Preschoolers Learn ‘Kindness Curriculum’

A new curriculum aims to teach children kindness and empathy along with traditional academic skills. 

Laura Pinger, (left) teaches children mindfulness-based techniques as part of the Kindness Curriculum research study, led by Lisa Flook (right) of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center. Photo: CIHM press release.

The focus of the “Kindness Curriculum,” now being tested in Madison schools, is three-fold: social and emotional learning, emotion regulation, and pro-social skills. “We hope developing these skills will increase social and emotional health and enable kids to be more available for learning,” teacher and researcher Laura Pinger told Mindful magazine for a feature story on well-being research conducted at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center.

A new study published in Developmental Psychology from Pinger and her colleagues demonstrates that children who had taken the Kindness Curriculum scored higher on tests of attention and social competence than children who didn’t receive the curriculm.

The curriculum, designed to help both children and teachers in the classroom, is a result of a collaboration between Lisa Flook, whose research interests include prevention and early intervention strategies to promote well-being early in life, and Pinger, who has 30 years’ teaching experience, including teaching mindfulness. (Renowned neuroscientist Richie Davidson was one of her students.)