A person’s character tells of his upbringing and true worth. Instilling the right values and nurturing a person beyond academics should start from young.
As a child, my Father taught me to greet my elders whenever I met them. So during festivities when we meet the extended families, we make it a point to “rehearse” who we expect to meet, along with how they should be addressed in terms of seniority. This left a strong impression on me. However, these days any elder – whether known to us or stranger along the street is casually referred to as an “uncle” or “auntie” – this definitely shouldn’t be when it comes to keeping our traditions alive. We should know how to address people respectfully based on their seniority.
Learning to respect our elders and understanding our roots is fundamental to being part of a family. Over the years, my father has ingrained in us several values which I hold close to my heart. A person’s success may not be measured just by monetary assets or an impressive scorecard. While it’s undeniable that academic qualifications are essential, especially in Singapore, a person’s character makes a stark difference, and education specialists recognise that this aspect of a person should be nurtured from young.
In recent years, more and more parents have begun to focus on how early their child is able to reach his developmental milestones and that too ahead of his peers. Comparing academic results seems like a common practice with this competitive streak, and social values and personal character seem to have taken a back seat.
Psychology of a young child
Values are harder to teach later in life, and should be inculcated from the beginning through personal experiences instead of boring textbooks.
The combined findings of Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development and Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development explain how a child develops moral reasoning, the different stages of learnings for a child and how a child can learn to build his character.
“It is important to understand a child’s abilities to know, feel and convey these moral values into actions when they are at a younger age as a way of enhancing a child’s life and learning”, shares Dr Connie Lum, Head of Chinese Language Curriculum at NTUC First Campus, who founded the Chinese Character Building Program for students between 4 – 6 years old.
Coupled with in-depth research about our local Chinese traditions and festivities, and discovering how little our young students know and understand about them, Dr Lum realises that culture and values differ even between different Chinese students from across the regions. She explains that values are very important and form the key to a person and his future, academic skills aside. Thus, greater attention should be placed on instilling the core values to our children.
This understanding is what drives the development of the immersive Chinese Character Building Curriculum which emphasises on four core aspects: Respect, Responsibility, Honesty and Care. These values are seamlessly incorporated into the children’s daily activities. Between 4 – 6 years of age, children’s cognitive, social and emotional developments are strengthened through social interactions. At this stage, children master the concept of sharing and taking turns, and are able to understand instructions and can tell right from wrong.
So, how can we impart these core values into the lives of young children? Read on to find out more.