What's Happening in Character?

The Power of Reading

Posted by Dave Keller on Wed, Mar 2, 2016 @ 04:03 AM

by Dave Keller

As a parent, some of my fondest memories revolve around countless evenings reading with my children. Most families have their own personalized rituals -- my family is no different. For us, reading was more of an event, rather than a mere activity. We read together as a group, often using silly accents and eccentric voice characterizations. Stuffed animals joined in nightly, with my children giving them voice and various quirks as they read certain page.

My children are largely grown now. The days of huddling together reading stories heading into bedtime are long gone.

I’m not sure I realized it at the time, but, looking back, I now realize much more was happening during those times than merely spending quality time together -- even more than simply teaching my children to read. We were modeling the joy of reading to our kids. We were increasing their desire to learn.

We were also passing along important character lessons, both directly and indirectly. We’d talk about the choices of characters -- and the consequences of those choices. We talked about how the characters treated one another. We talked about desired qualities such as honesty, kindness, and perseverance.

The cognitive benefits of reading are well-known. Research clearly shows consistent reading with children improves critical thinking, brain development, and enhanced communication skills. Indeed, the month of March has several focus points for reading: March is National Reading Month, and March 2 is designated as Read Across America Day by the National Education Association.

As a character educator, I am particularly interested in harnessing the power of reading to help develop character values in young people. Character.org has consistently recognized schools across the country with academic initiatives that enhance character development, through both our National Schools of Character and our Promising Practices programs.

 One of our current initiatives is an emerging partnership with the great folks at First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides access to new books for children in need. To date, First Book has distributed more than 135 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education by making new, high-quality books available on an ongoing basis.

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Topics: character, parent involvement, Parenting, Literacy, Reading

7 Surprising Parenting Solutions That Boost Kids’ School Success

Posted by Michele Borba on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 @ 06:09 AM

by Michele Borba

Academic success impacts our children for the rest of their lives: it influences their self-esteem, college selections, job attainment, financial success, and even their choice of spouse. It’s no wonder we go great lengths to give our kids an academic edge.

But despite our good intentions, we often overlook a few simple strategies that research has proven to impact children’s academic success. Even better, these seven science-backed solutions are things that every parent can do, don’t cost a dime, and they are proven to boost children’s school success.

Here are seven surprising simple solutions that every parent should have in their toolbox for back-to-school.

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Topics: parent involvement, Academics,, Parenting, Back to School

The Power of Partnering with Parents

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Sep 8, 2015 @ 07:09 AM

by Becky Sipos

Early in my teaching career, I called a parent concerned about her daughter. I’ll never forget her response: “I don’t call you for help with my job, so why are you calling me for help with yours?” I still vividly recall my shock as I had assumed helping her daughter develop into a responsible adult was a shared commitment.

As I gained experience, I realized that for many parents a call from school always meant bad news and was to be avoided. So I shifted my approach and began sending home positive post cards for every student and calling home with something positive about each child in my classes. At Back to School night I asked both moms and dads in attendance to fill out a card telling me something about their child that I probably didn’t know and to share how I might teach them more effectively. Of course, I occasionally still called home to discuss a problem, but the positive approach worked wonders.

I am recalling these memories because Character.org is focusing this month on Principle 10: engaging families and community members as partners. The start of school is always a good time to connect with parents, but it’s not always easy.

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Topics: parent involvement, Community Involvement

How to Overcome Common Challenges & Engage Parents

Posted by Calvary Diggs on Thu, Sep 3, 2015 @ 07:09 AM

This month, our Research Roundups are focusing on Parent and Community Engagement, and this is the second part of a two-part RR. The first RR addressed some common methods and ideas to promote family and community involvement in schools. This article is for those of you who are ready to get parents involved or have already made attempts.

You have ideas, and you’re ready to put the pedal to the metal and send your school on the fast track to parent and community involvement. But if you’re like most teachers, when the gears in your brain are whirling, you come up with a few good ideas and some potential challenges too. The last RR hopefully got your brain thinking, and this one will help address some of the roadblocks. Our list isn’t exhaustive by any means, but here are a few things that might come up and ways to problem solve them.

