Friday, December 16, 2011

Campbell Live - a Christmas Story of Kindness

Who managed to catch Campbell Live on Wednesday night? For those of you who did, I am sure like me you were moved to dig deep and find some money to contribute towards the orthodontic work needed for Evan Hill. For those of you who missed the story, Evan has large front teeth that need corrective surgery as well as braces to fix. The family having come through the Christchurch earthquake can ill afford this treatment needed. The very next night I found I was moved to tears with the show of astounding generosity of New Zealanders who indeed, dug deep and donated to the tune of $100,000.00! Not only will Evan get his teeth fixed, his younger sister who did not appear on camera will have her teeth fixed as well, and to top it off the trust set up to administer the donations has been able to purchase a car for the family so they can get to the Orthodontist! To quote John Campbell, 'bloody marvelous!
If you missed it or want to revisit a wonderful story of kindness check out the link below.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

'Growing' communities (and food) through kindness

The town of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, has an ambitious goal: to become the first town in the UK that by 2018 is self-sufficient in food through their Incredible Edible scheme.
How do they want to achieve this? Through kindness. And lots of free fruit and vegetables growing all over town, in roundabouts, in front of the police station or even as broccoli memorial beds for a much loved ticket man at the railway station.

To quote from the article published in the dailymail (click here for the full article):
‘Wars come about by men having drinks in bars, good things come about when women drink coffee together,’ says Mary [Mary Clear, co-founder of Incredible Edible]. 
‘Our thinking was: there’s so much blame in the world — blame local government, blame politicians, blame bankers, blame technology — we thought, let’s just do something positive instead.’
The scheme helps local businesses, teaches about healthy eating and also seems to bring out the best in the local community - there has been a reduction in vandalism since the project started.
From the article, "Pam reckons a project like Incredible Edible could thrive in all sorts of places. ‘If the population is very transient, it’s difficult. But if you’ve got schools, shops, back gardens and verges, you can do it.’"
Now there's a challenge for our centres! Maybe this could be a project for 2012 for some of you?
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Helping Others Gives You a High!

Psychologists Robert Ornstein & Dr David Sobel describe what they call a ‘helpers high’, based on research that they carried out.
The euphoria that you experience when you help others close to you translates in a feeling of warmth, a frisson, the feeling you are full of energy but very calm at the same time. Every time you make a difference for a colleague or a child by creating kindness will have a wonderful impact on you as well. 

In the busy days of your teaching life take time to think about the ways in which you could create more kindness and joy in your environment. Challenge those who undermine this positive environment, for those who create the opposite are encouraging the secretion of cortisol and this is dangerous for young lives. Based on research it is clear that in the early stages of brain development raised cortisol levels can have long term negative effects as the brain is laying downing it's blueprint to build on the future growth.
Researchers compare the feeling you have when you help others, to what others feel after going for a jog - the runners high.

In both cases serotonin - the happy hormone - is secreted. Find ways to increase the opportunities to secrete serontonin in your place!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kindness Is Never Forgotten

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”- Dalai Lama

Today I was engaged in a conversation with my son, who as a grown man in his thirties has applied to complete his teacher training. He was discussing the teachers who had left a lasting impression on him with their kindness or words of encouragement as he got older. There were only two teachers he mentioned, one was a male teacher in high school and the other was an early childhood teacher he had as a four year old. He could still remember her kindness and he said she was like a second Mum, how about that!

We must never forget the power we have to influence the children in our care and how we influence the way they perceive education and how they feel about their self worth which has lasting consequences for their adult lives. Are we instilling an image of these children as being capable and confident within our daily interactions and through assessment? Are we showing them kindness in all that we do with them?

Let us make a difference to all children in our care through kindness.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Importance of Listening

As we grow older and (in some ways) more intelligent, it is easy to forget that there is still so much left to learn. Conversation becomes less about learning, less about listening to the other person and more about simply waiting for you turn to talk.

It is easy to love the sound of your own voice. We spend so much time mulling over our own thoughts, opinions and stories, that we imagine voicing them takes priority over listening to the thoughts, opinions and stories of others. We forget that listening is the basis for true growth and development in kindness and love.

