Five Brand New Ways to Teach Character Education in Kindergarten
What is character education?
Character education is the strategy of teaching students how to be respectful and responsible contributors to their home and school community. Character education in kindergarten must be purposeful and thoughtful. It is the start of their school experience and will help guide the way that they engage in learning and building relationships throughout their time in school.
Why teach character education in kindergarten
I don’t know about you, but when I decided to commit to teaching, I knew that managing a room full of excited and energetic learners would be one of the more challenging parts of the job. Quickly, I learned that leading my classroom would require me to teach students how to manage themselves. Not just to follow expectations. I needed to teach them how to develop skills and use strategies to help them when they faced new or difficult situations. Leading students to be successful in content is not the full scope of a teacher’s responsibility. We are also responsible for helping them to develop good character.
Beginning character education in kindergarten lays a foundation for students to have a better school experience. It also lets families know we care about students as people. Character education helps manage behaviors in the classroom. Students will gain skills to be positive contributors.
How to teach character education
There are ways to teach character education in the kindergarten classroom. A character education curriculum is a good starting point and should be adjusted based on the needs of your students.
If your school does not have a specific curriculum, I recommend looking into resources and programs offered by teachers with Social-Emotional Learning experience. Teacher-created resources are often student-tested methods to teach character education skills.
Character education resources
The most effective ways to teach character education go beyond reciting values and decorating with posters. Building good character skills must be intentional and purposeful. Here are five brand-new ways to teach character education in the kindergarten classroom.
Classroom Gardening ProjectCharacter education includes building students’ self-awareness and relationship skills. With a classroom gardening project, you can incorporate both and create an engaging space for students to build community. This project doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. Start with each student growing their seed and then using that to build a community garden. During this process, work with students on responsible decision-making, coping with new or stressful situations, and building relationships with others. At each stage of the project, you can teach and practice a new skill with students.
Our Caring Community SEL Curriculum Sampler
Since its release, teachers have been raving about my SEL curriculum, Our Caring Community Curriculum. This sampler is a chance to try it out and determine if it is the best fit for your classroom! Included in this sampler are:
- 30+ pages from the full curriculum
- 7 activities from the full curriculum
- 2 FULL sample lesson plans
- 2 mini-posters
- color & black and white options for easy printing!
This done-for-you SEL curriculum makes classroom implementation quick and easy and is an excellent foundation for your classroom community to become more heart-centered.
One of the ways to build excellent relationship skills is through the intentional development of communities. Take your morning meeting beyond the classroom and consider creating a small community within your school to celebrate and learn from other classes. You can host monthly meetings to cheer on other learners and recognize the efforts of students and teachers.
Ideas for community meetings:
- Student character awards
- Community character focus
- Presentations/practicing character skills
- Class celebrations
- Birthday celebrations
Character Education Skits
A great way to be intentional about teaching and practicing character education skills is to plan for it. Try having students become ‘actors’ in the classroom and perform skits showing the new skills they are learning. Use this as a teaching opportunity for the audience to have proper self-management and social awareness skills.
You can record these to use in later lessons or pair them with community meetings to put on performances for your community. Share the skills with families and ask students to practice at home.
Character Education Through Crafting
Teaching character education through crafting is a fun and engaging way to introduce students to various social-emotional learning topics such as growth, self-love, hard work, and change.
Here are some great resources to use for SEL mini-lessons in your classroom. Teach your students the topics of perseverance, changing, caring for others, self-love, and hard work.
This resource is simple to prep, easy to create, and can be used for Pre-K through 2nd-grade students! Simply print and go with these; your students will learn important SEL topics in no time!
In my experience, the best way for students to learn and develop good character in kindergarten is through consistent and intentional learning opportunities.
Give your kids social and emotional skills they can use this year and every year with The Heart-Centered Classroom Management Method. With this program, you will: create a thriving classroom community, give children a lifelong foundation in social and emotional skills, and teach students to repair relationships in meaningful ways. Join the program waitlist here.