The Kindness Project
Bringing Mindfulness to Young Children, Teachers, and Families
What is the Kindness Curriculum?
The Kindness Curriculum was developed for preschool and 4K children by the Center for Healthy Minds. The Kindness Curriculum includes brief (15 - 30 minutes) activities and lessons focused on mindfulness and kindness taught twice a week in your child(ren)’s classroom for 12 weeks and revisited to support learning.
Why teach mindfulness and kindness?
Previous research shows that the Kindness Curriculum (KC) promotes children’s self-control, prosocial skills, and academic achievement. There is also evidence that mindfulness training reduces teachers’ stress and supports positive parenting.
What is our project doing?
In the summer of 2018 and 2019, teachers attended 26 hours of training about the Curriculum. In the fall of 2018, teachers began teaching the Curriculum in about half of the classrooms – the rest of the classrooms began the Curriculum in the fall of 2019.
The project is a collaborative community endeavor involving three CELC agencies (Bridges Child Enrichment Center, Even Start Family Literacy, and Head Start) and the University Children’s Center, three local universities, and the Center for Healthy Minds (CFHM) at UW Madison.
Our project assesses the impact of the Curriculum on children’s social-emotional, thinking, and behavioral skills. It also examines the impact teacher training and mindfulness-based parent and family opportunities. We also asked teachers and parents their impressions of the impact of the Curriculum.
How has the Curriculum helped children?
There are many exciting findings, so we’ll just highlight a few. Results showed that children (both preschool & 4K) who learned the Kindness Curriculum, showed positive gains including:
Stronger mental flexibility – e.g., they were better able to pay attention to important information.
Improved sharing behavior – e.g., they were more willing to share stickers with a sick child.
Stronger social-emotional competence – e.g., teachers perceived the children as kinder, better at helping and understanding others’ feelings.
Increased kindness & emotional control – e.g., parents reported that children did more acts of kindness at home & were better able to control their own emotions.
How has the training helped teachers?
Teachers reported many positives and great impact on their classrooms such as:
Teachers loved the training and appreciate the ongoing support offered by our mindfulness coaches.
Teachers reported less stress and burnout when they practiced mindfulness , and perceived increased acts of kindness between one another as co-workers.
Classroom impact: Teachers said children really engaged with the Curriculum, learned a lot, and displayed more acts of kindness to each other
Are there ways for parents to be involved?
Some parents took mindfulness classes at the CELC in 2018-19, and there are also online opportunities for families this year. Parents said:
The mindfulness classes were helpful, and that now they often use mindfulness practices/activities at home.
Many parents said that they would like to learn more about mindfulness, but it was hard for them to attend classes at night.
These early results are very encouraging and suggest that mindfulness training supports overall positive development for children and mental well-being for children, parents, and teachers.