December's Character Trait
"Children learn what they live. If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient. If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice. If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith." (by Dorothy Law Neite)
An important and ongoing task for the adults in a child's life is to mentor respect. Respect is an essential core value in any successful educational environment, and it can only be learned in relationship to others - not in isolation - as its basis is empathy.
First and foremost, the adults must model respect for each other. How parents treat each other, how teachers speak to each other, and how administrators communicate with faculty and staff set standards for respect that children observe and learn. The fruit of this mentoring is the development of both self respect and respect for others in each child. Self respect is the light within that fosters kindness, forgiveness, and the willingness to share or resolve issues. Respect for others is what fuels a desire to be kind, honest, helpful, and understanding.
These are the most evident and necessary respectful acts to model for and to expect from children:
- Listen (intently and actively)
- Use good manners
- Be helpful and kind
- Be fair and just
- Make new friends, while keeping the old
- Resolve conflict calmly and willingly
- Understand differences and accept them
"Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners." (by Laurence Sterne)
All of these actions are demonstrations of social competence. Children who are socially competent have a strong sense of self worth, use good judgment, and make the classroom, home, and/or the community in which they reside a better place to be. They can get their own needs met while being considerate of the rights and needs of others. They show care and affection, and help solve problems without choosing sides or excluding others.
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." (by Leo F. Buscaglia)
In families, classrooms, and small schools like Warren-Walker, we need to intentionally restore relationships, remove barriers, and hold the worth of others in high esteem. In doing so, we construct and maintain an atmosphere of respect that allows us to focus on helping each child achieve to his or her highest and fullest potential.
Pam Volker, Headmistress