Sometimes acts of kindness emerge in this group spontaneously, and sometimes we suggest it. The children do seem to have a natural ability to notice when someone is in need of an act of kindness; for instance, when someone is trying to clean up a big mess or tackling a task or project that feels overwhelming. A sad face is often the first thing children notice about someone who needs kindness.
One of the best things about kindness is that it's a gift to both giver and receiver. Kindness seems to unlock the doors of their hearts, and make their feelings visible. Pride. Wonder. Deep satisfaction.
It is amazing how big-hearted children are, how easily they access their kindness, how openly they offer others kindness, and how they, in equal measure, openly receive kind acts from others. It is astounding how seamlessly kindness seems to connect them, even across their differences & disagreements.
The effect of an act of kindness--for example, the successful completion of a difficult task or the change in a child's demeanor and expression--is immediate and tangible, which is perhaps why it is a concept so eagerly grasped by children of this age. In our classroom, we pause and notice the act of kindness, and the entire class is quieted, moved. The effect ripples out. There are more and more acts of kindness. They notice more and more.
It occurs to us that kindness is an excellent place to start in building trust, in building relationships, in building our classroom community.
But the satisfaction, for both giver and receiver, transcends age. We are all transported by kindness into connection with one another, and it is a profound feeling--and a revolution and transformation in our beings, and our relationships--when we are touched by kindness.
Perform acts of kindness. Notice acts of kindness. Be kindness. What better fulcrum of community? What better starting point of love?