In our ever-changing world, we want our children and young people to be equipped with the understanding and belief that they have what it takes to deal with life’s different situations and challenges. Supporting children to identify when they have used particular character qualities and to recognise the impact these have on themselves and other is a strong way to help children build their confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing.
Taking the time to recognise when my children have shown kindness to others, perseverance when trying to do a difficult task as well as the courage to try something new and challenging has helped support them with their own personal growth, giving them an understanding of how what they do has an impact on others as well as themselves.
During lockdown we have of course been keeping busy with home schooling, but as well we’ve been trying to provide engaging activities connected to what the children themselves have suggested they want to learn about. I have also been working from home, so it has sometimes been a bit of a juggle trying to do everything at once. I have really had to think about how I can be flexible with what I do, as well as be patient and understanding. Alongside this I have spent time with my children looking at different activities that I feel will support their well-being and happiness.
We are spending quite a bit of time thinking of other people, in particular our families and friends. Particularly, what are some of the things we could do to show that we care about them when they may be feeling overwhelmed or unhappy during these difficult times?
We decided to spend some time working on an activity about caring. Have a look at the Character Tree card on ‘Caring’ below, to start a discussion with your family. Each week I am using my Character Tree cards with my children - they pick a virtue and then we discuss and reflect on what it means. (Character Tree Cards are a set of cards with different character qualities on them. I created them as a starting point to discuss what particular qualities mean and to help facilitate a discussion)
Character Tree Cards created by Shona Pye from The Character Tree
Children’s Activities on Caring – Focusing on the positive can support our happiness and wellbeing
Spend some time thinking about what Caring looks like at home and in our community.
How do others feel when we show caring towards them?
How do we feel when someone is kind and caring towards us?
How do you feel after you have been kind and caring to others?
KS1 & KS2 – Butterfly and Caterpillar Caring Activity
These are two of the questions that we discussed while having a go at this activity (see examples below). Think about the impact that your caring has on others and how they might feel. Talk about the things you do, or might do, at home that show you care - for example making a cup of tea for someone or sharing your toys with your brother or sister. Write or draw your thoughts and feelings in the templates provided.
For example, my daughter has been writing little notes and putting them in my handbag or in my husbands packed lunch when we have had to go out or to work. It’s been uplifting to find her thoughtful notes, which bring such joy and happiness.
Having enjoyed this activity with my children we have now spent time thinking about how we could make some of these caring and thoughtful ideas happen.
So far, we have written letters and cards to friends and family and even baked cakes for some of our neighbours. We have put a call out to anyone who might need their dog walking as well as taking time to organise face to face calls with family and friends that we may not have spoken to for a while. What are some of the ideas you and your children can come up with?
The rewards we as parents have received from our amazing kids in doing this activity have been immense - from thoughtful notes left in the kitchen each day to washing being hung up, plants in the garden being watered or a cup of tea in bed at the weekend.
Please see below a couple of the messages my daughter has left on the board in our kitchen.
I have felt overwhelmed at times and wondered what impact this whole lockdown experience might be having on our children as well as the children of key workers in the schools that I would normally be working with. However, I will say that having spent time with my children reflecting on all the wonderful qualities they have and giving them the time to discuss these has given them hope and a positive attitude.
My children and I will continue each week to choose a character quality that we feel is important during this time. There are so many and it’s sometimes hard to choose. These are some of the ones we have been thinking about: Courage – to be brave during difficult times; Co-operation – working together to achieve things we need to get done or to help others; Optimism - to be hopeful about our future; Perseverance - to keep going when things might be difficult and to find a positive solution; Flexibility – being open to the idea that things might change and that we are having to adapt to the unexpected. I am not sure which one I will choose yet for my next post, which one would you choose?
One thing I am sure of is that the more we draw on these innate resources that we all possess, the stronger we will feel and the easier it will be to find our way forward.
Thanks to Shona Pye, author of Character Education: The Star Awards Programme for Primary Schools and creator of the Character Tree cards, for this blog.
TagsWellbeing and Character Education