Center for Healthy Minds offers 'Kindness Curriculum' to parents and teachers

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- UW-Madison's Center for Healthy Minds is working on a new approach to teaching kindness to children.

UW-Madison's Center for Healthy Minds offers a free download of the "Kindness Curriculum" to parents and teachers.

The Director of the Center for Healthy Minds, Dr. Richard Davidson, developed the mindfulness-based "Kindness Curriculum" for preschoolers to help them pay closer attention to their emotions.

"It's fundamentally no different than learning how to play the violin, or learning to do sports," Davidson said. "Part of the curriculum involves being able to tune into sensations in the body and learn to identify them and respond to them in an appropriate way."

One of the techniques he uses in class is belly breathing. He said parents can use this technique at home with their kids.

Davidson tested the curriculum on a group of preschoolers.

"We found that kids who went through the Kindness Curriculum behaved more altruistically," Davidson said.

He also found that the kids in the Kindness Curriculum had a better attention span, better grades, and showed a higher level of social competence.

Emily Golliher, an instructional coach, uses the Kindness Curriculum in her elementary school. She said she believes it is vital for child development.

"If we can spend time and teach students how to be kind to themselves and kind to others, that is just going to have a ripple effect across the school environment," she said.

The mindfulness-based curriculum is free to download from the Center for Healthy Minds website. It is available in both English and Spanish.

Davidson said the curriculum does not have to be limited to schools -- there are simple strategies that parents can try at home.