VIA Character Strengths
Strengths are ways of thinking, feeling and behaving that come naturally and easily to a person and enable high functioning and performance. Character Strengths are a recognised subset of personality traits that are morally valued. Significant research by Peterson and Seligman resulted in the creation and validation of the Values in Action (VIA) Signature Strengths Survey which measures 24 character strengths. Further research has shown that utilising your top 5 strengths (Signature Strengths) on a regular basis increases wellbeing.
Here at Parkmore Primary School, our students interact with the VIA Character Strengths on a daily basis. The students are encouraged to articulate their Signature Strengths and the strengths of their peers. The demonstration of character strengths are recognised formally across all levels of the school through our Student of the Week program, with students receiving acknowledgement at our Whole School Assemblies.
What are Strengths?
A strength is a natural ability or asset. Strengths are a family of individual differences: distinct characteristics that people possess to varying degrees. They are shown in thoughts, feelings, and actions, and are malleable (some more than others), measurable (there are psychometrically validated tests for both children and adults), and they are subject to numerous influences, both proximal (within and close to you) and distal (outside and far from you). As a result, you can build - and build on - strengths.
Know Your Strengths
Many parents and educators are very good at teaching young people what their deficiencies are - both intentionally and unintentionally. As adult mentors, if we can discover talents that are already within us, we are more prepared to help young people realise their asssts and add them to their tool kit of life skills. This measures us against ourselves and, as long as we are using our strength powers for good, we are more than our performances. Tom Rath, the author of StrengthFinder 2.0, and his colleagues at the Gallup Organisation have found in research with adults: 'The most successful people start with a dominant talent - then add skills, knowledge and practice to the mix. When they do this, the raw talent serves as a multiplier. Talent multiplied by Investment equals Strength.'
Why Strengths for Parents and Teachers?
Many parents and teachers of Foundation - Year 12 children have much in common. They value success, achievement, and cooperation but may struggle with how to bring out the best in themselves and youth. It is easy to teach the way we were taught, despite research that shows the need to teach in ways that further engage students, causes them to persist through difficulties, and works to create active knowledge that's available to tap and apply in new, non-classroom situations.
Most parents want to develop and hone their skills in order to raise successful children. When parents know and practice their strengths they can:
- help their children develop positive habits and choices
- build high quality relationships at home
- adjust their level of involvement with their children to provide the right environment for developing independence
- enhance their children's overall well-being - physical, emotional, mental, social and moral.
When teachers know and practice their strengths they:
- magnify student strengths to increase achievement and satisfaction
- decrease classroom management issues
- improve relationships with parents
- motivate young people.
VIA Character Strengths