The Journal Gazette
Monday, March 16, 2020 1:00 am

Kids caught in kind acts develop a healthy habit

Julie Hoch

Kindness is a word you don't see too often in today's world.

We as adults need to watch every action we take and do it with kindness because we have children watching us constantly. They mimic how we act. They are like little sponges who soak up everything we do. Children see what they learn and act out that action.

By the age of 5, children have already learned most of their social skills. When many of these students start school, they have already been broken. These children are expected to learn academics by state standards, and they are already struggling through everyday life. There is no perfect parent, teacher or staff member.

We as a society need to take stock in our children's lives. There is so much going on in the adult world today that children are falling through the cracks.

We have a program at our elementary school called “Caught You.” This program is about rewarding acts of kindness.

Any staff member can give out these slips to any child. It could be an act of kindness to another student or adult, sympathy toward someone, managing strong emotions, solving a problem in a safe and respectful way, or being a good friend.

When a child receives a “Caught You” slip, their name is read on the morning announcements by the principal. The student comes down to receive his/her prize.

Their names are posted on a bulletin board then the slips end up linked to a chain with all the acts of kindness displayed in the lunchroom.

The chain at our school is around the whole length of the cafeteria. The children are so excited seeing all the kind acts our school has achieved.

When we give out the “Caught You” slips, students are usually shocked because they're so excited at the kindness we recognized in them. I wish we as adults could be that excited about kindness that we show toward others. Our staff have shown the children through their kindness that there are so many rewards to being kind and helping one another.

So many people want to talk about bullying in school and yes, sadly, it does happen. But I'm writing today to tell you there is a lot of kindness in our elementary school and in all schools. Just as they say bullying starts at home, I say kindness starts at home.

We as adults, not just parents, have a responsibility for how we treat others in private and in public. Little eyes are always watching and looking up to the adult role models.

Sometimes I go home from school at night sad because some of these students are craving so much attention and feel inadequate.

My family and friends asked me why I stay working at school with all the problems. I say you only hear about the negative; there is a lot of positive in our students today.

If we can help one student at a time by showing them that someone's there for them, then it's all worth it for us. I believe if you want to change the world, change it by one act of kindness every day.

Julie Hoch is a writer and works in education.

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