A new curriculum is available in Australia that aims to teach children kindness. The Kindness Curriculum is available for children of all ages and has been designed to complement existing curriculums. There is a specific section for children aged birth to five years that links to The Early Years Learning Framework.
The Kindness Curriculum is structured for children to develop the following attributes: empathy, gratitude, perspective, honesty, self-compassion, self-acceptance, humility, collaboration, mindfulness, meditation, trust, affiliation and humour.
Early childhood educators can access free learning experiences and resources online. These are flexible, can be adapted to suit all programs, and parents can even use them at home.
The story behind the curriculum
The Kindness Curriculum is a collaborative project between Kaplan Australia and The Kindness Factory which was founded by Kath Koschel, a former professional athlete who has taught herself to walk on three separate occasions.
Kath is currently a motivational speaker and wants to inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Her experiences as a speaker showed her there is a need for generational change, so she developed a curriculum that embeds kindness in children’s lives.
“The audiences I was speaking to were predominantly corporate, which meant that it was adults that were hearing my story,” says Kath. “They were of course inspired by my story but would also come up with rather creative barriers as to why they could or could not engage with kindness.
“Children do not have that problem. If they are inspired enough to do something, they will. It’s that simple. I knew I had to get in front of more children if I wanted to see real change.”
Connections to The Early Years Learning Framework
“The word kindness is only mentioned once in The Early Years Learning Framework,” says Kath. “This is under Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world, where children are encouraged to develop the ability to recognise unfairness and bias and the capacity to act with compassion and kindness.”
Kath explains that many of the skill sets and behaviours identified in this outcome are also addressed in the Kindness Curriculum.
Having a strong sense of wellbeing contributes to a sense of belonging, trust, confidence, social functioning, self-acceptance and resilience. Many of the Kindness Curriculum activities encourage children to explore, engage, collaborate and reflect.
How to use the curriculum
The Kindness Curriculum has a range of activities that support young children to explore 12 attributes of kindness building agency, initiate their own learning and develop their self-identity.
“The activities are also fully adaptable to ensure that teachers can modify to meet their children’s needs, interests and specific contexts,” explains Kath.
The following learning experiences have been suggested in the curriculum, to teach young children kindness:
- Use puppets to explore concepts that children may not understand through words alone – like humility.
Puppets can be used to tell stories that include scenarios about humility and characters being humble.
- Introduce “funny show and tell” to promote humour.
Children can share funny things with their peers, like books, songs, photos and dances. Through humour, children learn to be happy and more pleasant to others.
- Download and print emotion cards.
Use them in games to help children identify, label and discuss emotions. When children understand different emotions they learn to regulate their own and have empathy for others.
- Teach the concepts of collaboration, community and responsibility by assigning classroom jobs.
Choose jobs that allow children to have agency and work with others.
- Celebrate positive achievements with a “you-did-it jar”.
Help children write short, positive statements about themselves and other people on small pieces of paper. Place these in the jar and read them aloud later during group time.
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