Good character traits, such as respect, cooperation, and honesty, are arguably the most important things that children need to learn. These traits and others help students make good choices, develop self-esteem, and become responsible citizens and caring individuals. Educators aiming to implement character education lessons into their curriculum can find ideas here. Consider creating opportunities for discussion and modeling in your learning space.
Discuss Good Character vs. Bad Character
Put the importance of positive character traits into perspective for students by starting conversations about respect, honesty, responsibility, or teamwork. After listening to stories or examples, turn the conversation to character-related themes by asking leading questions such as:
- Why do you think your friend or classmate acted like that?
- What could you have done to help?
- Do you think that was the right thing to do? Why?
- How did that make you feel?
Tips for Modeling Good Character
Be a role model. Children imitate the adults in their lives. Take time to reflect on your words and actions to make sure you are portraying the character traits you want your students to develop.
Give them breathing room. Children—and adults— develop character when they experience things first-hand. When appropriate, take a step back and allow a student to solve his/her own disagreements with friends, make and fix his/her own mistakes, and deal with other real-life situations.
Offer Praise. Notice when students exhibit positive character behavior such as sharing toys, keeping their space clean, or holding the door open for someone who needs help. Praise them for showing generosity, responsibility, or caring.
Clear consequences should be communicated. All choices (positive or negative) have consequences. In order for these to be effective, they should be consistent and clearly understood by the students. Immediate consequences work best to reinforce positive behavior and deter negative behavior.
Character Building Activities
A direct way to incorporate discussion around building character is through classroom activities. This can help students in elementary, middle, and high school develop and examine positive character traits. Start the conversation and get students involved in activities that encourage the development of good character.
Social and Emotional Learning Resources and Tools
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is important for students of all ages. Relationship skills are an important part of character building and helping students to grow and succeed. Be sure to stop by the Social and Emotional Learning tag page to read more and visit the online store to find hundreds of great resources for educators wanting to support SEL initiatives.