Part of our daily program involves helping all of the children develop behavior that is respectful, caring, responsible, and ethical. Included in our preschool curriculum is work on the children’s social skills and helping them develop a sense of social responsibility and social consciousness. We also work with the children in developing a greater sense of their own emotional states and, when necessary, how to deal with them.
We believe this part of our program is one of the most important aspects of what we do with the children. Working on character development with children this age is important because of the increasing amount of cruel, disrespectful, and even violent behavior that is being exhibited by younger and younger children.
As many parents of older children know, when a child reaches school age and especially the teen years, his peers have a tremendous influence on him. The influence that a parent or caring adult has on a child is much greater when the child is in his first five years than at any other time in his life. If we plant seeds of moral and ethical behavior during these first five years, we are giving the child a foundation of strength that can help him in later years to keep his ethical bearings in a world that is often of a different mind-set.
In our preschool program we use various activities and methods to help support positive character development including videos, books, games, and over 20 life-size Diversity Dolls. While there are many components to character development, the ones we feel are particularly important for children in their first five years, and the ones we specifically focus on in our preschool program are:
- Empathy — Identifying with and feeling other people’s concerns.
- Kindness — Showing concern about the well being and feelings of others.
- Respect — Showing value for others by treating them with courtesy and consideration.
- Tolerance — Treating others with dignity, and respecting their rights, even if that person looks or behaves differently.
- Self-control — Regulating ones own thoughts and feelings so their behavior and actions can be kept under control.
- Social Consciousness — Being aware of the larger group one functions in and accepting the rights and responsibilities as a member of that group.
- Joy — Being in touch with that inner feeling of well-being that can include laughter and smiles, but encompasses more than mere happiness.