Character building in students is important work done by educators each day that typically goes unnoticed by most. Good character traits are often the result of the teamwork between children, their caregivers, and their school influences.
The path to strong student leaders who have a positive character no matter what adverse events may have happened in their lifetime is one in which we all hope the true meaning of education lies. If we can help a typical child’s development to participate in acts of kindness within their world, then we are encouraging the best world for which our children will grow up.
What is character building for students?
Character building activities are often overlooked because they are not assessed. What a new concept to me: What if the ultimate assessment in the classroom was how much each child shares his or her goodness with others?
We see so many negative activities in the world, yet there are still so many good things that happen each day which are overlooked in mainstream media. Even children notice these things. How do we expect them to share kindness with others if their only input is of violence and selfishness?
As educators, we have the ability to shape the minds AND souls of our students. The job isn’t particularly easy, but if we can model what we wish to see of them, perhaps they will in turn, show us what we most long to see.
How does education build character?
Let’s take a look at a few great examples below:
Appreciation Station: “After students were done eating, they could come to the Appreciation Station to write a thank you note to any adult helper in the building—not just teachers and aides, but also bus drivers, office staff, lunch monitors, the custodians, etc.”
Character Development Cards: “This is a fantastic activity for the dinner table and the cards can be used for children 3-12. Ask each child a different question or pick just one card to talk about.”
C.H.I.P. Awards: “The CHIP (stands for Caring, Helpful, Independent, Polite, Person) trophy is a shrunken chip bag glued atop a red Solo cup with a label taped to the front. Every year as I burn my knuckles smacking down shrinking chip bags in the oven, my husband wonders aloud, “Is that really worth it?” The answer — ABSOLUTELY! For nine years I used the CHIP trophy and I can attest to its power.”
A couple of extra ideas you could also implement in your classroom to help with character development:
- Have a lunch bunch of rotating students that eat with you in your classroom once a week for a month. I like this group to be no more than 3-5 students and it really gives you a chance to talk with them about things that are really going on in their lives.
- Create a schoolwide newspaper. Your student reporter’s task is to find out all the GOOD things that others are doing in and after school and share those with the student body.
- Assign “fun” homework on the weekend, such as do an extra chore without being asked or read a favorite book to a younger sibling. One of my students’ (and parents’) faves was the “give someone at home a hug this weekend.”
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What are some ways you build students’ character in your classroom? Share your ideas in the comments below – thanks!
Here’s to educating young minds and kind hearts,