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.