The Importance of Character Education in Schools
This article discusses the importance of character education in schools for fostering future leaders. It covers topics such as the definition of character education, its importance in promoting positive behaviour, decision-making, a sense of community, and preparing youth for the future.
We will also highlight the significance of integrating character education into the curriculum, teacher training, and parent involvement. Additionally, this article emphasises the crucial role of parents in reinforcing character education at home, and how character education is positively correlated with student achievement.
As parents and educators, we all want to raise responsible, respectful and successful individuals. We invest in education, career development, and skill-building activities, but often overlook the importance of character education in schools. Character education is the intentional teaching of positive values, virtues and behaviours that enable students to become responsible and productive citizens.
Let’s take a look at the importance of character education in schools, its benefits, and the ways parents and teachers can reinforce character development at home and in the classroom.
What is Character Education?
Character education is the deliberate teaching of values and behaviours that promote personal responsibility, good citizenship, and ethical decision-making. It aims to develop the social, emotional and moral intelligence of students, preparing them for the challenges of life beyond the classroom. Character education is not a subject but a holistic approach to education that encompasses all aspects of learning. It involves modelling and reinforcing positive behaviours, encouraging critical thinking, and fostering a sense of community.
The Importance of Character Education
Character education is essential for the holistic development of students. It equips students with skills that are vital for their personal and professional success. Researchers like Yoshimitsu Khan emphasise that increased character education in students leads to higher levels of self-discipline, a sense of purpose, determination, and perseverance which all lead to success (Khan, 1997).
A study was also commissioned by the NZ Principals’ Federation in 2006 on Values Education in New Zealand. This study showed that “providing a values foundation for a school will have positive effects on what goes on in the classroom…the overwhelming impression was of calm, orderly, respectful and pleasant school environments.”
Other studies have shown that “A diverse group of experts agreed that schools should teach character and be intentional about it” (An Encouraging Consensus on Character Education, Andy Smarick, 2021, Manhattan Institute).
Below are some of the benefits of character education in schools:
Character education helps students develop positive behaviours such as empathy, honesty, respect, and responsibility. These traits create a positive classroom culture that supports academic achievement and fosters social and emotional growth.
Character education provides students with the tools to make ethical and responsible decisions. It teaches them to think critically and consider the impact of their actions on themselves and others.
Sense of Community
Character education promotes a sense of community and social responsibility. It teaches students to appreciate diversity, work collaboratively and engage in meaningful dialogue with others.
Prepares Youth for the Future
Character education prepares students for the challenges of the future by equipping them with skills such as problem-solving, self-awareness, and resilience. These skills are essential for success in any career and life in general.
Character education is not a separate subject but an integrated part of the curriculum. It is taught through various subjects such as literature, social studies, and science, making it relevant and engaging for students. This is an essential part of ensuring that character education contributes to the whole school’s well-being.
Teachers play a crucial role in character education. They must receive proper training to effectively implement character education in the classroom. This training should include teaching strategies, character development frameworks, and assessment tools.
Parents are essential partners in character education. They can reinforce positive behaviours, values, and attitudes at home, which complements what is taught in the classroom.
The Crucial Role of Parents
Parents play a crucial role in fostering character development in their children. Below are some ways parents can reinforce character education at home:
Model Positive Behaviour
Children learn by example. Parents should model positive behaviours such as honesty, respect, and responsibility.
Discuss Values and Behaviours
Parents should engage their children in meaningful conversations about values and behaviours. This provides an opportunity to teach them about the importance of character and how it impacts their lives and those around them.
Reading is an excellent way to promote character development. Parents should encourage their children to read books that teach positive values and behaviours.
Opportunities for Parents to Get Involved
There are several ways parents can get involved in character education in schools. Some of them include:
Parents can volunteer in schools to support character education initiatives such as mentoring programmes, extracurricular activities, and community service projects.
Collaboration between Teachers and Parents
Collaboration between teachers and parents is essential in reinforcing character education. Teachers can provide parents with resources and activities that promote character development at home.
Workshops and Seminars
Schools can also organise workshops and seminars to educate parents on the importance of Character Education. This could be led by one teacher who could organise a teacher from the Boards of Trustees to find leaders in the community to assist.
Character education is about preparing children for the adult world. It is about giving them essential tools to cope with life, build meaningful relationships and value the positive aspects of living. Any parent and school that neglects the reinforcement of positive values and leads by example are neglecting the most essential part of a child’s education.
You can learn more about Character Education and how to implement it in your school through our detailed kit, the CHARACTER AND VALUES EDUCATION KIT.
Ensure your school does all it can to help students succeed in life and enhance your learning environment with these tools: