Teaching character education one pillar at a time – Part 2: Respect

In this second article dealing with character education, we will be looking at respect and learning some tips to share with youth.

Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Programs offer youth ages 5 to 19 years old a chance to learn new skills, make decisions and healthy choices and have fun. Whether youth join a 4-H club or attend a one-time training, character education can be incorporated in the program or club meeting. Now more than ever, character education needs to be on the agenda.

The Six Pillars of Character are the core ethical values of CHARACTER COUNTS!, which were founded in 1992. They are:

  1. Trustworthiness
  2. Respect
  3. Responsibility
  4. Fairness
  5. Citizenship
  6. Caring

In this second article featuring the six pillars of CHARACTER COUNTS!, we will be sharing ideas on respect. What is respect, what does it mean and how can it be used?

The color representing respect is yellow/gold. The traits of each of the six pillars give students a culture of being positive and to create a kindness within. The most important trait associated with respect would be to “follow the Golden Rule.” Treat others as you would like to be treated. Use good manners, be considerate of others, listen and be of good character.

Some ideas for school-wide activities are to have the six pillars on the walls and have youth cover the paper with quotes, slogans or artwork depicting each pillar; share over morning announcements a message using one of the characters; have a pillar of the month and do activities around it; or make up table tents using the six pillars and have them sitting out for youth to discuss around lunch or other classroom break times. More ideas can be found in “Good Ideas to Help Young People Develop Good Character, Volume 2.”

The following is an activity on respect that can be used in a small club setting or in afterschool programs. Have youth do a “Respect Journal” where they are given a small notebook and pencil or pen and are asked to work on short daily entries. First, have youth talk about respect and what it means to them. They can also write down examples. This activity should be done regularly. They can also make journal entries with sentences provided to them, such as:

  • When talking to others, I show respect by…
  • My parents respect me by…
  • My parents know I respect them when…

CHARACTER COUNTS! is a great way to get youth to start thinking about the six pillars and understanding what they mean and trying the suggested activities. Stay tuned for the next four pillars in upcoming articles.

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our 2016 impact report: “Preparing young children for success” and “Preparing the future generation for success.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

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