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?
Driving the lessons of value in character building
In a typical school day, a child engages in systematic focus to learn about responsibility – she does it through set tasks such as marking of her own attendance at the start of each day. After meals, the children are taught to respect others by taking turns to queue for their bath time. These may sound like simple tasks but the intricate approach behind them spur social interaction skills and get the children thinking and caring for others by being more aware of the environment they are in.
Besides the incorporation of child character building exercises into everyday school life, the children also actively participate in their intensive once-weekly session. In these weekly sessions, the teacher embarks on a learning journey together with the kids. Stemming from the beliefs that teachers are role models, My First Skool holds that each teacher should undergo self-reflection prior to instilling these values gracefully in her class.
Each class teacher is actively involved in developing lesson plans mapped out on how to translate a certain value into a kid-friendly activity or learning lesson, so that it is easy for a young child to understand and relate before inculcating into their own minds.
Says, Dr Lum, “We are heartened to see that our students are displaying what they have learned through their actions even during teamwork. In a recent origami class for our K2 students, student-leaders appointed to teach origami took their roles seriously and exuded patience in explaining the steps to classmates who were lagging behind. Students raised their hands first before asking questions and this created positive group dynamics which is very encouraging for learning.”
With awareness of the value taught, students discover about their emotions and learn how to manage them. My First Skool devised a variety of stories, role-plays and hypothetical exchanges so students pick up teachings through interactive discussions, critical thinking and simulated activities which make it exciting for the students to learn through play. Conducted in Mandarin, the programme helps evoke a sense of culture and builds the love for the language through experiential learning.
Back home, parents can take on a proactive involvement approach to discuss with their child on the activities done in school, or observe their own child’s behaviour to see if the little ones have remembered to embrace these values consciously and to reinforce them.
What to expect at My First Skool
At My First Skool, the educators aim to create inspiring moments and cherish each child by going beyond academics. Experienced teachers and professors make up the team to form the education and curriculum-based program to work towards developing a holistic person in your child.
If this program existed when I was in school, I am pretty sure my father would have signed me up, pronto.
To this day, I make it a point to acknowledge my elders and my husband’s side of the family whenever we meet. Although at times, it makes me sound like a little girl greeting them, traditions go beyond age and such values would definitely be imparted to my child.
To find out more about the The Skool-aCe© Programme Enhanced with Character Building for 4-6 Year-olds, visit http://www.myfirstskool.com/our-curriculum/skool-ace-enhanced or call 6509 7887.