Our Opinion: Character education aids learning, life skills

In the nature or nurture debate, nurturing character traits at an early age has undeniable value.

We join in congratulating the Southwest Early Childhood Center for being named a “Missouri State School of Character.” The honor is notable because the Jefferson City Public Schools’ facility becomes the first early childhood school in the nation to receive the distinction.

The award recognizes the commitment and effort of administrators, educators and students. Perhaps more importantly, it recognizes that positive character traits instilled in young people will serve them well throughout life.

In addition to the nature or nurture debate, viewpoints vary on: the respective roles of parents and educators; the comparative virtues of public, parochial or home schooling; and the benefits or drawbacks of various educational models, programs and curriculum.

What is not debated is the need for and value of positive character traits, including self-discipline, respect, kindness, motivation, honesty, trustworthiness, accountability, dependability and more.

Dependable, motivated students are not likely to be truant or cut class.

Honest, trustworthy students are not likely to cheat.

And kind, respectful students are not likely to bully their peers.

Can preschool children understand and incorporate these values?

We think so, particularly when they follow the lesson to learn by doing.

Principal Helen Langston said — as examples — the staff teaches accountability by having students feed the classroom pet and emphasizes being polite by hosting a tea party.

Many of these character traits — including self-discipline, motivation and dependability — are tremendous assets both for learning and for living.

Southwest Early Childhood Center is helping students build character — a strong foundation for growth.

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