Week One: Kindness to Yourself
Kindness can take many forms, and shows itself in ways both big and small. We are encouraged to and practice being kind to others, but don't often consider being kind to ourselves. This was the jumping off point for our first session together: being kind to ourselves. After snacks and introductions, we read I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell. As a group we discussed ways the main character was kind to herself, such as when she felt brave or answered a question incorrectly in school, when she was generous or when she got chosen last for a team. Then the children each wrote 5 things they like about themselves on a hand outline; each of these pieces fit together to create a quilt of kindness.
Finally we gathered together on the rug and shared with the group one thing we like about ourselves. As each person shared we passed a length of string, creating a web of kindness. In the weeks to come we'll be exploring ways we can show kindness toward the ever-expanding communities in which we're members.
Week 2: Kindness to Our Families
We jumped into Week Two by expanding our circle of kindness from ourselves to our families. We began our time together this week by choosing a colored pouf from a bag. Each color represented a different question that we answered with the group: what does it feel like when someone is kind to you?; what makes you happy?; what is something kind a family member has done for you? and what can you do or say to be kind to a family member?
Next we read How Full Is Your Bucket? and learned that everyone has an invisible bucket. When the bucket is empty we feel bad, but when it's full we feel great. Our kind words and actions not only fill other's buckets, they also fill our buckets too! With this in mind, the children decorated jars for their families and filled them with kind words they'd written on colorful strips of paper. As they left for the day, the children also received two roses: one for the person who picked them up, and a second for a person of their choosing.
Week 3: Kindness to Carlthorp
Our first week together we practiced kindness to ourselves, then our second week we practiced kindness to our families. This week we continued to broaden our circle of kindness to our Carlthorp community.
Collaborating in groups, the children chose a variety of materials that they assembled to create unique messages of encouragement and inspiration. The groups then spread across the campus to post their kindness posters! Every single classroom as well as the front office and administrative suite received a message of kindness.
When we regrouped in the classroom, we discussed how it felt to make and distribute the posters. One child commented, "I felt like Kindness Santa leaving a surprise!" The children also observed how good it felt to do something so simple, easy and nice for their school community.
Near the end of our time together Ms. King came down from her office and told us she'd read a poster on her office door and felt so encouraged and loved. It was the perfect way to end our afternoon.
Weeks 4 & 5: Kindness to our Communities
During our weeks together we started with kindness to ourselves, then broadened our circles of kindness to our families, Carlthorp and finally kindness to our communities.
Before we left for Winter Break, we discussed the idea of kindness toward those in our communities. We envisioned the various people we come into contact with each day, and how it feels when one of them shares a kind word or a smile with us. Next we developed a list of people in our communities, including swimming instructors, nannies, police officers, baristas. As our club meeting was the day before Valentine's Day, the children made valentines and notes of kindness for some of these people. We also assembled a basket of snacks, sweet treats and notes of kindness to deliver to the Santa Monica Police Department.
For our final club meeting this afternoon we arrived at the SMPD and were given a tour by Suzy Lockwood, who works in Community Relations. There we delivered our basket of goodies and notes to officers working in the report writing room. We got to meet Officer Gwartz, husband of Carlthorp's own Karen Gwartz, and we visited other areas like the the dispatch room.