Let’s be honest: nearly all kids—from tots to teens—stretch the truth and for all sorts of reasons: avoid punishment, make themselves look or feel better, get out of a task, keep their friend out of trouble, and start lying as young as two or three. Occasional lying is an almost expected part of child development, but whether dishonesty becomes a habit depends largely on how we respond to that lie. Statistics show we may not be doing such a good job.Read More
What's Happening in Character?
As a staff, we believe in practicing what you preach, and as such we often reflect on our own core values. When we drill down to the root of it, many of us come to find that it was indeed our family who instilled the values we've come to know, love and live by. Below, you'll find stories from some of the Character.org team and how our families influenced our character.Read More
REALITY CHECK: During the past decades, the U.S. prison population skyrocketed, and so did the number of children experiencing the consequences of having a parent incarcerated. From just 1980 to 2000, the number of kids with a father in prison or jail rose by 500 percent.
Today more than five million children in the USA have a parent who is incarcerated.
The number of women in prison has also increased dramatically which poses a marked risk on children: incarcerated women are much more likely than their male counterparts to be primary caregivers of minor children at the time of their imprisonment. Derek Kreager, professor of sociology and criminology at Penn State points out: “Previous research indicates that if a mother becomes incarcerated, it increases the child’s risk of entry into the foster care system, which can further disrupt child well-being.”
I strongly suggest you watch Ava DuVernay’s powerful new documentary “13TH” about our broken prison system. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world.
America is home to 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of the prison population.Read More
By Kris Yankee, Co-Founder, High 5 for Character
Summer reading was always an escape for me. I read as much as I could and as often as I was able. The Nancy Drew Mysteries series was one of my favorites. I loved that there were twists and turns, and even though it was always possible that Nancy wouldn’t solve the mystery, I was still so happy in the end when she did. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was learning trustworthiness, reliability, responsibility, friendship, integrity, and many other character traits that are so important to the formation of young minds. I was just having fun reading!
As a parent, I wanted to instill the love of reading in my kids. Every night, my husband and I would each take turns reading with both of our sons when they were very young. We had so many books to choose from! We’d read one of our many Dr. Seuss or Harold and the Purple Crayon books. Our boys loved the Veggie Tales stories, Thomas the Tank Engine, and the Berenstain Bear books. I secretly loved reading the Laura Joffe Numeroff books If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Give a Pig a Pancake.
We spent quality time with our sons, making memories that none of us will forget. And…the boys were entertained but they were also learning about confidence, creativity, purpose, responsibility, friendship, integrity, and trustworthiness. My husband and I wanted our kids to have a sense of positive character and we made sure that the books that we read to them exuded those principles.
Once our boys were a bit older, our reading time together changed. They wanted to read on their own (which was fine by me) and the books they chose usually were in line with the standards we had created. Occasionally when each would bring home a book that I thought was a bit too silly, each would be able to tell me something redeeming about it, i.e., “It’s so funny, it cracks me up every time I read it” or “The pictures are so cool.” But really, how could I complain? They were READING! Still, though, I felt that they were making positive choices and the books continued to contain positive, or at least redeeming, character qualities.
As an author, I’m often asked what inspired me to write. My resounding answer is always, “My boys!” Then to add to that…all of the other kids who are out there. I believe that books are so important and that when kids are reading “good stuff,” they will imitate and emulate “good stuff.” A well-written story can really effect a child, making that child believe that he or she is one of the characters or is taking part in the world created by the author. How cool is it to soar through the sky or hang upside down in a tree in a jungle or be as small as a mouse and scurry across the floor!Read More
The majority of parents admit their kids are in front of that TV more than they’d like, but with summer here that could pose a special problem: How to get the kiddos off the couch so they experience something other than TV these next months.
Beware: it’s easy for kids (and us) to fall into the additive habit of spending too much time in front of the boob tube. But there are dangers to our children’s emotional, physical, cognitive, and social development that we should consider. The fact is the more kids watch TV, the more time is lost
for nurturing creativity, learning sports or hobbies, reading and expanding their knowledge, playing in the great outdoors, practicing social skills, or just finding ways to entertain and enjoy themselves. Those key “Family connecting moments” are lost, as are other crucial life lessons and just experiencing those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer.
By Carey Casey
Leading up to Father’s Day, there’s a national campaign to remind fathers of the important role they play in their children’s lives. It uses a common phrase for its slogan: quality time.
