Abundant research indicates the importance of school climate for student well-being, including factors related to school safety, such as mental health, aggression, substance use, and other risk behaviors. Relatedly, behavioral theories and research point to the profound importance of social norms and the behaviors of others in shaping one’s actions. In fact, researchers have found that context is so deeply influential that a single child’s behavior in different places was more varied than the behavior of multiple children in a single place. When we create contexts for our students that prioritize and teach kindness, we are creating contexts where positive social norms and kind behavior can thrive.
Instead of focusing on negative behaviors, the components of Kind Campus focus on the five core competencies of social-emotional learning described by Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): self-awareness, social awareness, responsible decision making, self-management, and relationship management. The Kind Campus program includes individual, classroom, and school-wide exercises in practicing kindness recognition, active gratitude, and intentional kindness towards oneself, one’s peers, one’s community, and one’s overall environment. Additionally, students are taught to recognize and acknowledge acts of kindness by others. Kind Campus activities are designed to be easily implemented during the school's normal routines. The activities are fun and build community within the school, making it appealing to students, as well as teachers, staff, and families.
Kind Campus practices and activities are intended to be embedded into the daily routines of school, becoming a “way of life” for the campus community. When the whole community focuses on practicing kindness together, opportunities to integrate kindness into existing routines and lessons become clear. Language arts teachers may pay special attention to the kindness or lack of kindness of a character in a novel or a poem, while a science teacher may use kindness as a way to explain the importance of honesty in research. Rather than relying on stand-alone lessons, Kind Campus provides a comprehensive, intentional, and proactive approach for developing social-emotional skills. The more teachers and other adult role models integrate intentional kindness practices into the regular curriculum and activities, the more profound the learning opportunities will be.