What children learn about character in the early childhood classroom can shape their character for the rest of their lives. So how do you teach it?

The movement to include character education in the schools is in response—at least to some degree—to increasing concerns about serious behavioral problems, including bullying and other expressions of violence.

Some parents may question the school’s involvement in “developing character,” thinking that schools should focus on academic learning while leaving character development to parents.

Separating what we want children to learn into two different arenas (that of school and home), however, isn’t the most effective way to foster overall growth and development. Children’s learning—whether focusing on academic, social, or personal development—occurs more readily if messages from home and school support and reinforce each other.

A character education program has the best chance of success when it integrates positive values into every aspect of the school and includes parent involvement and support.

Education in the fullest sense of the term focuses on helping children develop both intellectually and socially—helping them learn how the world works and how to live “rightly” and generously in this world. We sometimes say that education is about helping children become both smart and good.