by guest blogger, Joni Downey, Characters of Character
Character education was never mentioned while I was growing up, my parents taught us to use polite words like, ‘Please’, ‘Thank You’ or ‘Excuse Me’. This was called having Manners. When family or friends came over to our home, we always said, “hello” and “good-bye” or “It’s nice to see you”, that was called Respect. After school, even though we had Girl Scouts or Softball Practice, we came home and knew to do our homework and chores. This is called Responsibility
In today’s world so many things have changed since when we were raised, and will continue to change I’m sure. When a child acquires a strong foundation early in life, they will become a strong structure and member of society for life. Teaching your child at an early age makes the best sense, don’t be discouraged, follow through. Of course they will test you, be tested. Know that you are building this amazing structure from the ground up and that this structure will be seen by others and have influence on others. This structure will not always make good choices, probably hate you at one point, disappoint you at sometime, get led astray and even fail at one point, build it anyways. Build it strong with confidence. Build it with respect. Build it in good health. Build it to persevere. Build it to be responsible. Build it to be kind to others, to be caring and compassionate. Open the windows to this structure, allow them to feel how wonderful it feels to be there for another person and to be accepted as a good person.
As a parent, artist and educator, I created the following characters which earned an award! Meet: Behavior Bear who teaches children that good behavior is a characteristic to portray at home, at school, and at play. Do’er Duck who teaches persistence, although difficult at times, is always the key to achieving your goals. Friendship Frog, who teaches that honesty is part of creating and maintaining a friendship. Healthy Hippo, who teaches that drugs are a bad influence and that being healthy entails maintaining an equally healthy mind and lifestyle. Manners Monkey, who teaches children that minding their manners can lead to successful friendships. Respectful Rabbit, who teaches that respect should be demonstrated towards all people, and emphasizes the old adage, “Treat others as you would like to be treated”. Responsible Rabbit, who teaches that being responsible is part of being a good friend, family member, and citizen in your community. Self-Esteem Elephant, who teaches that being proud of who you are creates a better self-image and work ethic. And, Warm-Hearted Walrus, who teaches that having a warm heart and being kind creates a better environment for yourself and for others around you.
Principal Jen Glickley had this to say about the characters; “They have made an incredible impact on our students, and has really helped to improve the climate and culture of our school.” School Psychologist Kathi Patton Strott had this to say; “This program is an exceptional cornerstone for teaching social skills and tolerance to children.” Parent, Kathy said that thanks to Healthy Hippo, she no longer has to argue with her kids to eat their vegetables. The First Lady, Michelle Obama had this to say; “We are at a critical moment in our Nation’s history, and we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to solve the problems that we face”. The U.S. Department of Education had this to say: “People like you who identify a need and develop programs like yours are vital resources to teachers, parents, students and the community at large. We encourage you to continue to share your program and activities and products.”
I think we can all agree that teaching our children vital core values will be beneficial to everyone, especially the future. So, again, use vocabulary, be positive with them and let them also learn the consequences for misbehaving. Model good character and let your actions speak louder than words.
One day you will step back and look at this amazing structure and if you have given it a strong foundation and did your best from the ground up, then you have given your child the tools which will last for a lifetime. There is a balance to building a strong structure, if you begin early, never give up, and respect your plan, your structure will be seen by the world as nothing short of amazing. You lay the foundation for your child to grow on, be understanding, be patient and be a positive role model. www.charactersofcharacter.org