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National parent survey reveals misconceptions around building character in young children

ATLANTA (November 17, 2016) – In today’s digital world, parents overwhelmingly agree it is important to nurture good character in their children, including traits like honesty and compassion. However, a recent national parent survey sponsored by Primrose Schools®, a leading national early education provider, indicates nearly 50 percent of parents are unaware of when they can and should start helping their children develop positive character traits. The survey also revealed many parents feel their children are not acquiring these critical social-emotional skills in preschool and kindergarten.

The survey profiled hundreds of parents whose children have attended, currently attend, or will attend an early education program between the ages of 3-5. Of those surveyed, 92 percent believe that in today’s social media-focused world, nurturing positive character traits in children is more important than it used to be. Still, nearly half of parents (48 percent) think preschool is too young for children to start learning social-emotional skills, such as generosity, getting along with others and compassion, which contribute to the development of good character.

Contrary to beliefs expressed in the survey, brain development research shows the first five years of life are a critical period in which to build the foundation for children’s social-emotional well-being. Emotional intelligence is shaped early on by children’s interactions with parents and caregivers. Children as young as 6 months old can even begin to demonstrate outward signs of budding empathy skills. Intentionally nurturing social-emotional skills starting from birth is critical as they are key predictors of later academic success and health.

“In today’s world, we now know that IQ is insufficient as a sole measure of school readiness,” said Dr. Laura Jana, pediatrician and nationally-acclaimed parenting and children’s book author. “It’s no longer just what children know, but also how well they relate to others — the strength of their social-emotional skills — that sets them up for success, both in school and in life. Brain development research continues to support the importance of cultivating these skills early. Parents are recognizing this too in placing high demand for quality early education that incorporates character building.”

Despite a large and growing body of evidence showing the importance of nurturing positive character traits during the first five years, more than half of parents surveyed feel their child did not or will not acquire honesty, generosity and compassion (54, 54 and 62 percent, respectively) during their early education experience.

“At Primrose, we believe who children become is as important as what they know,” said Gloria Julius, Ed.D., vice president of education for Primrose Schools. “Nurturing children’s social-emotional development and helping build their character has been an integral part of our Balanced Learning® approach for more than 30 years. At Primrose, children learn and practice positive character traits through games, puppet play, role playing, books, discussions, modeling by teachers and art projects. Hands-on experiences throughout the year bring lessons full circle and help children apply concepts like generosity in authentic ways.”

This month, thousands of pre-K and kindergarten children at more than 300 Primrose schools across the country are taking part in the annual Caring and Giving Food Drive. During the month-long activity, children are asked to earn money through chores at home. They bring their donations to the classroom where they develop a budget and shopping list for healthy food items. Teachers model good citizenship and emphasize the importance of compassion through songs and books about sharing and giving to others. Then the children take field trips to grocery stores to shop for the food items, which are donated to local charities and distributed to those in need. By taking part in the act of giving, from earning the money for canned goods to planning healthy foods to purchase and shopping for the items, children learn the joy of giving firsthand.

Visit PrimroseSchools.com/blog to read more about the Caring and Giving Food Drive and tips for encouraging empathy, kindness and generosity in young children. For more information about how Primrose Schools nurtures character development, watch this video.

About Primrose Schools®

Primrose Schools is the leader in providing premier early education and care to children and families in the United States. Founded in 1982, there are more than 325 Primrose schools in 27 states today. Each school is independently-owned and -operated by Franchise Owners who partner with parents to help children build the right foundation for future learning and life. Primrose believes who children become is as important as what they know. The Primrose-exclusive Balanced Learning® approach is created from the best early education wisdom and balances purposeful play with nurturing guidance from teachers to encourage curiosity, creativity, confidence and compassion. For more information, visit www.PrimroseSchools.com, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, explore our blog,sign up for our Pointers for Parents emails and find a Primrose school near you.

Survey Methodology

These are some of the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Primrose from September 7-12, 2016. For the survey, a sample of roughly 769 parents ages 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample was narrowed to include 352 parents whose children will be attending, are currently attending, or previously attended early education programs designed for children aged 3-5. The poll has a credibility interval plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for all parents and plus or minus 7.5 percentage points for those with children who will be, are currently, or were previously enrolled in early education programs (see link below for more information on Ipsos online polling “Credibility Intervals”). Click here for more information about Ipsos online polling methodology.

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