Learning Goal

Students will learn the value and form of an appropriate effective apology.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the lessons, students will be able to:

  • Identify the benefits of apologizing
  • Identify when an apology is ill-timed, inauthentic, or incomplete
  • Use the steps for making an effective apology
  • Name reasons it can be difficult to apologize

Learning Summary

This week’s lesson is on apologizing, a precursor to the lesson on conflict resolution. Children (and adults) can struggle to apologize, especially if they’ve never been taught how to do it. This lesson teaches students five steps to apologize: 1) calm down and think; 2) say what you did and why it hurt the other person; 3) ask how you can fix things and say how you’ll do better next time; 4) say you hope they can forgive you; 5) and give the person time to feel better.

This lesson starts with a mindfulness breath in which students breathe in and out while tracing their hand, followed by a discussion of why apologies are important and who benefits from them. While students will likely recognize that apologies are part of repairing harm done to someone, there are also benefits to the apologizer.
Students will also discuss why it can be hard to apologize. You’ll then teach/review the recommended steps of apologizing, shown below. (Note, if your class or school has its own apology or restorative justice system, use that in place of the 5 steps we suggest.) Students then reflect on what the hardest part of an apology is.

computer icon    Online Teaching Tips for Apologizing

This lesson centers on apologizing, something well-suited for practice at home.

Open a word document and share your screen so students can follow along as you take notes through the activity on the benefits and challenges of apologizing. After the apologizing steps have been taught, ask for a few students to volunteer to turn their cameras on and practice the steps with a classmate.

As the activity is discussion-based and encourages students to share their own ideas of what makes a good apology, pose the questions in the lesson plan about the benefits of an apology and what makes an effective apology. Have students pause the video and write down five things for each question,then unpause and continue the video. When they unpause, you will share out some of the big ideas from the lesson plan and ask students to add to their list or put a checkmark by any ideas they had that you also shared. 

Skip the practicing apology activity and use the additional activity scenario cards for independent work.

Lesson Plan


Additional Resources

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CASEL Competencies

Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The ability to understand social and ethical norms for behavior and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. The ability to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed.