How Habits Help Children Develop Strong Character
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“We are what we repeatedly do,” said Aristotle. “Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
We all know the power of habit to benefit or harm us. The beauty of good habits is that once formed, they operate like a second nature. At The Oaks Academy we consider habit formation as the foundation of character development. Small acts, done repeatedly, until they are second nature, free us up to focus on new learning and enjoy good relationships.
Students at The Oaks focus on the development of 12 important habits throughout their time at the school, with four introduced in Pre-K/Kindergarten, four added in 2nd grade and the final four added in middle school. The first four habits introduced to students are the habit of attention, obedience, respect, and responsibility; described below.
Habit of Attention
The habit of attention requires that one fix mind and body steadily on the matter at hand.
Habit of Obedience
Obedience is demonstrated by responding immediately and completely to authority, as well as accepting consequences willingly.
Habit of Respect
Showing respect involves using good manners and self-control in words and actions.
Habit of Responsibility
Responsibility is shown when care is given to personal belongings and school property, and tasks are completed.
Do Habits Really Work?
One of our school’s core values is relationships come first, and good habits support good relationships. For example, students are taught that the habit of responsibility includes taking care of the toys in the classroom which someone else is going to use in the future. This helps students understand that practicing responsibility is more than just a task or habit they learn, but a way to show care towards and take care of others.
As habits are trained, young children have the feeling of growing up, which is a delight to them. They no longer have lost their favorite toy because they practiced responsibility and put it away correctly or they have a more enjoyable play date because they practiced respect towards others, and others practiced it towards them. The emotional connection that students make while practicing habits and forming relationships also brings them a sense of happiness.
As parents and educators we sometimes confuse training in habit with teaching. Training is to do, teaching is to know. While most schools focus on teaching alone, at The Oaks we come alongside parents to support in training as well – developing good character along with knowledge.
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A special tradition for 5th grade students, the Patriotic Speech Festival is an opportunity to research and perform a memorized speech from a great American patriot.