Building Cranium Character – Creating Good Citizens

Today many parents are not only searching for schools that will set up their children for strong academic success, but also for schools that will develop their child both socially and emotionally. Strengthening and building a child’s character while in school can be every bit as important as learning reading or math.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education.”  Many preschool and elementary schools focus solely on the academic portion of education. Through character education, children can learn valuable life lessons and develop a more grounded moral compass.  Programs that also teach character education are likely to far exceed parent expectations by encouraging positive character traits and ethical behaviors.

To wrap up our series on Building Cranium Character, it’s important to discuss the benefits of teaching your child how to become a good citizen.  Defined by Merriam Webster as “the quality of a person’s response to membership in a community,” citizenship is a character trait that will have not only a personal impact on your child but a widespread effect on others, as well. When we do good things for our society and for others, it shows that we genuinely care about our community. When children learn these ideals from a young age, they also learn quickly that the feeling of doing good things for others is very rewarding and often contagious.

How you can help your child become a good citizen?

Discuss citizenship and find good examples. You’ll want to first define exactly what a good citizen is, and talk about the responsibilities that come along with being a citizen. You can read books with your child that depict examples of citizenship in action. These real-world scenarios will hopefully encourage your child to become a good citizen now and in the future.

Take your child with you to the polls. Next time election season rolls around, use it as a teaching opportunity for your child. Bring her with you when you go to cast your ballot and teach her the importance of voting in a democracy. Be sure to explain how the candidates and the positions they aspire to hold can have a big impact on your community.

Do community service together. The possibilities for community service are endless, and there are countless ways for you to get your child involved. For example, you can encourage your child to get together the clothes that no longer fit them, and the toys they no longer use, and donate them to organizations like Goodwill. You can take your child with you next time you volunteer to clean up a park or a beach and use it as a way to explain pollution and how it affects both people and animals. Take him grocery shopping with you and have him help you choose the foods that you will donate to a local food pantry. Use this as an opportunity to explain the importance of helping those in the community that are not as fortunate as your family.

Visit your local nursing home. Explain to your child that the elderly in the nursing home often get bored and lonely and that is the responsibility of a good citizen to put a smile on the faces of those that need a little extra cheering up. This is a great way to teach your child how to care for others! You can encourage your child to write cards to the nursing home residents, or help you bake cookies for them. When you arrive at the nursing home, encourage your child to make friends with the residents by handing out the cards and the cookies.

Citizenship at Cranium Academy

At Cranium Academy, we incorporate character education into our advanced, well-rounded curriculum. Our exclusive character education program integrates positive discipline techniques with leadership exercises throughout each school day. We focus on building character traits like citizenship through fun real-world scenarios in which children are encouraged to use creative strategies that align with their emerging cognitive abilities. Finding a school such as Cranium Academy that values character education helps ensure that your child grows stronger academically, physically, socially and emotionally.

Building Cranium Character – Raising a Compassionate Child

When looking for a childcare center for their little one, most parents want to ensure their child is receiving the best academic education. But for young children, there is so much more to learn than ABCs and 123s. It’s important to look at the learning environment and the overall atmosphere of the establishment. In addition to academic development, does the childcare center prioritize the importance of learning valuable life lessons and developing a good moral compass? The best childcare center will focus on social and emotional development just as much as cognitive and physical development. They will teach children good character traits and ethical behaviors. They will recognize the importance of character education.

Character education is an ongoing process that helps children learn to become moral, caring, responsible individuals. Lessons focus on values such as respect, caring, citizenship, and compassion. Successful character education programs bring lessons in character values to life, putting values in simple terms for your child. Compassion is the desire to help someone who’s in distress. It is a feeling that can be acted upon in many ways. Here are some techniques you can use at home to help your child understand and exercise compassion:

Read about it

Reading about compassion is a great way for your child to better grasp the concept. There are some children’s books that do a great job of depicting scenarios where compassion is needed. Books such as The Teddy Bear by David McPhail, and A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead & Erin Stead, will spark conversations between you and your child about compassion and empathy. You can seize these conversations as the perfect teaching moments to explain the importance of caring and compassion. It’s important to ask your child questions to get them thinking, such as ‘Why do you think that child felt that way?”  “How would you feel if that happened to you?” and “How could he have handled that with more compassion?”

Emulate it

Children often learn quickly by observing your actions. That’s why it’s so important for you to act compassionately on a regular basis. You can do this by handling your day-to-day interactions with people in such a way in which your child is able to watch you be compassionate. For example, if you encounter a person that needs help, such as an elderly person coming out of the grocery store with heavy bags, stop what you are doing and offer to help. It’s important for you to take spontaneous opportunities like that, so your child sees that anytime is the right time to be compassionate, and to engage in acts of kindness toward others.

