A Story of Kindness and Generosity
Our teachers are faced with teaching character traits. Can you imagine?
The days of students knowing how to behave seem to be gone and our over-taxed teachers must address this subject, too. It isn’t fair, but what can you do?
In researching this post, I checked with one of my favorite websites, edu.com. They had a post, “Why Teaching Kindness in Schools is Essential to Reduce Bullying”. I thought you might be interested in it.
Happy, Caring Children
The good feelings that we experience when being kind are produced by endorphins. They activate areas of the brain that are associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. These feelings of joyfulness are proven to be contagious, encouraging more kind behavior (also known as altruism) by the giver and recipient. Acts of kindness help us form connections with others which are reported to be a strong factor in increasing happiness.
Greater Sense of Belonging and Improved Self-Esteem
Studies show that people experience a “helper’s high” when they do a good deed. This rush of endorphins creates a lasting sense of pride, well-being, and an enriched sense of belonging. It’s reported that even small acts of kindness heighten our sense of well-being, increase energy, and give a wonderful feeling of optimism and self worth.
Increased Peer Acceptance
Research on prosocial behavior among adolescents determined that being kind increases popularity and our ability to form meaningful connections with other people. Being well liked is an important factor in the happiness of children and it was demonstrated that greater peer acceptance was achieved through good deeds. Better-than-average mental health is reported in classrooms that practice more inclusive behavior due to an even distribution of popularity.
Improved Health and Less Stress
There are a number of physical and mental health benefits that can be achieved by being kind. Altruistic actions trigger a release of the hormone oxytocin, which can significantly increase a person’s level of happiness and reduce stress levels. Oxytocin also protects the heart by lowering blood pressure and reducing free radicals and inflammation, which incidentally speed up the aging process.
A Story of Kindness and Generosity
Increased Feelings of Gratitude
When children are part of activities that help others less fortunate than themselves, it provides them with a real sense of perspective, highlighting their own good fortune. Being generous helps them appreciate what they have, makes them feel useful, and fosters empathy.
Better Concentration and Improved Results
Kindness is a key ingredient that enhances positivity and helps children feel good about themselves as it increases serotonin levels. This important chemical affects learning, memory, mood, sleep, health, and digestion. Children with a positive outlook have greater attention spans, more willingness to learn, and better creative thinking to improve results at school.
Internationally-renowned author and speaker Dr. Wayne Dyer explains that an act of kindness increases levels of serotonin, a natural chemical responsible for improving mood. This boost in happiness occurs not only in the giver and receiver of kindness, but also in anyone who witnesses it.
Shanetia Clark and Barbara Marinak are Penn State Harrisburg faculty researchers. They say, “Unlike previous generations, today’s adolescents are victimizing each other at alarming rates.” They strongly believe that adolescent bullying and violence can be confronted with in-school programs that integrate “kindness — the antithesis of victimization.”
Many traditional anti-bullying programs focus on the negative actions that cause anxiety in children. When students are instead taught how to change their thoughts and actions by learning about kindness and compassion, it fosters the positive behavior that’s expected and naturally rewarded with friendship. Promoting its psychological opposite is key in reducing bullying to create warm and inclusive school environments.”
A Story of Kindness and Generosity
Wow! Teaching kindness reduces bullying.
Several years ago, I found a delightful Japanese folk tale, Oji-san and the Grateful Statues. It tells the story of an old man and his generosity to a group of stone statues sitting out in the blinding snow.
This sweet story is one of kindness, too. I dramatized it as I do with many wonderful multicultural folk tales because I like to share terrific stories with others.
If you are looking for a short play to perform in your classroom, you might want to look at this one. There are two versions. One is for younger students
(grades 1-4) and the teacher serves as the narrator.
The other adaptation is for older students, grades 5-8. It includes more speaking roles (such as narrators) and a bigger production value.
Based on the beloved Japanese folk tale by the same name, students have an opportunity to:
- dramatize a folk tale using many of the elements of drama
- create straw hats
- design snowflakes
- sing an original song written in a pentatonic scale
- and use their imaginations to express emotion through movement.
Integrate with your vocal music teacher and present the play together! Your students can sing and accompany the song with metallophones, xyllophones and percussion.
This product comes with:
- script with stage directions to help you be successful
- stage properties list
- costume suggestions
- snowflake construction directions
- hat construction directions
- post performance discussion questions and quick activity
- original song composed by an award winning instrumental music teacher
- recording of the melody with the accompaniment
- sheet music for the song
Kindness Changes the Brain
A professor of neuroscience, emotional learning and psychology states,
“Kindness changes the brain by the experience of kindness. Children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking about it and talking about it. Kindness is best learned by feeling it so that they can reproduce it.”
Check out: Buddy and the Evergreen Trees
People often wonder why I am liberal in my views.
Here’s the thing: when you perform or direct people to act as someone else (many times the underdog), you absorb the feelings the characters have. I’ve portrayed a very obese woman nicknamed Fatty. I’ve played Anne Frank’s mother. I’ve been the antagonist in plays who picks on others and demeans them. Trust me, I liked portraying the positive characters more than the negative, but I learned the most from the latter.
The result is that once you have done that publicly, even if it is pretend, you see the world differently.
So, let’s pretend positive messages with our students!
Students will feel it, too. They can’t help but do so.
What plays have you performed which teach about kindness and generosity? I’d love to hear about them. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DeborahBaldwin.net