Kindness in Kindergarten – How a Fairytale Changed my Classroom

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I recently saw a film adaptation of a popular fairytale. I am sure you can guess which one by the photo below. If you need a brush up or the kid version is confusing you – think ugly stepsisters and glass slippers, and a mean ol’ cat who chases poor unsuspecting mice.

While I have heard this story so many times, it has never had a strong impact on me until now.

Throughout this adaptation, a phrase is said over and over. “Have courage and be kind.” Not big words. Not a long phrase. Just 5 words actually.

However, words have great power.

What if we all lived this way? What if we all aimed to have more courage, embrace change, be risk-takers, be brave, try new things? What if we were all kind – not just in our words, but our actions?

To me, that sounds like a beautiful thing.

Of course, I don’t go long without thinking of how things relate to teaching and my classroom. I immediately thought about how we learn Kindergarten “rules” or make a class promise at the beginning of the year. That is valuable time and those are important things as they bond us together and set the tone for the year.

However, could I simplify it even more? Could I help them to relate their Kindergarten behaviors to everyday life and not just “school behavior?”

Is it possible that at the end of the day what I am really hoping for my students is that, above all, they will “Have courage and be kind?”

Recently I told my class what a “motto” was and we talked about some examples we might know. I talked with them about how as a class, we could also decide to have a motto or perhaps a phrase that we use and promise to abide by.

Do you get where I am going here? I introduced them to “Have courage and be kind.” We related courage to some of our learner attributes, like being risk takers. We related kindness to the learner attribute of being compassionate. We began to see how this statement, or motto, if you will, relates to many other positive traits or attributes that we strive for.

Not to be dramatic, but…. life changing.

We said it and talked about it quite a bit together at the beginning. Then I started noticing it taking root in their own behaviors and interactions.

Examples and Responses (Which did not all come from me! At the beginning I may ask/prompt, “Well, what did we decide we were going to try to do as a class?”)

“This is too hard.” – “We have courage and will try it!”

“He hurt my feelings.” – “Our class is kind – how can he make this right?”

“I can’t do it.” – “We are risk takers!”

“I am mad at you.” – “Our class is kind – how can we solve this?”

I could go on and on….. “Kind” goes much beyond just “nice.” I really feel like my students are starting to realize this and all that kindess truly encompasses. It means compassion, listening, showing empathy, sharing, caring, and so much more.

I also really feel that they are becoming risk-takers (in the best way possible as learners), goal-setters, team players, and compassionate friends.

Obviously, a quote or phrase doesn’t create those things magically or by itself. If there were truly a magic wand or fairy Godmother that could work classroom wonders I am sure we would all try to outbid one another, but we know that just isn’t going to happen. Plus, part of the “magic” is our growth along the way!

So they aren’t a magic potion, but have these 5 words made a difference? Have they encouraged us to think twice? To reflect? To perhaps make better decisions?

You bet they have.

In fact, I think they have changed me most.

To all my teacher friends – Have Courage and Be Kind in all you do.

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  1. Love this! Our schol chose “A team above all, above all a team” as our theme/motto for 2019 and the kids often say it to remind themselves to collaborate.

  2. Yes, it does matter what we continually say and do to encourage our children.
    I have no idea how it got started or why, when I’d kiss my lil kiddo goodbye before he rode off on his bike to school, I’d always say Be kind! He is grown now, and. very, very kind.
    One of his favorite books came to mind regarding courage; The Little Blue
    Engine. Thanks for the reminder – no matter the age, courage and kindness
    words need to be sprinkled often.

    1. Hi Patti,

      What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing that with us. It sounds like you did an incredible job of installing kindness in your son. Kudos to you!

      Thanks for reading!

    1. Hi Amanda! You will love the movie! It is great. I do love this phrase and think it does encompass so much in just a few little words. Have a great week!

  3. I love this uplifting message that you shared with your students. It's not only effective but your students are truly relating to it and able to use it in their everyday lives. You have inspired me to try this with my class, they all know I'm a huge Disney lover so they won't be surprised at all by the reference! Thank you, have a great rest of your week!

    Teach Talk Inspire

    1. Hi Jayme, thanks so much for stopping by and reading it! I would love to know how it goes with your class if you try it out! Have a great week as well! 🙂

  4. Love this post!! I still have yet to see this movie (I have no clue why I haven't seen it yet!), but this post is great!!! I love the examples/responses you shared. Courage and kindness are two powerful, important words and behaviors that we should be modeling and teaching our students daily. Thank you for sharing!! 🙂

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