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Building Students’ Social Skills and Relationships: How Recess Can Help

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Whether you are a parent, an educator, or a caregiver, witnessing a child growing into a kind individual is certainly a rewarding experience. However, this is something that cannot be instilled in a child overnight. It takes years to shape a child’s character. Kindness is a trait that you can teach a child from a young age. And when these kids grow up, these acts not only benefit them throughout their lives but also positively impact those around them.

Let us explore some activities for preschoolers that can help nurture these important values.

Embracing Nature’s Classroom

  • Work in a Garden Together: Engage children in planting seeds, nurturing their growth, and understanding the cycle of life. This hands-on activity emphasizes care, patience, and the joy of seeing the fruits of one’s labor, promoting a deep-rooted sense of responsibility and kindness towards the environment​.
  • Cleanup Ventures: Organize a park or beach cleanup day. This not only teaches children the importance of keeping our planet clean but also instills a sense of communal responsibility and the impact of collective positive actions. This activity is surely fun for them.

Crafting Kindness

  • Kindness Rocks: A simple yet profound activity where children decorate small-sized rocks or stones with inspiring messages and hide them in community spaces for others to find. This encourages creativity and the joy of random acts of kindness​.
  • Thank You Cards: Crafting and personalizing thank you cards for community helpers, teachers, or family members, fosters gratitude and acknowledges the value of appreciating the efforts of others. Children should be encouraged to make these cards from scratch.
  • Kindness Tree: Create a visual reminder of kindness by having children add leaves or ornaments to a communal tree, each representing an act of kindness that they have performed. This not only decorates a space but also fills it with stories of compassion​.

Words and Gestures

  • Compliment Circles: This has to be done in a group activity where children sit in a circle and offer compliments to the person next to them. Since this exercise is in verbal expression, it teaches children the power of kind words and boosts self-esteem​​.
  • Kindness Affirmations: You can ask the children to start their day with positive affirmations about kindness, such as “I am kind” or “I can make someone’s day better.” This sets a positive tone and reinforces self-kindness and outward compassion​.

Collaborative and Reflective Kindness

  • Inclusive Playdates and Classroom Jobs: By assigning roles like the “kindness helper” or “friendship ambassador,” children learn the importance of being proactive in creating a nurturing environment. This promotes inclusivity and empathy among peers​.
  • Kindness Journal: You can encourage children to keep a kindness journal. This will reflect on acts of kindness they have witnessed or performed. This reflective practice helps solidify the importance of kindness in their lives as well as the lives of others.

Storytelling and Learning

  • Read Aloud Kindness Stories: Books and stories are powerful tools for teaching empathy and kindness. Select books that highlight these themes and discuss the moral lessons they impart. This can help children relate to and understand diverse perspectives and emotions​. They can be encouraged to read one of such books once a week, at least.

Implementing Acts of Kindness

  • Random Acts of Kindness Day: Designate a day where each child is encouraged to perform a random act of kindness. This could range from sharing a toy to helping a friend. Recap these acts at the end of the day to celebrate and inspire more acts of kindness​.
  • Kindness Bingo: Create a bingo game with different acts of kindness as the markers. This fun activity encourages children to complete kind acts playfully and engagingly, rewarding them for their compassion and empathy​​.

The Role of Parents and Educators

The significance of both parents and educators in fostering a culture of kindness cannot be overstated. As we introduce and teach these values to children through various activities, it is crucial to remember that they learn primarily by observing our actions. Thus, before we advocate for kindness to the young ones, we must embody it ourselves. Maintaining consistency in teaching and embodying kindness, through both organized activities and in spontaneous acts, cultivates a deep-rooted inclination towards compassion and empathy that lasts a lifetime.

Bottom line! 

Incorporating these activities into the lives of preschoolers is more than just an educational endeavor; it is a contribution to a more empathetic and connected world. By prioritizing kindness, we equip children with the tools to navigate their social worlds with compassion, understanding, and a deep-seated desire to contribute positively. Let us commit to a future where kindness is not just an occasional act but a fundamental aspect of our collective human experience.

April 23, 2024