How to Use This Information

  This information is not intended to be rigid or limiting for parents, teachers, or community members. They exist simply to provide additional ideas and serve as a starting point to help parents and teachers promote good character in young people. As teachers well know, every class is different and we hope that teachers will take whatever approach is most effective in their classroom, given the conditions that prevail there.

  Parents know their own child better than anyone else. The pages are generalized suggestions that parents can use as a starting point. Parents should adapt these suggestions to best help them in their attempt to make their child a person of outstanding character. The process of education, like the search for good character, is about finding the response appropriate to the situation. Parents are under no obligations to follow the pages' advice. If a parent feels that they have a better way to teach their child a character trait, they should do what they feel is best for their child.

The pages include an operational definition of the character word to help everyone understand what word meaning the program is putting forward. The operational definitions, like all explicit definitions, are open to challenge. They purpose is simply to communicate a general idea. We should not see the definition as limiting the value of a character trait or as ruling out effective teaching methods, it is just a device to provide a degree of common meaning to inexact words and to help focus on the character implications of a term.

  The pages include suggested reading lists of books, suggested film lists, and suggested song lists. These lists are designed to further explicate the character word and provide examples of appropriate behavior being positively rewarded. The suggested films are considered appropriate for most audiences, however since they are commercial films and not specifically made for this program parents and educators are advised to view the films before they show them to their children to insure that they are appropriate for their child or their class.

  The activity sections are intended to provide guidance for parents and teachers in coordinating their efforts to teach good character. Family activities are designed to promote family togetherness while educating children about good character. If a parent has a way of teaching their child about a specific character trait that will be more effective than the suggested activity, they should do what is best for their child.

  The class activity is designed to integrate easily into most teachers lesson plans. The lessons do not always teach the character word explicitly, it is often implicit in the action the students perform. This program relies on both explicit and implicit teaching methods to encourage children to express good character both consciously and unconsciously.

  The high school activity is designed to reflect the difference between teaching an eight-year-old and an eighteen-year-old. High school activities are designed to deal with broader subjects and require higher levels of critical thinking skills. The high school activities require students to use outside information and show more personal initiative. Some of these activities are designed with a specific subject in mind, like history or literature. This should not be read as an implicit statement that only that subject should participate in teaching the character word of the week that week. The multiplicity of subjects taught in our area's high schools makes it impossible for this program to include suggestions for all or even most subjects. Teachers are encouraged to find ways to integrate the word of the week into their own unique lesson plans in their own subjects.

  Some pages include suggestions to teachers under the title "Creating a Positive Learning Environment." This section offers advice to improve the ability of teachers to teach positive character to their students. Most of these sections deal with preventing common classroom hypocrisies. For teachers to teach a character trait they must exemplify that trait. For example, to teach punctuality, a teacher must be punctual. A teacher who is habitually late for class is unlikely to be able to teach students to be on time. Just as a teacher must know how to do long division to teach it to students, or know what happened in the Civil War to teach students about the Civil War so a teacher must show good character to teach it.

  The pages include several quotes at the bottom of the page. These quotes are good for beginning discussions, or as prompts for either daily writing assignments or essays. Most of the prompts in some way praise the character word of the week, but some criticize it. These were included to facilitate discussions or writing assignments that explore the problems associated with these traits and other character traits that must be balanced with the word of the week. Writing prompts dealing with character issues is one way for teachers to integrate character education into their curriculum.

  It is important to reinforce positive character traits when they are observed. Therefore it is suggested that you promote Daily Random Acts of Kindness. You may choose to use phrases such as, "You were caught showing your good character" to reinforce one or more of the Guiding Principles of Character Education!

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