PBS Wisconsin Education’s ‘Kindness in the Classroom’ in action

January 25, 2022 Marci Glaus Leave a Comment

Marta Statz, the Community Early Learning Center (CELC)-Fox Valley Kindness Project coordinator and CELC building coordinator in Appleton, describes the center as the “one-stop-shop to early childhood.” 

The CELC brings together several agencies and resources in one building, including Even Start Family Literacy, Birth to 5, Early Intervention Program, Bridges Child Enrichment Center, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Head Start, and four-year-old kindergarten and developmental screenings.

PBS Wisconsin Education is partnering with the CELC to host an EdCamp for Curious Educators. There, early learning educators will gather to learn and share best practices and resources through peer-led conversations. The event will take place April 20, 2022, at the Building for Kids Children’s Museum in Appleton.

One of the CELC’s most successful programs for students is based on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Healthy Minds’ Kindness curriculum, supported by PBS Wisconsin Education with a series of instructional videos to help educators learn how to use it. The curriculum is a series of lessons developed and researched by the Center for Healthy Minds that has been shown to have a positive impact on academic performance, peer relationships and teacher-perceived social competence.

two children in a classroom watering a plant

CELC 4K students in Appleton modeling Kindness in the Classroom.

CELC teachers and families have noticed a positive change in the children they nurture. Children are sharing new insights at home about being kinder to themselves, their friends and family, living things and others.

Statz emphasizes the positive reach, “In 2021-22, the Kindness Curriculum will reach about 1,600 children between the approximately 700 children in our 42 classrooms and all of the Appleton Area School District 4K children.”

She notes the positive impacts in the larger community as well: “Becoming in tune with others and what others may need — it’s more than kindness — teaching about empathy, about peace and finding that within yourself and being okay with others making choices. We’re excited about the skills they are learning at this age because it’s growing in our community. People are paying attention to what we’re doing here — it’s important work and it matters.” 

The CELC Kindness Project continues to train and update teachers in Appleton and surrounding school districts. They support teachers in their own mindfulness practices while implementing the Kindness in the Classroom curriculum in their classrooms. They aid parents and do community outreach, providing family letters in multiple languages, while supplying materials, like board books and emotion cards, to support kindness lessons. 

Families are embracing the lessons with their children. Statz recalled a story of a three-year-old child who sat his mother at the center and talked her through listening and paying attention to her breath. Together, they completed the whole exercise. Amidst the services, screenings, therapies and programming families can easily access in this one building, kindness spreads. 

Learn more about Kindness in the Classroom and participate in your own guided mindfulness on the PBS Wisconsin Education Kindness in the Classroom website.

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