In General

Here is an article on parent involvement. Although, it’s somewhat dated, it does two things really well. First, it shows that getting parents involved has been a problem for a while – it isn’t specific to you and your school – you’re not alone, so don’t get discouraged!

Second, the article lists a number of “solutions,” or points of advice, for getting parents involved. At their core, these points reflect three core themes present in just about any article you’ll find on involvement: Understanding, Communication, and Outreach. Before we move on, let’s unpack what I mean:

  • Understanding: Schools/teachers must learn the needs of parents/community and establish themselves as a friendly part of existing dynamics.

  • Communication: Schools/teachers find effective ways of contacting parents and the community that are comfortable for both. This can be through home visits, utilizing the PTA/PTO, sending out newsletters, and/or contacting through phone/text/email/home visits.

  • Outreach: Schools/teachers work to meet a need in the community while addressing parent involvement. For example, in communities with English Language Learners, schools could start parent literacy classes.

It’s also important to know what parent-involvement looks like for you or your school, so that when you see it, you know.

Getting parents involved will undoubtedly require some problem-solving, and keeping these themes in mind will certainly help.

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Topics: parent involvement, Character Resource Roundup, English Language Learners

Beyond Fundraising: Parent Involvement in Kids' Character Development

Posted by Calvary Diggs on Tue, Sep 1, 2015 @ 08:09 AM

When it comes to education, and character education in particular, there are many important key players: teachers, parents, and the community at large. Educating youth is a cooperative endeavor. And when schools, parents, and communities deliberately encourage similar values and goals, the opportunities for student success and growth become unlimited.

During the month of September, our blog will focus on Parent and Community Engagement through Principle 10, “The school engages families and community members as partners in the character-building effort.” This Resource Roundup provides advice, strategies, and resources for strengthening the solidarity between school and community and teachers and parents. These channels of communication are essential and must be utilized for more than ensuring homework gets done on time. Educators and parents need to communicate about what matters, both in terms of the child’s academic and character growth.

Getting Started

The first step in any successful relationship is starting it and “A Dozen Activities to Promote Parent Involvement” is a great place to begin. The most common ice breakers that teachers use are letters and emails at the beginning of the term, which they continue throughout the year. More than merely keeping parents regularly informed concerning classroom happenings, these letters are a great way to communicate your classroom rules, values and norms to your students’ families

Need help getting started? There are plenty of templates available online, or you can easily make one that fits your own unique style.

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Topics: parent involvement, Character Resource Roundup, Community Involvement

Performance Character and How to Foster It

Posted by Eduardo Briceño on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 @ 12:09 PM

“It takes real character to keep working as hard or even harder once you’re there. When you read about an athlete or team that wins over and over and over, remind yourself, ‘More than ability, they have character.' ” ― John Wooden, quoted in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck

What is performance character?

Performance character is a set of dispositions that drive effectiveness, such as striving to learn and improve, having self-discipline, and persevering. It is made up of beliefs and behaviors that enable people to grow their capabilities and meet their goals in any area of life, be it school, sports, relationships, or work. It is different than moral character, which refers to moral qualities such as kindness, integrity, and respect.

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Topics: character, teachers, parent involvement, moral character

How to Wean Kids from TV and Video Games and Back into L.I.F.E.

Posted by Michele Borba on Sat, Aug 3, 2013 @ 10:08 AM

Noted psychologist and parenting expert Michele Borba serves on CEP's Board of Directors and shares  her blogs with us. To read more check out her home page. Follow her on Twitter @micheleborba.

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.

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Topics: character, character education, parent involvement, family, technology, Borba Michele

Empathy: To lead is to listen and to learn

Posted by Mark Hyatt on Thu, Jul 4, 2013 @ 14:07 PM

Thank goodness my wife opened my eyes to the importance of empathy before I became a father and a school leader. To be honest, for the first half of my life, I was so driven to achieve the task at hand that I struggled to understand why some people just couldn’t show up, get to work and do what they had to do. By definition, “empathy” is accurately understanding what another person is feeling.  If we understand the content of what the other person is saying, but cannot correctly identify the emotion that person is feeling, then we are not demonstrating empathy and we are not even aware of our deficiency. 

