Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Matter of Character

How important is a person’s character? Very!

By nature, children (and grownups, too!) are selfish and thoughtless. Dedicated training and effort are needed to change these traits into selflessness and thoughtfulness. Actions are caught, not taught, as the saying goes, so as parents what we do is highly important. However, character can also be taught. Who wants to sit through a boring lecture, though? I sure don’t, and I bet your kids don’t, either. Stories and poems can be effective teaching tools. Animals that learn from the folly of their ways and well-known historical figures who model exemplary lifestyles add interest to character training lessons. Homeschooling provides parents with unique opportunities to model and teach virtues.

If you’re looking for additional materials about character, many exist. William J. Bennett’s The Book of Virtues is a good place to start. For lesson plans with creative ideas and further resources, check out these Web sites: Shiver Academy’s Book of Virtues lesson plans (scroll down the page and look for the “Book of Virtues” links in the right-hand column), Character Education and Life Skills Lessons (some free, some require a membership), Homeschooling Boys, Generations of Virtue, ethics lesson plans from Lesson Planet, morality lesson plans from Humanity Quest, and Character Education. (Editor’s note: Please prescreen each resource carefully before presenting it to your children since every family’s definition of acceptable content varies.)

I want to leave you with a few well-known quotes to help emphasize how important building good character is. “It is not titles that reflect honor on men, but men on their titles” (Machiavelli). “All men that are ruined are ruined on the side of their natural propensities” (Edward Burke). “Common sense is not so common” (Voltaire). “Whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad” (Euripides). “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and it looks like work” (Thomas Edison). “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10, NKJV).