Sunday, August 7, 2011

Teaching Character - Part 2

In part 1 of Teaching Character I gave a general overview of the "Blue book" and the "Green Book". These photos depict a close up of one of the pages in the Green Book ~ its correct title is Achieving True Successs.

There is no Scripture in this particular book. I balanced that out by using the "Blue Book" ~ The Power for True Success.

One way to use the book is to chose a particular character trait on which to focus for a particular period of time. To fully soak in its meaning and to allow the Lord opportunities to bring real life lessons, we often focused on a trait for a month at a time. But you can also use this by determining a negative trait you want to address - in this case you can see the opposite character trait for Deference is Rudeness. So if rudeness is something that you are struggling to root out in your family, then by focusing on deference, you can highlight how rudeness has crept into your daily lives.

Another help to ingraining this character trait is to memorize the 5 "I Wills". This gives the children (and adults!) a hook and measure as to how deference is being portrayed in their lives. Granted there are many other ways to portray this trait, but a concrete starting point of the 5 "I Wills" gives one a place from which to launch out.

I also like the concise definitions of each trait. Children do not always understand exactly what that definition means, but as one lives it for a month of study, memorizes the 5 "I Wills" and then lives out the trait over the ensuing years, the definition begins to take on nuances and meanings as the child matures. After all, character is a lifetime goal, not an answer to fill in on a test and move on.

And last, I love how there are ideas to jump start what we can do in our homes to live out this character trait. My children loved to pick one or two of these activities or ideas and then carry them out. It always made them happy to bless someone else in the family.

Often there is an animal linked to this trait (though not always, occasionally it is a plant). These can usually be coordinated to correspond to a section of the Character Sketch Books. This gives a multilevel approach to each unit of study. And if you are using the ATI curriculum, then you can see how all the layers work together to teach that one concept/trait.

The Proverbs in general, and Proverbs 2 in particular, stress the importance of searching for Wisdom - not knowledge. I fear that in our society today we have reversed that order and knowledge is being given an exalted place. So many homeschool families fear that their children will not have enough knowledge, that they let wisdom (character) fall by the wayside. I have found that when I am faithful to put wisdom first, the rest will follow in ways I don't even expect.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Teaching Science

Science is one of my favorite subjects in homeschool. There are so many options and so many fun projects to do. I have always used a wide variety of options in this area as opportunities and materials were available. Here is a partial list:
Plant, tend, and harvest a garden (God does the growing).
Raise an animal.
Visit a museum or other science related site.
Do experiments - there are lots of books available on experiments with common household items.
Keep a science notebook or sketchbook.

The possibilities are endless - but my favorite, steady diet of science is from this 3 volume set pictured above.

CHARACTER SKETCHES from the IBLP ministries.

It is arranged so that there are groupings of 4 animals (occasionally a plant) depicting a single character trait. Each volume contains a wide array of traits such as Generosity, Loyalty, Determination, and so on. The art work and the science are amazing. The applications memorable. My daughter has even used examples from the texts in some of her college papers. One of her favorite selections is the Canadian goose representing loyalty.

Each animal also has a corresponding Biblical personage representing that same trait. We would generally spend 1-2 weeks on each animal, and up to 2 months on a particular trait. To round out the full study this was also used along with the Blue and Green books previously mentioned on this blog, and our ATI curriculum Wisdom Books. All focused on one character trait. But the Character Sketches books can also be used as a stand-alone study no matter what curriculum you are using.

And they cover a wide range of ages. The youngest children are fascinated with the art and a selection of stand-out facts. I continued our study all the way to 12th grade as a major part of our biology. To help back up the vocabulary and main ideas we also used the companion Crossword Puzzle books (though I do not know if these are available any longer as I did not see them in the IBLP store.) For younger children (and olders that like to color) there are the companion Coloring Books.

I know these are expensive - but they are a lifetime investment for your children. I know of a number of families that have managed to find used copies and that helps with the cost - though I can't imagine why anyone would part with the books once they have them! Ours are here to stay.