National Kindness Day fell on Wednesday this past week. Kindness to others is our number one expectation in our classroom and it is a skill that we must focus on daily. As we begin our day with morning meeting, we are establishing the culture of kindness as we practice respectful greetings and attentive listening. Students are encouraged to ask their classmates question and respond with kindness and empathy. Empathy is a skill just as listening and speaking is a skill; however, we must teach empathy and treat it with as much importance as we treat other academic subjects. Responsive Classroom states, "learning to ask appropriate questions will help children develop empathy for their friends, classmates, and family members, and knowing how to answer questions will help them deepen their social conversations and relationships with others as well." you can read more about emotional intelligence and how to help build empathy in your child in the Very Well Family blog.
We have been focusing on how to be a good citizen in class and our place in the world. Students have been learning about how we can give to others and share our abundance with those that are not as fortunate. Students are currently working on creating their good citizenship books where they are learning about the different types of communities, community helpers, and committing to being a good citizen and showing kindness to others. TheDanishway.com states that "many studies show that when you explain something to someone – like a math problem for example – you not only learn the subject much better than you would do by memorizing it yourself, but you also build our empathy skills which are further strengthened by having to be careful about the way the other person receives the information, and having to put oneself in their shoes to understand how learning works." Empathy and kindness stretches from morning meeting (taking turns listening and sharing) into partner reading, social studies projects, lining up for recess, and into the cafeteria. Students need to be able navigate their emotions and be able to help guide others in their need, as well. As we worked on our math objectives as a team this week, we also practiced kindness and empathy when one team member wasn't being as successful as the other. I saw students sharing their counting stars, working together to build their number pies, and talking through the directions on how to build their good citizenship book. Although they are young, they are learning the necessary communication skills that will help them be successful in every area of life.
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