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Although there is a place for teaching academics, I believe we should also place an emphasis on teaching life skills. One of the best life skills for students to learn is how to be kind to others, especially in today’s time. Students of all ages and grades are experiencing an increase in anxiety and depression, which can be rooted in a lack of kindness being shown around them. This is all the more reason to be intentional with teaching your students how to be kind both to themselves and others. Here are practical ways to teach this important life skill.
Practical Ways to Teach Life Skills
Model the skill.
One of the best ways to teach any life skill is by modeling it. In terms of teaching kindness, we can make sure we are kind to our students. In all the frustrations of lesson planning, teaching, grading papers, and like, we can become stressed out. This stress can then cause us to be short-tempered, snappy, and down right unkind. Now think of this from a student’s perspective. With what they may have going on at home coupled with learning concepts, doing homework, taking tests, and so on – their emotions can cause them to be unkind as well. In essence, modeling kindness is the starting point to having it reciprocated.
Use classroom activities.
Since students spend a lot of time in classrooms, what better way to use the classroom as a teaching ground for life skills? When it comes to teaching kindness, try these approaches:
- Talk to students about what it means to be kind.
- Provide opportunities for your students to show kindness.
- Set goals and help students to reflect on their actions and behaviors.
- Use kindness resources (like my free Kid’s Kindness Challenge).
Speaking of resources, be sure to download my free Kid’s Kindness Challenge (below). There are 16 activities to help your student’s practice kindness in and out of the classroom. They’ll be challenged to:
- Say “thank you” to their teachers.
- Let someone go ahead of them in line.
- Play with someone new.
- Offer to help a friend.
- Pick up litter in the park.
- and more!
Make life skills a culture.
Look at life skills from a cultural standpoint. The very definition of culture is the social behavior and norms found in human societies, so why not adopt this analogy for your classroom? Make life skills, such as kindness, part of normal behavior for you and your students. Fostering this kind of behavior enhances peer-to-peer and peer-to-teacher connections and leads to more meaningful relationships between everyone in the classroom. If you celebrate Kindness Week in your classroom, consider extending it to “kindness YEAR”!
Teaching life skills in the classroom should extend beyond listing the classroom rules and asking students to follow them. Instead, it be seen as a classroom culture and something that everyone collectively works on together. By means of modeling, using classroom activities, and challenges, your students will be well on their way to having amazing character traits!