As a parent, teacher or student, a Happy Classroom is what we all want. I think we have been through enough change in the past 10 months with kids of all ages moving from in-class to remote learning at the touch of a hat. It has been important to have that flexibility to preserve and help the health of our communities and it has been hard. How can we work towards a happy classroom in 2021 as we weave through the changes of remote and in person learning? It is possible when we all work together, it is.
We are concerned about the well being of our students and children as we continue to navigate the ongoing changes of COVID 19 and political landscapes. Within the just the last year we have noticed changes in our children. Whether it be they are disengaged, their grades are decreasing, they have a lack of interest in studying or just have the inability to learn due to a lack of at home resources (computers, tablets, internet service). The very lack of social connection with their peers as they stay at home or have to socially distance has changed the social landscape our kids are used to. Heck adults are feeling this as well, and find it hard to cope. So why focus on a happy classroom through all of this? What will a happy classroom do for kids, teachers, parents and school staff?
For kids, a happy classroom with benefit them in more ways than just academically.
For parents, teachers, and school administrators, a happy classroom brings them benefits.
These very benefits are why schools across the globe are adding Social-Emotional Learning to our school curriculum. Understanding our children’s emotions, in addition to our children being able to recognize and verbalize how they are feeling when they get to school, enables educators to help flip the switch or attempt to navigate from sad, angry, frustrated, or hurt to a happier child.
For six decades, schools have been feeding children at school to prepare them for learning. These necessary programs have helped to prepare our children in fundamental ways for a rich classroom and positive learning environment. As we continue to meet these fundamental needs of thousands of kids that come to school hungry, we also have to feed the emotional needs of children to prepare them for learning. Both are essential services that will assist our kids in being the best they can be in their learning environments.
Remote learning, in person learning or homeschooling can all accomplish a happier classroom by doing one simple thing at the beginning of the day. Conduct one simple act of giving within your education environment to get students happier before they hit the books. One simple act of giving. Research shows that conducting one small act of giving will trigger an increase in our endorphins, happy hormones (dopamine and seratonin) while decreasing cortisol, our stress hormone.
What? That seems too easy. And what would be a simple act of giving? And how could you implement this through all your students in a class without taking up a good portion of the day?
Simple acts of giving like recycling items in your classroom, giving virtual hugs to each student, writing or drawing one note of gratitude to a parent, a school employee, or fellow classmates, growing and nurturing a small window sill garden to help the environment, or taking 5 minutes to clean up your workspace, can make a difference between a very unhappy child to a happier child. We are not expecting 100% happy the first day, but we are looking at a continued routine where children are engaged and present in completing one small act of giving to encourage moments of compassion, empathy, happiness and an understanding of how and what that feels and looks like. As we continue the routine (at any age) children will be able to move closer and closer to happiness as they understand how giving makes them happier.
It is a simple concept that proves itself over and over again.
Not sure about this happiness stuff through giving? Try it out on yourself first. Set out 7 gives you can do in one week. Smile at people on your first day, people you know and don’t know. Send a gratitude note to someone. Like a charities social media page or better yet, leave a positive comment on their social media feed. Donate a few used items to a local charity; clothes, towels, small furniture items, canned food. Phone someone you have not spoken to for a while and see how they are. Make a $5 donation to a local charity. Tip the delivery person at your next take out more than you would normally would.
There are endless small acts of giving you can do in a week. See how you feel each time you complete you give, and how this small action makes your day better, a lot lighter and makes you, happier.
Our educational program, The 365give Challenge, was originally designed for educators and their students. With easy to implement small acts of giving that seamlessly integrate with school curriculums, teachers and educators can shift our children’s state of mind from one emotion to a happier one. With the continued success of our simple program, families, individuals, community groups and workplaces are taking up the happiness challenge. If all your children are happy or if you feel happy every day conducting one small act of giving will encourage more happiness. Sign up for our free programs and give The 365give Challenge a try. “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all” – Aristotle.