Wednesday, January 22, 2014

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials ~ Character

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Homeschooling Essentials Day 3: Character
Of course I knew that when I began this homeschooling venture many moons ago that education would be extremely important, but I also knew that there was something far more significant than reading, writing, and arithmetic . . .

I want my children to grow up to be more than just smart. More than just "good" people or decent citizens. I want them to be known by their godly character. And godly character can only be built upon the solid foundation of Christ the Rock.
My kids know because I have told them more than once that I personally CANNOT produce godly character traits in them. They can certainly mimic my behavior, but I am powerless to modify their hearts in any way. What I can do as a faithful servant of Jesus is provide a fertile environment in which character seeds will be free to sprout and fully mature into beautiful, sturdy oaks of righteousness anchored to the ground by deep, thick roots. 
Homeschooling provides a wonderful environment for true character to develop. Why? It certainly isn't because it's perfect and problem free. Quite the contrary. There are 4 sinful people (my kids and me) who are related and forced to be around each other for 4 days straight from sun up to sun down without a break from each other. Yeah. As you can imagine (and relate to if you're a homeschooler), there are tons of opportunities for character to develop! It's so nice that Daddy is off on Fridays which definitely breaks up the Monday-Thursday monotony. :)
Character training can be extremely taxing and time consuming. As a homeschool mom, I am here 24/7 to deal with every. single. problem. that arises. Oh, it would be so much easier to just throw my hands up in the air and pretend to ignore the issue, chalk it up to some sort of "phase" and hope it works itself out, or freak out, yell, huff and puff, and be all dramatic. Sadly, I am guilty of all three, but I am so thankful that God gives me strength when I am weak to get back in the game of parenting. There's no sitting on the sidelines when it comes to training up my children in the way they should go so that when they are old, they will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
I am a far cry from perfect, in fact, God is using homeschooling to develop godly character in me. I love that with homeschooling, both my children and I can grow stronger together.
 6 Ways to Provide an Environment in Which Character Can Thrive
1. Make Christ the center of your home. Read the Bible together, pray together, and memorize Scripture. Sword Fighting is a wonderful tool for memorizing Bible verses with young children. Day by Day Kid's Bible: The Bible for Young Readers (Tyndale Kids) is the Bible that is recommended to accompany Sword Fighting. I LOVED using this combo with my kids when they were younger! (Clicking "this combo" will take you to a post I wrote in 2007 and shows my kids with their Scripture Memory Swords. I tried to make them look like Sting.)

2. Take time to read God's Word by yourself. This can be challenging with small children who seem to need constant attention, but it is vital for your spiritual health. I took advantage of naptime when my kids were little and tried to spend time in the Word every day. When my kids outgrew naptime, I made them have one hour of rest time each day. They had to play quietly in their rooms. Having this time of peace and quiet was absolutely essential!! Now, I am at a stage in my life where I can actually have my devotions in the morning before the flurry of activity begins. Yea! Currently, I am enjoying my new NIV Homeschool Mom's Bible: Daily Personal Encouragement complete with 365 daily devotions written by veteran homeschool mom, Janet Tatman.

3. Model godly character traits. As James 1:22 says, "Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." Put into practice what you read. We can't expect our children to exhibit godly character traits if we aren't willing to set the example. If you want your children to be patient with each other, they need to see you being patient. If you want your children to be self-controlled, they need to see you show self-control. Obviously, you get the idea. As you know, when you and your kids are around each other all day long, they see the good, the bad, and the very ugly. My kids know my worst weaknesses. They see me fail on a regular basis. It's not about being perfect but REAL. When you sin and fall short, well, that's the perfect opportunity to confess your sins and model the godly character traits of humility and repentance. I know I should be doing this a whole lot more, too.

4. Discipline your children.  "Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart." (Proverbs 29:17) Provide boundaries and when those boundaries are crossed, don't be afraid to give consequences. A helpful tool to assist with consistency in discipline is The "If-Then" Chart. I used this chart with my own kids when they were younger. I liked that both my kids and I knew exactly what to expect when a child disobeyed. The goal wasn't to become a slave to the chart since a chart can't possibly cover every single sinful act or the motivation behind the act, but the goal was to be able to calmly and effectively discipline with consistency.

I am not going to get into the methods of discipline here, but Proverbs is pretty clear about folly being bound up in the heart of a child. Children desperately need discipline in order to have folly driven far from them. (Proverbs 22:15) Disciplining your children consistently can be frightfully exhausting, but I do know from experience the sweet reward of diligence in this area. Hebrews 12:11 gives much needed encouragement for us as parents to not grow weary in providing discipline: "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

5. Use outside resources to emphasize the importance of building character. While this isn't a necessity, it can be nice to have extra resources to reinforce what you are teaching. I have always had a very strict homeschool budget, so I never went crazy with buying extra materials, but 2 books that I used to help my children focus on developing godly character traits when they were little were The Original 21 Rules of This House and Uncommon Courtesy for Kids - A Training Manual for Everyone. I also take the opportunity to discuss characters in all the books that I read aloud to my kids. This is a great way to get your kids talking about right vs. wrong choices etc. And it's absolutely free if you use the library!

6. Give your children responsibilities. I don't know why, but giving my kids responsibilities seems to play a role in character development. Whether they realize it or not, responsibility can make them feel valuable and useful; like they're not just here to take up space and play video games all day. They really are a big help to me, especially now that they are older. Working together to effectively and efficiently run a home can be very rewarding for the whole family! Plus, it is important to me that my children learn to take care of what God has entrusted to us here on this earth. If they show respect for our home, it's likely that they will show respect at your home. :)

From the time my kids were old enough to choose toys to play with, I taught them to clean up after themselves. At age 5, all of my children had to make their beds before they ate breakfast. As they got older, I began giving each of them daily chores appropriate for their age. At age 10, my kids have to begin doing their own laundry. On weekends, they can earn a certain amount of money for extra chores. Here's an example of what my kids' chore schedule looked like 2 years ago. Trust me, I have normal kids. If you asked them if they like doing chores, they would probably answer with a heartfelt, "No!" But, I think I know what is best for them, and being responsible surely can't hurt!


Whew! This post was rather long, but I am extremely passionate about this subject! Developing godly character flies in the face of the world and its philosophies, so being diligent in character training is a homeschool essential for me!

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Find out what's essential for other homeschool moms by visiting the Schoolhouse Review Crew. Here are just a few of the participating blogs . . .

Lisa @ A Rup Life
Jordyn @ Almost Supermom
Jenn @ Teaching Two Stinkers
Crystal @ Crystal Starr Blog
Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy {Giveaways this week}
Wendy @ Simplicity Breeds Happiness
Jodi @ Insane in the Mombrain
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles

{affiliate links included in this post}


Kym said...

This is a great post, and I agree with you about the importance of character - developing godly character is one of the primary reasons we chose to homeschool. I love all your suggestions for making it happen on a daily basis.

Unknown said...

Very well said - I really enjoyed reading this post. So very real...and true! Thanks for sharing.

Lynn said...

I love your listed examples on character building. This is a powerful post as we all need to be reminded that outside of basic school subjects building good character is very important. Great post!

zekesmom10 said...

Great post! I'm pinning it on my spiritual parenting board.

Joelle said...

This is a really good list.


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