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Friday, November 9, 2007

Character

After the last blog post, I was asked how we train character in our household. Before I go on with moving your children into Self Learning, I will quickly address this.

The most important thing I have done is beginning our mornings by reading a devotional, the Bible, prayer and discussion. These morning moments are so valuable and can last from ten minutes to and hour and a half, depending on the topic and how deep we go with the subject matter. They are typically about thirty minutes.

We have used a variety of devotionals. When they were very young, we used Leading Little Ones to God (skipping the activities at the end of the lesson and sometimes doing more than one reading). As they grew, it was more difficult to find a devotional that worked for my homeschooled children. Many of the issues encountered in kids devotionals and books were not relevant. So, I opted for adult devotionals that were designed for adults that are young in their faith or perhaps even seekers, such as The Purpose Driven Life. I also chose devotional books designed for teens that were not dumbed down or full of the situational commentary my children may never face, such as A Life God Rewards for Teens.

In addition to these morning moments with mom, where their hearts are being molded by Truth, my husband reads books to the boys at night that are designed to train their character (Usually, that is; most recently he read the Iliad and the Odyssey, but they did discuss character and the lack thereof found in these Greek's lives). Further, we spend a lot of time talking, talking, talking about what is expected of them. On going discussions about character, choosing well, how choices today affect tomorrow are part and parcel of our day. We talk about their future, what they hope to do and what it really takes to get there. We talk a lot.

Of course, when they are super young, we do less talking and more behavior modification through rewards and punishments. As they age, discussions are more and more appropriate. We find it most beneficial to discuss their behavior when they are not misbehaving. This way it is done when they are not feeling emotional and they can rationally think about the way they treat one another or become convicted about doing the right thing before temptation strikes.

We feel strongly that the family should be a safe haven for the children, a place where they feel loved and accepted. It's easy to fall into patterns where a particular child is "always in trouble." Those patterns need to be broken through positive words and a few days (or even weeks) of overlooking issues and sins. This gives the child a chance to climb out of the pit and begin walking on a new path. Children should feel like they can succeed - they can behave well, they can live up to the standards we and they have, they are able and it's not too hard. This is most easily accomplished when the people around us truly believe in us, they think good thoughts about us and are looking at our successes, not focusing on our failures. Just as God delights over us with singing, we should do the same with our children. A stern and unaccepting attitude will not inspire a child. I have a lot more to say about this, but that may have to be another blog post.

Let's see...there are other things we have done to work through character issues. I have a list of resources. I do plan to get my next newsletter out that will cover this very topic - Bible and Character. It's been delayed, but it will be out before Christmas. If you aren't signed up, you can put your email address on the link to the right.

Tomorrow, I'll blog more about moving a child from Dependence to Independent Learning.