Listening opens up our minds and hearts to the other individual. It shows that we care. Failing to listen demonstrates disregard and disinterest. Through the simple activity of listening one can become a kinder, wiser and more caring individual.

Here are some simple active listening exercises you could try:

-       Mentally try and repeat what they are saying back to yourself so that you are actively attempting to understand what they mean.
-       After they've spoken, if there are doubts lingering, don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications.
-       Maintain regular eye contact with the speaker so that you don't drift off into your own thoughts. Maintaining eye contact also lets the other person know you are listening.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when out hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
-       Thornton Wilder

It may sound clichéd, but regularly counting your blessings is one sure fire way to immediately feel happier and more fulfilled in your everyday life. Try keeping a gratitude journal- every day write down 3 things you are grateful for. It serves as a great reminder of how abundant your life really is. Remember to say thank you, for even the smallest thing. Write a ‘Thank You’ letter to somebody who means something to you- it’s an amazing feeling to be told directly how special you are to someone.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Leading With a Generous Spirit

Bruna Martinuzzi’s article Degrees of Giving: Leading with Generosity, points out the huge importance of having a spirit of generosity in a leadership role. Here is a summary of some of the ideas addressed.

In a position of leadership, and considering the power and privilege that comes with that position, one has certain expectations and obligations to fulfil. Namely, to show generosity of spirit to those whom one is leading. Leading generously does not necessarily mean giving a monetary or charity gift. The gifts you can offer as a leader are priceless and have lasting effects.

As a leader you can:

-       Give People a Sense of Importance.
Help your team see that the work they perform is important and has a bearing on the ultimate vision of the organisation.

-       Give Opportunity
Delegate not just the routine jobs, but worthwhile work. Let your team know you trust them to do a good job. This work becomes a gift of development and growth for the person you assign it to.

-       Give People Visibility
Make sure credit is given where credit’s due. Ensure where possible, that your team gets individual recognition from their superiors. Knowledge that you are representing your team well to upper management is a great motivator for everyone and engenders loyalty.

-       Give Information
According to a 1000 Ventures survey on effective motivation, one of the top items individuals want in the workplace is the ability to be “in” on things. The employees rated this 9 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Managers ranked this item as a 1. This is a huge chasm in understanding.
Be generous with ideas and expertise. This is not just beneficial for the individual- it’s a smart way of doing business,

-       Give Encouragement
Be generous with your praise when a good job has been done, and generous with your understanding when someone’s having a hard time with a task. Show not just an appreciation for good work but a genuine admiration for their talents.

Hand in hand with all of these things you should also remember to:

-       Be Engaged
In today’s society it is so easy to become self involved and exclude others without even meaning to. This self absorption automatically prevents a generous spirit from flourishing. There is an African village where the greeting words for ‘good morning’ or ‘hello’ are: “I am here if you are here”. Imagine how much easier it would be to give if we were fully present with people. Perhaps this is what Ralph Waldo Emerson meant when he said: “The only gift is the gift of thyself”.

Although generosity is, in its purest form, altruistic, you do still get something back from it. Whether it be the return of goodwill from someone who has previously benefited from your generosity, or just the immense satisfaction of seeing someone gain something precious as a result of your giving.

Finally, take inspiration from the words of Walt Whitman- “The habit of giving enhances the desire to give”. The more you make a habit out of giving, the more generous your spirit will become, seeing you emerge as a stronger leader.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kindness gives birth to kindness gives birth to kindness gives birth to.........

Below is a story written by Lynn (St Peters Childcare). This story is a great example of how one act of kindness can lead to another act of kindness and another act of kindness and...

"Several months ago I was having a conversation with a mother, Nicole, who was lamenting that they had little food this week because she made the choice to get the dog out of the pound rather than get groceries.  Clara-Ann her daughter loves the dog.  More amazingly the dog was not really her dog but a dog adopted from a friend, but still I reiterate Clara-Ann loves the dog. How could you not resist.

