Partner Post – Children’s Character Development Gap
Schools have a vital role in helping children develop positive character “virtues” and soft skills, and despite schools’ efforts, remote education has created a character development gap that needs to be filled, writes Tim Ballard.
When the Covid-19 pandemic forced schools to close, teachers quickly implemented various home learning approaches in a valiant effort to stay in contact with their children and deliver the school curriculum. However, most home learning focuses on what can be done remotely and in isolation such as reading, writing, arithmetic, and, depending on the level of parental support, the occasional craft project. What is missing is activities that explicitly require and develop courage, honesty, generosity, integrity, humility, and resilience, which is known loosely as character education.
These activities prepare children for the opportunities, responsibilities, and experiences of later life, which is a part of a school’s duty under the Education Act (2002). The importance of this is reiterated in the DfE’s Character Education Framework Guidance (2019), which states that character education is a part of promoting “the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural (SMSC) development of pupils.”
Most of these activities require interaction with peers and non-family members but that has been discouraged for over a year. In addition, much character education happens implicitly through frequent daily interaction with peers and staff during other planned activities, and this has also been missed. The negative impact on the mental health of young people from having missed out on important character development is still being felt as young people return to the classroom.
So, what’s the answer? Let us give children a boost to their character development by making them aware of all the opportunities for character development that now exist and will shortly be available to them once more. Praise them for getting involved to grow their confidence and help them become better versions of themselves for the future. Foster a growth mindset so that young learners believe that they can learn to adapt to new situations and develop new skills because, as we know, learning does not stop when you leave school.
There are hundreds of character development opportunities suitable for all ages that range from volunteering and fundraising to mentoring others and public speaking. They can try new sports, learn to ride a bike, or simply maintain impeccable school uniform.
Online software such as “Pupil Reward Points” enables children to discover these activities and record them as achievements to be celebrated and shared with school staff and parents. Schools using Xporter can sign up and benefit from using Pupil Reward Points in as little as 48 hours (subscription fee applies).
For more information, visit www.pupilrewardpoints.co.uk/character_building