In celebration of Giving Tuesday, the global day dedicated to giving back and creating positive change in the world, the 21 Day Kindness Challenge team reminds you that there are many ways to give. We encourage you to perform 5 acts of kindness today.
Here are 11 ideas to get you started:
Share your #givingtuesday acts of kindness on our Facebook page or on Twitter.
By ELIZABETH EARL | Peninsula Clarion
Beyond just gifts, hugs and kind words, the teachers and staff at Sterling Elementary School are hoping students will find many ways to be kind this November.
The school kicked off its 21-Day Kindness Challenge on Monday with a school-wide assembly headed up by the “Kindness Ambassadors,” students involved with organizing the event who explained how it would work.
Boiled down, it’s simple: Be kind. Often.
Students are challenged this month to perform five acts of kindness every day and write them down on slips of paper in their classrooms or the school office. Pretty much any selfless act can qualify, from handing a friend a pencil in class to sharing lunch with someone who doesn’t have one. At the end of the month, teachers and staff will chain together all the strips and hang them around the school, celebrating the students’ accomplishments with another assembly on Dec. 1.
The practicality is very real — the program was designed as a positive reinforcement effort to prevent bullying, reinforcing positive interactions, according to the program’s website. Designed by a California mother for her children’s school, about 27 schools nationwide have used it. It is similar to other kindness programs like the Great Kindness Challenge, Think Kindness or Random Acts of Kindness, but this is the first time this particular program has been used in Alaska, said Denise Kelly, Sterling Elementary School principal.
“We believe this is the first time this particular program has been used in Alaska,” she said.
The title is based on the old idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. It fits in with the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program, an in-school program designed to help intervene with students at risk of behavior problems. The program has three tiers, the first of which is broad and is administered to the entire student population.
One current trend in PBIS is to use positive support on a schoolwide basis for cognitive goals — like kindness. Students in schools with school-wide positive behavioral support systems had fewer school suspensions than those without, and perceptions of safety improved in those schools, according to a 2015 post from the National Institute of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs.
The discussions for the event started between four sixth-grade students and two teachers, evolving from there to include two students from each class as kindness ambassadors. Teachers were asked to pick two students they thought were the kindest to be the ambassadors.
The challenge provides the older kids with a chance to be role models for the younger ones, Kelly said.
“We’ve really been pushing for the sixth graders and the kindergarteners to interact more,” she said.
The program builds on one that Sterling Elementary School put in place in 2009 in which teachers awarded students colored pom-poms as tokens of good behavior. The balls were collected into communal jars in each classroom, and when the jars were filled, the classrooms would have celebrations. When the school’s communal jar was filled, the whole school would have a party. Sterling Elementary School was the first in the district to pick up the PBIS program, according to previous Clarion reporting.
At the kick-off assembly Oct. 31 — where princesses and pirates were intermixed with students in ordinary dress — the Kindness Ambassadors demonstrated simple acts other students could do. They presented flowers and offered kind words and hugs to those in attendance. Before leaving the assembly, Kelly sprinkled all the students with “kindness” confetti.
“I’ve got kindness in my hair,” one student said, shuffling his hands through his hair, as he walked back out into the hallway.
Nancy Sandoval Slater believes firmly in 21 Day Kindness Challenge’s mission that we can make a difference in the world through kindness.
A retired college professor, artist and photographer, Sandoval Slater believes that kindness should be taught from the very earliest opportunity. She believes teaching kindness will help create the kind of world she wants for her children and grandchildren. When Sandoval Slater learned about the 21 Day Kindness Challenge: Classroom Edition, she knew it was the perfect tool to help build that world.
“We live in a small, rural area,” Sandoval Slater says. “Most children have similar backgrounds – white, middle/lower middle class. When people from different areas come into this small, secluded environment, I think it’s important that children learn to treat them with respect and kindness instead of fearing or ridiculing their differences.
