Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Character Education

I have come to the realization over the course of several months that I want my children to be different. I want them to excel as they grow in to adults and thrive in adulthood if when they get there. :) I would love to homeschool, however, that is not an option for our family in this season. I can, however, begin to teach our children some of the things they could get with a homeschool education while they still attend public school. Fortunately, they attend a school that places emphasis on "a culture of kindness." It's even in their school motto/mission statement. For that, I am extremely grateful. Things that I can do at home, though, can go beyond what they learn at school. Just like you would help your child with their homework and encourage their academic learning, we can encourage their character learning. Encouraging the character qualities we want to see in our children is essential to how they will function as adults. How they will do in their jobs, how they will love their spouse, how they will parent...how they will love you as you age. This is something that is simple to do, even with a full time job and multiple children at different stages. I will try to keep an account of how this is working and what we are doing for those who would like to join us, or try your own version at home. The first thing I did was make a list of 17 different character qualities: Trustworthiness/Honesty, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring/Compassion, Citizenship/Patriotism, Perseverance, Self-discipline/Self-control, Courage, Integrity, Kindness,Hope/Optimism, Loyalty, Initiative, Contemplation, Adaptability, Forgiveness. I wrote them all on pieces of paper then had the kids take turns drawing them out of the bowl until we had one per month through the end of the year. This did two things: gave them some ownership in the process and kept them from saying that I was just picking ones I wanted. Here is what we ended up with: April - Responsibility, May - Initiative, June - Kindness, July - Contemplation, August- Integrity, September - Caring/Compassion, October - Self-Discipline/Self-Control, November - Fairness, December - Loyalty. When we start the new year, we will evaluate where we are. If we are doing well, then we will draw qualities for the entire year. Today we started Responsibility. Very simply, we defined it. The kids are 9, 7, 4, and 2. We still need to make sure they know what the word means before we expect them to put it into action. Our definition is, "being accountable for something within your control or management." As we go through the month, we will look for ways to be responsible, time when we can see and encourage others who are being responsible, and we will see what the Bible has to say about responsibility. My hope is that, through this process, our children will begin to see beyond themselves and see ways that they can serve God and serve others. I am also fully aware that this will change us as parents, too. Just a nice side effect! ;)