Building Skills in Emotional Intelligence
Character Education is an essential part of any school experience. It should be taught both at school and at home.
What is character education? It is a systematic plan to name and develop positive virtues in children with the goal of improving character.
Emotional intelligence skills can and should be taught to young children. Programs like SEAL (Social Emotional Aspects of Learning) in the UK or the CASEL organization explore the positive outcomes of social emotional learning in the classroom. These types of programs are now often a requirement in many countries school systems as people realize the importance of learning these skills.
Terms such as values education, life skills and character education are often used interchangeably but it important to clarify what is meant by each term in your own contexts.
Activities to Develop Character
Here are some quick character education resources to use at home or school:
1. Have a box of quotes. Keep the quotes in a box and let your child pull one out of the box at a certain time of the day, e.g. at dinner, before bed. Discuss the quote and what it means to your family.
2. Hold family meetings. Set a time each week when you can sit down as a family and share your ideas. A nice way to make these productive is to use : Two stars and a wish...for example...I really liked the way my sister helped me tidy up the toy cupboard, I really liked the way dad spent time with me riding my bike and I wish that everyone could let me think for a few seconds when they ask me a question before expecting the answer.
3.Explore a value of the week or month. Model this value, talk about it, link it to lessons at school or discuss how it relates to your family.
4. Get involved with community service. Volunteering with your children is a great way to share in giving back to society while helping your child learn about different situations and to experience the joy of giving back. School projects to help the community are also a great way for teachers to bring community service to the classroom.
5. Use bibliotherapy to learn more about virtues and values. Read the stories and then discuss the ethical ideas in the story plot.
Find books about character education here.
Adults and children need to develop skills such as
Examples of Virtues
Ambition, bravery, compassion, dependability, empathy, forgiveness, gratitude, happiness, imagination, justice, kindness, love, mercy, neatness, optimism, patience, reliability, sharing, tolerance, vision, wisdom
Finally remember that building character is not an add-on activity. It is something that can be integrated into your daily life whether at home or school.
Look around you and find opportunities to teach your children these values or virtues. Some people try to argueagainst character education at school saying that it is only the parent's responsibility, however, in this time of declining values it is a much needed addition to any school curriculum.
Go ahead, help a child to make a difference today!