School is out (or nearly out, for some of you). Which means summertime. Translation? For a lot of folks, that means more time together. And all that time can also mean new revelations about each other's character traits (or lack there-of). What's a mom to do when she sees her little angels acting ..er... less than angelic? Perhaps a little character training is in order.
We Choose Virtues has dedicated themselves to providing easy-to-use character training tools for parents and/or schools to use with kids. Over the last six weeks, we have been reviewing the Parenting Cards in the NIrV version for kids ages 3-11. We Choose Virtues also gave us the WCV Download Bundle (squeal!)
First, lets take a look at one of the cards. Below is a graphic of both the front and back of the "content" card.
On the front of the card, you see a positive affirmation. In this case, it is: "I am content. I have my wanter under control. I am NOT greedy, bored or always wanting more and I don't beg or whine." This starts things off in a productive direction, rather than saying, "Junior, you are the most greedy kid I've ever seen. Sit down while I tell you a thing or two about contentment." Positive is much better, in my opinion. Besides, the words we speak over ourselves have a tremendous ability to shape our lives. These cards recognize that power and use it to develop character in our kids. After the positive affirmation, there is a memory verse.
You can choose KJV cards or NIrV cards. The KJV cards use only Old Testament memory verses because they were developed for the company's Jewish clientele. The NIrV cards use both Old and New Testamtent memory verses. Even if you generally read from the KJV, you may find the NIrV memory verses are easier for your younger children to understand. Either way, you can't go wrong. The verses are a great support for the different Virtues you will be studying together.
On the back of the the card you will find a "Family Challenge" -- basically a way for the whole family to get involved in developing this character trait. There are "Teachable Moments" with discussion points, activities and ways to help your children to develop more of this virtue in their lives. You are introduced to one of the "Kids of Virtueville" through a very short story with a point. These are simple little stories that even our youngest child had no trouble understanding. There is even a "What to say after I'm Sorry". We all know that just reading about a character trait doesn't mean we won't make mistakes. We also know that sometimes kids have a hard time saying "I'm sorry". Sometimes it isn't because they are rude. Sometimes it's because they don't know how to articulate what they feel. These cards help them find the words they need when they miss it.
How we used the Parenting Cards:
Each week we pull out a new card. Our first card was the Obedient card. Now, every time I ask my three year old to do something, she has been sing-song chanting, "Okay, whatever you say, I will obey, right way!" That's pretty cool, in my book. It sure beats, "Do I have to?" or "In a minute."
Every Monday, I read through the card with my kids and we discuss it. My three year old loves the positive affirmation and the Kids of Virtueville. While she listens and colors a page from the Download Bundle (we'll talk about that in a minute), the rest of us discuss the virtue.
These cards are really geared for 3-11 year olds. Only two of my kids fit that age group, but the cards ended up being a wonderful springboard for some really great discussions with my teens.
(We Choose Virtues carries materials for teens and some of the other reviewers used them. You can click the reviews below to see them.)
After we finished a card, we stuck it on the refrigerator so we could review it over the week. (That picture above is our refrigerator right now.) At our house, out of sight means out of mind. Our house is also full of very hungry little people. I figured that if I put the Parenting Cards we were using on the refrigerator, I would KNOW my kiddos were seeing them, because I KNOW my kids eat. Instant character review. There are also activities that can be spread throughout the week.
I try to do a more in-depth review of our character studies each morning along with our daily Bible reading. Admittedly, I haven't been as consistent since summer started. I do much better during the school year when we have a better schedule, but I try to review several times a week during the summer. Then on the next Monday, we pull out the next card.
The WCV Download Bundle
The Download Bundle includes a Teacher's Handbook, a Family Character Assessment, Coloring Pages, Butterfly Awards, and Sing-along Song Sheets. The Teacher's Handbook would be worth the price of the bundle, in my opinion. It is a short, easy read. Not only does it have great "how-to's" to help you teach the virtues, but it is full of wisdom concerning training children in general. This book recognizes that our kids will only rise to the expectations we set for them, and if our expectations are low, their outcomes will also be low. But it goes further than that by addressing the expectations we set for ourselves. If we do not become an example of virtue for our kids to follow, we will never be able to adequately train them in those virtues. Our kids will follow our example, even more than our words.
The Family Character Assessment turned out to be a great way for us to kick off the program. I made a copy for each of my kids. On our first day, I handed them each a character assessment sheet and asked them to fill it out. Most of my kids were incredibly hard on themselves (I had one child who doesn't need to work on virtues, it seems. According to this child's personal assessment, the work is pretty much done. Ahem. Looks like some personal Honesty might be in order...) After we have gone through all the Parenting Cards, I want to have my kids re-take the assessment sheets so they can see their progress.
The Coloring Pages were ideal for my youngest child. The discussions I had with my pre-teen and teens had a tendency to go a little longer than a three year old could generally endure. But with the coloring pages, she was content to color while we talked. I'm convinced she learns a great deal just by hearing us talk.
All in all, I felt like this was a great program. It doesn't go as in-depth as some other programs I've used, but it keeps a very positive perspective that I really like. I also like how easy it is to keep the Parenting Cards out so we can review the virtues we have already covered. When our next school year begins, I will add these cards and materials to my other Character Training supplies as a wonderful enhancement tool.