So the dog, name unknown, was set free.  That evening when Nicole came to get Clara-Ann we had a meal waiting for her to take home.  “For you from the dog”, I told her.  I think that the dog and Clara-Ann appreciated the sacrifice Nicole made.

There have been many times when the teachers here at St Peters have been able to go to the freezer and take out a pre-cooked meal to give to someone at the end of the day.  Someone who may have saved the dog, had a car accident, we have had a couple of those, have other children home sick, been sick themselves the list goes on and on.  We make the most of every opportunity we get to give a meal when needed to alleviate some of the pressure of our parent’s busy lives.

The teachers’ refill our freezer with the only incentive being that we each know how much it can truly brighten someone’s day when they realise how much someone else genuinely cares about them and their family. 

In Nicole’s case, and many others, it did not take long before kindness was birthed out of kindness.  Although we have no expectation that the kindness would be returned it often is. For instance, we had put in our newsletter that Kerry was taking charge of the library for children and parents; Nicole heard of a huge book sale happening downtown and sought Kerry out with a box of children’s book for the centre to have, which were lovingly accepted and very much appreciated.

Kindness truly does give birth to kindness."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Being a Friend & What if kindness is the only rule?

Ever since we started thinking about kindness more, from reading ELP's  blog and considering what this meant in terms of our Social Competency view of our world here at Greerton, we have been writing more about this for our children and families. We realised how important 'kindness' was in the way our whole learning and teaching culture played out. As teachers we wanted to model this and it has been so fabulous to see this happening. As with research journeys we are so often surprised and we were not expecting to see the way leadership was enhanced. We think children have a real sense of what is just and fair and when they are immersed in a culture of fairness, in its many shapes and forms, they will promote this way of being to each other. The learning stories we have written show this time and again.

Here is the learning story in an easy to read format!

What if kindness is the only rule?

Ash, isn’t it just as well we don’t have locked doors! Our children know they own this place, just as much as the adults and that we trust you! Otherwise you couldn’t have got those special things for James from the sleep room! This is just one more example of how thoughtful you are and how creatively you approach problems. I wonder, as this disposition increases over time and you use it in other contexts, if this means you will be a thoughtful, engaging leader who knows his team well and  ensures they are all able to stretch their talents. I certainly saw an example of this today!

Ash, you stunned me today and I felt compelled to write this story down because, for so many reasons, these are the ones worth telling!

I was sitting on the couch cuddling James, who was very sad because he had just fallen over and hurt himself. Do you know Ash, nothing that I was doing was helping. The tears streamed down his face and sobs shook his whole body. I looked around to see where his special key teacher was because I knew I didn’t know James well enough to help in this kind of crisis and thought Jo would make him feel better, faster. And then, Ash you were there! You had sized up the whole situation, had gone into the sleep room, collected James’ dummy and loved blanket and in the twinkling of an eye you were offering these to him. He looked up, breathed a deep, deep hick-up-y sigh and accepted your gift. Immediately he felt better, his breathing slowed and he relaxed. You waited around a little bit to check all was well and then off you went about your own plans, like a humble hero fading back into a crowd. Your plans, by the way, are so very often full of grit as you put your whole effort and attention into solving the problems you set yourself, so taking time out to help a friend is a strong measure of how much you value making sure your friends feel ok.

What  more did I learn about you today Ash?

Do you know Ash, we write many learning stories here at Greerton about things the teachers feel are important. We call it finding the magic because we want these stories to build a picture for  you and your whanau, of the kind of learner you are. We want you to know, now and just as importantly into the future, that the learning goals you set yourself, the skills you practice and the dispositions that drive your desire to keep going, even when the learning is hard, began very early in your life. We think that these stories are very powerful as you revisit them and retell them as time goes on. Stories like the way you imaginatively solved a tricky problem, or pushed yourself to the edge of your skill levels through being brave, persistent, creative and imaginative. Your folder is full of these exploits and these ways of learning. Teachers love this kind of writing but just as importantly, we want to tell the heart stopping stories of kindness, thoughtfulness and care. This is what I saw today. Out of nowhere, Ash you rescued your friend and me! You stopped what you were doing because you saw a friend in need. These are the moments that matter in life and when people like you Ash, react to someone’s distress, in this way, the world is a kinder place.

It made me think of a special author called Vivien Gussin Paley who wrote a book called The Kindness of Children. She couldn’t see how people could continue to have fun when there was someone amongst them who was sad and Ash, neither could you! I’m so glad that our assessment of your learning is not limited to skills alone. Our vision here at Greerton is to tell and reflect on the stories that make a difference to learning in its fullest sense. That’s how we grow our community of learners and teachers.

Greerton Early Childhood Centre
Lorraine Sands
March 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hope opens our eyes to view the possibilities!

 We all have the potential to be leaders!

As a leader, you should be a purveyor of hope, instilling in those around you the confidence that things will work out.
This optimism, this belief that tomorrow will be better than today, is not about ignoring challenges you may be facing. It is about working with your team to identify a single focus and common goal. How do we make this setting, family or organisation succeed and what is everyone’s role in achieving this goal?
Inspire yourself and others.
-       Understand the importance of gratitude. It is the quickest way to a positive attitude.
-       Assemble a library of inspiring material. Remember it is impossible to inspire others if you’re not feeling inspired yourself. Everyone takes inspiration from different sources- find out what these sources are for you and spend a little time focusing on them each day.
-       Guard yourself and your team from negative attitudes and people.
-       Be an example. As a leader, you are the person others look to for cues on how to behave. Keep this in mind and always try for a positive attitude.
Hope opens our eyes to view the possibilities. It drives us to action. It sets a tone of vitality and inspiration for and for others.

Source: ‘Hope: Don’t Leave Home Without It’, Bruna Martinuzzi, (2010).

Monday, August 1, 2011

Have you thought about being a volunteer in your community?

In a study carried out by Thoits and Hewitt on Volunteer work and Wellbeing studies showed that mixing with other people, getting involved in activities with others offered long term benefits. One of the key findings was that ‘doing good’ did have a powerful effect of alleviating depression.

People who did voluntary work when questioned rated their levels of happiness, quality of life and self esteem as higher than average. This is a great message to encourage everyone to get outside their normal life spaces and find a way to contribute as a volunteer in their local communities.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Being Forgiving is Good for your Health

The research carried out by CVO Witvliet and colleagues found that forgiveness is good for your cardiovascular system. In the research volunteers were put in a situation that stimulated two different situations following an attack. The first group were asked to imagine revenge, to feed this they were asked to think about the injuries they sustained and the pain they suffered. The second group were invited to forgive the attacker, to tell themselves that he or she is a complex human being like themselves, with their own difficulties. In short they were asked to empathise.

There was no ambiguity in the results. They carried out electrocardiograms and psychological tests. The first group experienced negative results which included a quickening heart rate which was putting pressure on the arteries. The second group who empathized immediately reduced their psychological stress. It is clear that holding a grudge is not good for your health. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Encourage Children to Help Each Other!

In research carried out by Hans-Werner Bierhoff they discovered that the most sociable children, the ones most friendly and attentive to others, not only were more popular with other children but these children did better at school.

One study showed those who helped others with their work attained better results themselves. These children who helped others were doing better two years later. The children who concentrated on their own work had not progressed in the same way.

This research showed that if you help others, it will  help you as well. The research also had a finding that the helper children had better self esteem and a more positive image of school.

Friday, June 3, 2011

He Tama Pumahara

Many thanks to Awhi Whanau Early Childhood Centre for contributing the very thoughtful story to the kindness blog. The story is so deeply embedded with Māori values made visible by Thelma and embedded in her analysis of the story, ātaahua Thelma. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pipiana's kindness to Nana - A Learning Story

Pipiana Discovers Eyelashes
Pipiana your favorite book at the moment is Puff the Magic Dragon. I have read it to you lots of times. Your book comes with a CD and though you are quite capable of playing the CD for yourself you would much rather have my company, the comfort of my body and the slight off key-ness of my singing.You are very complimentary to your Nana. I love to cuddle up to you when we share books too.

