Mental Health Week – Teaching Kindness
So many times, we tell our children to be kind, ‘be kind to your brother, your sister, your friend’ and often it can appear to fall on deaf ears. Never before, have we seen the importance of kindness on such a national and global scale as we have done in the last few months. Amongst all the uncertainty and adversity, unconditional acts of kindness emerged, boosting the mental health of both those giving and receiving. A global demonstration of how acts of kindness can overcome adversity and the fear of uncertainty has been visible to all, spreading hope and belief in our ability to adapt.
iSpace Wellbeing, the wellbeing curriculum for schools offers children a child-friendly, continuous and progressive approach to mental health and wellbeing education. Through weekly timetabled lessons children learn about the power of kindness, how to attend to themselves, to others, to learning and dealing with life. From an early age, children learn the curriculums unique language so that they can talk about their emotions and their thoughts in their everyday conversations. They understand that ‘it is okay not to feel okay’ and that talking and listening to each other are important acts of kindness.
iSpace offers a ‘whole school approach’ it includes the school community and changes culture around mental health through a working together ethos. Essential to the curriculum is the iSpace ‘toolkit’ enabling teachers to promote talking and listening inside and outside the classroom and as parents can also use these toolkits at home it brings the conversation from the school to the kitchen table in the child’s home.
Throughout this current crisis iSpace Wellbeing has continued to support children in their homes through video online learning lessons, it has supported pupils in their adjustment to their new norm. With the foundations of good mental hygiene already embedded in their everyday life, children have been able to use their learning to steady themselves, adjust to a new daily routine and to ask for help and support where needed.
During their weekly online lessons they have been learning about self-compassion, the art of caring for oneself through the use of mindfulness, talking to themselves as a best friend would and through gaining an understanding of common humanity (we are all in this together). They understand that when we are kind to ourselves, we can be kind to others. One of the first tasks that the children focused on was setting out a new
daily routine which was to include work, rest, play and an act of kindness. They have the opportunity to reflect and to share what they have done to make them feel proud through the new email@example.com
During this week’s mental health awareness week, I think it is important that we don’t just say to our children ‘be kind’ but instead we continuously teach and show them how and then engage them in the act. Only when they participate in giving kindness can they truly appreciate its positive impact.
And so, when we teach our children about kindness remember that:
‘What they hear they will forget; what they see they will remember. But what they do they will understand’. (Confucius)