4 Easy Ways to Add Character Education to the Classroom
The new school year is here! Time to get your routines set. Children respond best to routines. And adding character education elements to your classroom activities is part of helping your children grow into mature, responsible people.
But how do you go about adding a character education program or activity to your daily class duties? As an experienced teacher, you likely already have plenty of ideas. If you’re looking for character education ideas that are quick, easy, and involve minimal classroom time, you may enjoy these suggestions.
I’m Arizona school assembly performer Graham Rogers. I’ve performed school assemblies in multiple countries around the globe for the last 20 years. My goal with these articles is to help parents, teachers, and school administrators with tools, tips, and strategies to make their lives easier. Let’s get started!
Does Character Education Work?
Before we get into the ideas in this article, many people (even those in education) wonder if character education is worth the effort. After all, they claim, character education activities take away valuable classroom instruction time for curriculum-based subjects.
The good news is a resounding YES! Character education works. Educators using character ed in the classroom report fewer discipline problems, a reduction in violence among students, fewer instances of bullying, and a more pleasant, relaxed, and positive classroom.
Character Education in the Classroom Idea #1: Establish Consistent Rules
If you’re going to have rules in the classroom, you’ve got to be consistent about them. The very nature of being a challenge is challenging boundaries. Kids are hardwired to explore the world and discover new things. Part of that exploration includes seeing what they can get away with.
Without consistently enforcing rules, kids are left confused. What is allowed? What isn’t? Remember, the kiddos in your classroom might hear your words but may become confused if certain rules are enforced inconsistently. You’re sending mixed messages.
Clearly establish your rules at the beginning of the school year. And stick to your guns when it comes to disciplining your students who don’t follow the rules.
Character Education in the Classroom Idea #2: Start Fun Role-Play Games
Role-playing is a fun way to help children understand the value behind character education concepts. These kinds of activities are fun for kids, too. Print out the roles on cards. Let multiple kids try multiple roles. This way, kids get to experience these situations from multiple viewpoints.
The key to effective role-playing is realism. When creating your scenarios, choose realistic ones. And get kids involved deeply in the exercises. Have the kids playing the roles create dialog for their characters. And have the entire class watch and participate by asking questions. If a student is confused about something, open it up to the class for discussion.
And when children are playing certain roles, be sure they are acting as though their characters would if it were a real-life situation.
Character Education in the Classroom Idea #3: Create a Reward System
A fun and effective way to reinforce good character traits in the classroom is with rewards. When kids do something that exhibits good character traits, they get points. Once certain point thresholds are reached, they get a reward of some kind.
The reward doesn’t have to be large. Use a simple ‘grab bag’ with small treats inside. When a student is rewarded, they reach into the bag with their eyes closed and take something out.
You can also have reward goals for the entire class. Not only are individuals rewarded for their behavior, but the overall point tally in the class can be applied to a bigger reward for the entire class. This encourages cooperation and teamwork.
Your students might even start monitoring each other and encourage good character among themselves to achieve the reward goals.
Character Education in the Classroom Idea #4: Model Behavior
If you’re a teacher reading this, you already know that your behavior needs to be ethical and respectful. But your students may pick up on smaller things you may not think of or deem unimportant. Each bit counts!
Be sure to use “Thank you” and “Please” when appropriate. Remember that you’re in the spotlight all the time in class. And it’s not just the big things. All the little things you do matter, too. If you want your students to adopt good behavior themselves, be sure to show them by example how it’s done.
A Character Education Program for the Entire School?
Want to get your school year started on the right note? My Character Education school assembly program “Take a Stand, Lend a Hand” reinforces the state of Arizona’s Social-Emotional Learning standards. Your students get a fun experience featuring magic, laughter, and join-in fun. And they get messages consistent with what’s being taught in your school’s classrooms! Contact me today for more information.