‘Dude, Be Kind’ Week a Year-Round Philosophy at Hopewell ECS
At Hopewell Early Childhood School, kindness isn’t just something staff teach; it’s something they model. And although it was even more top of mind during the district’s celebration of “Dude, Be Kind” week all last week, Hopewell’s interim counselor and reading intervention specialist Kathy Gall says it’s really a year-round focus in their building.
“We want students to recognize what kindness looks like, what it sounds like, what it feels like even,” said Gall, pointing out that children oftentimes have an image of kindness as a tangible gift. “Kindness comes in all different shapes and sizes and we want our kids to realize that it can be something as simple as asking someone to play or holding the door for someone.”
With this in mind, Gall and the rest of Hopewell’s “Kindness Crew” shaped Hopewell’s celebration of “Dude, Be Kind” week, which kicked off Nov. 9 and led right up to “World Kindness Day” on Nov. 13. The group developed a kindness menu full of small acts of kindness students might complete at home and at school - things like saying hello to someone you don’t know, cleaning up your room or giving someone a compliment. By completing and coloring in 10 items throughout the week, students earned a “Kind Kids” certificate and a spot in the “Heroes Kind Kids Club.”
“A lot of it is just second nature to them because it’s part of their routine,” Gall said, “but when we make a point to actually point out that something they did as being kind, they start to recognize it themselves and become more intentional with their actions.”
Additionally, Hopewell’s “Kindness Crew” went as far as to develop a menu of in-class activities teachers could work into their daily plans, each one aligning with the district-wide kindness challenge for that day. On Thursday, for example, kindergarten teacher and “Kindness Crew” member Kristen Jones shared with her class the book “Chrysanthemum.” She led her class in an exercise that had them crumbling their paper hearts every time the book’s main character was the target of a hurtful act or words and then smoothing them out when someone said something kind.
The lesson was crystal clear for her students.
“Everyone likes you and you have more people to play with if you’re kind,” summarized kindergartner Landon Phelps.
“You have to watch out for other people,” said Oscar Lunn.
While “Dude, Be Kind” week was a good excuse to really focus their attention on the details and mechanics of being kind, Gall said that kindness is simply the culture at Hopewell. That mindset, she says, starts with staff and particularly, the leadership, leading by example.
“When you have leaders who create an environment that just exudes kindness and is built on lifting one another up, it makes it easier to bring that into the classroom each day,” Gall said.
See more examples of kindness in action all around Lakota by searching #BeKindLakota on social media.