Learning at Home: Kindness is Free

By Sherry Ann Heavin

By now you’ve established some type of routine while at home with your students. Even though it is far from our normal lives it is becoming an established routine. This week I want to address something besides lesson plans and web links to keep the students busy. This week can we practice kindness?
On every website I open, I read about sadness, loneliness and despair. There are death reports, COVID 19 newscasts, teachers missing their students, seniors missing their last few weeks of high school, and students that are missing their friends and teachers.  We can either decide to be a part of this huge problem or take an active stance against all the “bad news” in the world and work against the pandemic by showing kindness to one another. 
I will tell you another story of my very young years and my great grandparents. My Great Grandmother Pearl lived about 1/4-mile down the road from me. I spent a lot of time with her and Poppie Kirb. Her sister May lived across the road from her. May was a widow and had great difficulty with vision. I will never forget her sweet face. Many times, Grandma Pearl would send me to May’s to take her a plate of food, some scrap material (Aunt May made rag rugs), or something Grandma thought she needed. She’d advise me to watch the traffic, but to stay and visit with May as long as I wanted because she was lonely. It was true. I didn’t always want to go, but I did. Many times, when I arrived she’d have me read her the mail or the paper. We’d talk and laugh.  I loved visiting Aunt May. She was a kind soul and it made my heart happy to help her. By the time I left her house, I was happy, too. That’s what happens when we do good things for one another. It makes us both happy! Our world could sure use some happiness now.
This memory returns to me today, because I was thinking about how sad it is for teachers, students, seniors, elderly, and those that are friendless right now. Most everyone has an “Aunt May” somewhere or if they don’t they can find someone that needs a little attention in their neighborhood, local nursing home, or community. And although we have to keep our social distancing in place, we can still be kind to one another. So in honor of all the great teachers and students, this week we will practice kindness, thankfulness, and try to make the world a better place for our families, our neighbors, someone we don’t even know by being kind.   
What a great lesson that would be, to teach our children how to respond to “bad news” by being positive and doing what you can for someone else with just what you have on hand – a sheet of paper and a few crayons. That is a life lesson!
There are hundreds of people in nursing homes that do not have anyone visiting them right now.  Have the students write a letter and address it to Patient at your local nursing home (if you don’t have a name or know someone). Pick up sticks in your neighbor’s yard. Color pictures of sunshine and rainbows and mail to the grandparents you can’t see right now. Teach the children that there are two ways to respond to bad things in life either become negative or create your own happiness! I vote for creating happiness by practicing kindness!
We all know how to be kind…and, we will make it through this pandemic I’m sure…and it is up to us to decide if we will be better off on the other side of it or not. If we try to be an example of kindness for our children and teach them that no matter what adversity we endure in life - kindness is free and when we give it away we ALL feel better.    



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