We hear a lot today about the decline in moral standards, disrespect for weaker or more vulnerable members of society, the culture of 'me first' and about how young people don't seem to care for or listen to the more mature adults around them. Our society doesn't have to be like this, though, and there is a movement towards reversing these trends through Character Education. This is not an 'easy answer,' but provides long-term solutions that address moral, ethical, and academic issues that are of growing concern to everyone.
Character education is the fostering of ethical, responsible, and caring young people by modeling and teaching good character through emphasis on universal values that are common to us all such as caring, honesty, fairness, responsibility, and respect for self and others. Good character does not develop automatically; rather it must be nurtured over time through a continual process of teaching, example, learning, and practice - that is what I believe to be character education.
Teaching good character is especially important today as our youngsters are exposed to many opportunities, but also dangers unknown to their parents and grandparents. They are bombarded with many more negative influences through the media and other external sources prevalent in modern society. Character education doesn't have to be boring though, kids don't like to be preached at and are much less likely to listen to and absorb messages they don't enjoy hearing. Parents and/or primary care takers are of course the main, and most important moral educators of children’s character. But as the pressures of balancing work and home life impact upon the time that families spend together it’s more important than ever that caring parents feel confident to deal with moral issues, and that they have the right tools to help them do so in a fun way.
We all know that kids can have a short attention span, and certainly prefer fun activities to being lectured in a serious, and, dare I say - boring fashion! Kids, like the rest of us, learn in different ways too, so it’s vital to get your message across in different media, some prefer to read, others learn through 'doing' whilst others like to watch and listen. Schools are also very important in nurturing and developing children of good character, through their character education programs. But it’s vital that this teaching is reinforced at home - after all children learn by copying others, so if they realize that good character is important to their parents, they're more likely to think of it as being important for themselves. A person of character:
• Is a 'good' person - someone that kids will look up to, admire and try to emulate • Sets a good example • Is honest, trustworthy, reliable and caring • Understands the difference between right and wrong and always tries to do the right thing, even if it’s difficult • Tries to make the world a better place.
Sounds hard, but educating the heart is just as important as academic education. It’s important that you have the right tools and materials - books, games, activities, audio are all good ways of communicating with your kids, offering various routes to growing your ‘Kids of Character.’ I learned so much of this the hard way during my working life, being a parent myself and from my own mom, and now I’m so happy to be able to offer you the complete 'Kids of Character' package - a collection of books and other activities which give you the toolbox you need to help your child develop the way you want. Just click on the link to my website in the resource box below.
Ellie Dixon lives in deepest rural Devon, England with her husband and two very large Newfoundland dogs. She is passionate about vintage illustrated children's books and loves to restore and edit them for today's kids to rediscover. Visit Kids of Character", a unique range of beautiful illustrated books and fun activities all designed to help parents grow responsible, trustworthy kids of good character, or for even more great books visit Scruffy's Bookshop, Ellie's main website.