Character education is very fundamental for early childhood/Anak usia dini (AUD) to prepare them to become good citizens within the boundaries of moral behavior. In fact, in Early Childhood Education/Pendidikan Anak Usia Dini (PAUD) character education is the most important element.
Character is a part of the personality that is related to the judgment of a person's behavior based on moral or ethical standards; such as honesty, discipline, and responsibility. According to Lickona (1991), character consists of three main components, namely moral knowledge, moral feelings, and moral behavior. The three components of character are needed to direct one's moral life or to build one's moral maturity. As a religious person, the writer argues that for religious people, the element of faith in the Almighty is part of and will strengthen one's moral behavior.
Character is the quality of moral and ethical behavior that a person tends to do. Character is not instrumental, but rather a consistent behavioral tendency. In real life, a character will manifest as a performance character (such as work ethics) and moral character (such as respect for others).
Character education is an effort to develop good character in children. Character education should provide various activities to practice behaviors that develop all aspects of good children's character. Character education cannot only be done by discussing moral issues. Character education must provide rich and real experiences to children and children can see the consequences of their behavior. Character education needs to be carried out by various related parties, especially teachers and parents. For religious people, faith education in God Almighty needs to be part of character education.
There are a number of problems in character education at home, school, and also in the community. Lack of parental knowledge and skills regarding character education; unsupportive family socioeconomic conditions; and the inability of parents to act as role models are some of the problems that can lead to ineffective character education at home. In schools, the practice of character education which still emphasizes the aspect of knowledge, the lack of variation in learning methods, and the difficulty of model figures who can become role models for students are certain problems in character education. Likewise, the proliferation of immoral behavior in the community such as corruption, violent behavior, free sex, and fighting between citizens are also examples of conditions that are not conducive to character education.
Because character education involves all aspects of moral behavior, character education requires a variety of ways of implementation. In this context, Guidance Based Learning is recommended to be implemented as a way to strengthen AUD character education in schools. Guidance-Based Learning is a learning activity intended to stimulate and facilitate children's learning and development in a comprehensive, optimal, and proportional manner through intervention and provision of a learning environment that is in line with the guiding principles. The guiding principles referred to are: (1) learning is provided for all children, without exception; (2) teachers treat children as unique and developing individuals; (3) the teacher recognizes children as individuals who have the capacity and self-esteem, although in certain circumstances sometimes it is difficult to use their capacity optimally so that it requires special care and treatment; (4) learning focuses on developing children's capabilities to be able to optimally realize and actualize all aspects of their personality, not only to master academic knowledge and skills; and (5) Learning interactions are characterized by positive attitudes such as warmth and acceptance, empathic understanding and responsiveness to children's affection, acceptance and respect, unconditional positive appreciation and honesty, and provide open opportunities for children to actualize their interests, potentials, and capabilities.
There are a number of reasons for this thinking. First, most of the AUD learning activities are mentoring activities. Learning AUD is more of an effort to facilitate its overall development rather than an instructional activity that focuses on developing academic abilities. Thus, the implementation of Guidance-Based Learning for AUD is in line with the learning activities that are relevant to them. Second, Guidance-Based Learning develops all aspects of children's development and learning, including character development. Therefore, the implementation of Guidance-Based Learning for AUD can strengthen character education without neglecting other aspects of development. Finally, Guidance-Based Learning has a positive effect on the development of good children's character. Several studies show the positive effect of Guidance-Based Learning on the character of early childhood.
To be able to implement Guidance-Based learning properly, preparation and motivation, and strong will are required. Teachers need to learn about how children develop and learn, guiding concepts and principles for AUD, and about Guidance-Based learning itself. Furthermore, teachers need to learn their own learning practices. Taking into account weaknesses in their teaching practice, teachers develop expected learning improvement targets and create an agenda for adopting Guidance-Based Learning. In formulating targeted improvements, it is important for teachers to consider the available conditions. Consultation with school principals and establishing partnerships with other teachers are also essential in implementing Guidance-Based Learning.