English, math, and science have always been important subjects in school. However, a well-rounded education doesn’t only depend on these subjects. According to a new study published in the Journal of School Health, character building is also an important aspect of better education.

In a study composed of 20 schools in Hawaii, researchers discovered that a program focused on social and emotional skills has a significant impact on the overall quality of education in students. Teachers, parents, and even the students themselves reported better learning capacities because of such programs.

After all, students who seem to have difficulty keeping up with class lessons don’t necessarily have problems with the lessons themselves. They could be distracted by personal issues and conflicts which prevent them from learning as much as they can in school. In fact, past programs that aim to curb behavioral problems fail precisely because teachers and parents are asking the wrong questions.

"Improved social and character skills leave more time for teachers to teach and students to learn and be more motivated," said Brain Flay, an Oregon State University professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences. The result: the real concerns surface and are therefore addressed.

However, Flay does admit that this idea is not exactly breaking news. Churches and other social groups have long supported the principle of similar programs. It’s just a matter of giving said programs a chance to make a difference.

For more on raising healthy kids with good character, try these:

(Photo by mariskar via Flickr Creative Commons)

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