Sandoval Slater purchased two of the Classroom Program sets for her grandsons’ third grade teachers. The 21 Day Kindness Challenge Classroom Program is designed specifically for classroom teachers, and includes kindness activities, weekly meetings, lesson plans, and projects to encourage kindness. Four weekly themes focus on kindness, compassion, gratitude and caring. The program includes all the materials, training/support, and curriculum. It is easy to implement and integrates seamlessly into existing curriculum. Priced at just over $100, the Classroom Edition is very affordable, making it an ideal gift for teachers, as Sandoval Slater has done.
Sandoval Slater hopes the 21 Day Kindness Challenge will create change on her grandsons’ school campuses. “When children are exposed to differences, I’d like them to be open, friendly, curious and accepting rather than afraid, contemptuous and exclusive,” she says.
“I am hoping that our children will take away lessons of love and kindness, not only from our homes, but also from our school systems,” she says. “I hope that children will regard their school as a safe haven – a sanctuary – in a world that has not yet learned the lessons of kindness and acceptance.”
Sandoval Slater says that teachers and students can create kinder school climates and communities by demonstrating kindness daily, by showing love and acceptance and teaching by example.
“I think kindness should be a movement,” Sandoval Slater says. “I am hoping that the 21 Day Kindness Challenge will expand. Kindness can change the course of childrens’ lives.”
For more information about the 21 Day Kindness Challenge: Classroom Edition, visit our website.
Even small ideas can make a big impact! We love this little food pantry idea based on little lending libraries. The little food pantry gives your community a place to leave food, clothing, and other supplies that people need. The concept is very simple - anyone can take or leave items in the pantry at any time. People who have created little food pantries report that diapers, peanut butter, rice, canned food and bread are the most needed items in their community.
What items would you stock your community’s little food pantry with? Where would you put it? How would you get the word out? We would love to hear from you, especially if you decide to build one in your community!
Enhancing or improving school culture starts from the top down. Starting with the principal then the teachers and staff, and finally the students. Your students will follow your example nine times more often than your advice. How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath will inspire you to lead with kindness.
How Full is Your Bucket? is a great book for your entire team (staff, teachers, and principal) to read together. It is a short read that delivers a powerful message that is sure to make a culture shift on campus.
Let us know if this book made a difference on your campus by leaving a comment below.
It's never too early to teach kindness and empathy. According to several studies, the earlier children are taught to be kind to others the better off they will be in the long run. A recent article Why We Should Teach Empathy to Preschoolers, explains that children exposed to empathy earlier in life have greater and longer-lasting emotional benefits than those exposed to it later, or not at all. The article suggests that children who are taught social and emotional skills (as opposed to purely cognitive skills) in preschool and kindergarten have better social skills and fewer behavior problems in both kindergarten and first grade, compared with kids who don’t experience a holistic classroom setting.
We agree! The 21 Day Kindness Challenge has developed a wonderful set of tools to help early education teachers teach their students how to be kind and to have empathy. Our program, the 21 Day Kindness Challenge: Classroom Edition is perfect for preschools, K-6 classrooms, youth groups, and other small learning environments. The program is full of 21 days of kindness activities, lesson plans, and projects to encourage kindness. Our themes focus on kindness, compassion, gratitude, and caring. The program is designed for K-6 but can easily be modified for early childhood development classes.
Teaching children to be kind doesn’t just make help them emotionally and socially, it also helps them become more successful later on. A recent study from Duke and Penn State found that students who were able to share and help others in kindergarten were more likely to graduate from high school and have full time jobs. Empathetic people are also more likely to help those they don’t even know – to pay it forward.
We would love to hear your thoughts about teaching children kindness. Share your stories below!
In the month of November, many classrooms across the nation have discussions around being grateful. This month's video pick is entitled, An Experiment in Gratitude produced by SoulPancake.
We hope this video inspires you to step outside your comfort zone and let someone in your life know how grateful you are for them. Try this with a student, a fellow coworker, friend or a family member.
The participants in this video did the following steps:
Step 1: Think about someone who inspires you.
Step 2: Write down the reasons they inspire you.
Step 3: Call them and tell them that they inspire you. Read them what you've written.
We’d love for you to share your grateful story with us! Leave a comment below.
Note: This video contains bleeped out language - please be sure to review the video if you are planning on sharing it with your students.
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Note From the Founder
Hello. I am the founder of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge Program.