Learning the value of kindness at school: how kids at One World International School Singapore do it

If kids are the leaders of the future, the students at this international school are set to create a world filled with compassion.

The wise Oscar Wilde once said, “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention”, and we wholeheartedly agree (and quietly wish we were as clever as he). When we took a closer look at the way One World International School (OWIS) teaches the value of kindness to its students, good old Oscar’s words really rang true. The approach is about teaching kids that all acts of kindness are valuable, no matter how small those acts may be. Imagine if we all went about our lives with kindness as second nature, rather than an afterthought? The team at One World is helping to raise generations of kids who will hopefully do exactly that. Let us show you how they go about it.


Kindness is a strong theme at One World International School.

The philosophy at OWIS has three components at its core: Learning, Relationships, and Values. The school holds these three components dear, and concentrates on each of them in everything they do, from lesson planning, to employing staff, to communicating with students and parents. So it’s only natural that as part of their focus on relationships, kindness comes through as a strong theme at the school. Here are some of the great things OWIS does to make sure of this:

The Great Kindness Challenge
OWIS believes in kindness to all, so it was a natural choice for the school to join The Kindness Movement. The big activity of the year is ‘The Great Kindness Challenge’, in which students perform as many ‘acts of kindness’ as they possibly can in a week, with help from a 50-item checklist. The school sets a fun daily theme, such as ‘Kick into gear and help someone near’, where kids wear odd socks and back-to-front shirts to school while helping others. The week culminates in a ‘Dance for good deeds: 80s and 90s disco day’ (and lordy, didn’t we need some kindness in our lives to get through the fashion of that era!). The challenge also takes place in more than 60 other countries, so students gain an understanding that it’s cool to be kind no matter where you are in the world.

Volunteering at Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen
OWIS believes that help is always needed both near and far, and strives to enable students to understand the world around them in order to become active, compassionate citizens. One of the initiatives they take part in is a volunteering drive at Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen, a non-profit social enterprise that provides daily meals and support to underprivileged and other marginalised members of the Singapore community. Students roll up their sleeves to peel garlic, get storage bags ready for the next day’s work, and put labels on food containers. The kids then share their experience with the whole school community to help inspire others to help in any way they can. OWIS also raises awareness and funds for organisations such as the Make a Wish Foundation.

Students volunteering at Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen.

Students volunteering at Willing Hearts soup kitchen.

The Personal, Social and Physical Education (PSPE) program
The PSPE aims to demonstrate the value of having balance in our lives and to be – as the school dubs it – “One with the World”. Students learn to appreciate that everyone needs intellectual, physical, and emotional wellbeing to thrive. And in doing so, the value of kindness shines through. The PSPE program includes simple things such as teachers supporting the younger students by asking them to ‘close their eyes and raise their hands’ if they’ve had a good/bad week, and then personally following up – in confidence, of course – to help them. It also involves lessons on social issues such as social media, migration, poverty, and child labour, which all require a compassionate approach.

After school clubs
Most schools have extra-curricular activities that kids can enjoy outside of normal school hours, but at One World, the teachers do this out of the kindness of their own hearts. They volunteer their time to give students a taste of different activities each term, such as yoga, choir, running, water colour painting, netball, and chess. While some of the kids might not realise this isn’t part of the teachers’ official ‘day jobs’, what better way to instill the value of kindness than to be a living example of it?

These are just a few of the ways OWIS tries to help grow kind and compassionate young people. We can’t help but wonder what type of world these kids could create in the future if they simply spread the philosophy of kindness through their everyday actions. We think Mr Wilde would be proud.


This post is sponsored by One World International School.