Pictured: Teacher Cynthia Conner practicing mindful meditation with the children in her classroom.
“What if kindness and compassion were taught in schools, just like math and reading? What if kids were taught how to pay attention not only to lessons, but also to their own emotions? What if we all took steps to improve well-being in our lives and communities?” These questions, posed by A Center for Healthy Minds at The University of Wisconsin-Madison, caught the attention of Innovative’s Early Learning Program staff.
To address this concern, A Center for Healthy Minds came up with a plan for classrooms: a new 12-week curriculum called the Kindness Curriculum. “The Kindness Curriculum is designed to build character and the skills children need to grow into happy, caring, and productive adults. It creates the opportunity for children to practice kindness, empathy, conflict resolution, and respect.”
Seeing the value of such a progressive new program, Whisper Camara, ECEAP/Early Learning Supervisor, implemented these new techniques in the classroom. Using mindfulness, meditation, the planting of vegetables, and caring for small animals, she was able to teach children about empathy and how to manage their own emotions. Through the Kindness Curriculum and her own added practices, Whisper saw a decrease in behavioral incident reports well before the 12 weeks were up. When asked about why this is such a beneficial program, Whisper said, “Kids don’t always have the ability to think through a problem, especially when they haven’t learned coping skills to handle their own emotions. They resort to a physical response, sometimes even hurting others around them. We have been able to teach them to understand and work through their feelings and solve conflicts effectively. Having these skills in Early Childhood (ages 1-5) increases their chances of continuing to be able to problem solve as they approach their adolescence and enter into adulthood.”
With the great success of the Kindness Curriculum pilot, this innovative program will soon be implemented in all seven of our Early Learning classrooms.
To learn more about Kindness Curriculum, please visit The University of Madison-Wisconsin’s website, centerforhealthyminds.org.