I was recently listening to Kindsight 101, my favourite podcast, which is hosted by BC teacher and author, Morgane Michael. She was interviewing Sheila Sjolseth and Sheila had some fabulous ways to create opportunities to teach empathy, kindness without making it an "extra". She said that we have to teach empathy. Some children can't even recognize when others need help. We have to teach children to recognize and see that need. (ie: doing chores, helping around the house). Teaching social-emotional skills has become a part of the curriculum in many parts of the world, including my province.
For families and teachers, the idea is to make it sustainable. You don’t have to do service projects and big acts of kindness. We just need to take what we do already and infuse kindness into it. One thing most families and all teachers do is read to kids. There is so much power in picture books! There are some incredible books that have themes of kindness. You can use these books to go on a Kindness Hunt.
This is an easy, but focused activity to do while reading a book. While you read, stop after each page or act and ask children to point out acts of kindness and see how kindness affects others. Also have students look at the illustrations and name the emotions. This is an easy way to teach social-emotional learning, empathy, understand emotions, and recognize kindness and unkindness.
“What Kind of World Would It Be?” is a book that I wrote to teach empathy and kindness. With the recurring question, “If everyone acted just like me, what kind of world would it be?” asked throughout, it offers the opportunity to have meaningful conversations about how our words and actions impact others. It is a great book to go on a Kindness Hunt with!