A Back-to-School Lesson in Kindness

READ A BOOK
The Buddy Bench, written by Patty Brozo and published this year, is a new story about an older idea that has made a difference for many children. Every playground has children who are lonely, children with disabilities, children who don’t fit in, children who are feeling sad or angry. Daily life is not easy for many of our young ones. There’s something we can do for those children. Buddy Benches are one solution that works. They remind us of the best solution — to teach our children to notice and care for others, to walk in another’s shoes. This book lesson offers a way to begin.

Brozo, Patty, and Mike Deas. The Buddy Bench. Tilbury House Publishers, 2019.

You can pick up the book at your local library, independent book store, or…

 

MAKE A FAITH CONNECTION

1. The children went out to play at recess.

  • What kind of fun did they have?
  • Some children weren’t having fun. Why not?

2. Some children were playing with a kite. Gabe wasn’t playing because he had a cast on his arm.

  • What happened that got him noticed?
  • Jake asked Gabe to play. What did Gabe do before he went to play with the kite.

3. Each left out child asked another who asked another who asked another.

  • What are some of the reasons these children weren’t playing?

4. When recess was over, Will asked the teacher for help solving a problem. Miss Mellon suggested the Buddy Bench and the children made one.

  • How does the Buddy Bench solve the problem?
  • What else could help solve the problem?

5. God loves you and God loves me. God loves every child no matter what they look like or what they can do or can’t do. That’s why we should help when someone is hurt, lonely, or sad. To be a good friend we have to pay attention and notice what is going on with someone else. When we do this we are acting like Jesus, God’s Son. Jesus helped many people who needed his help. He healed people who were sick and helped people who had problems. Just like Jesus, we can be kind to other people.

6. To be a good friend, you can notice what is happening to someone else and how that person is feeling. You can imagine what you would feel like if it were you. That is called “walking in someone else’s shoes”. We do this when we picture ourselves in the situation someone else is experiencing. Then we can do something to help. We can do something kind. This is a way to be a good friend and a way to make new friends.

  • What could you do to be kind to someone who had no one to play with on the playground?
  • What could you do to be kind to someone who forgot their snack?
  • What could you do to be kind to someone who had trouble walking?
  • What could you do to be kind to someone who had trouble talking?

HAVE SOME FUN
Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes.  This activity promotes social-emotional growth by encouraging children to notice and consider the feelings of others and to do something to make someone feel better.
Materials Needed: a pair of shoes to trace that are not the child’s own shoes, construction paper, crayons, markers, or paints to decorate the shoes after writing the steps

Instructions:

  1. Trace the pair of shoes on the construction paper. Trace each shoe two times so that there are 4 shoe prints.
  2. Cut out the 4 shoe prints.
  3. Write one sentence words on the shoes:
    1. I Can Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes
    2. I notice what is going on.
    3. I think about what that person is feeling.
    4. I do something kind to help.
  4. Decorate the shoes.
  5. Hang them up on the wall in a “walking pattern”. The shoes tell the steps to be a good friend by “walking in someone else’s shoes”!
  6. Role play some scenarios for Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes such as: a child who is alone on the playground during recess; a child who has a disability such as being blind, deaf, or unable to walk; a child who has a learning disability such as having difficulty reading, sitting still, or doing math.

SHARE A PRAYER
Dear Lord,
At school today…
May I walk in someone else’s shoes.
May I notice anyone who is feeling sad.May I notice anyone who is left out.
May I notice anyone who is having a bad day.
Help me
to help another person today.
Help me
to make a difference.
Help me
to be a good friend.
Amen.

EXPLORE SOME MORE 
Thoughts
Our children need to be encouraged to think about the feelings of others. Of course we want to do this, but often when we send them out into the world, especially at the beginning of a new school year, we sometimes become preoccupied with how they will do. Will they have friends, will they be loved? Will their teachers like them, care about them, know how special they are? What if they are left out? What if they don’t do well? What if they get hurt? These feelings are natural, but they are easily picked up on by children. Our anxiety ramps up their anxiety and before long it’s a mess. A wise grandmother once said, “When you’re feeling bad, do something for somebody quick.” No, it doesn’t solve all problems and we certainly don’t want to minimize situations which cause children pain. However, it can be helpful to encourage our children to notice and consider the situations and feelings of others — to walk in their shoes for a bit. This is the foundation of friendship, kindness, and inclusion. It is important for the social-emotional growth of our children; it can make relationship “drama” less dramatic; AND it makes the world a better place. That’s what Jesus did, crossing all class, national, religious, and cultural boundaries to do so. Our children can do it too.

Do you think a buddy bench would be helpful at your child’s school? The resources below can provide some insight in how to get it done.

Buddy Bench Resources:

  • The original buddy bench website which has the story of Christian Bucks, the 10 year old who launched the buddy bench idea in the United States. There are also many videos on this site that are good for children, as well as school personnel, etc.  Here’s the link…

              http://buddybench.org/what-is-the-buddy-bench/

  • Google “buddy bench” on YouTube to find many videos regarding this special project.

Word Every Catholic Should Know
friend: someone who wants the best for you. And you want what is good for your friend. A true friend wants only good things for you.

Relevant Scripture
John 5:1-15
Jesus heals a crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda. This is a good story to read aloud from a children’s Bible.

TALK-IT-UP (Use this question to spark family conversation this week, perhaps in the car or over dinner.)
Who did I notice today who needed me to be kind?

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