OUR CHARACTER BUILDING
DEVELOPING SKILLS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
How do children learn? For many years, the focus in research has been on how children learn to think and how they develop language and communication skills. Much less research has investigated how children learn to feel and express emotions, and how they develop the ability to become the “boss” of those feelings. This ability to manage emotions is part of self-regulation. It is strange to consider now, but for a long time, emotional development was considered unimportant, secondary to “higher order” functions such as reason (Damasio, 1994).
We now know that all areas are interconnected and developing together – language, emotions, thinking – rendering it ineffective to focus on one area without the others. We also know that children learn best in an environment that acknowledges this interconnectivity and thus focuses on both cognitive and emotional development. Now there is a significant explosion of knowledge that tells us that healthy development cannot occur without positive relationships between children and the important people who are in their lives, this includes within and beyond the family. As Dr. Jack Shonkoff states, “young children experience their world as an environment of relationships, and these relationships affect virtually every aspect of their development” (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2004). Relationships are the active ingredient in healthy growth, especially brain development. (Ontario Ministry of Education, Think, Feel and Act 2013)
Bambini Creativi adopts Conscious Discipline, a comprehensive self-regulation program that integrates social-emotional learning and discipline. This model focuses on building character through empowerment and making positive choices. It allows teachers to capitalize on “teachable moments” through everyday interactions and experiences in the classroom. Conscious Discipline supports educators and parents to become coaches, guides, and mentors by helping children recognize their emotions and the emotions of others; by helping children understand their intentions or motives; by helping children verbalize thoughts and feelings; and more importantly, by helping children generate possible solutions for resolving conflicts.
Bambini Creativi’s character building program supports and promotes what it means to work and live in a community as an “Amici” (friend in Italian). We want to develop in each student an informed conscience that will lead him or her to choosing responsible and ethical behavior.
We work on impulse control by guiding children to think before acting. We work on assertiveness so children can set boundaries and prevent bullying and encourage respectful interactions within their community. We create a safe environment where children feel secure to manage their feelings. We incorporate the core values of respect, responsibility, honesty, empathy, and compassion.
Character education becomes part of a child’s everyday experience by teaching, promoting and modeling a set of life skills. These life skills are a list of prosocial behaviors that support successful choices and creates positive attitudes. support successful choices and creates positive attitudes.