Welcome to The Character Building for Families Blog!

Hi! I’m Lee Ann Rubsam, author of Character Building for Families. My husband and I are former homeschoolers. (Our children are grown now.) We started homeschooling back in the pioneer days of the homeschooling movement, before many people knew what homeschooling was. Our daughters were with us at home for their entire elementary and high school education. We had a blast together!

Character Building for Families is the character curriculum which I wrote for them many years ago, because I saw a need in our family for an organized approach to character training, rather than teaching it in a hit-or-miss fashion. (I was concerned about the “miss” part.)

I hope you will visit our Character Building for Families website to see what our books have to offer. They are totally Bible-based, easy to use, are a great way for the entire family to grow together in Christ-like character qualities, and your kids will love them.

Volume1     Volume2

We have quite a bit of free info for you at the Character Building for Families website, some which is specifically geared toward homeschooling families and some which is just plain encouraging for all Christians!  You may want to check out our The Names of God page, which alphabetically lists over 600 of God’s names and titles, as recorded in the KJV Bible.

We have other books for you as well, including River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus, which is a study geared toward high schoolers and adults, and Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God. For a full listing of our books, please visit our website, Full Gospel Family Publications.

So, that’s the website, but what about this blog? Our goal is to talk about various homeschool topics, especially character education from a homeschool perspective. I will post a few of our older articles to begin with, but you will also find fresh material showing up here on a regular basis. If you don’t want to miss a thing, in the right-hand column of this page, you will find an option to subscribe via e-mail.

Considering God’s Creation (Curriculum Review)

Considering_Gods_Creation_SetI’d like to share with you a favorite science program out of our homeschooling past — Considering God’s Creation. Authored by sisters Susan Mortimer and Betty Smith, who homeschooled their own children and were themselves homeschooled on the mission field, Considering God’s Creation is a multi-grade level (teach all the kids at once from the same curriculum), semi-hands-on approach to earth and life science.

Like many “written for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers” programs, it is easy to work with, because the authors understand the homeschool lifestyle from personal experience.

Considering God’s Creation is advertised as being suitable for 2nd-7th grade. In my estimation, the ideal age for use is 3rd – 4th grade, but using the “Digging Deeper” suggestions in each lesson for further research projects could extend its usefulness to the older grades as well.

The materials consist of a teacher’s manual with instructions and lecture material in print form, a music CD with songs which correlate with the lessons, and a 270-page PDF student workbook. Because the workbook is delivered as a PDF, you can print as many workbooks as you need for your family. That’s a lot of time, ink, and wear on the printer, but at least you avoid shipping charges. (Tip: Get ink for a fraction of the cost on eBay.)

Rock_thumbThe workbook can be collected into a three-ring binder, and makes a very nice science keepsake notebook when complete. My daughter loved to look through her completed pages again and again, frequently crawling up into her daddy’s lap to share her science book — all without any prompting from Mom!

Twenty-two topics are presented, which will take you one to three years to  cover, if you work through them thoroughly. We needed about two years to complete the curriculum. We enjoyed spending extra time on some of our favorite topics, supplementing with additional materials from the library. (Why hurry, when you’re having fun learning?)

Topics include creation, the universe, earth, light, sound, wind, weather, clouds, rocks, the plant and animal kingdoms, food chains, reproduction and genetics, and human and animal anatomy/physiology.

The materials are decidedly Christian in emphasis, come from a young earth creationist viewpoint, and are full of very well researched information. I was impressed with how comprehensive the lessons were.

I really liked the nice balance between instructional information (lecture material) and hands-on activities. There were no failed experiments  and no turning the kitchen into a science laboratory, where the  countertop is overrun with aquariums and terrariums full of who-knows-what kinds of disgusting creatures and their by-products! The hands-on projects are simple enough for Mom and interesting enough for the kids, so everyone keeps smiling.

Many of the worksheet pages are simple color, cut, and paste activities, or pages to record observations, rather than actual experiments.

I thoroughly liked this program. So did my daughter. We were both a little sad when it was all done.

To sum up, this is an exceptionally well-done science curriculum, easy to use, presenting a worldview which will be acceptable to most Christians, with minimal lesson preparation time for Mom. Parents and their children are both going to like working with Considering God’s Creation.

Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 3)

Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet John 13:5Last time, we began talking about character qualities of good leaders and how to instill them into our children. Here are a few more:

Leaders take initiative. They see where a job needs doing, and they do it. Learning to go ahead and meet the needs before being asked is a huge leadership skill. Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the Foursquare Church, used to watch for upcoming leaders by leaving crumpled bits of paper lying around and then waiting to see who would notice and pick them up. Learning to take initiative precedes acquiring the skill of delegation.

Leaders inspire others to go higher. Teach your children to encourage others. Start by making a conscious effort to first encourage them. It is easy to miss seeing the things they do right, while consistently pointing out what needs to improve, because we want to put the necessary changes in motion. However, we need to praise them for doing well even more than we correct them. That is not natural to our human nature. The only way to accomplish this shift in our parenting is by persistently asking the Holy Spirit to give us His perspective on our children. “Lord, help me to see them through Your lenses, and open my eyes to what they are doing well.”

We can also inspire our children to go higher by challenging them to tasks or levels of accomplishment which are a little above what they feel capable of. This takes wisdom from the Lord, so as not to expect so much from them that they become overly frustrated. Keep a watchful eye, and be ready to step in and assist them if the task you have assigned to them seems to be stressing them out.

Give your older ones the opportunity to teach younger siblings skills which they have already mastered. Remind them to coach and cheerlead their little brothers and sisters onward. This is a great way to stretch them and help them mature.

Leadership does not involve bullying, tyrannizing, intimidating, manipulating, heavy-handedness, or expecting others to bow down to us.

  • Teach your children to be advocates for one another and for others. Use Jesus, the Elder Brother, as their example. “… We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). An advocate is a champion, supporter, and defender for someone else.
  • Teach them not to boss each other. This can be a task which requires great vigilance!
  • Teach them to give to others with no strings attached.

Instill in your children the concept of sonship. In a properly functioning family, one child is not loved more than another by the parents. So it is in the Kingdom of God. There are no “haves” versus “have-nots.” God does not have favorite children. We are all His favorites. There are no second-class sons and daughters in His family. Some of us are closer to our heavenly Father than others of us, but it is not because He has a love for one more than for another. It is our choice. He gives us equal opportunity for intimate relationship with Him.

Now, I know. The Church has not done very well with the sonship concept. We’ve developed a caste system in our midst, giving preeminence to those more outwardly talented or beautiful, and implying that ministry function determines value of the individual person. Let me just say that this is a problem stemming from our fallen nature. It is not the heart of our Father in heaven.

Someone has to reform the whole mess, and I can’t think of a better way than by  teaching our children where we went wrong and how to operate differently. As we raise up our future leaders in truth, they will influence others for change.

Perhaps the task of raising up a new generation of leaders from within your family seems daunting. Yes, it is — and we can’t accomplish it on our own. I’ve tried to give you a vision for what can be, along with some practical steps to get there. But, as with all our attempts to parent well, the way to success is through leaning on the Holy Spirit for guidance. We can’t possibly form Christ-like character in our children without His insight to help us. Ultimately, even if we are the best parents in the world, He is also the One Who must do the work in our children’s hearts.

So, depend on Him, and follow His leading to the best of your ability. If you do, He will see to producing the fruit in your children.

Previous: Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 2)  


Character Building for Families


The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids — Update

HSPrayerKids400A few months ago, we released our e-book,  The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids as a Kindle book, exclusively at Amazon. We’re delighted to have expanded its availability to other e-book retailers as well. You can get your copy at:

Apple iBooks
Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Coming soon to Oyster and Scribd.

One of our main goals as Christian homeschooling parents is to help our children come into a vibrant relationship with Jesus. We want to give them the tools to help them stand strong in an increasingly wicked society. The key is to help them become prayerful people who hold the truths of God’s Word deeply in their hearts. But, how do we get them there?

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids presents a simple, step-by-step plan for developing lifelong, consistent prayer and Bible reading habits in your children. From her own experience, Lee Ann Rubsam shares the details of how to lead your children into intimate communion with God through prayer and the Word. If you have the desire to teach your children to pray, but have felt unsure of how to make it a reality in your home, this short book is for you.

