A Cork school has abandoned homework this month and instead replaced it with acts of kindness.
Formal homework has been suspended again for December at Gaelscoil Mhichil Ui Choileain in Clonakilty for the third year running.
Instead, pupils are being asked to carry out acts of kindness for others in their family and the community.
The students have been asked to record their acts of kindness in a special “Dialann Cineáltais” (Kindness Diary) which each pupil will fill in daily and then get signed by their parents.
In a Facebook post, the school said that it is building on the “overwhelming success and positivity” of last year’s Gratitude Diaries, when children and their families documented the small things they are grateful for in their lives.
This year they are asked to take a proactive approach and undertake little acts of kindness that could make a big difference in somebody’s life.
Vice principal Íde Ní Mhuirí explained:
“We are encouraging our pupils to think of the real spirit of Christmas, the spirit of kindness and giving.
“With such an emphasis on the materialistic and commercial aspect of Christmas, we often tend to overlook what it’s really all about: Good will.
“Unfortunately not everyone is in a position to be able to enjoy Christmas - some are lonely, some are sad, some might yearn for what they do not have and some might simply not enjoy the festivities.
“But there is nobody in this world who wouldn’t benefit from an act of kindness, and the joy of kindness is that it costs nothing.” Suggested acts of kindness this year include students visiting or sending a Christmas card to an elderly neighbour or relative who may be lonely; helping out with household chores at home; undertaking random acts of kindness to brighten the lives of those around them and make somebody’s day a better one; an act of self-care to promote self-esteem and positivity; or spending some time doing something they love which makes them feel good about themselves.
Alongside this Kindness Diary initiative, there will be a “Buicéad Cineáltais” (kindness bucket) in school, where the children can place kind “observations" about their peers which the school hopes will boost the self-esteem of those around them.
Each Friday morning at the assembly a random selection of these observations will be shared to emphasise how small acts and kind words can make huge differences in somebody’s life.
Another initiative is the Class Kindness Act which will see each class propose a unique way in which they collectively can make this Christmas season better for their community.
“In this world, consumed by social media, where our young people are constantly experiencing pressure, there is no better way to show them the way forward in the world than by practicing kindness,” explained vice principal Ní Mhuirí.
“Our message to the children is very simple: They can be the reason somebody smiles today and they can definitely help make this world a better place for others and for themselves.
“This Christmas we hope our páistí won’t feel the need to buy expensive gifts for others, instead choosing to better the lives of those around them by giving a little of themselves,” she added.
“We are very grateful to the parents in our school who have embraced our mental health, gratitude, fitness and exercise initiatives thus far.
“It is with their continued support that we can hope to make páistí na scoile kind-hearted, proud, happy and well-rounded citizens and equip them with those life skills that shape their being, long after they have left school.
“We hope that this new Kindness Initiative will make the preparation for Christmas all the more meaningful and special.”