Character study is such an important part of our homeschool studies.
In fact, early in the school year last year, I had reduced the amount of other studies we were doing to focus on some character and habit training. I just felt strongly that if we focused on character and habits, the rest would go more smoothly. While my kids are still crazy bundles of energy and their sinful-nature is still in tow, I did feel like we had some great gains last year in the way our family works together to enjoy and respect each other and our home. I really wanted to continue that work this year, and specifically to use the We Choose Virtues program. I had read a ton of great things about it, and loved that it was a faith-based program. I felt so blessed when Heather over at We Choose Virtues was gracious enough to send me a few resources for our family to try out, in exchange for me to let others know how this character study worked for our family. This summer has been crazy with activity, so we have not worked through all of the character traits yet, but I wanted to post about how this is working so far for our family.
Once I received the resources (the items I had are detailed at the bottom of this post), I first started by reading the Teacher’s Manual (download), which inspires you to remember that your children will not just decide to pick up these character traits by instruction. I tend to fall into that trap of thinking, “If I just teach them the right information, and try to enforce it consistently, they will change.” I think character training is somewhat like potty training. I realized early into parenting that potty training is the first time you really cannot MAKE your child do something. They have to decide to do it on their own. Pushing and prodding makes it worse. Patient encouragement works best. The same is true for Character training – you have to encourage them enough that THEY WANT to change. You need to be positive and inspiring enough that they desire to do it. The Teacher’s Manual gives you great ideas for helping the child desire to acquire these traits.
The next thing we decided to start with was the “Family Character Assessment” (Free on the site). I sat down the oldest two (5 & 7) and went through this assessment line-by-line. (The three year-old joins in on all of the training as well – I just didn’t complete the assessment for him.) I showed them how it lists each character trait, the positive and the negative behavior, and we chose a number from 1 to 10 that described how they expressed that trait. It was actually fun in a weird sort of way. They liked talking about their behavior and things they weren’t so good at – who knew? Needless to say, the 5 year old boy was generally more optimistic about his behavior than I had seen put in action, and I would gently recall a couple of examples of situations to help him assess his behavior more accurately. Then came the fun part…. Mom had the kids assess her character! We talked about each item. For the first few, the kids were super-positive and gracious. Then when I said, “well, I think I need to work on this one” they realized they could be a little more critical. The next character traits were funny as they did EXACTLY what I did to them…. I would say, “well, I think I do all right on this one, maybe I will rank it an 8.” To which my 7 year old responded, “well, remember last week when you….” Ha! I was being held accountable! We decided we would all work together to acquire these traits, and after we learned all 12 we would re-assess ourselves to see how far we have come. It was a great way to start!
Ok, Ok, so on to the meat of the program…..Please keep in mind, you could teach this in a number of ways – whatever works best for your home. I chose to do it the following way:
I would introduce the new trait at the beginning of the week, read the positive and negative statements associated with it. “I am Diligent….I start fast, work hard, and finish strong. I AM NOT…..” I make up motions to help the kids remember these definitions. Then at random throughout the week, I ask the kids to repeat it. If they do, they get a sticker on their sticker chart (something we use at home that they can “trade in” for computer time or pennies…more about that some other time). While the kids colored the associated page in the “Kids of Virtueville Coloring book”, I read the short story on the back of the parenting cards that was associated with the “Character”. Each character trait has a “Character” – The Diligent Character is “Duck and Chuck” – a cute little guy with a loveable duck that he has to keep cleaning up after.
These are a fun, visual way for the kids to remember the trait and what it means. I also read all of the parent helps on the back of the parenting cards, and briefly discussed the scripture associated with it. And that was it! Took only about 15 minutes. The rest of the week was just review – 5 minutes at most to make sure they remembered the trait. I also worked hard to see them demonstrating the trait, and encouraged them there, or pointed out how they might demonstrate it in that situation. “Look at Robby, isn’t he doing a great job being diligent by picking up the yard? He started fast, worked hard, and is finishing strong.” Cheesy, maybe. Fun for the kids? Yes. Effective? I would say yes! – I saw a definite interest in the kids’ desire to acquire these traits. Now, it is NOT a magic tool to transform your kids overnight. It takes patience, diligence on behalf of the parent, and consistency. And still, they will not always exhibit these traits – Let’s face it – do we as parents consistently demonstrate these traits? But it is a great tool to have in your toolbelt, and guide you along in your training. I am planning to just repeat it over and over again this year. There are 12 traits, and we will start back with the first one once we hit the end.
The resources we had available were:
– The Kids Virtue Poster (Free giveaway below!)
– The Parenting Cards (Faith-based)
– The Kids of Virtueville Coloring Book
– The Teacher’s Manual
– Family Character Assessment (FREE on the site)
It wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized the “Kids Memory Verses, Bible Heroes and Truths” page that is available for free download from the We Choose Virtues site. I am very excited to begin using this as well, and to read about the “Bible Heroes” from scripture during the week to go along with our character study. I wish I had it from the beginning, but we will catch it the next time around…and the next time…and the next time 🙂
The other resource that I would like to try out, but didn’t are the “Virtue Flash Cards – Faith-based Family” cards. You can use these cards to play some games and review what you are learning. If I end up getting the cards, I will be sure to post something about them.
If I was considering this program, what would I think are the “absolutely necessary” supplies you would need? I would have to say the Parenting Cards, the coloring book, and the Character Assessment were essential for our family. The poster was really nice to have up on the wall as a quick reference for me and the kids, and to briefly describe to the hubby what we are working on so he can join in here or there in encouraging or training the kiddos. I caught my daughter reading through it a number of times! (Better yet – you can win this poster in the giveaway at the bottom of this post!)
So in short, I really like this program! Easy to teach, and engaging for the kids. Laid out nicely for me to instruct without any preparation, and most importantly for us, it brings the truth of God’s word into our studies. Afterall, if there is no absolute truth regarding that which is right and wrong, then there is no basis for character training in the first place. It is in His Word that we find the basis of all of these traits.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy (versus content), it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking (obedient), it is not easily angered (self-controlled), it keeps no record of wrongs (forgiving). 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (honest). It always protects (helpful and gentle), always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (diligent).”
Enter this giveaway to win this poster!
Looking for more info? Here is another mom’s review..., and don’t miss checking out the We Choose Virtues Facebook Page – “Like” them so you can stay current on any product updates, giveaways and coupons!
Disclaimer: I was provided this product free of charge in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed in this post are my own completely honest thoughts about the product.