a difference for his neighbor. Thank you, Brett, for reminding us how easy it is to be kind!
We encourage you to share Brett's story with your students, and see what kind acts you can inspire in them!
Do you want to give ideas to your students on how to spread kindness in their neighborhoods, too?
Here are 5 easy ways to say thank you or just let people know that you care.
Do you have some other ways that you or your students spread kindness in your community? We want to hear from you! Share them with us by commenting on this blog post or by sharing on our social media channels Facebook and Twitter.
It is equally important to teach kindness at home as it is to teach kindness in the classroom. Parents and teachers working together to help children understand how to be kind will have a greater impact in making a lasting change.
Amy Joyce, writer from On Parenting, has an article in the Washington Post that lays out five simple ways parents can cultivate kindness at home. The article Are you raising nice kids? A Harvard psychologist gives 5 ways to raise them to be kind offers great ways to teach children how to be kind, have empathy and care for one another. Be the Change! Be Kind!
Five suggestions by Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist*
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Note From the Founder
Hello. I am the founder of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge Program.