About Character First ...
Character First is a character focused curriculum program. The program focuses on 22 character traits including attentiveness, compassion, conservation, determination, enthusiasm, forgiveness, loyalty, orderliness, self-control, tolerance, and wisdom to name a few. Each character trait is taught individually with its own teacher's guide and activity lessons. The traits can be taught in any order, and it is not a prerequisite to have prior knowledge of the trait or other character traits. Character First isn't a religious curriculum. I appreciate this because character isn't about religion, but it is about the moral qualities of a person.
The curriculum includes the instructional guide which contains lessons, projects, stories, and more. There are also additional resources are available such as anchor charts and trait cards.
How We Use Character First ...
I am using the program with my 12 and 9 year old daughters. We started off by studying the trait, responsibility. Each trait is taught in three sections. When we started responsibility, we used day one to define responsibility and to discuss our current responsibilities in the different roles we play such as student, sister, daughter, etc. After the discussion, we followed up with a project which called for my daughters to create a "No Excuses" sign. Section two included more discussions and projects. In section three, we discussed the included story, "The Bald Eagle". Each trait has an animal that it highlights and relates the animal to the trait. Not only does each trait guide highlights an animal, but also a distinguished person. For example, the responsibility guide shared a story about George Washington Carver. There is also more information available on the Character First website about the person.
We completed one section each week versus rushing through the trait. This worked well for us because we had time to discuss the trait for more than one week. Since studying character traits has become intentional, it has impacted our home in positive ways. I now intentionally mention to the girls when they are displaying a positive character trait such as pointing out how responsible they are for cleaning their room or the bathroom without prior instruction.
Thoughts about Character First Curriculum ...
As a parent, I really like the program. It is clear. It provides for roundtable discussions that we may not have embarked on otherwise.
As a teacher, I love the program for the same reasons, but I can see the benefit of using the program in a larger group setting so that children can engage with their peers. I am not saying that the program didn't work well for just the three of us, but I did wonder how other children may respond to the activities. Also, there are a few activities that are written for larger groups.
Even though I see the benefit of using the curriculum in a small group, I would still recommend it to families because it is a fun, clear way to teach a broad range of character traits to your children.
Join my Character First Class
After the girls and I started the program, we all agreed that it would be fun to learn about the character traits in a small group setting. I created a class on Outschool.com that meets once a week for 45 minutes for three weeks to study a new character trait each month. This class is perfect for parents who would like for their children to learn in a small group setting without the responsibilities of a co-op. The first character class begins in April 2017.