As the school counselor, part of my role includes teaching character education to Lower School students. These classes meet once a week to learn how to follow the MPA Way: “Be kind and do your best.”

“Doing your best” is an umbrella for a few topics, including academics, goal setting, celebrating individuality, being proactive, and practicing mindfulness.

The concept of “kindness,” however, is a bit more complex, as one cannot simply direct a child to “be nice.” Emotional intelligence and empathy are very much intertwined with understanding how to be kind, along with learning to acknowledge and appreciate peers’ unique strengths and ideas.

Kindness includes encouraging students to walk in someone else’s shoes, being open to diversity, and tapping into another person’s feelings.

Teaching kindness in early elementary involves helping students identify their intricate emotions, while giving them skills to control those emotions. Classes learn about personal space, how to read body language, polite listening skills, knowing when to self regulate, and understanding when to reach out to a teacher when they have maxed out their personal resources.

As children progress in Lower School, classes address treating others kindly, but there are new avenues to which students are introduced. For this age group, I discuss social media etiquette, showcase stories of resilience and courage that embrace kindness, present conflict resolution techniques, and brainstorm ways to stand up for others if students witness unkind behavior.

Showing consideration to one another is something we want for all of our children to experience from their classmates and MPA community.

Here are some resources that you can use at home to encourage kindness with your children:

VIDEO: The Power of Empathy

5 Ways to Raise Moral, Caring Children

Elementary-Level Books Relating to Kindness

By Jennifer Stec, LCPC

Ms. Stec is our school counselor.