Inside: This Includer Bingo Game is perfect for families and classroom teachers to help encourage our kids to include and welcome and invite others to join in and will help spread kindness.
My daughter’s teacher reached out to me the other day.
She said she had a favor to ask me to ask my daughter.
There’s a girl in school who doesn’t have a lot of friends.
She doesn’t have anyone to sit with or play with or partner with.
Sure, the girls are friendly to her, but no one seeks her out.
No one asks to be her partner.
So would my daughter be that person?
Would she intentionally reach out to her?
This teacher was asking my daughter to be an includer.
And we were in.
What is an includer?
Being an includer is being a person who on purpose welcomes others.
They pause what they’re doing, look around and see who needs to be included, invited and welcomed in.
They’re the welcome wagon and say things like:
- Do you want to join us?
- Dou you want to play with us?
- Do you want to hang with us?
- Do you want to sit with me?
- Do you want to partner with me?
- What do you want to play?
Why is teaching your kids to be includers crucial?
Being alone can be lonely.
And most children (and adults) have experienced loneliness.
Being the new one in a group or a crowd or a class.
The first day of school or work and not knowing where to sit or when to stand or where to go to lunch.
Includers give them a place to sit and invite them to stand with the group and sit at the table with other kids.
They invite them into the circle and the kickball game and move over on the school bus.
Teaching your kid to be an includer makes someone else’s day more enjoyable, easier and happier.
It’s one of the highest forms of kindness there is.
It can also make their day safer.
Kids who are alone are often targeted by bullies.
Because bullies focus on two things: kids who are alone and kids who they perceive to be different.
If your child purposefully befriends someone who is alone by being an includer, they could be bully-proofing that child.
They could be making them “less desirable” to a bully.
When kids are no longer physically alone or emotionally don’t feel alone, they have a safety net.
People to be with.
A crowd to feel a part of.
Included and less lonely.
How to Use the Includer Bingo Printable:
1. Print off the includer bingo game (download them below)
2. Write down the names of students in your kids’ class. Use a class list or a yearbook or ask their teacher for a class list.
If you’re a teacher, you can do this with your whole class and name off students as everyone writes them down in different boxes, excluding their own name and hopefully excluding their close friends since they probably already include them daily.
3. Encourage your kids to include a different student each day.
- Who can you invite to play?
- Who can you invite to sit with?
- Who can you partner with?
Remind them as they get out of the car in the carpool line or get on the bus.
Or if you’re a teacher, remind them as they head out to recess or lunch or to the library.
4. Once they include someone, they can cross off that student’s name, put a smiley face on it, color it in, or draw a heart on it.
They can choose 5 in a row or make an X on their game board.
Or they can play “Blackout” and include every student on the includer bingo sheet once.
Now to win.
We teach our kids that when we are kind, we are kind no matter what to everyone without expecting anything in return.
We get nothing in return for our kindness.
But winning a game is fun and is often associated with a prize. And I get it.
So when we teach our kids to be kind—especially our young kids and our kids who really struggle with being kind often—we have to give them an incentive and positive reinforcements so they continue with the behavior we want to encourage.
Because they need the prize so being an includer becomes a habit.
We have to praise them or reward them so they begin to associate positive feelings with being kind.
Eventually, we can ween them off of the praise and the rewards.
Because eventually, the reward will be having been kind and being the includer.
But until then, we give them a sticker, or a trip to the ice cream shop, or a book they’ve been wanting.
Or we can connect kindness to the prize and let them invite a few kids on the includer bingo game boards for a playdate to introduce new kids to each other.
Because kids who can do that- who can make others feel welcome and included- show the highest form of kindness to those who need it most.
Those are my kind of kind kids.
And we can fill the world with them.