As I read the Puff book you kept pointing to Puff’s eyes. I noticed your fascination as you found and stroked his eyes on every page. I said “Here, Nana’s eye too” and I stroked my eye. You pointed to your eye and said ‘eye’. I held your little finger and brushed it on my eyelashes. You laughed. It tickled both of us and we giggled again. I brushed your eyelashes very gently and then you stroked your own. Then we had some 'butterfly kisses' - the ones where we flutter our eyelashes together. We tickled each other with our eyelashes. Squirmy, wriggly and wormy up close eyelash to eyelash - Haha! such eyelash fun.
What a discovery - eyelashes. You went back to look at Puff and in your own questioning way looked for Puff’s eyelashes.
Does Puff have eyelashes? Do dragons have eyelashes ? We looked and looked - you ran your finger over the illustration and studied his eyes very closely. To my amazement you decided there were some eyelashes on Puff. They were the ever so feint strokes of the illustrator's pen that your imagination made in to eyelashes. You smiled up at me with the satisfaction of your discovery and your question answered - Yes! Puff has eyelashes.
That quick little finger then came back to my eyes, searching out my eyelashes again. When your pointed finger missed my eyelashes and made contact with my eyeball I flinched and drew back from your finger. Quick as a wink that finger found your own eye and with a feigned poke - you flinched and looked back with a sad look on your face too. Mirroring my emotion and the sadness my face you reached to my face and stroked it ever so softly. Smiling at each other we both felt better. I think you were saying ‘Aroha mai, Nan’. I love you my little mokopuna.

What I learnt about Pipiana; You absolutely love books and reading. It is one of your favorite things to do. You choose the exact books you want to read. You love flap books too. Maisey and Spot are other favourites. You enquire and answer your own questions.
I learnt that you are empathetic and kind. You let me know that you understood that it hurts to have your eye poked and you wanted to help me feel better. And... I did feel better, thanks to your kind strokes on my face.
Who would have believed this is possible from an 18 month old baby?

Mummy tells me still love to read about Puff and you are continuing your interest in eyes and eyelashes. You have been observing Mummy putting on her mascara and now you insist on doing some for yourself. Goodness me.

Professor Alison Gopnik in her book the Philosophical Baby says that “We used to think that babies and young children were irrational, egocentric, immediate and limited. In fact, psychologists and neuroscientists have discovered that babies not only learn more, care more and experience more than we ever could have thought possible. In some ways, young children are actually smarter, more imaginative, more caring and even more conscious that adults are”.(p.5) Also that “... love itself depends on knowledge and imagination. For babies, who are so utterly helpless and dependent, no theory is as important as the theory of love. From the time they are very small babies are figuring out these theories of love, based on what they see the caregivers around them do and say. And these theories in turn shape the way these babies will care for their own children when they grow up”. (p.247)
From Nana with Love. April 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Healing Power of Music

Recently I have read and article on ‘Raising Kind Children’ by Janet Clark, Susan Gable and Ibtisam Barakat. They talk strongly about the capacity that children are born with to act kindly and with compassion. More importantly they discuss the vital role of adults around children to model kindness and compassion if they are going to continue to act in kind and caring way. When Guy Claxton says so powerfully we must always be at our ‘learning best’, I am immediately drawn to the view that if we are to build strong, caring and compassionate communities then we must all be at our ‘compassionate’ best when we are with children ! Julie is without a doubt a teacher who so wonderfully teaches those around her about kindness and compassion. Here is a lovely learning story she has given to us to share on the ‘Kindness Blog’.

