Encouraging kindness in schools

Issue: Volume 98, Number 15

Posted: 2 September 2019
Reference #: 1H9xor

An initiative that aims to build a kindness culture has been embraced by Manawatū primary school children and is helping to create a significant culture change within their schools.

About 860 students gathered at the Kind Hearts regional event in Palmerston North in August. They celebrated with music and fun activities and heard from Mike King.

Making kindness fun is the aim of two Manawatū retired primary school principals, Raewyn Marshall and Robyn Tootill, who have developed Kind Hearts in Schools resource kits that are now being used in 41 schools in the Manawatū region. The initiative is run by the Kind Hearts Trust.

The kits provide resources designed to inspire and enhance a kindness culture within school communities by encouraging self-esteem and the value of being kind.

They feature a handbook that lists kindness activities, a calendar with a quote and monthly kindness challenge, Kind Hearts stickers, a blank poster for brainstorming what kindness looks like and a door sign that says, ‘You are entering a Kind Hearts zone’.

Registered schools also receive an unlimited supply of kindness cards, which are used to write messages on.

Need for positive cultures

“We need to develop positive cultures and empower kindness,” says Raewyn, who now volunteers as a programme facilitator for the Kind Hearts Trust.

“The teacher guide doesn’t contain lessons or a programme. It’s just a resource to emphasise kindness as a key value and to make kindness visible in the classroom. It’s making kindness fun.

“It’s about celebrating kindness and rewarding children, because there are some children who come to school without kindness being part of their lives,” she says.

Raewyn emphasises that the resource kits are not a tick box activity that teachers have to teach.

“Classes use the cards in all sorts of ways. Some classes have postboxes and the children open them at the end of the week; others have secret buddies that they have to give two kindness cards to during the week.

“Some classes just use them on their writing table and let children write simple messages.
The children love the cards, they love taking them home to their parents,” she says.

Bullying-Free New Zealand framework

The resource kits align with the Bullying-Free New Zealand school framework, which talks about schoolwide initiatives such as having a positive school climate and culture.

“We are trying to develop a positive school culture and that’s what our resource is designed to do – to have children accepting kindness as a key value,” says Raewyn.

“There are five competencies in our national curriculum that are important attributes that students need to become confident adults; these include participating in and contributing to society, and being a good member of the community. Another two relevant competencies are relating to others and managing self.”

Spreading kindness

The Kind Hearts Trust aims to see the Kind Hearts in Schools movement spread to all schools in New Zealand.

“Our goal would be to find key people in other regions who want to lead it and then support them,” says Raewyn.

“Through the Kind Hearts in Schools initiative, we seek to empower the next generation to be a kind generation,” says Kind Hearts Trust chair Latham Lockwood.

Building resilience

“By positively working with students in their classroom environments,
we hope they will build a sense of resilience and spread their kind, positive experiences around their homes and out into their communities,” he says.

A ‘Be Kind to Yourself’ event was held in Palmerston North recently to acknowledge and celebrate the efforts of local teachers and children to create a kindness culture in their schools. Mike King, founder of the I Am Hope organisation, spoke by Skype at the event, which was sponsored by the Central Energy Trust.

The Kind Hearts in Schools movement is not just limited to the Manawatū – schools can find out more, register and receive a resource kit by emailing schools@kindheartsmovement.org.


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BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:45 am, 2 September 2019

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