Teaching character education in the classroom is crucial for several compelling reasons, as it goes beyond traditional academic learning and plays a pivotal role in shaping well-rounded, responsible, and empathetic individuals. Here are 6 of my favorite reasons why character education is important in the classroom:
1. Building a Strong Foundation: Character education lays the foundation for positive social behavior, ethical decision-making, and emotional intelligence. It helps students develop a moral compass, guiding them in making ethical choices both inside and outside the classroom.
2. Fostering a Positive Learning Environment: A classroom where respect, kindness, and empathy are practiced creates a positive and inclusive atmosphere. When students feel safe and respected, they are more likely to engage in learning, participate in class discussions, and collaborate with their peers, enhancing the overall educational experience.
3. Promoting Empathy and Understanding: Character education encourages students to understand and appreciate the perspectives, feelings, and experiences of others. It promotes empathy, tolerance, and acceptance of diversity, reducing incidents of bullying and discrimination. In a globalized world, fostering these qualities is essential for promoting harmony and cooperation among diverse cultures and backgrounds.
4. Enhancing Emotional Intelligence: Character education helps students develop emotional intelligence by teaching them to recognize, understand, and manage their emotions. This emotional awareness enables them to navigate social situations effectively, resolve conflicts, and develop healthy relationships, both in school and later in life.
5. Instilling a Sense of Responsibility: Character education teaches students the importance of taking responsibility for their actions. By emphasizing accountability and integrity, students learn that their choices have consequences and that they are accountable for their behavior. This understanding nurtures a sense of responsibility and self-discipline.
6. Preparing Students for Life Beyond School: While academic knowledge is essential, character education equips students with life skills that are equally vital for success in the real world. Employers and colleges often value qualities such as teamwork, leadership, integrity, and adaptability. By instilling these traits, character education prepares students for future challenges and responsibilities.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------- While as educators, we provide mini-lessons - even micro-lessons - all day, every day, it is still important to explicitly teach character education. I like to use world or national recognition days to amp up the enthusiasm for my students. For example, World Kindness Day falls on November 13 each year.
Students who can make connections to the lesson content are more confident and more comfortable opening up and sharing their feelings. I like to begin with a brainstorming activity to focus on what kindness looks like, sounds like and feels like - and what kindness is not.
Then, we read about World Kindness Day on a global scale. Our students are part of a world community and explaining that the world is focusing on being more kind should resonate with them. As with many of my informational readings, I have included a reading review puzzle to challenge students with.
It is possible to complete your learning about kindness over one day but I like to spread this resource out over a few days during this week.
So, the next day, I ask students to think about someone that is important to them. It could be a classmate, a friend outside of school or a family member. After a quick lesson on cinquain poetry, students write a cinquian poem that showcases their person of choice, using character traits, action words and and a kindness statement. Students write their poems on bunting banners that look beautiful across a bulletin board. I have changed up the message on the bulletin board over the years but have always liked the one I included in this resource, "KINDNESS IS OUR SUPERPOWER."
So how do we help students feel like they can contribute to a global movement? Well, it starts at home, with the routines they do everyday! In the final activities for this week long lesson, students will reflect on what they do on a daily basis and how they can make that action kinder. For example, if a child has a younger sibling, they can be kind to their parents by helping the sibling get ready in the morning. After eating a meal, they can be kind by helping to tidy up. The possibilities are endless! Lastly, students will reflect on one of five quotes, focused on kindness and write a journal response to the quote they chose.
This is just ONE of my favorite character education lessons I use year after year! Because it generates so many great discussions and I can refer to it all year long, I've started creating 5 more character education lessons that will be added to a growing bundle on TPT.
Looking for something quick? I have a free version of the cinquiain poem and bulletin board display available here.
Hopefully you will find this resource helps your students think, act and speak just a little bit more kindly.