School days are a busy time for kids and parents; be it a public or international American curriculum, curricular commitments take time. This is the primary reason why taking time out from class instead and going for character-building appears challenging. For this, a lot of schools are going the extra mile to ensure their students get ample opportunities for character-building.
A school is a child’s first tryst with a prolonged social structure beyond the home, and it is here that character is built, shaping them and the futures that lie ahead for them.
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What is Character Building for Students?
Character building is the core spirit of proper education. It encompasses a comprehensive approach that includes dedicated staff, a robust curriculum, and the support of parents to develop students into ethical, respectful, and responsible citizens of the world.
Here are a few ways educators can help build character in young learners under their tutelage.
Build a caring community
Teachers can instill a caring and considerate attitude by ensuring a zero-tolerance policy on character assaults, name-calling, and bullying. Teachers need to be inclusive and involve the entire class in activities, explain the concept of kindness and consideration and reward random acts of kindness that students demonstrate.
Set rules and ensure adherence
It is the teacher’s responsibility to set suitable rules for the classroom. Clarity is key – communicate the ground rules, set expectations, and let children know what is simply unacceptable. Allow students to be involved in suggesting beneficial rules, discuss how each rule embodies character building, and set good examples.
Do not negotiate respect.
Teachers must firmly establish the classroom on a solid foundation of respect. Not only respecting each other but the concept of self-respect too should be instilled in students as that forms the basis of other positive character traits. Abuse, negativity, and disrespect should be met with appropriate consequences. Since international schools Riyadh have a global representation of students, each student must respect differences of opinion and learn to be tolerant.
Teach Listening Skills
Students must be taught how to listen to what others say, even if they disagree. This can build great fortitude and help them excel not just in school, but much further beyond. For senior students, “active listening” will help them better understand things from a more in-depth, analytical perspective. For younger ones, these skills may have to be taught directly by giving a list of instructions and having the class follow those. Children should understand the value of listening to those in authority and their peers with equal respect: before forming their own opinions.
Encourage consideration and kindness.
Kindness and consideration build character while ensuring a more peaceful and amicable classroom. To bring out the kindness within, encourage students to volunteer, support others, make new friends, learn classroom etiquette, and please remind them every now and then to keep behaving well even outside school.
15 Character Building Activities for Students
The classroom is a great place to carry out not just character-building activities but community-building too. This is their first encounter with socializing and learning on a regular basis, and here are a few things that can gradually help with better character building.
Elementary-Level Character-Building Activities
Have a decorative bulletin board where students can list things and people they are grateful for. The result will be a bulletin board full of gratitude, a key trait in positive character building.
Promote positive classroom behavior and discuss it with students. Concepts such as handling anger, tackling challenges, and working through conflict should be discussed to reinforce good behavior and set expectations together with students.
Every student can be assigned a buddy in the classroom, and each of them takes turns encouraging and support the other. This can be verbal or written; giving compliments and appreciating others is an excellent method to help students gain social skills and build character.
Teachers should involve students and collectively define positive character traits. By considering the students’ perspective, they can better reflect on their growth and weaknesses. Class referendums are great for this.
Carry out a written exercise where students classify someone they think possesses good character traits and the traits about them they admire the most.
Middle School: Character-Building Activities
If students are getting stressed because of peer pressure, have them brainstorm and come up with some “great escapes” they can use in situations where they don’t feel comfortable. Subtle strategies instead of direct refusal are quite helpful for dealing with unprecedented or funny situations.
Describe a moral code for your classroom by listing the behavior and character traits expected from each person in the classroom. Then, propose a Citizen of the class who models such traits and gives them the responsibility to identify students who live up to and advance those positive character traits.
Leave good character trait reminders around the class. Quotes such as ‘Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible from the Dalai Lama and other sayings that echo sentiments of integrity, kindness and honesty can act as great reminders for students.
Use contemporary examples from pop culture and social media so they can better relate to positive character traits.
Implement the renowned practice of ‘paying it forward’ in the classroom. Many videos and reels are made on this topic where random people exhibit acts of kindness and ask the recipients to pay it forward. In a school, these acts can be helping someone if they are stuck on an assignment or carrying another classmate’s extra books.
High School: Character-Building Activities
Include giving back to society as a part of the classroom curriculum through community service or volunteer work. Share relevant volunteer work or service-learning opportunities that students can take on during the school year.
Allow students to practice their debate skills and thoughts in a game called Talk It Out. Break the class up into small groups and have each group discuss their opinions about social issues and character traits.
Show them inspirational TED Talks and build lessons around them. Let a volunteer from class carry out a TED talk where they highlight a time, they demonstrated good character.
Get the students to take the Myers-Briggs personality test to help them learn about themselves and understand how their personality types are in sync with their strengths and weaknesses.
Implement one-minute manners lessons or etiquette into the daily routine. Cover topics ranging from the impact of facial expressions on professional relationships to proper table manners at an official lunch.
Importance and Benefits of Character Building
“I dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – This saying by Martin Luther King Jr. stands testament to the importance of character in the world. The good character once imbibed: is everything, and not something that can be taken away from an individual.
Here are the advantages of character building:
· Improved academic performance
· Higher student attendance, overall
· Enhanced self-esteem
· Healthy and improved relationships between students and teachers
· Better equipped to resolve interpersonal conflicts
· Reduced disciplinary issues and school violence
· Better preparation to take on challenges and handle real-world obstacles
· Values like respect, ethics, honesty, responsibility, and compassion will not just help the children of today but also the world they stand to inherit tomorrow.
Role of teachers in character building of students
For most kids, teachers are the first role models after their parents. For a good amount of time, they actually interact more with kids than parents would. Not only do students emulate their teachers, but they also look up to them for all the learning they impart. Through interaction and teaching, they are the real drivers of character education, the ones who inspire, motivate, encourage and evaluate students to become more respectful, kind, and empathetic.
Role of parents in character building of their children
Parents will always be a child’s primary role model. Children imitate, behave like and react the same way as they see at home. This is why parents are integral to character building and play an indispensable role in motivating and encouraging their kids to learn and grow. However, a parent’s primary objective should be giving their kids affection, attention, and security before shaping them into well-cultured adults.
Teachers here at OWIS Riyadh do more than just teach academic concepts to the children under their care. They go above and beyond to create an environment where they lay solid foundations for good character through a robust value system.