What they see is what we get: Character Education has been a part of the Early Childhood curriculum for over a century. But young children develop a value system more by what they see than by what is contained in a lesson plan. In fact, parental example is the primary standard by which young children measure acceptable behavior.
Therefore, if we want our children to be decent, disciplined adults, guided by an inner compass of moral integrity, we must be vigilant to monitor the character of our own souls.
One Teacher’s Account:
Polly’s gift – Three generations later: When I was 10, I shattered my leg at the base of a tree while sledding down Lightning Hill. When I returned home from the hospital, Polly delivered a large yellow “Sunshine Box” filled with enough gifts to last the long and difficult convalescence. It was a gesture of kindness I had never known.
From that time on, I watched Polly’s parents more closely. Her father was a painting contractor and worked hard to support their family and modest home. One year Polly’s mother drove us to The Haden Planetarium in New York City because she wanted us to know about astronomy. When we had a flat tire, midtown, during a rainstorm, she kept us safe. I was more impressed by her courage and strength than by the constellations.
As the years passed, Polly’s grandparents became totally disabled. The family made concessions and moved both Grandma and Grandpa into the tiny bedroom that was once a child’s paradise. I remember seeing her mother give injections to the bedridden elders, keeping them comfortable as they deteriorated. There was no complaint. Just joy, peace, uprightness, and strength.
I moved away when I became an adult. They never knew the impact they had on my life or on the lives of my yet-to-be-born children. They never knew of the Sunshine Boxes we passed on for 30 years, or of the compassion my adult children now demonstrate for those in need. But Polly’s family and the legacy of what it means to be guided by generosity and moral integrity has had a ripple effect of enormous proportion.
Our Heritage: Let us be diligent to carefully transfer values of love and grace to those around us. Let us guide young souls with kindness and honesty. And let us set a standard of integrity that shines brightly in the face of all we hold dear. Our children – and their friends – are watching.
The character of a man is not inherited.
It is assembled – daily, from the little acts of justice in his midst.
Compassion is shown. Kindness is passed on.
And integrity is fostered deep in a man’s soul.
Let us set the standard toward which our children can strive.
Let us all lead lives that are evident in truth and character.
For we have been given a holy calling –
to create a new world, one little life at a time.
Character Education’s Honorable Dozen:
- Integrity (see Let Us Set the Standard)
- Truth/honesty (see Embroidered Truth)
- Respect for others
- Self-respect – End –