Act on it

The best way to show your child what compassion is all about is by acting on it. You can do this by giving back to the community through volunteer work. For example, you can take your child with you to donate food to a local pantry, visit a nursing home, or clean up litter in a local park. You can also ask them to help you make activity boxes for kids in local hospitals, which you could fill with playing cards, small games, puzzles, and small books.

Compassion at Cranium Academy

Unlike your average childcare center today, Cranium Academy takes character education seriously. We believe that fostering compassion at an early age is one of the most effective ways to prevent verbal, physical, and emotional aggression from taking hold. That’s why we incorporate compassion, or “caring,” into our character education curriculum. Our engaging character education curriculum utilizes real-world scenarios to help our students learn to use compassion in creative strategies that match their emerging cognitive abilities.

Building Cranium Character – Raising a Respectful Child

Parents (and school teachers) often focus on developing a child’s academic and cognitive skills. Sometimes we overlook the importance of social and emotional development, which can be equally important. While cultivating a child’s reading and math skills is essential, instilling a strong sense of values and character traits that improve social and emotional wellness can be key in helping children succeed.

This is where character education comes in. Character education helps build a moral foundation for children, teaching them valuable social-emotional skills that they will carry with them throughout life. One important element of character education is teaching respect, which can be a complex concept for kids to grasp. To put it in simple terms for your child, you can teach your child that having respect for someone means you should act in a way that shows you care for that person’s feelings and well-being.

Here are some simple ways you can teach your child about respect:

Give examples.

After you explain the concept of respect to your child, it’s important to give them real-world examples. For instance, you can tell them that being quiet in a library is a sign of respect because it shows that you care about others who are trying to read without noise or interruption. By being quiet in the library, you are acting in a positive way towards others which shows that you care about their well-being. This is respect.

Expect disrespect.

There are times when your child will be disrespectful, it’s a natural part of growing up. When these moments arise, it’s important that you have a plan for dealing with them. If you don’t respond properly and consistently to these initial moments of disrespect, the moments are likely to repeat themselves.

Stay calm and earn your child’s respect.

When moments of disrespectful behavior arise, it’s important to stay calm. Don’t overact to the behavior by lashing out and yelling, because you’ll be sending the wrong message and modeling more negative behavior. Instead, ask yourself if your child is even aware that this behavior is disrespectful.

Gauging how to respond to your child will help you with the next step, and give you time to breathe and calm down. Responding calmly during these moments is a good way for you to exercise control over the situation, and earn respect from your child.

Identify the cause of the disrespect.

Sometimes disrespectful behavior is the result of your child’s inability to articulate a specific need, which results in frustration. It’s important for you to ask your child questions to help them express their emotions with words, also helping them understand where their anger is coming from. These heated moments can be great opportunities to show your child how to deal with their emotions in a healthier way. Show your child that, even in difficult situations, you can keep calm and respond respectfully too.

Set a good example.

There’s no better way to teach your child a valuable character trait than by modeling it yourself. Being a respectful role model involves you showing respect to others you encounter throughout your day. You should also try to treat your child with the same respect that you would treat other adults. One way you can do this is by accepting their preferences and independence in little ways.  For example, you can accept their decision to wear an outfit that they put together on their own, even if it’s a little wacky!

Raising a Respectful Child at Cranium Academy

At Cranium Academy, we take character education seriously.  Our exclusive character education program is built around the idea that essential character traits can be developed during early childhood. We believe that respect is one of the core character traits that should be cultivated in each child. One of our goals at Cranium Academy is to find fun, real-world scenarios that help preschool or elementary school age children develop creative strategies surrounding the value of respect. Reinforcing respectful behaviors both at school and at home helps build your child’s character, which will serve them well throughout their life.


Building Cranium Character – Fostering Fairness

Most parents worry about finding a school with the best academic education for their children. But sometimes we forget that cognitive skills are not the only skills that need to be nurtured beginning at a young age. To help children be successful in school and beyond, it’s equally as important to help them develop social and emotional skills.  This is where character education comes in. Character education helps teach children essential life skills and values that they will carry with them throughout their life.

To help preschool and elementary-aged children understand what it really means to have good character, it’s best to keep it simple. Providing basic explanations and examples of what each trait looks like in their day-to-day life is key. One important element of our character is fairness. Let your child know that being fair means treating people equally, honestly and with respect. Fairness also means playing by the rules, taking turns, and not playing favorites. Here are some simple ways to help teach your child how to be fair:

Be a Role Model

Your children are constantly observing you and modeling their behavior after yours. To create a positive influence on your children, try being fair to everyone – your spouse, strangers, waiters, cashiers, etc. As your children see you being fair to everyone, they will learn that fairness is not reserved for only one certain type of person. Your children will benefit from the example you set for them as they begin imitating your fair behavior and speech.