The Healing Power of Music

Ashlee loves to sing, and I discovered this very soon after her starting  with us at Stanmore Bay Kindergarten. There she was at the play dough table singing sweetly to her self “Skinny marinky” I joined her and we did a duet, we have delighted many of our visitors to the kindergarten with our Skinny marinky duet-its a very lovely welcoming song, and Ashleigh has such a sweet clear voice.
The other day Ashleigh slipped over and hurt her leg. We had a hug and then a little while after she was still a bit sad about her leg and asked me to sing it a song. “Sure!” I said and I scooped her up for a hug and sang a song to the hurt  leg. The song went something like this “Dear little leg, I’m sorry that your hurt, I hope you feel better soon, I love you little leg, I know you’ll feel better soon.”
This cheered Ashleigh up. A little later in the morning I heard the sound of crying by the slide, Kobe had found himself under a pile of friends who had tumbled down the slide together. I sat down and was giving him a hug when Ashleigh came over “He needs a song” she said “Yes, I think that would be great-can you sing a song for him?” Ashleigh sang the sweetest little song that went something like this “Dear Little Kobe, I’m sorry that your sad, dear little Kobe, you’ll feel better soon, dear little Kobe” It was so sweet, I was so sorry I didn’t have the camera or a voice recorder with me!
Since that day there has been more marvelous songs created. Ashleigh improvised a song for the dead goldfish at its funeral, and while she was drumming she created a two and a half minute long improvised song about a puffer fish going up and down-I know it was two and a half minutes because I filmed it! I can so see her in a band when she’s older! I want to be known as the person who recorded one of her first songs!!!!

What learning is happening here and how can we support it?

Ashleigh has the most wonderful spirit, she is loving and outgoing and she expresses herself fully through all she does-especially singing. I thought it was very kind of Ashleigh to empathize with Kobe’s pain and sing him a song. This isn’t the first time I have been really touched by Ashleigh’s sensitivity and kindness.
I will continue to encourage Ashleigh in her song making. I will see if she would like to make a music video of her songs, we could incorporate art and moving footage, maybe we could use garage band to add some percussion! Maybe I will call her over the next time someone hurts themselves and ask her to sing one of her special healing songs!

“Being a singer is a natural gift. It means I'm using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I'm happy with that.” Aretha Franklin

“Music is the purest form of art... therefore true poets, they who are seers, seek to express the universe in terms of music... The singer has everything within him. The notes come out from his very life. They are not materials gathered from outside.” Tagore

This learning story was written by Julie Killick is currently the Head Teacher at Stanmore Bay Kindergarten in the Northern Auckland Kindergarten Association.

What are the ways you are building a strong moral community in your early childhood setting? Are the values of kindness, caring and compassion visible in your place?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Powerful Lesson in Kindness

I recently read this very powerful little story. It made me reflect on those I have contact with and the effort I make on a daily basis to establish these relationships. This story is written by yet another wise professor making what I believe is a very significant statement that surely would of got all those students thinking about their relationships!!! It certainly made me reflect deeply on those around me. Here is the little story....
During my second year of nursing school our professor gave us a quiz.  I breezed through the questions until I read the last one:  "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"  Surely this was a joke.  I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name?  I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.  Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade.  "Absolutely," the professor said.  "In your careers, you will meet many people.  All are significant.  They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello."  I've never forgotten that lesson.  I also learned her name was Dorothy.  ~Joann C. Jones

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Three Things in Human Life are Important

I wanted to share with you a little from Robert Coles book entitled “Moral Intelligence”. He writes in the section ‘A letter to Parents’ the following:

 “How do we do “the best for them”? What is “the best for them”? I posed those anxious questions, pretending to be “cool” about it all by laughing, mocking my very inquiry- yet another worried, literal-minded father, teacher. “I told you,” he addressed me, he reminded me, “to be kind,’ that’s what we have to be, to do: show by how we behave that we’re interested in others and want the best for them.” Now he slumped a bit, and so did I- we both realized, I thought then, I still think, that we weren’t considering a specific act, or a series of acts, a routine, a set of rules, a strategy, but rather, a way of being to which one aspires, then works, day by day, to find for oneself, to share with others.

