All parents want their children to reach their full potential. That’s why we agonize over decisions like where to send them to preschool, what sport they should play, what extracurricular activities we should find for them, how to help them achieve their academic potential, and more.
It’s also why we cringe when they call someone a mean name, forget their manners, or refuse to share.
But just like a beginner soccer player has to learn the fundamentals of kicking, stopping, aiming, and more, our preschool children need to learn the fundamentals of character. Your 3-year-old isn’t ready to share every time she needs to, he doesn’t yet know how to overcome his fear of speaking in front of the class, she doesn’t know how to patiently wait for something in the future, and he still struggles to use his words when he’s angry.
That’s why it’s important to gently teach character traits in preschool. Children have so much to learn, and a nurturing environment in which teachers patiently coach children through big concepts like gratitude, patience, respect, and more will help your child gradually build on skills so that her character will allow her to reach her full potential.
[7 Ways to Teach Your Preschooler to Be Respectful]
Teaching Character Traits in Preschool Helps Your Child’s Future Self
Character traits take skills. You have to learn the foundational skills of problem solving before you can negotiate sharing on the playground.
When we teach problem solving at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we teach the children how to use their words to express what they want. We also teach them how to state their feelings in clear ways, and we teach them to listen to other people’s feelings. Through this process, they learn to understand what they truly want and to hear and understand what others want. They become very good problem solvers as they try to find solutions that work for all parties involved.
We tie our character trait learning into our weekly themes as often as possible, so during our royalty week, we talked about how to act like royalty and use our words to find solutions.
As children learn these skills now, they develop a strong self-esteem and confidence to help them navigate their future life. Learning problem solving skills at a young age helps children develop resilience and grit, as well as integrity and forgiveness.
Set Your Child Up for Lifelong Learning
Studies have shown that when character education is included in school curriculum, academic performance (and even attendance) increases, while disciplinary problems decrease.
Learning about, and being encouraged to develop, traits like honesty, fairness, compassion, and patience creates a safe place where children want to be. It also helps children feel prepared to learn and to absorb the skills necessary to become lifelong learners.
At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we teach children they are responsible for their bodies, their actions, their words, their learning, and more. During a week focused on safety, we become “Super Safety Kids” who learn the rules of interacting with strangers, crossing streets, getting help from firefighters or police officers, and more.
The children learn they are responsible for taking care of their safety and making their environment safe for others. This emphasis on responsibility helps them understand they are also responsible to do their best in academics, learning, and friendships.
We also focus for a whole month on the character trait of courage, helping the children learn for themselves that they don’t have to be perfect at everything. They just have to have courage to try to do hard things, like learn new things in school or try new things.
After watching caterpillars turn into butterflies, we do a butterfly release every fall. The children gather around and give encouragement to the butterflies. “Have courage! You can do it!” they shout. When the butterflies take flight, the children are ecstatic and easily see the connection to courage and the many new, big things they have to do as preschoolers.
Help Your Child Have Better Relationships
Children who learn character traits have better success in relationships both at school and outside of school. They learn to be more forgiving, responsible, caring, and compassionate.
They also learn how to cooperate with others, to tolerate different viewpoints, and to respect the needs of others.
At UDA, we help teach compassion by participating in Project Sleep Tight. Our students bring in donations of blankets, stuffed animals, and books to share with children who are homeless. As we assemble the kits, we have some of our most meaningful conversations with the children. They really think about what it means to be someone else and how to help others. At this age, they feel compassion without even trying, and the project helps solidify that strength they already have.
Help Your Child Be a Good Neighbor and Citizen
When children are taught that their behavior impacts others, they learn that they matter in their community and beyond. They feel anchored and important, and that leads them to be their best selves in all aspects of life. When they become adults and take on roles as parents, employees, business owners, neighbors, and more, they contribute in meaningful ways to a better community and world.
At UDA, we take a trip around the world while we learn about being compassionate and respectful. We learn about other cultures and different traditions, while also thinking of our own traditions in our own cultures. The children learn they are part of a family. That family is in a city, which is in a state, which is in a country, which is in the world. They become aware of who they are in this world and how they can have respect for people who are both the same and different from them.
Preschool is so much more than learning ABCs and 123s. Children really begin to develop in who they are during their preschool years. Teaching character traits in preschool is essential to helping children develop their whole selves.
Come visit us! Call UDA Creative Arts Preschool at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online to set up a tour.