Use Relatable Examples

Children’s books and movies are great tools to use as ways of helping children understand the differences between fair and unfair behaviors. The next time you are watching a movie or reading a book with your child, pause and take a minute to explain the situation unfolding before them. You can ask your child what they think the characters did that was fair, or what they did that was unfair. Movies and books are great teaching tools for fairness because they can make it easier to bring up and discuss important topics with children.

Positively Reinforce Fairness

Recognize your children if and when they exhibit fair behavior in any scenario. If you see them offer another child a turn with their toy or game, that is a reason for praise. If they take responsibility for a mistake they made, let them know they made a fair choice. Make sure that your children know that this kind of behavior makes you proud and that you admire them for it. It’s important to create a link between fairness and positivity so that your children don’t equate fairness with loss or punishment. You can create this link by offering encouragement and praise if/when your children exhibit fairness. Help your children understand that when they are fair in their dealings with others, everyone benefits – including society.

Fostering Fairness at Cranium Academy

At Cranium Academy, we integrate an exclusive character education program into our curriculum. This character education program focuses on building many character traits, one of which is fairness. Using real-world scenarios, character traits are strengthened through creative activities that align with a child’s developing cognitive skills. Our dedicated staff at Cranium Academy understands the importance of character education, striving to help each child build cognitive, social and emotional life skills that they will carry with them as successful students and citizens.

More in the Cranium character series: Responsibility, Generosity, Respect, Caring, and Citizenship

Building Cranium Character – Rearing a Responsible Child

From fairness and generosity to responsibility and respect, instilling good character traits is a high priority for most parents. Children learn about character through their relationships and interactions, and they learn to model the behavior that they see around them. We place a lot of emphasis on academics in education, but are we nurturing the development of life skills while encouraging ethical and responsible behaviors?  This is where character education comes in. Character education is about teaching children valuable life skills and values that they will carry with them throughout their life.

To help children understand what it really means to have good character, it’s best to keep it simple. Providing basic explanations and examples of what each trait looks like in their day-to-day life is key. One important element of our character is responsibility. Let your child know that being responsible means helping others and doing your part. It means always trying your best to follow the rules and do things the right way, even if no one is watching. Here are some simple ways to help teach your child how to be more responsible:

Work Together

Doing chores with your children is a great way to get them to warm up to the idea of responsibility. By inviting your daughter to join you in the housework next time, she may feel like she is being valued. Your child will take pride in being able to help you with your work and will most likely strive to maintain this feeling. Not only does this teach responsibility, but also teamwork.

Lead the Way

It’s important to demonstrate to your child how chores are done before you assign them any of their own. Start with the small tasks, such as showing your son where the hamper is and how to put his clothes in there when he is done wearing them. Then work your way up to larger tasks such as showing him how to clean up a mess when he spills his food or drink.

Give Age-Appropriate Chores/Tasks

If you give your child tasks that are too difficult for her to complete, then she may get frustrated and not want to do them. That’s why it’s important to assign your child chores and tasks that are age appropriate.

For example:

  • A toddler should be able to put the toys away when she is finished playing with them, or carry the dishes to the counter after she is finished eating.
  • A preschooler should be able to set the dinner table, feed a pet, and dust her own room.
  • An elementary aged child should be able to do the dishes, pack their own lunch, and vacuum the rooms.

Teach Consequences

Sometimes your child might not do their chores. When this happens, you can use this as an opportunity to help your child develop a sense of responsibility for his actions. If your child leaves toys lying around the house, tell him that he won’t be able to play with those toys until the next day if he doesn’t pick up after himself.

You will have to put your foot down by taking those toys away. Although there might be some crocodile tears, your child will ultimately learn that if he doesn’t take his responsibilities seriously, then he will suffer the consequences.

Avoid Criticisms

Chances are your four-year-old won’t be making the bed perfectly. It’s important that we manage our own expectations when we start giving our children their own responsibilities. Instead of criticizing them when they don’t meet your expectations, offer them recognition and praise when they do a good job.


At Cranium Academy, we include character education as part of our curriculum. Our character education program integrates building good character traits with positive discipline techniques used throughout the day. Our fun character curriculum involves the use of real-world examples that rely on engaging the students’ cognitive abilities to develop creative strategies. Overall, the goal of our character education program is to encourage students to be ethical and responsible individuals.

More in the Cranium character series: Fairness, Generosity, Respect, Caring, Citizenship