Teaching character traits at home and in the classroom

It’s a given that most parents want their children to grow up with good values and character traits. Kindness, compassion, perseverance and honesty are just some of the traits we want to instill in our kids. But how are character traits developed?


Charles Starkey, Associate Professor of Philosophy studies emotion theory and moral psychology. He says that character traits are determined by our values but that emotions also play a huge role. In short, kids need emotional intelligence and to see positive character traits in others to adopt them.

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Everyone can have a positive impact on someone else’s life and this teacher is showing kids just how important it can be.  read more →

Classroom management strategies and resources for calm, happy students

There's nothing fun about a classroom that's out of control. It's stressful and unproductive. Thinking about kids running amok reminds of something my husband often says. "Start how you intend to finish!" For me, that means starting the year with strong classroom management strategies in place. Setting the rules at the start of the year means everyone is on the same page. Start planning before you head back to school and be prepared to involve the students in your new grades.

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GP’s are now making community referrals for art activities, creative writing, Mindfulness, volunteering, group learning, and sports, etc., to facilitate wellbeing and recovery. ‘Social prescribing’ is becoming ever more important as we become increasingly aware of holistic approaches to wellbeing and embrace the idea of the ‘whole person’. Being conscious of our own physical and mental wellbeing over our lifetime requires self-awareness and a personal investment in our physical and mental health.

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There are so many wonderful people in our communities who go out of their way and even risk their lives for us every single day. Often these people go about their jobs without ever really being thanked for the extraordinary things they do.

Here are some fun ways to show community workers how much they really are appreciated or to show your support for someone who may need a little encouragement.

For Law Enforcement or Fire Fighters

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Literacy Pegs Easy DIY Teaching Resource Ripple Kindness Project

I stumbled upon this video for a clever DIY teaching resource that can be made and used by both teachers and parents to expand vocabulary and improve spelling and literacy in children. What I really love about it is that with the use of pegs, children are not only flexing their mind muscles but also building coordination and strengthening the fine muscles in their hands that are used for writing. 

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Images of trees made from paper with wording 34 Inspiration Kindness Trees building character in schools.

A Kindness Tree is a creative and beautiful way to encourage and acknowledge acts of kindness within a school. As a whole school project, it's a heartwarming way to help foster kind, supportive relationships amongst students and teachers. Watching the tree come to life as good deeds are added creates positive and uplifting feelings and behaviour, making it a highly effective way to build character and reduce bullying.

As you'll see by the examples below there are many variations, some big, some small, but each one beautiful and unique. There are no rules when it comes to creating your kindness tree. Use your imagination and encourage student involvement. For the tree itself, you can use paper, fabric, paint, crepe paper or real tree branches. Tree leaves upon which kind deeds are written can be made from paper or card in the shape of leaves, hearts or even hands.

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I'm so happy to see more schools adopting kindness as their overarching value for teaching character and fostering a peaceful school culture. I always say it's the foundation for all other values and something that should be taught in every home and school for optimum well-being and importantly, to prevent anti-social behaviour.

Recently, I've been fortunate to connect with several amazing ladies who have started Kindness Clubs! Yep, there are actually clubs dedicated to this good old fashioned value and they're doing a lot more than just teaching kids to be kind!!

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A collage of tear off kindness coupons, painted heart rocks, school girl drawing with chalk. Wording says 11 DIY gifts to help teach kids the meaning of giving.

Have you ever had a discussion with your children about gift giving? Most children see the act of giving as customary at particular times of the year but do they really understand the reason behind giving a present?

If you haven't talked about the difference between giving for the sake of it and giving with meaning then perhaps it's time to explain the heart factor that should lie behind every gift we give. 

Gifts are a way of acknowledging someone and showing our appreciation for the positive attributes that we love about them. It's important for children to understand that a large, more expensive gift doesn't equate to greater appreciation. In fact, parents and grandparents in particular, generally appreciate homemade gifts far more than something bought because they know have been made with love and given from the heart.

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Image of kindness advent calendars with a cartoon girl holding a flower and copy that says build character this Christmas with kindness advent calendars. Free printables for kids and adults!

Ho, ho, ho!! It's almost Christmas!!

Many of us are in denial that the festive season has arrived again SO SOON!! I'm pretty sure science hasn't proven it but I'm convinced that time goes faster the older we get! 

Though parents and teachers are usually pretty busy at the end of the year, it's actually a great time to get your kids involved in doing good. Encouraging kindness should, of course, be a year round endeavour because it's shown that after the fourth grade, positive perceptions of kindness decrease in children.  

Because we know you've got other things on your mind right now, we've put together a kindness advent calendar to help you nurture the positive values we all want our kids to adopt. 

The hard work has been done and all you have to do is inspire your kids to participate!

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Can kindness be taught? 

While researching for our school curriculum many years ago, I came across the work of Maurice J. Elias, a Professor of Psychology. His view about kindness being a teachable quality mirrors my own and like me, he's a huge advocate for teaching it in schools. 

Like me, he believes that children have an emotional response to kindness but that emotionally intelligent kids have a better understanding of the feelings they're experiencing. 

"Kindness depends also on possessing certain learnable skills, and these are included in most evidence-based efforts to promote children's social-emotional and character development."
- Maurice Elias

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When I teach Kindergarten or first-grade children, I always teach my students a little song called “Five Little Bluebirds”. I developed some motions for the song, and always end this subtraction-type song by making a very sad face and saying, “No little bluebirds in the nest.” The kids find this hysterical!

We sing the song through a second time with them joining in with more enthusiasm, and I can see in their mischievous eyes that they cannot wait until we get to the last line and they get to see my sad face AND make a sad face of their own. They laugh with their entire bodies, as 5 and 6-year olds are prone to do - and yes, that means some of them end up “prone” as they fall over on the carpet with laughter.

Whether you teach your children a song like that, or find some other way to introduce emotions, you can lead them to discover their Superpower.

I ask them to show me their sad face. Show me their surprised face! Show me their sleepy face. Show me their angry face! And finally, show me their happy face! Then I tell them that we are going to do a trick.

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