Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1804).
Sacred Heart School integrates instruction in the virtues throughout student formation, including implementation of the Education in Virtue program created by the Dominican Sisters of Mercy. The call to be disciples of Christ is extended not only to students but to administration, teachers, support staff, and parents - the language of the virtues is integrated into all facets of daily school life, not simply direct instruction within a single subject. Our virtue program also informs our school’s positive behavior intervention system, from schoolwide emphasis of a virtue of the week to ongoing student awards and recognition.
The content incorporates the theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity) with the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance) to create a network of 38 virtues. Each virtue is presented in an accessible fashion and is uniquely discernible across age levels; kid-friendly and academic language coupled with practical examples of what living each virtue “sounds like” and “looks like” inform student’s ability to examine their conscience and consider a practical application in their lives.
What Can You Do at Home?
Children are learning at all times, so the child’s learning experiences at home and school should be cohesive. It is essential to know when and which virtues are being taught in class. For instance, if foresight is the virtue of emphasis next week, you can use the program resources and communications from school to identify ways to incorporate this into your conversations and modeling at home.
Roleplay is a great way to do this. Explain situations that your child can easily understand and give them various choices they could make to respond. Be sure to provide choices that emphasize foresight more than others. Then discuss your child’s choices, the possible consequences of each choice, and why it’s important to be prepared both at home and in school.