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Caring and Giving :: Developing Character in Preschoolers

 

**This post has been sponsored by Primrose Schools for City Moms Blog Network. All opinions are 100% our own!**

primrose schoolsAll parents want their children to develop character traits that will enable them to live, work, and play in society in a healthy, productive, and positive way. Traits like empathy, integrity, honesty, kindness, and generosity are undoubtedly important to instill in our children, but exactly how we should go about doing that is a bit more elusive. At Primrose Schools, young students on every campus nationwide participate in an annual event that develops generosity and caring in a concrete way.

In our own home, kindness is something we are focusing a great deal of attention on lately. I have two boys and despite my best efforts, we all fall short of being kind to each other 100% of the time. We recently read Wonder over a few weeks as our bedtime story and I’ve incorporated a message from that story into our daily vernacular. It’s wonderful in its simplicity. When you have a choice, choose kind. I remind them of this when one calls the other a mean name or snatches something away. I simply say, “Choose kind.” 

Generosity is another trait that we are working on at home. A couple times a year I have the boys go through their play room and choose toys they want to donate to charity. We participate in school giving, like the donation drive this fall for people affected by Hurricane Harvey. We talk about giving back in non-material ways, such as bringing food to a sick family member, being a parent volunteer at school, or offering advice and support to someone in need. 

Parents model behaviors that exhibit desirable traits and our children, who in turn, and over time, learn and repeat those behaviors. If we are fortunate, our consistent modeling pays off and our children grow up to be honest, hardworking and kind adults. 

As we know, though, parents are certainly not the only role models our children encounter as these traits are being developed. Siblings, extended family, caregivers, teachers, coaches, and friends ALL make their mark, on our kids and it starts surprisingly early. Did you know, for example, that babies as young as six months old can show outward signs of developing empathy

Research sponsored by Primrose Schools also shows that not only are the development of these traits high on the list of priorities for parents, they want that development supported away from home with caregivers and teachers and they want it early, before primary education begins. 

Not a Primrose Parent? No problem. This process can easily be replicated at home.  

It’s called the Caring & Giving Food Drive and it’s a food drive, amplified. Students don’t simply bring in canned goods from their pantry and drop them in a bin. The process starts at home, where children earn money by completing age-appropriate chores around the house. Students then combine their collective earnings and create a list of healthy food items to purchase. The students take a trip to the local grocery store, purchase the items on the list with their own, hard-earned money, and then donate them to a local food bank or shelter. Learning is supported by classroom discussions about how shelters and food banks help people and some classrooms take trips to visit them, further solidifying their understanding of the role these places play in their community. 

Going far beyond a traditional food drive, this technique brings the message home to kids about what it really means to give without expectation. What a wonderful way to really teach generosity and caring to our kids. We will be incorporating this into our family calendar without delay. 

What character traits are most important to your family and how do you model or teach them to your children? Are traits like honesty and empathy taught at your child’s school? Comment to share your experiences with our community.

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