This past Tuesday was World Kindness Day – a day reminding us all to be kind and celebrate kindness. Most of you probably know that my favorite quote is by author Henry James, who famously said, "Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."
Instinctively, we all know that kindness matters, and we want to teach our children to be kind. In fact, humans are "hard-wired for kindness and empathy." But science also emphasizes the importance of kindness. Studies have shown, for example, that being kind for purely altruistic reasons activates the reward centers of the brain. In other words, being kind makes you feel good, improves well-being, and makes you want to be kind again. Studies have also shown that children who practice kindness see improvement in their academic and social experiences.
At Laurence, we are always finding ways to encourage our students to practice kind acts in keeping with our motto, "Keep Kind in Mind." Already this school year, they have led sock collections, food and recycling drives, and a Halloween Costume drive, as well as raised money for USO Operation Phone Home during Student Government's Buck-a-Bagel sale. Additionally, our students raised nearly $3,000 for the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation, made 48 "Thanksgiving in a Bag" kits that they delivered to LA Family Housing, and delivered more than 200 turkeys to the Lowman School along with 57 bags of side dishes.
Additionally, in celebration of World Kindness Day, students participated in a variety of classroom activities to spread kindness. In 1st Grade, for example, students each picked one kind act to do for someone this week. Third Grade students each picked someone in our Laurence community who made them feel special, wrote that person a letter or poem to express their feelings of gratitude, and then hand delivered these special notes. In 4th Grade, the students wrote letters of kindness to their classmates. Fifth Graders watched a video showing a kind act, then reflected on how seeing kindness made them feel. Then they chose someone in their lives who had been kind to them and wrote a letter of gratitude.
Our goal is to help our students develop into adults who want to make the world a better place, and being kind is a great place to start. These small acts teach even our youngest students that they have the power to effect change. Cheers to kindness!
Click here to read more blog posts from Head of School, Laurie Wolke.
- "How to Be a Kindness Role Model for Your Kids," Dale V. Atkins and Amanda R. Salzhauer, Greater Good Magazine, 13 November 2018. UC Berkeley.
- "Social evolution by preverbal infants." Nature, 22 November 2007.
- University of British Columbia. "Kindness key to happiness and acceptance for children." ScienceDaily, 26 December 2012.
- University of Sussex. "The warm glow of kindness is real, even when there's nothing in it for you." ScienceDaily, 27 September 2018.
- University of Oxford. "Being kind to others does make you 'slightly happier'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2016.