I recently taught the concept of “paying it forward” to the kids in my son’s 4th grade class. The idea is to repay an act of kindness that someone has done for you by helping someone else in the future. It’s a way of promoting compassion and caring by taking concrete action.
The students had previously learned about heartfulness, with a focus on sending kind thoughts to others and to ourselves. I asked each child to think of someone they care about and to imagine this person smiling and feeling happy and healthy. Some of the kids chose to say out loud, “May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you have joy in your life.”
To develop the concept of paying it forward, we read the book When There Are No Words by Sandra Magsamen, which shows how people use actions and gestures to promote caring and connection with others. We talked about heartfulness, and each child picked someone to treat with special kindness and consideration during the upcoming week. I also gave the students Pay it Forward cards to encourage them to practice doing nice things for others and then asking those other people to pay it forward with a thoughtful act of their own. These exercises are perfect for Valentine’s Day and every day of the year.