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.
Note From the Founder
Hello. I am the founder of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge Program.