This is one of my favorite times of the year – the leaves on trees are lush and green again, flowers are blooming after April showers, and Primrose graduation is right around the corner. Every May, Primrose pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students across the country celebrate the end of the year with special graduation ceremonies. As proud parents and teachers look on, the children, dressed in miniature caps and gowns, walk across the stage one-by-one to receive their diplomas. The excited smiles on their faces warm my heart and let me know that we are truly making a difference for these children and fostering a lifelong love of learning.
When I see our students at graduation, I can’t help but picture them years down the road receiving their high school diplomas and college degrees. Even at 4- and 5-years-old, these children exhibit such big hearts and bright minds that it is impossible not to imagine the wonderful impact they are going to have on the world. We see a special transformation take place within children who experience the Primrose Balanced Learning® approach to education, and it has a lot to do with our purposeful efforts to nurture their character.
Of all of the components of our curriculum, our emphasis on character development is perhaps the most important. Though you cannot formally measure good character, it arguably has the greatest impact on children’s future happiness and success. Now more than ever, children are facing challenges that can only be overcome with a strong sense of character. They are exposed to increasing negativity in the media and online, and will face the stress of global competition when they enter the workforce in just a couple of decades. The traits that embody character – compassion, cooperation, generosity, empathy and respect – are what empowers children to rise above the trials and tribulations they will face throughout their lives. And, character must be nurtured and developed in children early on – just like math and reading skills.
At Primrose, we’ve seen firsthand how engaging young children in character lessons accelerates the development of important interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. The selfless, inspiring acts I’ve witnessed over the years from Primrose children are truly moving – from a 3-year-old girl using her first haircut to donate to Locks of Love to a Primrose graduate running a lemonade stand to raise money for a family displaced by a fire. We constantly hear from elementary school teachers who say that Primrose graduates display better character than typical of their age group – they are more considerate of their peers, follow directions better and demonstrate integrity even at such a young age. There’s no greater testament to the way we’ve shaped our curriculum than hearing feedback like this from educators and parents after our students have graduated.
In March, I was at the grand opening of one of our new schools in Dallas – Primrose School of Preston Hollow – and met Sergeant Pennie of the Dallas police and his daughter, Niya, who attended Primrose many years ago. Sergeant Pennie and Niya, who is now 13, were volunteering at the event with Heroes, Cops and Kids, an organization that serves to provide positive role models for the community and local children. It was so rewarding to hear how highly Sergeant Pennie valued his daughter’s education with Primrose, and seeing the character development lessons we teach at Primrose come full circle with Niya was unbelievably heart-warming.
Hearing stories of children exemplifying strong character reminds us all why early education is so important. By giving our children a well-rounded foundation that includes character development, we empower them to fulfill their greatest potential and to make the greatest impact they can on the world around them. It is our responsibility as educators, parents and citizens – to invest in children today to make the world we leave behind a better place tomorrow. That is the basis of our mission at Primrose – to forge a path that leads to a brighter future for all children. And by helping our students develop good character, we’re enabling them to not only lead happy, successful lives, but to also leave their mark on the world in the best way possible: through their kindness, compassion and integrity.