Character & Community

Character and Community - First Program

Beginning in kindergarten, through explicit lessons and those embedded in the curricula, we focus on character skills.

These include perseverance, generosity, kindness, impulse control, acceptance and others. Children begin their journey at Dalton learning about themselves: What makes them different? What makes them similar to each other?  Celebrating both what makes each student unique and, more importantly, the traits they share, forms the foundation of bringing children together as a community. Each House establishes community goals and behavioral expectations. Informal and, often, unpredictable ‘teachable moments’ about community and character occur frequently throughout the day, in all Houses and in all specialty areas.

Character growth and community building in the First Program are woven into the fabric of each day. House is the primary vehicle through which students develop positive self-identity, self-esteem, and appreciation for diversity. It is where students are first accepted and celebrated, nurtured as citizens and learners and encouraged to see the school as their own. House is understood as the collective unit of community members who navigate each day together. During House meetings, children are encouraged to practice respectful and empathetic interactions with each other; they connect with each other by greeting one another, by relating and listening to personal experiences, by engaging in self-reflection and by contemplating curricular plans for the day as a group. Participation in community building activities based on the Responsive Classroom model and other similar formats help children establish a climate of personal safety in their classrooms, encourage positive interpersonal connection and promote social and emotional well-being. Integral to all discussions and related activities, House Advisors address the needs of the "whole child.”

Beginning in kindergarten, through explicit lessons and those embedded in the curricula, we focus on character skills. These include perseverance, generosity, kindness, impulse control, acceptance and others. Children begin their journey at Dalton learning about themselves: What makes them different? What makes them similar to each other?  Celebrating both what makes each student unique and, more importantly, the traits they share, forms the foundation of bringing children together as a community. Each House establishes community goals and behavioral expectations. Informal and, often, unpredictable ‘teachable moments’ about community and character occur frequently throughout the day, in all Houses and in all specialty areas.

First Program Children:
  • Celebrate and understand the concept of identity
  • Learn about other cultures, races, gender expressions, family structures, and religions
  • Develop an appreciation for, and value the importance of diversity by directly addressing issues of fairness, gender equity, and social justice through discussions within children’s literature, as part of curricular connections, and in the day-to-day experiences of the children themselves
  • Create self-portraits, mixing paints or crayons to match skin tones and graphing hair color/hair texture
  • Articulate their goals and dreams at the start of the school year, participate in morning meetings, daily greetings, and community assessments during check-in sessions to reflect on what is going well and what can be improved
  • Contribute to written and oral reflections
  • Participate in sharing circles
  • Reinforce positive behaviors by establishing a classroom compliment jar or by listing acts of kindness
  • Develop a range of strategies for building friendships
  • Share group responsibilities by generating class jobs and classroom behavioral contracts
First Program is engaged in on-going learning and reflection about these essential topics:
  • Identity
  • Perspective
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Culture
  • Community
  • Social Justice
  • Social Action

Grade-Level Character and Community in the First Program

List of 4 items.

  • Kindergarten

    In the Kindergarten, Houses establish contracts for rules of behavior and class jobs for building a House community. Literature about kindness, courage, perseverance, acceptance, similarities and differences is used to support social-emotional learning and character skills growth.
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  • First Grade

    Activities for grade-wide social studies units focus on the community Literature about kindness, courage, perseverance, acceptance, similarities and differences is used to support social-emotional learning and character skills growth.
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  • Second Grade

    All Houses develop contracts for creating classroom environments where everyone feels safe and is encouraged to take risks:
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  • Third Grade

    All Houses begin the year focusing on the creation of a classroom community. Rules and behavioral expectations for the year are developed through the use of Responsive Classroom techniques, morning meetings, and House discussions.
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