Teaching KindnessFeb 13, 2018
One of my favorite books to read to children is Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli. It’s the story of a lonely man who leads a dull, boring life. One day, the postman delivers a big, beautiful box of candy to his home with a note attached that says, “Somebody loves you.” This anonymous gift leads Mr. Hatch to wonder just who it is that loves him… and he begins to look at every person with new eyes – maybe it’s him! Maybe it’s her!
His whole demeanor lightens as his heart is filled with the knowledge that he is loved, and he begins to reach out in kindness to those around him. He helps others, plays with neighborhood children, and in general, treats everyone with love and kindness. In a sad plot twist, his joy is stopped short and the book ends with a heartwarming lesson of the importance of kindness and relationships.
Over the years, as I’ve read this book to groups of children (and it’s most appropriate for older kids), I’ve seen their eyes well up with tears as my own voice cracks with emotion as I read.
We often follow up with the activity of creating a picture or note for someone that we think could use a little kindness. Taking another’s point of view and thinking about their feelings is an important social-emotional skill that is not fully developed in early childhood – and these kinds of activities support the learning process.
Research tells us that social-emotional learning has a positive impact in many ways. Children who receive quality social-emotional learning demonstrate:
- Better academic performance in school
- Improved attitudes and behaviors – they’re more motivated to learn, more apt to spend time devoted to schoolwork, and have better classroom behavior
- Fewer negative behaviors – they’re LESS like to be disruptive, non-compliant, aggressive, or need disciplinary referrals
- Reduced emotional distress – like depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal
And besides that, these are the most important skills we need as adults to be successful in all areas of our lives!
I know you spend a lot of time demonstrating, coaching, and practicing social skills with the children you work with. It’s a daily thing and a hallmark of excellent teaching.
Every day, all that you do, make an impact on the children you work with.
Thank you for your kindness to children.
Learn more about social-emotional learning here!
Source ~ Backgrounder: The Importance of Social Emotional Learning For All Students Across All Grades, National Education Association
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