If anything summarized the most important lessons I taught my preschool kiddos, it would have to revolve around character. When the kids left my classroom for Kindergarten, character is the most important aspect of my teaching I wanted them to leave with.
There are many important things children learn in preschool. Letters, numbers, colors… all kinds of things. There are many social-emotional skills like sharing and taking turns. And all of those gross motor and fine motor lessons children accomplish. Children learn across a spectrum of disciplines.
And the reason why it’s so important that children learn these concepts at a young age is because they will take the lessons with them their entire lives. Think about it. No matter how far back you think, there are some things that you don’t remember learning. You just know because you know. You know?
For example, I knew my letters by an early age. I don’t remember learning them. I just went into Kindergarten (without attending preschool) knowing the alphabet. Later, I found out from my parents – and I can’t believe I’m gonna share this – that I was taught the alphabet while I was potty training (the letters distracting me from being afraid of falling into the toilet…the struggle is real).
Still, I never remember learning my letters. I just knew them.
Now, think about character. How cool would it be for children to just know how to be charitable? Or, how about learning how to attend to someone else’s emotional needs, like compassion and empathy? How about doing the right thing when no one is looking?
Situations presented themselves as “teachable moments”.
How cool would that be? You know?
I taught many character lessons throughout my preschool teaching career. However, most of them were unplanned. Situations presented themselves as “teachable moments”.
Like, when a child is crying and I see a child go out of their way to help. I put a spotlight on that.
Or when a child is cleaning an area of the classroom that they didn’t play in. They just know that, before we go outside, the classroom should be clean. And a teacher never told them to do it. I put a spotlight on that.
Or when a child sacrifices something, like a turn at a game or materials, because they can tell that it means something more important to a friend. That’s pretty cool.
Character, above all else, were the most important lessons I wanted my kiddos to remember. I tell people constantly that, if I saw my students later in life as adults, I would consider those who were honest, trustworthy, and good as successes over those who were simply rich or acquired material wealth.
Although I don’t teach today, I still try and pass along my conviction of character lessons to other teachers. I share stories when I teach college students. I’ve made character certificates that teachers can print and pass out to their students. Most of all, I have children of my own who I will pass along my morals and values.
Character. It’s important. You know?