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Topics: CEPLeaders, Forum Speakers, National Forum, school climate, core values, parent involvement, moral character, role models, president's post, empathy

Can You Create 'Quality Time'?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jun 11, 2013 @ 13:06 PM

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 ...

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Topics: character, parent involvement, family, role models

Education as the Key to Equality: Where Does the Department of Education Stand?

Posted by Lara Maupin on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 @ 11:03 AM

I was privileged to attend the Washington Post’s summit on families and children earlier this month. What did I learn? That education remains the key ingredient for success for all American children, especially those living in poverty. While experts and politicians continue to debate the role of government in helping families, children, and communities, all agree that education continues to be a path to opportunity.

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Topics: what works in education, teachers, parent involvement

Happy Holidays and A Call to Action from Mark Hyatt

Posted by Mark Hyatt on Tue, Dec 25, 2012 @ 10:12 AM

Dear CEP Family—

 

On behalf of the entire CEP staff and Board of Directors, I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and New Year. 

Like most of America in these uncharacteristically somber days, we at CEP are filled with great sadness as the K-12 community from coast to coast takes its winter break and bids farewell to 2012. We are sad because we know that too many young people are still suffering in our society, due to many factors, not the least of which is violence in schools and surrounding neighborhoods.

Earlier this month, in the wake of the monstrous tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “Our schools should and must be one of the safest places in society. Now is the time for another, ‘quieter heroism’ in our schools—the courage to move forward, to continue to teach and lead children, and to take smart precautions to minimize the risk of future tragedies.”

We share this commitment to press onward with both courage and character. In 2013, CEP will take up this cause with hope and renewed purpose to help more families, schools and communities surround our young people with life-affirming experiences, role models and media that encourage them to be their best selves.

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Topics: leadership, parent involvement, role models, president's post, school safety

Helping Your Child Achieve Mature Independence

Posted by Renee Heiss on Tue, Dec 11, 2012 @ 10:12 AM

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. 

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Topics: parent involvement, discipline, family

Day 1 Recap

Posted by Jesse Marble on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 @ 21:11 PM

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.

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Topics: character, character education in curriculum, parent involvement, family, CEP2012

Broken Kids Are Breaking All of Us

Posted by Annie Fox on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 @ 15:10 PM

Don't miss your chance for a free copy of Teaching Kids to Be Good People: Progressive Parenting for the 21st Century, by Annie Fox. Just click the link on Thursday, 10/18/12 or Friday, 10/19/12 for your free book. Note: The link will only work these two days for a free book.  Even if you don't have a Kindle, the downloaded file will work on your Mac, PC, iPod, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone. Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:

I remember October 1, 2010. My friend Rachel emailed to find out if I’d blogged yet about the cyberbullying incident that ended in a Rutgers University freshman killing himself. I told her the news had really upset me, but I had no insights that couldn’t be found elsewhere. What do you say when yet another teen is so victimized by bullies s/he can’t figure out what the hell to do to make things OK again and gives up everything just to end the suffering?

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Topics: bullying advice, Forum Speakers, parent involvement, cyberbullying

Help for Parents: 18 Tips to Protect Your Teen from Cyber-bullies

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Sep 18, 2012 @ 14:09 PM

“A number of middle school students—including my daughter–are receiving vicious anonymous e-mails and text messages from peers. The school sent a letter home describing the problem as ‘cyber-bullying.’ What do I do to help my daughter? When do I worry? Do I call the police? HELP please!” - A concerned mother from Omaha, NE

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Topics: Michele Borba, bullying advice, parent involvement, cyberbullying, Borba Michele

7 Surprising Parenting Solutions That Boost Kids’ School Success

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Aug 28, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

Academic success impacts our children for the rest of their lives: it influences their self-esteem, college selections, job attainment, financial success, and even their choice of spouse. It’s no wonder we go great lengths to give our kids an academic edge.

But despite our good intentions, we often overlook a few simple strategies that research has proven to impact children’s academic success. Even better, these seven science-backed solutions are things that every parent can do, don’t cost a dime, and they are proven to boost children’s school success.

