MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
A healthy school environment is essential in the development and success of students in grade school. This is why children all over the United States are being introduced to school at ages as early as two-years-old.
To reinforce good character traits in hopes of fostering a highly effective learning environment, Cherry Point’s Child Development Center instituted the Character Counts curriculum to assist staff in building positive character traits in students as young as two-years-old.
Character Counts is a developmental program that introduces traits like trustworthiness, respect and responsibility to school age children to develop positive communication between young people.
The curriculum is presented to the children during bi-monthly reading sessions and puppet shows with personnel from Cherry Point’s Marine and Family Programs, according to Kathy Blythe, an education technician at the CDC.
“The puppet show is another avenue for the kids to get introduced to the traits and to also witness some of the struggles they may be confronted with,” said Blythe. “The children can relate to the different characters they have been shown.
"It’s nice for the kids to be able to see it, watch it, think about it and refer back to it.”
The children listened to books like “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day,” “That is Not My Hat,” and “The Duckling Gets a Cookie,” which all revolve around the theme fairness.
Through guided discussions, the children were able to express their feelings about the characters in the books. Blythe said she hopes it will help them identify the same characteristics in their peers and family members.
“They are getting the knowledge by what we teach and then having the supplement of someone else coming in and reinforcing what we are teaching them making it a full circle moment,” said Blythe. “Parents are also getting it because the children are going home and sharing what they are learning and what they are experiencing in school.”
School and home should reinforce each other, according to Blythe. The curriculum taught at the CDC is effective because of the variety of learning models used. The learning is personalized by a variety of experiences, which opens constant opportunities for practice.
“Children are taught positive values and morals and the school system should build on that,” said Blythe. “Positivity is what lowers school violence and teaching the kids at an early age will hopefully prevent behavioral concerns in the future.”
It’s amazing to see from month to month how much the children remember from past shows, said Amy Zier, a readiness and deployment support trainer with Marine Corps Family Team Building.
“Using the puppets to tell stories and act out situations helps make topics that can be very broad and complicated, like responsibility, more age-appropriate and on their level of thinking,” said Zier.
While the purpose of the curriculum is to get the children to learn, the teaching method proves fun for both the students and the instructors, according to Zier.
“We have just as much fun performing the shows as the children do watching them,” said Zier. “It’s heartwarming to see how excited they are and hear their responses during the show.”