The BASIS International Schools network in China have gone the extra mile to introduce the tools our students need to promote positive mental health both within themselves and amongst their peers. BASIS International School Guangzhou has demonstrated their support with a social-emotional learning initiative, both in and out of the classroom, through random acts of kindness lessons and peer resources. In reflection of World Mental Health Day, it’s important to highlight these examples of how vital efforts are to protect and improve mental health.
An ECE Initiative: Random Acts of Kindness
From: Ms. Suvi Xu, Dean of ECE, BASIS International School Guangzhou
How do we reinforce social-emotional learning in early childhood education (ECE)? We follow the curriculum called RAK (Random Acts of Kindness). RAK is an evidenced-based social emotional learning curriculum designed to help schools and classrooms create a culture of kindness. The mission is to make kindness the norm. We follow the 6 pillars of character from RAK. They are: respect, caring, inclusiveness, integrity, responsibility and courage.
I taught the first mini-lesson about caring, while “Caring Chloe” came to all the ECE classrooms and introduced herself. She read a book about different feelings, discussed how to express our emotions, as well as sang a feelings song with ECE students. Caring Chloe even recorded the song and uploaded it on Seesaw for students to practice at home.
There was a scenario-play activity during the lesson. Caring Chloe started to get mad. Some kids came to hug her; some came to pat her back and say “it’s okay, you will be fine”; and some were trying to give her a toy to make her laugh! Through this lesson, kids learned different emotions and how to deal with them appropriately. No matter how you feel, don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Share them with someone who loves you.
The lessons ECE students learn go on to impact how they will handle their emotions as well as how their emotions will impact others. The random acts of kindness learned in ECE are shown through the positive interactions such as the middle school buddy system.
Positive Impact of the Buddy System
From: Ms. Charlene Schalkwyk, BASIS International School Guangzhou
Transitioning to a new school is tough to do. Whether changing from elementary to middle school or starting fresh in a brand-new school, the challenges are real. BASIS International Guangzhou Middle School welcomed more than thirty new students this year, who are adapting to a variety of novelties, while trying to make new friends. One of the support initiatives launched is a buddy system whereby returning student volunteers helped new students in their class with this process. Even opening a locker can be a daunting thing if it is your first time using one.
At the end of the second week, middle school management, Dr. Willette, Dr. Lanz, and Ms. Janet and I, invited all the newbies to the office. Without a reason for the gathering, they entered hesitantly, suspicion written all over their faces. In typical Dr. Willette-style, he kept them in the dark until a trolley filled with pizza boxes appeared and the mouth-watering aroma permeated the air. The frowns made way for ear-to-ear smiles!
While slices of pizza where shared amongst students, it gave the management team the opportunity to hear the stories about their BIGZ experience. They talked of their favorite teachers and expressed appreciation for fellow students who took them by the hand during the transition.
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