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  • Writer's pictureAdrian Bethune

4 Tips for Creating a Kinder Classroom

Practical tips from Teachappy Founder, Adrian Bethune, on creating kinder classrooms!

Anti-Bullying Week is a huge event in most school calendars. Whilst most settings continually work with their children on building healthy relationships at school, this week gives schools permission to go all out on the topic - so in that respect I’m a big fan!

But, for those of you who know me well, you'll know that I struggle with the negative connotation of the label 'Anti-Bullying Week'. For me, this title suggests a strategy of exclusion rather than one of understanding and education. This is the very reason I encourage schools to consider re-branding ABW to 'It's Cool to be Kind Week'.

So, in keeping with theme of kindness, and to help celebrate World Kindness Day on 13 November, I’ve put together 4 tips to help create a kinder classroom:

Model Kindness

It may sometimes feel like our children actively do the opposite of what we say but, deep down, they are soaking up our example like a sponge. As developmental psychologist Prof. Alison Gopnik says, ‘Children learn far more from their caregivers’ unconscious behaviours than any of their conscious manipulations’. So, if we want our children to behave kindly that means we must set a good example.

This means acting kindly and speaking kindly too. Be mindful about the tone you’re using when speaking to your class or giving instructions, and how you respond to challenging behaviour.

Adrian Bethune standing in front of a classroom display which reads "It's Cool To Be Kind"
Anti-Bullying Week became "It's Cool To Be Kind Week" at Mr Bethune's school

If your children see you being polite to others, holding doors open, paying people compliments, and even using kind language at times of difficulty, they will start to imitate this behaviour.

Give To Others

Studies show that we get more happiness from spending money on others than on ourselves. And it doesn’t have to be much – it is the act of giving that gives people a boost, regardless of how much they spend.

So, why not get your class to choose a worthy cause to raise money for. Then, host a bake sale or do a sponsored activity, and raise some well needed funds for your chosen charity. See if you can invite a rep from the charity to your school and get the children to present them with the cash!

Getting the children to lead on an activity like this has the added benefit of promoting teamwork and providing a sense of autonomy – all elements that go towards a positive sense of wellbeing.

One Good Deed Deserves Another

Be nice and kind, it's contagious!

Did you know that kindness is contagious?

Simply witnessing others being kind releases the happy hormone oxytocin in your body and as a result we are far more likely to perform a good deed ourselves. The more we witness it, the more likely we are to be kind as well.

So, why not set up a ‘Good Deed Feed’ in your school where children record the kind deeds they’ve seen others do in and around the school. You could make this a focus for the end of the day or week and celebrate together the kind acts your school community have carried out for each other.

Random Acts of Kindness

When we think of carrying out acts of kindness, most people immediately think of things they can do for their nearest and dearest. But it can be incredibly powerful to carry out acts of kindness to complete strangers.

To encourage children to think further afield, why not try hosting your own It’s Cool To Be Kind Week where every child is tasked with carrying out an act of kindness in their local community.

In one school I taught at a boy and his sister baked cupcakes with their dad, and they all went down to the local train station in the evening to greet tired commuters with their treats. What a way to end a dreary commute home!

Letter written by recipient of a random act of kindness

At another school a family left some treats and a plant on a neighbours’ doorstep. The school then received a heartfelt thank you letter from that neighbour explaining that they had recently been widowed and that the random act of kindness had touched them deeply.

"I have been widowed this year and I cannot say how much I appreciated this act of kindness. Thank you very much indeed"

Kindness is a vital life skill that not only grows children’s emotional intelligence but teaches them the importance of looking after others as well as themselves. Give these ideas a go to help encourage your school community to be even kinder!

For more ideas on the topic of kindness, download our free It’s Cool To Be Kind’ chapter from my award-winning book, Wellbeing in the Primary Classroom.

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Pierce Gonzalez
14 nov. 2023

I truly appreciated this post! The insights shared for creating a kinder classroom echo the beauty and serenity I find in a picture-perfect mountain range. Just as each peak complements the other, the tips presented here seamlessly come together to build an environment of compassion and understanding. Thank you for this thoughtful guide!

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