Take a few deep breaths and consider colleagues, friends, students, and strangers you might send good wishes to before you begin. If you like, you may try this Loving-Kindness Meditation that includes a script and audio recording.
This practice is a great way to make loving-kindness more concrete for elementary students, and can be infused into a variety of settings. It is also a powerful representation of what it means to move from an individual focus to a focus on the community.
Before you begin, have students get into pairs, such as simple classroom pairs or even multi-grade pairs with older and younger students serving as “buddies.”
Tell students that they will be practicing sending kind wishes to themselves and to others.
Ask them: Have you ever sent a kind message to yourself—or to someone else? What kinds of things did you say in your mind? (Have students share examples.) How did it make you feel to send those wishes from your heart? (Ask a few students to respond.)
Send a Kind Wish to Yourself.
Close or open your eyes. Find a comfortable position. You may want to try to sit up tall. Take a deep breath in and a deep breath out.
Think of one kind wish to send to yourself. It could be sending yourself Peace, Love, Courage, Hope, or the chance to just Be.
Breathe the kind wish deep into your heart and slowly breathe out.
Share a Kind Wish with Each Other
Now face your partner/buddy. You can sit knee to knee and look into each other’s eyes, or just sit across from each other while you focus on the floor.
Take a moment to think of one kind wish to say to each other.
Take turns sharing your kind wish with each other. (If students are paired in older/younger buddies, have the older buddy share their kind wish with the younger buddy. Then switch and have the younger buddy share their kind wish with the older buddy.)
Take a deep breath in together and a deep breath out.
Group Brainstorm—Kind Wish for the Greater Good.
Take a deep breath in and a deep breath out.
Take a moment and think of a kind wish to send to a person who could use a bit of love. This could be a grandparent or a teacher or it can be someone in need.
Raise your hand to share your kind wish with the group. (You can write these wishes on a whiteboard so the group can see the collective output.)
Group Kind Wish Breath into the World.
Take one breath in as a group.
Take in all the kind wishes that we shared in the room, and send a big community Kind Wish breath out into the world.
Ask students to reflect on this practice. What did they think of this exercise? How did it make them feel? When might they do this practice again? Why?
Mindful Littles Loving-Kindness Buddy Wishes. Mindful Littles is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to sparking compassionate action in youth and in communities through engaging service learning experiences and mindful well-being programs that foster resiliency, prosocial behavior, and improved mental health.
Reflection After the Practice
How did students respond to this practice? Do you notice if they are expressing more positive emotions or are more optimistic as a result?
The Research Behind It
Evidence That It Works
Researchers have discovered that toddlers as young as 14-months demonstrate a natural capacity for kindness, but this capacity must be nurtured through healthy relationships with adults and peers—the foundation of a positive school climate.
This practice, inspired by loving-kindness meditation (which has been found to have a positive impact on adults’ empathy, compassion, and social connection), cultivates young students’ innate kindness by asking them to send friendly wishes to the world.
“Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.”