E-book only, $1.49 USD


Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 2)

YertleI have always loved Dr. Seuss’s story, Yertle the Turtle. In it, he tells of an arrogant turtle-king who aspires to be above everyone and everything else. Yertle oppresses all the other turtles, thinking they exist only to exalt him to an ever-higher position. It resonates, doesn’t it? I’ll bet you have had some experience with Yertles in your own life. I know I have!

The funny thing is, although none of us want to be trampled by Yertles, most of us feel naturally inclined to be one — if we can only get away with it. It’s that old fallen nature we deal with. And, if we don’t put some concentrated effort into discipling the Yertle out of our kids, it is what they automatically gravitate toward.

Jesus had to teach His disciples not to strive for the top position. You no doubt are familiar with the story, found in Mark 10:35-45, of James and John asking if they could be the guys who were second in command, once Jesus came into His glory. When the other disciples heard about it, they were quite offended (probably mostly because they also wanted to be at the top of the heap!) Jesus sat them down and corrected their wrong attitude: “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you …” (vs. 42, 43). He went on to explain that those who desire to be great must become servants to everyone else, and that He Himself came to serve and to sacrifice Himself.

It’s a hard concept to get into our noggins. Jesus had to repeat the message more than once, and the disciples never did quite get it until He had empowered them with the indwelling Holy Spirit, after His resurrection and ascension. Even at the last supper, with Jesus telling them that He was soon to die, “there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest” (Luke 22:24). Once again, He patiently went through the whole talk about serving, rather than lording it over one another. That tells me that we have to diligently teach, and frequently re-teach, this concept to our children.

So, what should we teach them about leadership?

Real leaders are first and foremost servants. Jesus, although He truly was Lord of the whole universe, “made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant …” (Philippians 2:7). At our house, we thoroughly memorized Philippians 2:3-15. It nails the nitty-gritty details of humility, putting others’ interests before our own, not clawing for position, and generally acting as sons and daughters of God ought to.

Servant leadership is even catching on in the secular business world, with some of America’s most prominent and successful corporations now shifting in this direction. Why? Because they found out it works. When people are treated well by management, production is better because morale is better.

Leaders care about the people whom they lead. Unlike the corporate servant leadership model, in the Jesus model, leaders don’t serve so that they can squeeze more production out of people by boosting morale. They serve because they love. Besides using Philippians 2 to teach this concept, we incorporated memorization and detailed discussion of 1 Corinthians 13, especially verses 1-7 and 13, to get the message firmly planted in our children’s hearts.

Leaders rejoice in the successes of others, rather than feeling threatened by them. Reading and discussing 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 is a great way to instill this idea. To begin with, try narrowing it down to immediate family for easy application, and expand outward from there to the local church and beyond:

In our family, we all belong to each other. We are one.  Just like when your stomach hurts, none of the rest of your body feels well, when one part of our family is hurting, all the rest of us feel it, and when one of us has happy things happen to him, we are all glad together.

Some of you are older, and you can be stronger, like the shoulders or legs, while little brothers and sisters are the weaker, more tender parts, who need more protection. We take care of each other and are not jealous of each other.

It would be silly for you to stamp on your own fingers with your foot, or for your finger to feel jealous of your eyeball, wouldn’t it? We work together as a family unit, just as all the body parts work in unity, and we are meant to share each others’ joys and sorrows.

(Etc. You get the idea.)

We’ll continue next time with a few more qualities of leaders, and ideas for how we can build them into our children.

Previous: Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 1)
Next: Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 3) 


Character Building for Families


Raising Our Children to Be Leaders

EmmausIn the last couple of posts, I talked about why the homeschool environment is a natural place to birth leaders, and why raising our children to lead is important. But you may be thinking, “How do I go about teaching them the leadership skills they will need?”

Learning to be a good follower is a prerequisite for being a good leader. Successful leadership requires an understanding of how authority works, and where one fits into the chain of command. Even the secular world grasps this concept. Most companies require management employees to go through a training process, which often involves coming up through the ranks. When they don’t, problems with discontent often flare up among the workers. The Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant commented, “For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (Luke 7:8).