I endorse this, because we need dads embracing their roles, spending time with their kids, and making memories together. And time is one of the most important, basic commitments that a father makes. Quality time with your kids is a great goal.
At the same time, I hope that term doesn’t give you the wrong idea as a dad ...
Brennan Woods Elementary School – High Ridge, MO
Program: Grandparents’ Luau
The teachers at Brennan Woods Elementary School in High Ridge, Missouri, developed a Promising Practice event that honors grandparents, called the Grandparents’ Luau. The grandparents of second graders at Brennen Woods are invited to a luau every September. The second-grade teachers plan activities for the children to take part in with their grandparents. The grandparents also have the opportunity to see items their grandchildren have created.
The senseless school shooting that happened Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the small town of Newtown, Connecticut is every parent’s nightmare. My heart breaks, as I’m sure yours does, when I think about these families. As of this moment [written 12/14/12] 28 people, 20 of whom were children between four and ten years of age, have died. All of us-including our children-are trying to make sense of the unimaginable. If you’re a parent or a teacher you may be wondering how to talk about this tragedy with your children. Here are a few tips I hope will help you have a most difficult but necessary conversation. Gauge these pointers to the age and maturity of your child.
Children constantly strive for independence from the time they begin walking to the time they move out of the house, but parents continually stifle that quest for freedom. How? By telling their children what they should do, how they should do it, and where that should happen. You’ve probably been there with your child whose homework wasn’t turned in on time. You tell your child he needs to finish homework before play. You tell your child that she should do homework without the TV playing in the background. You tell him that he needs to do his homework in the kitchen so you can watch as he finishes. Translate that into your own work world. One day you’re late for work because of an accident on the expressway. Your boss tells you that you should leave earlier to plan for accidents. She tells you that you need to plan an alternative route before the accident happens so you’re prepared. Or your boss might actually tell you get one of those new Apps for your phone that warns you when you need to leave to avoid the accident. Say what? Who is she to tell me you to live your life? How do you feel about such an overbearing, demanding boss? Your children feel the same way when you constantly tell them what to do.
There’s something about the Thanksgiving season that tunes up my “reflective switch” and makes me think a bit more about our children. I worry that over the years we’ve removed ourselves a bit as a society from the real meaning of this glorious holiday. We’re seeing an upsurge–even in a recession–of kids who are a bit too spoiled, a bit too unappreciative, and a bit more ungrateful for all the good things life has to offer.
We just wrapped up an outstanding first day at the 2012 the National Forum on Character Education - #cep2012. The day was filled with lots of excitement and energy.
CEP VISION STATEMENT
Young people everywhere who are educated, inspired and empowered to be ethical and engaged citizens.
CEP MISSION STATEMENT
Providing the vision, leadership and resources for schools, families and communities to develop ethical citizens committed to building a just and caring world.
Exciting times for CEP! On August 27th, we officially entered our 20th year of operation. To mark this milestone and further honor the enduring legacy of our late founder, Sanford McDonnell, we have expanded our mission and vision now to include families and communities, everywhere!
When my oldest son, Chad, was fourteen, he started a service learning project and was able to secure free medical and dental care for local children in our community who had no insurance. The lessons that Chad experienced as a teen stuck with him and now, at age 38, as a young pediatric plastic surgeon, those experiences are ingrained in him as he continues along his life journey. He just returned from his sixth trip to Haiti to help children who required surgeries following the devastating earthquake that happened in 2010.
“I tried to stay calm, but it was too late!”
“I wish I could tell when I’m about to explode.”
“Don’t keep telling me I’m going to lose all my friends because of my temper. I can’t help it.”
Your child may be more excitable or passionate by nature, but sometimes this emotional temperament can get out of control.
Though you can’t change your kid’s basic personality, you can teach him some strategies and skills to help him get along and handle intense feelings. And there are important reasons to do so.
Let’s face it, hot tempers can cause serious damage in health, relationships, school, life, as well as ruin your kid’s reputation. Unless kids learn ways to recognize their own unique danger signs of control their anger, problems are inevitable. After all, hot-tempered kids are no fun to be around.
New studies show that hot-tempered kids are also more likely to be bullied or be a bully.
All good reasons to work on this issue problem A.S.A.P. And what better time than during the summer? Here are ways to work on bully prevention and ensure your child keeps his or her cool.
The infamous “summer reading slump” is well documented and shows that learning declines in most kids during these lazy, crazy days, but especially so in reading.
