Character education can be fun for young children – and effective – when character education lesson plans and character education activities contain three secret ingredients!
Before we discover those ingredients, though, I want to ask you something. Do you know that many parents and teachers don’t believe character education can be fun? They think they will make children sad, angry, and frustrated if they teach them to do right.
As a parent, and a career teacher for more than 40 years, I strongly disagree!
Character education can be great fun for three-to-eight-year-olds. You can make character education both fun and effective for young children by making sure it includes these three “secret” ingredients.
1. Character Education Requires LOVE.
Imagine that one of your relatives is a pediatrician. You take your listless young child to him for help. He runs tests and tells you to call in a week for the results. In the interim, he diagnoses a terrible disease in your child – a disease that will produce lifelong weakness if not treated. The indicated remedy requires demanding, time-consuming daily therapy, however. He knows you will think he is unloving to suggest it. It may cause a strain in the family relationship over what you perceive to be harsh treatment.
He decides on a less arduous regimen. When you call, he makes light of the child’s illness and prescribes a daily pill that is little more than sugar. You express relief, and start the treatment. When your child doesn’t seem to improve, your pediatrician gives you both a quick hug and assures you that it takes time. Months later, the child is worse and you learn the truth at last: your relative deceived you.
Did he show love to you? He made you happy. He gave you warm, fuzzy feelings, but that isn’t love. Love involves feeling, but…
Love always does what is best for another, whether it makes them happy or not.
Character education must be done with love. Character education teachers must realize that low moral values are symptoms of a debilitating disease that will make children increasingly weaker morally. It will destroy them as citizens, and love demands that we do what is best for the children – treat moral weakness with the strongest possible cure.
Character education teachers who exercise love teach character traits as absolutes – black and white behaviors. They teach, for example, that honesty is an absolute, and does not allow for white and gray “fibs” or other relative deviations.
2. Character Education Requires COURAGE.
Your pediatrician had convictions about what was best for your child, but he did not have the courage of his convictions. He was afraid to stand up for what he knew was the only right treatment. He was unwilling to take the consequences of strained family relations. He was averse to making a conscious decision and standing by it, but…
Courage always stands up for what’s right, regardless of the consequences.
Character education must employ courage of convictions. Character education teachers must hammer out strong convictions on character traits. They must use character education lesson plans that stand clearly for what is right. Those character education lesson plans must teach character traits – and go on to teach children to accept the consequences of exercising those character traits.
Character education lesson plans based on a book such as Katie Kangaroo’s Leap of Courage help children learn about courage. They help three-to-eight year-olds know what it means to form convictions about character traits. Then they help them understand how to have the courage of those convictions. They make it fun, and they produce results.
That is why the Character Companions® Series of books became so popular, and earned the phrase “fun and effective character education program” for three-to-eight-year-olds.
3. Character Education Requires PERSEVERANCE.
Once your pediatrician admits the truth to you, he apologizes, starts your child on the rigorous therapy, and warns that you must stick with it no matter what. You must put up with the child’s pleading to stop, and continue the therapy. You must endure pressure from family members who feel sorry for the child. You must exercise perseverance despite your own heartache at the arduous work your child must do. You may have to make sacrifices, but…
Perseverance keeps on doing what is right, regardless of the sacrifices.
Character education calls for perseverance. Character education teachers must persevere. They must use character education lesson plans that will counteract the contagious moral disease that affects our children. They must conscientiously choose character education lesson plans that provide strong, effective teaching. They must use character education activities that reinforce that “therapy” throughout the day.
Above all, character education teachers must exercise perseverance in teaching individual character traits. They must keep on teaching absolute values, regardless of feedback they receive. They must continue to seek absolute results, willing to make any sacrifice to develop children into strong citizens who are capable of doing what is right.
Character education that’s fun for three-to-eight-year-olds will always contain those three secret ingredients! Use them, and you will have a recipe for success.
Do what is best for your children, accepting the consequences and sacrifices entailed.