Inside: Educators can encourage more kindness at home with these seasonal kindness challenges and parents letters for families to do together.
My first year teaching, I was handed 6 Character Education posters that had to be posted in my classroom.
I was so annoyed they had to be up because I had already meticulously decorated my classroom and there was no room for 6 Character Education posters with zoo animals on them touting pillars of how to be a good person.
But then I started teaching.
I had a student who threatened another kid with scissors, students who lied, dropped f-bombs, and a student that cheated on a first-grade spelling test with a cheat sheet.
And then I realized I clearly had to spend more time focusing on character education and sel curriculum in my classroom and intentionally teach my students to be kind, respectful, and good citizens.
And while yes, it would be great if they came to my classroom with those character traits, these can be taught.
So we can read books about kindness like these Emergent Reader Kindness Books and write about kindness with our Kindness Dictionary, and we talk about kindness with our 60 Kindness Discussion Starters.
But we also have to encourage our families to follow up and reinforce the kindness message at home.
One of the simplest ways to do that is to send home these simple kindness challenges families can do together with this parent letter explaining it.
Why it’s Important to Teach SEL Curriculum
Students who are in classrooms that don’t feel safe or welcoming or kind won’t show up ready to learn and put themselves and their ideas out there.
They’ll be in fight or flight mode, making sure they’re physically and emotionally protected. Instead of sharing ideas and sharing resources, it will create an every man for himself mindset. Those classrooms are the ones to survive, to get through.
But, if we ensure our students feel welcome and safe and surrounded by kindness, they’ll raise their hands more. They’ll give ideas and solutions and help each other. They’ll come to school with their guard down, ready to learn, and collaborate, and be part of a community.
Related: Encourage Kindness in Your Classroom
Expecting and then ensuring our students are kind in our classroom and on the playground, changes the environment of our whole school community.
And when they leave our school, they’ll continue spreading their kindness and changing the environment of our neighborhood.
But it starts in our classrooms, with us and with our students.
It starts with clear classroom rules and a positive classroom environment and putting an end to bullying. It starts with sel curriculum woven into our lesson plans, every day, being relentlessly consistent so kindness becomes a habit for our students.
To really make kindness a habit, the sel lessons we cover in our classrooms have to be reinforced at home. And we can facilitate that with these Seasonal Kindness Challenges and parent letter.
How to Educators Can Encourage More Kindness at Home
1. Download and print out the Seasonal Kindness Challenges and the parent letter/home connection letter (download it below).
2. Make copies of the challenge that is best for what time of year it is. You can choose the color version or black and white for:
3. Sign your name to the bottom of the parent letter and make copies. Attach the parent letter to the Seasonal Kindness Challenge.
4. Go over the seasonal challenge with your students and show them how they can do one a week with their family. Remind them that one kindness activity per week, is four per month, 12 per season, and 48 kindness activities per year.
And 48 acts of kindness done as a family, is a great way to reinforce the kindness message at home and at school.
5. If you want, offer a “reward” if they complete a certain number of kindness activities off the challenge: a trip to your treasure box, a no homework pass, lunch with you, etc. It can be a ‘kindness log,’ similar to their reading log.
While we don’t want to get our students used to being kind for a prize or a reward, for many kids who struggle to remember to be kind, this will help them be kind more often.
Related: How to reward kindness
And if we can get our families on board to encourage more kindness at home, then our students will remember to be more kind at school because kindness will become more of a habit.
And that benefits everyone.