What's Happening in Character Education?

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, parent involvement, moral character, teachers

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

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: parent involvement, teachers, what works in education