I have a passion for Character training – both for my own family and to help parents see how important it is. Therefore I get excited when people ask me about Character training. I have a section here on my blog (look under the categories – Character Training) where I have shared some of the lessons / processes we have happen in our home.
We predominately use a programme called "Character First" – follow the education links.
They have various resources for the family, the church/Christian, the education sphere, and business world. We use the book for the family, “Achieving True Success” and the book for the Christian, “The Power for True Success”, as well as the education curriculum. The two books are not that expensive. I like the Christian book as I use this to base my own study on – to get it from my head into my heart and hopefully then into my life. I start this study at least the weekend before we start to discuss it as a family. The education curriculum has stories, songs, actions and activities. We spend about 8 hours a month working specifically on getting these concepts for one trait into our habits and then after that about 10 minutes a day reviewing till the next month when we start a new trait. These studies are a major focus / primary lessons for us.
I have found an online resource – not particularly an exciting, colourful, interactive resource – but so full of information and a lot of it is from the above resource – Character First – and all for free. They have definitions, I Will statements (direct from Character First), Bible verses, Bible stories, quotes, hymns, and stories. I often use the Bible stories (having them written there saves me from having to think it through!) and I use the quotes for copywork during that first week of study.
The type of things we do as we study character
· We watch a video from Character First where the children are introduced to the definition, the I will statements and a story from nature about an animal. I get them to copy draw a line drawing of the animal from the story. This isn’t a central part of our study; I list it first because we do it first and the kids like it.
· We learn Auslan (Australian Sign for deaf) for the definition (this is purely a vocabulary activity as far as Sign goes)
· We learn actions (from the video) for the I will statements (eg I will not look back, I will do what I say, I will make the right decisions and stick to it, I will look at things from more than one point of view before making up my mind, I will not give in to peer pressure = DECISIVENESS) We practice this little poem every day for a month. Though we don’t remember the poem forever (you would think that we would) it does put these things into our vocabulary.
· We discuss what the quality means, what a lack of it looks like, who we know who displays this quality, rewards of living with this quality, how we can improve this quality in our home, consequences of not showing this quality etc
· We try and encourage each other when we see someone making choices to live a life of character (eg Thank you for cleaning the mirror in the bathroom, that was going the extra mile, you showed great INITIATIVE. That will save me having to do it!)
· Any activities, discussions that come from the education pack. These are generally based around the 5x I will statements.
· We read short stories, and love the book series, "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson. These books are a "family treasury of true stories from the lives of Christian Heroes."
Training our children isn’t about a curriculum – it is about having a heart for character choices ourselves, its about improving our own lives / choices based on our own study of Character. I’ve listed these activities to show that a lot of what we do is discussion based – though we do complete some table time activities or craft activities and though the children love these they are not the basis for their character development. My modelling, my honesty and lots of family discussion is far more reaching and significant.