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Sending Ripples of Kindness throughout Our School: What Research Says about Kindness on the Brain
Jamie Salatich, Stephanie Behringer, Marion Harris; Senior Kindergarten Teachers

 

In a world where you can be anything... be kind.

 

Did you happen to spot a little kindergartener wearing a red ninja headband spreading kindness throughout our school? You may have seen a few of them leaving notes of love, kindness, and encouragement or others making treats for staff members and painting signs that say thank you. All of the SK students have become “Kindness Ninjas” and are on a mission to spread kindness to as many people as they can.

students with "thank you" banner

 

Research from Berkeley’s “Greater Good Science Center” found that “practicing compassion and kindness can improve health, well-being, and relationships, as well as academic achievement [and] prosocial behavior in elementary school predicts higher academic achievement in middle school.”

A great number of benefits have been reported to support teaching kindness in schools, best summed up by the following.

From Psychology Today, Patty O'Grady, Ph.D., an expert in neuroscience, emotional learning, and positive psychology, reports,

"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."

According to Lisa Currie, founder of Ripple Kindness Effects,

“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.”

students making treats and wearing their red kindess ninja bandanas


Here are some of the many reasons why our Senior Kindergarteners are transforming into Kindness Ninjas:

  • Everyone is unique and valued.
  • Words are powerful.
  • We can create a culture of kindness and an attitude of gratitude.
  • Developing social and emotional skills at this age is paramount to future success in school and life.
  • We can change our brains through neuroplasticity.
  • Kids feel good when kindness is shown to them, and in return, they want to do good for others.
  • Cooperative behavior is contagious and spreads from one to another.
  • Teaching, modeling and reinforcing respect, compassion, and kindness builds a school culture where kids feel more connected.
  • Practicing kindness leads to greater emotional health.
kindness ninjas and kindness ninja pledge

 

Some examples of what our Senior Kindergarteners are doing to spread kindness are:

  • Writing letters to our 5th-grade Penpals
  • Opening doors for others
  • Saying thank you often
  • Creating and giving gifts of compassion
  • Writing kind notes and notes of encouragement
  • Completing random acts of kindness
  • Giving compliments
  • Reading books on kindness and voting for our favorites in our March Madness bracket competition
Tournament of Books Bracket

Here is a list of great picture books about kindness to read at home:
https://www.weareteachers.com/kindness-books-for-kids/

 

kids becoming kindness ninjas and making cards and signs

 

Jamie Salatich
 

Stephanie Behringer

 

Marion Harris