New curriculum in the Preschool and Lower School

During the 2022–23 school year, the Preschool and Lower School added the Random Acts of Kindness evidence-based curriculum to help support student social and emotional learning and contribute to individual well-being and positive classroom and community culture. This has continued during the 2023–24 school year, with all 28 prekindergarten through 4th grade classrooms utilizing this curriculum, which is rooted in the belief that all people can connect through kindness and that kindness can be taught.

Kindness starts each day

Each of the 28 prekindergarten through 4th grade classrooms incorporates the Random Acts of Kindness lesson components into a morning meeting time, which takes places at the start of the school day, from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m. Beginning every morning with these lessons sets the tone for positive interactions and strong classroom community each day. In each day’s mini lesson, students learn prosocial skills and explicitly define and discuss the values that all of us at USM share.

Inspire, empower, act, reflect, and share

The daily Random Acts of Kindness lessons incorporate lots of group discussion, real-life examples of people demonstrating character traits in the news, self-reflection exercises, and opportunities to collaborate with peers to process the concepts through hands-on mini projects. This learning follows an easy-to-understand format: inspire, empower, act, reflect, and share. The lessons also spiral through each Preschool and Lower School grade level, which means that they all address the same character traits—respect, caring, inclusiveness, integrity, responsibility, and courage—while building on and deepening the concepts year by year.

Effects beyond the classrooms

According to findings from other schools using the Random Acts of Kindness curriculum, teachers report feeling more of a connection with their students, and that they see more kindness, not only in their classrooms, but also in the halls, on the playgrounds, at lunch, and all around school. They also report noticing their students demonstrating more empathic, caring traits, as well as improved trust, more respect between the students, and generally a more positive classroom culture.