Posted on June 29, 2015
5 Ways to Teach Good Character
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One of the reasons we enjoy homeshooling our children is that it gives us the opportunity for us to help them develop good character. It is also an excellent way of developing good character in ourselves! Mostly, we aim to model or be examples of good character, (easier said than done at times!), with God’s help, and use circumstances that come up throughout the day to teach our children, but we have also found it helpful to use some books and resources to encourage genuine character development in our family.
What do I mean by good character? I don’t mean just getting our children to show outward ‘good behaviour’, but where their heart attitude is changed to reflect God’s character, and this will affect their behaviour. They will act the same whether they think people can see them or not- it will not just be for show.
Here are 5 Ways to Teach Good Character that we have used and found helpful:
1. Bible time resources. Some good resources we have used for our Bible times are Table Talk, How a spider saved a man’s life (52 Spurgeon Stories for Children) (and the two books which follow it), and Hidden Treasures, published by Doorposts, (which is available in the UK from Icthus Resources) . We have also used Kay Arthur’s Digging up the Past inductive Bible study book, which our older two children really enjoyed, but it was harder for our younger children, as each day’s section is quite long, and the puzzles were a wee bit too advanced for them. I will probably use more of the books from Kay Arthur’s series, but not for doing all together.
2. Kids of Integrity website. This site run by Focus on the Family Canada has lots of ideas for character building activities, each focusing on a particular character trait. We used their Easter week lessons this year, which included free planning printouts and lots of ideas for fun discussions and activities, based on the Beatitudes.
3. Character-building read alouds. One of my favourite things about home education is being able to take the time to read books aloud together. I try to pick books which are ‘good literature’, have good character roles, and we will all enjoy reading.
I have recently read through Honey for a Teen’s Heart: Using Books to Communicate with Teens, which I quoted in my Preparing for the ‘Teen’ Years post, and it has been really helpful in giving suggestions for good read aloud books, as was the Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life book before it. These books also give ideas on how to discuss what is in the books you read with your children, in order to gain the most from them.
I also often write down the titles of books that I am interested in which other homeschoolers recommend , either in ‘real life’ or on the internet, then I will find out if I can order them from our library, and if not, I try to buy them secondhand. Of course, giving the children books to read by themselves, along the same principles, is also helpful in encouraging good character.
4. Chores and learning ‘life skills’. Our children have done chores or housework since they were a couple of years old, and able to push a brush, or help me put clothes into the washing machine. At that age, they did not see these things as a ‘chore’, but as ‘being allowed’ to do the things grown ups get to do. They loved to be congratulated on being a good helper. Of course, as they have grown older, they have each at separate time gone through phases of not being at all pleased that they were expected to help with things that keeps a household going, but as it was not an option, these phases soon passed and we have ‘issues’ with chores less frequently now.
In our family we have a chart with chores for each child after every meal, and one or two other housework tasks to be done each day. This means everyone knows what’s expected in advance, and helps with my memory! Amy Roberts of Raising Arrows has a helpful printable of suggested chores for children of different age groups, and if you sign up for her e-mails, you get a free home management training check list. You can also print free chore charts for your family at Free Homeschool Deals.
Obviously learning to do household tasks (and the accompanying character traits such as diligence, hard work and perseverance!), are ‘life skills’ that our children will use throughout their lives. Add to these learning to cook, garden, and other outdoor skills, and there are many ways that children can be learning useful skills which will at the same time be helping them to grow in character. Kathy Brodock at Teaching Good Things has some really good lists and tutorials on such skills for real life, further to the home management training check list by Amy Roberts that I mentioned above.
We also use the Character Badges produced by Caroline Allen at Modest Mom, which we have found helpful in encouraging the younger children in good character traits. There are two versions- one for very young children, and one for older children which covers a wider range of character traits- which includes printable charts, award badges, character badges, and cards explaining what each character trait means and where you can find it in the Bible. In our family we only use the obedience chart, as we wanted to emphasise the positive character traits our children are working on, but the kits also include disobedience and consequence charts. The Character Badges bundle sets for both age groups are available to download for $12.99, or you can download only the older children’s badges for $9.99 or the Little Character Badges for $5.99. Our children have really enjoyed using these (and the small rewards we have given them!)
5. Individual time with Mum and Dad. In addition to chores and housework tasks, our chore charts also show which days each of our children has ‘individual time’ with Mummy or Daddy. This is half an hour or so on weekdays, when the child whose turn it is, gets to pick an activity or game they want to do with one of us. We haven’t been as diligent at remembering to do this since we moved, but the children do really enjoy it, and it gives us a chance to talk with each child about anything that is bothering them, or a character issue that they need to work on at the moment.
As well as reading the younger girls’ Children’s Bibles, my husband reads with our son before he goes to bed, sometimes from Bob Schultz’ book Boyhood and Beyond: Practical Wisdom for Becoming a Man, and I read with our older daughter. We have used Dannah Gresh’s book The One Year Mother-Daughter Devo in the past, and we have just finished reading Field Guide to Bible Promises: True Stories for Real Kids together, which has usually resulted in lots of discussion between us.
These are just 5 ways to teach good character which are quite obvious, intentional things we are doing. Most times however, character training is happening as we go about our daily lives, without thinking so much about it.
Do you have any more suggestions on how to teach your children (and yourself!) good character? Please leave a comment and let me know.
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