Read More

Topics: Michele Borba, key lessons, parent involvement, Borba Michele

Back to School, Back to Social Garbage

Posted by Annie Fox on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 @ 17:08 PM

The following first appeared on Annie Fox's blog and she has graciously allowed us to share it. We are so thrilled that she joined us at our 19th National Forum on Character Education this year! Thanks, Annie!

So, summer’s winding down. I broke my arm, but at least I was enjoying a bike ride when it happened. Hopefully you didn’t have that kind of break. Instead, I hope you and your kids shared some quality, unplugged time and reconnected, as a family.

If school hasn’t already resumed in your community, it will soon. On the plus side, that means your children start a new chapter with new opportunities to learn and grow, academically, creatively and socially. A positive attitude from you goes a long way in easing any of the kids’ nervousness or anxiety about the new school year.

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Topics: bullying advice, student voice, school climate, parent involvement

4 Safety Rules to Curb Cyber-bullying

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 @ 17:06 PM

REALITY CHECK: Did you know that a recent survey found that almost 70 percent of adolescents say the best way for them to be safe online is through education? Are you educating your child how to be safe online?

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Topics: Michele Borba, bullying advice, parent involvement, technology, cyberbullying

9 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Kids Reading

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Jun 19, 2012 @ 15:06 PM

REALITY CHECK:Are you aware that kids can lose upward of three months’ worth of reading progress during summer break?

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.

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Topics: Michele Borba, parent involvement, family, Borba Michele

Preventing Academic Dishonesty: What Parents Can Do

Posted by Melissa Crossman on Wed, May 30, 2012 @ 14:05 PM

Cheating, or academic dishonesty as many schools refer to the practice, is a problem that continues to persist in the field of education. And for teachers who aim to fill their students’ heads with knowledge and prepare them for the future, this is a serious issue. When students cheat they fail to fully engage in the learning process and, as such, will likely not acquire the knowledge necessary for later-life success.

Whether students engage in this type of behavior in online classes or as part of their traditional, brick-and-mortar schooling, it will necessarily adversely affect their learning. While parents may not be able to prevent their children from cheating, they can reduce the likelihood that their students make academic dishonesty a common practice by engaging in frank discussions and being on the lookout for cheating.

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Topics: cheating, parent involvement, teachable moments

Eight Secrets to Raise "Can Do" Kids

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 @ 16:04 PM

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Topics: Michele Borba, resiliency, parent involvement

Helping Girls Become Confident Leaders

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 @ 15:03 PM

Contributed by Michele Borba

Parenting advice on how to raise strong, confident daughters from the inside out based on research by the Girl Scouts of the USA

What parent doesn’t want his or her daughter to be a leader? After all, that top role – be it debate captain, head cheerleader, newspaper editor, play director, student body president – is deemed the epitome of success. These are the kids whom adults applaud and peers look up to.

Make no mistake, each leadership success is one more step up a ladder, and each rung up the ladder gives girls that needed “edge” to be accepted to their choice college, win that scholarship or lucrative job. But even more important: those positions are the best ways to build our daughters’ character, integrity and confidence. There is some truth to that old “We’ve come a long way, baby” slogan. Our girls have come a long way in overcoming the “'Boys Only’ Leadership Club.”

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Topics: leadership, parent involvement, Michele Borba

International Comparisons

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jun 7, 2011 @ 17:06 PM

We’ve all been hearing about great educational systems of nations such as Finland and Japan. If you haven’t yet seen “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants,” unveiled recently at an event attended by Secretary Duncan, John Merrow’s blog post provides a succinct summary of insights and a link to the report itself.

It’s worth taking a look at what these countries are doing to see if we can learn from them. If these countries don’t debate school choice, teacher accountability, or high-stakes testing, why do we? Will all of our interventions and measurements really make our students achieve more? Perhaps Merrow is right to point to our divergent state policies and lack of support or respect for teachers as weak areas of our educational system.

Even so, that leaves us with the question, “What do we focus on right now?”

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Topics: Education News, National School of Character, leadership, community of character, school climate, international education, parent involvement