Throughout the Bible, we see seasoned men of God training up future leaders by first giving them opportunity to follow and serve in everyday ways. Elisha served Elijah for many years before he came into his own prophetic ministry. Jesus said, “Follow me” to His disciples long before He sent them out to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and have authority over unclean spirits. Those same disciples eventually raised up others to be leaders through a process of helping them first learn to follow: Paul with Timothy, Peter with Mark, John with Polycarp.

Paul encouraged whole churches who were under his care to follow him:

Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. — 1 Corinthians 11:1

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them who walk like unto us, whom you have for an example. — Philippians 3:17

So that’s where we can get our children started — by teaching them to follow us. In the process of following, they will learn two things:

  1. How leaders should treat their followers — because they become acquainted firsthand with how it feels to be in submission to someone else.
  2. How to lead by watching someone else model it for them.

We learn how to treat people, and how not to treat them, based not only on specific instruction given to us, but also on both the good and bad things we have experienced at the hands of others. As your children learn to follow you, they will see both the good and not-so-good ways you handle leadership. And they will make mental notes of how they will do things the same or differently when they become parents. It happens with every generation.

Obviously, our goal is to lead in the very best, Christ-like way possible. But even when we don’t, the Lord’s grace is there to help our children learn humility and submission.

Next time, we’ll begin looking at hallmark qualities of a good leader, and practical ways we can instill them into our children.

Previous — Homeschool: Incubator of Leaders (Part 2)
Next — Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 2)


Character Building for Families


Homeschool — Incubator of Leaders (Part 2)

leadership signLast time, I said that the homeschool environment is an ideal place to incubate world-impacting leaders. I gave several reasons why this is so. But you may be thinking, “Not everyone can be a leader. Some have to be followers. Besides, I don’t think some of my children are ever likely to be leaders!”

First of all, we must all learn to be followers, if we are going to lead effectively. A leader who has never learned to follow will not be able to show the way for others. We all must follow Jesus, for a start, and also be able to submit ourselves to whatever human authorities God has placed in our lives.

Secondly, there are two types of leaders, and we can all fall into one category or the other, or a blend between the two. There are the born leader types — those with Type A personalities, who just have to lead the charge or die trying, and then there are the learned leader types — the ones who have to be awakened into leading. They operate differently, but they both have their place. I found the following two articles so helpful in understanding leader types, that I’d like to share them with you. You will no doubt see yourself and your children described in them:

Learned Leaders 
Born Leaders

Keep in mind that even “world-impacting” leadership can come in many sizes and varieties. The arenas and levels in which you and your children can lead are endless. Those who will lead in government positions or as CEOs of major corporations are very few. But we should all be showing the way for somebody, and small opportunities should never be despised. For instance, as a homeschool parent, you are making a better world by bringing up your children to know the Lord and by teaching them to be responsible citizens. The multiplication of many homeschool parents raising many children well means we can together be a light to our world. This is huge!

Employers greatly prize employees who can be counted on. They are very hard to find these days, even on such low levels as people showing up for work when scheduled and being respectful toward authority figures. If your children grow up to be consistent, faithful workers, they will be a good example to others, and they will be perceived as leaders by their employers.

Will some of your children become prominent, well-known people? Maybe. And if so, you will have influenced society more than you could ever have envisioned, simply by being the parent who prayed and discipled your son or daughter into who they eventually would become.

We never know how much the small parts we play in life may eventually affect thousands or even millions of other people. The seemingly inconsequential things we do have a domino effect. Hudson Taylor’s mom simply prayed diligently for her son’s conversion. Her prayers were heard, and he became a pioneer missionary to China in the nineteenth century. His ministry is today credited by historians as the launch pad to the hundreds of millions of salvations which have since taken place in China. Hudson Taylor became a leader — but his mom was a leader too — by how she influenced his life.

Jesus gave every one of us the commission to “go and teach [disciple] all nations, … teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19, 20). If we do that, and if we teach our children to do likewise, we will impact our world, whether it is by going to a foreign land, as Hudson Taylor did, or whether it is in seeing our neighbors as our mission field. We will have acted as leaders in spiritual matters, which is by far the most important realm of influence we could ever have.

