How Character Traits Can Make Learning Better

Predicting College Readiness

“It’s important to educate the whole child,” says Dr. Kimberly O’Malley, a senior researcher at Pearson.

trait quote box

“This year we did a study with middle school-aged students,” Kimberly explains. “We looked at student achievement, but also motivation, behavior, social engagement, family circumstances and school characteristics. We learned that motivation and behavior together are substantially more important predictors of college readiness than achievement alone.”

The Most Admired Character Traits

Parents were asked in a 2015 Pew Research Center survey about the character traits they considered most important. Honesty and ethics topped the list that year. One year before, it was responsibility. Another study, the 2015 State of Parenting survey, found respect for others was the number one quality parents sought to cultivate in their children.

Here are some practical ways parents can foster a child’s character development as it relates to their learning:

Character Traits

Trait Box 1

Ninety-four percent of parents in a 2014 Pew Research Center poll listed responsibility as an important trait for their child to possess. One tool that parents can use to teach and instill responsibility is the Talking With Trees online resource hub, which offers downloadable coloring pages that teach good character traits using illustrations and real-world examples.

Trait Box 2

Sixty-two percent of parents in a 2015 Pew Research Center poll said it’s extremely important for their child to be hardworking as an adult. One of the first steps to teaching the value of hard work is increasing the opportunities for children to do some work themselves.

A suggestion: Start small by assigning simple chores and allowing your child to work alone to complete tasks.

Trait Box 3

Seventy-one percent of parents in the 2015 Pew poll cited honesty and ethics as important values.  Check out this tips guide from Making Caring Common, a project of Harvard University’s graduate school of education.

A suggestion: Pick one day of the week and make notes of how honest you and you child were that day. Discuss your notes together. What are the things that surprise you?


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