Kent State education professor, Timothy Rasinski, points out that this can mean a loss in a child’s reading achievement of almost one-and-a-half years through sixth grade!
But don’t despair. The reverse is also possible. Reading just a few books before school starts can save kids from a summer reading loss. Studies also show that parents can play a crucial role in curbing that drop, particularly on older kids’ reading attitudes and behaviors.
9 Ways to Help Kids Beat the Summer Reading Slump
Here are nine parenting solutions I shared on the TODAY show to get kids reading, beat the dreaded summer reading slump, and hopefully even rekindle that great love of the printed page.
1. Let them pick. A study by Scholastic found that 89% of kids say their favorite books are the ones that they pick out. Kids also say a big reason they don’t read is that they don’t like what we selected for them. So get your child involved in the selection.
by Michele Borba
REALITY CHECK: Empathy is the moral virtue that helps children “identify with and feel other people’s concerns.” When they do, they are more likely to reach out and respond in more caring, compassionate ways to others. Unlike genetics or appearance or most temperaments, empathy can be cultivated, and research shows that infants are already hard-wired. The best way to nurture empathy is for children to witness or experience it.
So now review the last few days: What has your child done or seen that would stretch — or shrink — his or her empathy growth?
The Power of Experiencing and Witnessing Empathy
Several years ago, our youngest son brought home a note from his teacher asking for parent volunteers to chaperone a class field trip. His teacher, Cindy Hollinger, was encouraging her students to give up their Saturday morning to participate in a race called “Lauren’s Run” sponsored by the City of Hope. The event was held in the memory of Lauren Zagoria, a three-year old child who died from cancer. Her parents, Janis and Marvin Zagoria, founded the event in her memory and honor and were committed to finding the cure for the disease that took their beautiful child from them.
Our local event was held on a large open field. Each racer would pay an entrance fee of a few dollars, and all the profits would go to pediatric cancer research. Volunteering to drive to that event was one of the easiest decisions I’ve made.
Parenting advice to curb irresponsibility, excuses and “blame games” and boost trustworthiness, accountability and kid responsibility
Any of these sound familiar?
“Take care of this for me.”
“It wasn’t my fault.”
“I did some of it, but I left it on the bus.”
“I don’t know where I put it.”
They are statements of irresponsible kids and part of a growing trend I call the “Big Brat Factor.” Kids with an irresponsible attitude rarely stop to consider how their actions affect others, and so their attitude is selfish. The world revolves around them, so someone else will—(and should in their minds)–do their jobs, wake them up, find their toys, and replace lost items they “misplaced.” If they do err, they usually never admit their mistakes, apologize, or take ownership. After all, “It’s someone else’s fault.” In fact, usually everyone but them is responsible for their irresponsibility.
If this attitude isn’t turned around, it will dramatically impact every area in our kids’ present and future lives: academic, moral, professional, emotional and social.
The replacement attitudes of responsibility, trustworthiness, and reliability are essential for our kids’ moral character and future well-being. So let’s get started!
REALITY CHECK: The family is the first school of virtue.
Even in our increasingly toxic culture, parents can still have the inside track in their children’s development because parents are their children’s first and most important moral teachers. That premise only applies, though, if parents choose to use their moral influence.
Remember, children do not acquire strong character in one-time lectures, but in daily teachable moments. So take advantage of everyday moments to stretch your child’s character and there are dozens!
“You have a new friend in your classroom. How do you think he feels not knowing
anyone? What could you do to help him feel less lonely?”
“Listen to the lyrics on that CD. Do you want others to think girls should be talked
about and treated that way?”
“Was that helpful or hurtful? In our home we only do things that will build people
up – not tear them down. What will you do to make amends to your friend?”
I had the great fortune of being raised by a loving family. They instilled in me certain values that shaped me into the person I am today. None of the adults in my family had much of a formal education though. My grandfather, for example, came to our country at the age of 10 with about a fifth grade education. He was a water boy on the railroad and later became a shoemaker.
My father never graduated from high school either. He fixed wrecked cars for a living and eventually owned his own shop--“Mazzola’s Body Shop.” It never had running water or central heat. During the winter, he burned coal in a pot-belly stove to warm the place up. I loved hanging out at his shop, and I learned a lot, too. Most people don’t know it, but I’ve painted cars, changed engines, installed transmissions, and I still service my own vehicles. In fact, I’m doing a brake job on my son’s car this weekend.
Oh. I forgot to mention why my dad never graduated from high school.