Next time we’ll begin talking about Jesus’ model of leadership and how to get our children there.

Previous — Homeschool: Incubator of Leaders (Part 1)
Next — Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 1)


Character Building for Families


Homeschool — Incubator of Leaders

leadership ducklingsEvery homeschool parent has dreams of raising his or her children to be functional, productive citizens. We want them to be able to adequately care for themselves as adults and, if they marry someday, have the skills necessary to support and raise a family. But, in addition to teaching them to care for themselves and their immediate family circle, we who are homeschooling parents have the opportunity to bring up children who will impact our world with holy influence until such time as Jesus returns.

Why is the homeschool environment an ideal place to incubate world-impacting leaders?

We teach our children to think outside and beyond the box.
Homeschooling parents tend to steer away from a cookie-cutter approach to education. We are able to accommodate our children’s differences in learning styles more than is possible in an institutional school setting. We can take the time to discuss subjects of interest and pose thought-provoking questions for our children to consider.

We can teach them to think things through for themselves, rather than imbibing whatever popular opinions are tossed at them by others. Within the Christian home, we should teach them to invite the Spirit of the Lord into their thought processes. He is the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13-15), by Whom all thought should be measured and tempered.

Homeschooling is well suited to fostering creativity.
Because of the individualized learning that often goes on in our home schools, which includes the flexibility to explore topics of special interest and the opportunity to do hands-on learning, creative thinking tends to blossom in our children.

We are able to create because we have been made in the image of God, Who is the Creator of all things. So, if we teach our children to invite the Lord into their ideas, their ability to bless others through their creativity will be multiplied far beyond their natural abilities.

Homeschooled children quite naturally learn to take responsibility.
They tend to absorb basic life skills just by being together with family and doing lots of things with Mom and Dad. They learn to study on their own when necessary. And, especially with larger families, they have to do their part in keeping the family moving together smoothly — whether through accomplishing their given chores, or helping with caring for younger brothers and sisters, or taking the initiative to do things for themselves, just because Mom doesn’t have time to do it all for them.

Taking responsibility is part of their God-given call to selfless giving, which is a big part of genuine leadership. We’ll talk about this in greater detail in a later post.

Homeschooled children tend to have high character standards.
As with taking responsibility, the development of good character partly comes about naturally as we live out our day-to-day life as family. We are able to address character flaws in our children as we see them happening on a moment-by-moment basis, and steer them in a better direction before things get too out of hand. In addition, many homeschool parents methodically teach character, using a Bible-based character curriculum with their children.

Homeschooled children tend to be mature in how they view life and in how they relate to people.
This is because they are around adult people a lot (their parents, as well as extended family and friends). The maturity of older people rubs off on them. They have more time with their parents, to watch how adults resolve conflict and respond to people relationally. They are not miniature adults by any means, and should not have that expectation laid upon them, but they do tend to be more mature than children of the same age who spend less time with adults and more time with peers.

Most importantly of all, we can instruct our children to view life biblically.
When we understand our world from God’s perspective, we are open to His ideas and problem-solving input. We can tap into His wisdom. Our world needs people who have answers which proceed from God’s supernatural wisdom.

In the Old Testament, Joseph and Daniel are excellent examples of godly men who greatly benefited the foreign nations where they lived, through wisdom they obtained from the Lord. They became national leaders. But on the other end of the spectrum, 2 Kings 5 gives us the story of a young servant girl who, through a caring comment, became the means for her master to be both healed of leprosy and become a believer in the true and living God. Whether we are placed in high or low places of responsibility, God can mightily use the person with a right perspective of Him and His ways.

Please keep in mind that in the above points I am speaking in terms of tendencies. This is not to say that all homeschool families will do well in these areas, or that families who do not homeschool cannot excel in them. But because of the sheer amount of time we spend with our children in the homeschool environment, we do have a great opportunity to develop leadership qualities in them.

Next time we’ll talk about what leadership is, and why even our more passive children can, and should, be leaders on some level.

Next — Homeschool: Incubator of Leaders (Part 2)


Character Building for Families