Teaching character education one pillar at a time – Part 3: Responsibility

Who is in charge? In this third article on character education, we’ll learn about responsibility and how important this is for youth to practice.

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.

Visiting the CHARACTER COUNTS! website, there are many activities you can use with youth of all ages. Adult character education is also included in this website, but in this article we’ll focus on youth-on-youth. In this third article in a series featuring the six pillars of CHARACTER COUNTS! (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship), we’ll discuss character education and share information on the third pillar, responsibility, and what it means for youth and adults.

Being responsible can be taught at an early age and home is a good place for learning to happen. Kids can do small types of chores around the house to start learning responsibility. Taking care of their own toys and clothes makes it more personal to them. In high school, youth may belong to the student council or the National Honor Society or be a team captain, where the need for being responsible is not only to themselves, but to others. Responsibility is learned and goes hand-in-hand with the other two pillars we have discussed, trustworthiness and respect.

Information in this article comes from the CHARACTER COUNTS! curriculum. The color related to responsibility is green. Be creative of using the colors when talking about each character. Have treats using the color green for younger children to get the concept across, such as broccoli, celery or make popcorn balls using green food coloring.

Some traits of responsibility are:

  • Being accountable
  • Doing what you are supposed to do
  • Persevere
  • Using self-control
  • Thinking before you act

What are our responsibilities? What does it mean to be responsible for something? When working with fourth to sixth graders, youth can discuss the concept of being responsible. They have specific duties for the rest of their lives, such as decision-making, being in charge or caring for others. In 4-H, a good example is when raising livestock market animals, youth are responsible for feeding, watering and housing these animals. If a mess is made, you are responsible for cleaning it up. Character education incorporates life skills and lifelong learning so youth become successful adults.

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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