I have been talking with the Year 6 children recently about our school values, and how to embed them. In particular, we have been discussing how the Head can encourage kindness and how children might come to learn the innate value of kindness – after all, only then might it become a sustained virtue.
Obviously when children are young it is tempting to reward kindness – with a treat, or a house point or star on a chart. But our aim must be for each child to develop an appreciation of the intrinsic rewards of such acts of kindness. Being kind not for a house point or for a merit card, but learning how act an of kindness makes oneself feel good, tapping into something inside us that says: “this is who I am”, giving us what we might term a ‘Helper’s High’.
So, what suggestions did the children come with? What can adults do to encourage and embed kindness? According to the children:
- We could recognise kindness: “That was a very kind thing to do. Well done!”
- We could explain how the act of kindness has impacted on the recipient: “That made all the difference to Sam – he feels much better about that now”.
- We could set an example.
Not surprisingly, the children’s suggestions mirror almost exactly my own. The only modification I would suggest is that it is thought to be more impactful to compliment a child’s character, rather than their behaviour…so I might suggest: “You are a such a helpful person” rather than “That was a kind thing to do”.
But let’s face it, they do know a thing or two, these 10 year olds!
During Advent last term, our HCJS 9 Days of Giving appealed to many of the children. After half term this term (on 26th February), we will be launching our Lenten initiative, 40 Acts of Kindness. We will be encouraging the children to think of Lent as a time we might mark by thinking through and carrying out acts of kindness. Watch this space!
Please do feel you can comment below – comments and further thoughts would be gratefully received.
Chris Wright, Head of the Junior School, February 2018