Henry James’s nephew, the son of William James, once asked the great and thoughtful novelist what he ought to do with his life, how he ought to live it. The nephew (who today might be regarded as going through Erikson’s identity crisis) received this advice: “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.” The issue here is the hortatory verb, “be,” as well as the adjective- the instance that one find an existence that enables one to be kind. Hot to do so? By wading in, over and over, with that purpose in mind, with a willingness to sail on, tacking and tacking again, helped by those we aim to help, guided by our moral yearning on behalf of others, on behalf of ourselves with others: a commitment to others, to oneself as linked to others, that won’t avoid squalls and periods of seeming drift, but that will become the heart of the journey itself, with it’s ups and downs, a journey that is, after all, the destination- moral commitment given the life of moral companionship. “

I think that the issues that Robert Coles discusses are so critical to the health and wellbeing of our world. These are issues that we as teachers should be discussing the sharing with parents and children. More importantly we need to find ways to make kindness visible for those around us, particularly children. We all stand in such a powerful place, we should use this power with great care.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A little kindness goes a long way!

The following is a lovely contribution to our 'Kindness Blog' by Julie Killick:

A little kindness goes a long way doesn't it! An act of kindness doesn't have to be a huge thing to make my day, I notice and appreciate little things which put a smile on my face and a skip in my step, kindness sort of oils up life and makes everything run more smoothly. Its great to be on the receiving end of an act of kindness but it feels just as good to be dishing it out.
There is a saying worth bearing in mind "If I'm not for myself who will be for me, if I'm not for others what am I for?" I think this is a great little proverb because it speaks of balance. My Mother was such an incredibly kind and generous person, she would give anyone anything! Sometimes though I wondered if she could have been a little kinder to herself, but I think she was influenced by the gender expectations of the society she was brought up in, where woman saw their role as putting everyone else's needs before their own. Maybe today our world is a little more balanced? Personally think there is a still a long way to go for gender equality!
Anyhow, back to balance, I think its worth bearing in mind, and of course if we are loving towards ourselves we are far more likely to be loving and kind to others!
So is kindness all about fluffy ducks and warm fuzzy feelings? I say not always! I think sometimes the kind thing to do is to be brave and raise the issue that has come between you and a friend and caused a disruption in your relationship. Kindness to me means I care about you and our friendship enough to sort out what has come between us, instead of tossing you out of my heart and letting resentments build. Sometimes I manage it and sometimes I don't!
At our Kindergarten in Stanmore Bay we declared March the month of marvelousness! We wanted to create more of a culture of appreciation in a fun and playful way. As a teaching team we decided to look out for anything each other, the children or parents did that we thought was a little bit marvelous, and compliment the person. We put up signs in the bathroom saying things like "Tell someone they are marvelous today! And be your most marvelous self, and Beauty all around us-MARVELOUS!" etc. Giving and receiving feedback on the marvelous moments has done a little bit of magic in our team, brought more laughter and kindled more kindness.
As a kindergarten teacher I have the privilege of witnessing many moments in a day when children show kindness to other children and adults around them. I hope you enjoy this learning story about Matthew cheering Leo on! Children are our teachers-lets be encouraged by this lesson and cheer ourselves and others on and bring a little more kindness into the world!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kindness comes in many forms!

 Kindness comes in so many forms. Robert Coles talks about ‘moral intelligence’ and explores the question of how to raise a child whose moral intelligence and strong values are the basis for a balanced and happy life. He illuminates in some depth about the fact that we do not acquire moral intelligence through learning and memorizing rules and regulations or by some sort of abstract discussion. No, we learn it from those around us. The child is a witness to all that she or he sees, and it is not just the child but all who live in the world. We all need to be surrounded by people with strong moral intelligence, values that are ever present in all that they do. I consider myself very fortunate to be surrounded by a group of exceptional women who are constantly seeking ways to make a difference in peoples lives. Whose moral compass is set upon a desire to be kind, generous and courageous. The following are a few photos taken at a moment in time when this group of women decided to surprise me with a wonderful birthday celebration, bringing laughter, joy and a great deal of fun.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Looking after others!

Here is a learning story documented by Judy Barnes at the Papatoetoe Kindergarten in Auckland. This lovely event celebrates Claire's thoughtfulness and kindness in caring for Mave.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Being kind

"Being kind, generous and empathetic, laying yourself open to another person in the knowledge that they may take advantage of you is a sign not of folly, but of true courage." Longrigg