Character Education

Got character? Here are ways to include this social-emotional learning key in the classroom

"Character education." That's a popular term now, under the umbrella of "social-emotional learning." What is it, and how can we bring it into the classroom? Character education is teaching students to behave in ethical ways that are respectful of others, build community, and help create positive, functioning members of society--what used to be called "moral education."
How can we teach these desirable traits to kids in a world where "shared values"
can seem elusive? Here are some tips:  
1.) Model. Demonstrate positive character traits through your own behaviour. Kindness, tolerance, caring, honesty, inclusivity, respect--educators should demonstrate these behaviours consistently.  
2.) Watch words. Part of modelling is highlighting and using positive language, including through speaking and by studying the ways language can unite or divide, heal or harm.
3.) Make it relevant. Take the time to discuss positive versus negative behaviours, and examine why good character yields positive results in students' day-to-day lives.  

4.) Make it real. With younger kids, include activities that reinforce a specific, positive trait. With older students, consider including giving back to the school community--e.g., through peer tutoring.  
5.) Reinforce through reading. There are shelves full of character education titles for young readers, suitable for in-class reading or inclusion in book corners. For older kids, many classics and modern titles reinforce these lessons in a more sophisticated way.  
6.) Add art. Younger kids can create art projects or posters that reinforce positive character traits, for instance. Older kids can study relevant art, films, and literature. Positive messages can be relayed through classroom posters and art as well.  
Want to learn more? Here are some titles to incorporate character education in your classroom.
Choose a grade level below to access our character education titles:


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