Saturday, August 15, 2015

Social Emotional Learning = Character Building

It was my turn to give a small talk yesterday to a group of moms about teaching virtues to our children. To prepare, I went back to my notes on a talk on virtues that I heard at our kids' school a couple of years ago, where a non Christian speaker who gave the talk, mentioned how much easier it was to teach Social and Emotional Learning in Christian schools than in any other school, because these schools made an emphasis on teaching virtues.  

"Social and Emotional Learning", she said,"... is the process through which children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes and skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations constructively"

I call that: character building.

The virtues needed to build character are: friendship, teamwork, honesty, responsibility, problem solving, respect, kindness, fairness, self-control and compassion. 

The speaker at our school went on to mention that teaching and reenforcing these virtues to school children have had the following positive effects in the short term:

  • Improved class attendance
  • Positive attitude towards learning
  • Less children expelled from school
  • Up to 14 percentile point improvement on standardized tests
  • 11% higher GPAs
  • Improved team work and participation
  • Better concentration, among many others.

All these empirical and anecdotical results make perfect sense; they show that if you practice raising kids focusing your teaching objectives towards improving good habits and virtues, our children will have a solid foundation to live cheerful, successful lives and help others while doing it.


This is a daily effort and a life-long undertaking. Let's keep on doing it! Good luck!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Living the Virtue of Poverty

We just finished packing and sending 130 backpacks that we have collected as donations for poor school children in Venezuela. They are part of an ongoing project (Instagram: #donatubultoytulonchera) to provide young poor children with school supplies. It is great to see the many generous people in South Florida that have helped.

Living the virtue of Poverty has nothing to do with living in poverty. It means using everything we own with care, not throwing away things that are no longer trendy or are just old. It means sewing buttons on shirts, repairing shoes, instead of throwing them in the trash.


Coming from South America, where many things tend to be scarce, perhaps practicing this virtue is easier than in the US:  the land of abundance, where it is so easy to buy new stuff that we may or may not need.  It is no wonder that the US is the most generous country in the world in absolute terms when it comes to donations, but we can do much better. We can teach our children (and remind them constantly) to take care and repair what they own, making sure that they don't throw away what they can donate to the most needy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tell your children: "Set Your Goals, Visualize a Path"

Recently I had an encounter with a group of 17 and 18 year old boys and we were talking about college acceptance, prom, what to do with their free time and what did they look for in a college, when suddenly I asked them: What are your goals in the short and long term, in life, for your intellect, for your spirit and for your body?

This is something they should be contemplating since they are 14 years old - yes, that young and even younger- when they are still living at home and have some parental guidance.

It is a great exercise to picture themselves in 5 years, in 15 years, in 50 years; have them picture their perfect wife/husband,  what attributes would they like her/him to have, have them ask themselves how they would like to be remembered when they die. This might look a bit morbid to some,  but these are defying and defining questions.  It is important to plant that seed of what do they want to do with their life and have them visualize their path. They should know that it is no longer mom's or dad's decision and that it needs a lot of preparation to get where they think they may go.

Examples are: 

5 year goal: Graduate from high school or graduate from College in 4 years. 

10 year goal: Work productively, be an entrepreneur or some kind of social work goals like founding a charitable organization to help build schools in Latin America, for instance.

15 year goal: get married and have my own family and children if possible.

And so on and on...

This will give our youngsters something to aim for; aim for success, aim for happiness, aim to leave a legacy, to be somebody. Only by guiding them from their early teens in the direction they choose, we will help them focus in more depth, thinking constructively into the future instead of only looking only for immediate gratification and not thinking seriously about their future. 

Hopefully, they will keep growing spiritually and intellectually. Good luck!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

How to make work-life balance work - Great Video!


Nigel Marsh - How to make work-life balance work: priceless TED Talk on this very crucial subject for all parents. Don't miss it!