Early Character Formation
As parents, one of our primary duties is to teach our children the right attitudes they need so they may grow into balanced, confident, competent, responsible men and women. What could be more important than this?
A Different Kind of Preschool
Raising happy, well-adjusted, and successful children is every parent’s dream. At Meadows Academy, we’re building a special kind of preschool that not only focuses on children’s intellectual growth and academic achievement, but also emphasizes the importance of nurturing the right habits and attitudes necessary to live a fuller life. A balanced approach to early childhood education forms a solid foundation necessary for future happiness and success.
Why Focus on Virtues
Strong character is formed when habitual, permanent attitudes are integrated into one’s personality. Once they’re internalized, these fundamental strengths of mind and will form the basis by which someone approaches life and all its circumstances. These habits and attitudes have sometimes been called the virtues: faith, hope, charity, justice, prudence, fortitude, and temperance. Whether we call them virtues or strength of character, they’re not acquired easily or naturally. No one is certainly born with them. If children don’t learn these strengths from their parents or while they’re in school, they usually grow up without them. They retain the weaknesses of childhood and remain immature, self-centered, self-indulgent, irresponsible, and without much faith or confidence in themselves.
Why Timing is Important
Given their critical importance, it’s never too early for parents to start educating their children in the virtues and how to live them. The younger children are exposed and taught how to practice the virtues and develop positive character traits, the better. As many parents who have gone through the process can attest, by the time children reach their teen years, the battle for character formation has largely already been fought and its outcome long determined by the efforts undertaken early on. Hence, the imperative is to “catch” children while they’re still young, teachable, and moldable.
Our Approach to Early Character Formation
Our methodology for early character formation is comprised of 4 components. We teach the virtues by example, through guided practice, the use of words or explanations, and using imagination.
Children learn character mostly, and most deeply, through their parents’ example. They also acquire virtues when they imitate people whose character they admire. Meadows Academy is a place where teachers and parents make a serious commitment to growing in virtues. Our teachers strive to be good role models to students. Children’s characters are formed by the good habits they see and emulate.
Reading a good story opens children’s hearts and fires their imagination. When trying to teach children how to behave the right way in a particular situation, a powerful story alone does its own work.
The lessons need not be spelled out to them; they get the picture right away and try to do the right thing.
We also take the time to talk to children about obedience, sincerity, loyalty, or any other virtue.
While it is not easy for children to understand abstract words or concepts, explanations increasingly make more sense to them as they grow intellectually.
Teaching virtues through guided practice involves establishing academic or behavioral expectations in children, helping them meet these expectations, and supporting them along the way until goals are met. Strength of character is shaped when children learn by doing. Virtues are formed when children practice repeatedly.