Category Archives: homeschool character building

Tips for Building Godly Character in Children

character building for childrenIn my last post, I talked about the two components of teaching good character traits to our children:

  1. Modeling by example
  2. Using a character curriculum or topic-based Bible study as a framework of instruction.

Choosing a character curriculum

There are many to choose from these days, but here are some things to watch for:

1. Make sure the curriculum focuses on heart change, rather than only behavior modification.

Deuteronomy 6:5, 6 tells us, “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day, shall be in your heart.”

Teaching character to our children from a purely logical, what’s-in-it-for-them perspective will not bear good fruit, long-term. If we somehow implant in them the idea that exhibiting good character is about expediency — experiencing success, being rewarded for good behavior and suffering consequences for bad behavior, we only end up stroking their flesh.

  • If you learn to be kind, you will get along better with people and in the workplace.
  • Integrity is an important stepping stone to success.
  • People will think well of you if you do x, y, and z. If you do otherwise, you won’t be liked / won’t be promoted / will ruin your reputation.

While those things are true in a general sense, taking the high road of good character will sometimes lead us into suffering. We must prepare our children to do what is right even if that means enduring negative outcomes.

Teaching our children only to modify their outward behavior cultivates a mentality of doing the right thing so as not to get caught in unpleasant consequences. It can lead to legalism, because it dwells on our works and ability to do well in our own strength.

Character curriculum which focuses on the heart, on the other hand, will emphasize inner attitudes and leaning on Jesus for help to do what is right.

  • How will Jesus feel if I do this or that? Will it make Him sad or happy?
  • What would Jesus do in my situation? Why?
  • If I do or say this, will I hurt someone else?

Character education aimed at the heart will lead to greater desire for relationship with Jesus and a yearning to be like Him, simply because He is worthy. If we can get to our children’s heart attitudes, the outward behavior will follow along.

2. The curriculum should be Bible-centered.

Several of the popular character programs available are focused on logic and behavior modification — because they do not have Jesus as their beginning reason. Why would we, as Christian parents, even consider teaching our children character from a secular worldview? Yet, some do, because of rave reviews or an economical price.

Try to find materials which fit well with your beliefs. However, no program is perfect for all families. It is likely that even with the best of them you will need to make some adjustments. Choose materials which center on Jesus and are doctrinally sound. Your denomination may even have the resources you need.

3. Free is not always best.

I know money can be tight, but don’t let the temptation to choose “free” keep your children from a great character education.

With character education, once is not enough.

Just like with other things we teach our children, building strong character means we will need to repeat the instruction to reinforce it. That could mean using more than one character curriculum through the years, or reviewing and repeating the one you have. I recommend that people go through our curriculum, Character Building for Families, more than once — because we all tend to forget things we have learned, and God focuses our attention on one aspect the first time and a different point the next.

You are in this for the long haul.

Character education takes time. It is not a, “We accomplished that and now we’re done” kind of thing. You will need to be patient and diligent in forming your children’s character. Consistency is key, both in instruction and in putting it into practice. We are discipling our children, and that doesn’t happen quickly or easily.

Prayer and the Word are essential components of character building.

 1. Pray for your children’s character. Parents’ prayers are powerful. They touch the heart of God. And they cooperate with the desires our heavenly Father already has for our children.

2. Teach your children to develop consistent prayer and Bible reading habits. This is such an important part of building their character. As they absorb God’s Word and commune with Him, they can’t help but grow in Christ’s likeness. Becoming increasingly like Jesus should be the goal of every Christian. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). We can help our children begin at an early age by teaching them to pray and read the Word.

3. Teach your children to recognize, be sensitive to, and obey God’s voice.

If you need help with teaching your children how to pray and hear God’s voice, we have a couple of short, practical books to assist you. Simply click the images below.

 

Teach Your Kids to Hear God!

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

 

Raising our children to be people of Christ-like character is not easy, but it is the most important task we have been entrusted with for our families. Diligently persevering in it reaps great rewards in their lives and for us in eternity. Though not easy, as you lean on the Lord, He will abundantly help you to reach the goal.

 

Character Building for Families,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

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Why Character Studies Are Important for Your Family

Bible character training“I don’t see the need to ‘teach’ character to my children. They will naturally learn good character through my example and through everyday situations as they happen.”

I’ve heard the comment numerous times from well-meaning parents. The problem is, such an approach is naïve. Furthermore, it does not follow the model God gave us in the Bible.

Modeling good character for our children is an important part of the picture, of course. If we tell them how they ought to behave, but then do not follow through by living out the example of what we preach, our children will see through our hypocrisy. They are more likely to do as Mom and Dad do, than live only by what we say.

But, good character doesn’t automatically rub off on our children as we set the example for them. It needs to be presented systematically, “precept upon precept … line upon line” (Isaiah 28:10, 13). Teaching the concepts of Christ-like character within an organized framework, in companionship with modeling it by example, will bring about the best results in shaping our children in the image of  Jesus.

The Old Testament speaks of making a concentrated effort to bring up our children in the ways of the Lord. No doubt you are familiar with Proverbs 22:6‘s exhortation, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Consider also Deuteronomy 6:5-9:

And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart, and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be like frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the posts of your house and on your gates.

Notice that we are to teach the Lord’s commands diligently to our children, to talk of them when sitting and walking together, before bedtime, and in the morning when we arise. The Israelites were to bind them upon their hands (figuratively speaking of their actions) and on their foreheads (speaking of the mind), and to write them upon their gates and homes. That sounds like a pretty intense plan for training up children in the way they should go, doesn’t it? Nothing haphazard there!

What about in the New Testament? Well, Jesus was the perfect example of godly character to His disciples. They lived with Him day and night, continually seeing Him portray how to live a life of love toward God and  their fellow man. Yet, Jesus did not merely teach them by His example. In the gospels, we see that He spent many hours instructing His disciples in the specifics of how to think, speak, and live. Apparently, He knew they would not “catch” good character only by watching Him live it. They needed the reinforcement of solid expounding on the Scriptures and how to apply them.

The same is true of the apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, he encouraged the believers, “Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (teaching by example). Yet, as we read through his letters to the churches, we see much detailed written instruction in how to walk out holy lives.

Well-rounded character education is a bit like biology or chemistry: we present information through textbooks and lectures to put a framework of scientific concepts in place, and then we apply that knowledge in hands-on lab situations. In the same way, we should teach character systematically, through a character curriculum or series of character-oriented Bible studies, and then apply that knowledge in everyday life through example and practice.

Without some kind of consistent plan in place for teaching character, we can easily miss important areas of character development in our children. Because we have blind spots, we don’t always notice areas of weakness in our children or ourselves, even though those weaknesses may be glaringly obvious to others. By using character training materials, we make sure we touch the areas we could otherwise so easily miss.

In my next post, I will share some ideas of how to do our best at developing Christ-like character in our children.

 

Character Building for Families,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Foundations and Walls

mason laying bricksI often hear God speak to me through dreams. In fact, one of the ways I serve in the body of Christ is by teaching others how to understand what God is saying to them through their dreams.

Recently, I dreamed that I had been reading Tales of the Kingdom, a much-beloved children’s book in our family while our girls were growing up. In the dream, I noticed there were many silver objects and references to silver in the book. Then, an old, silver-haired man approached me. Pointing his finger for emphasis, he explained that the silver symbolism was present because older people are going to have an important role to play in God’s kingdom in the days ahead.

I believe this role will primarily be one of re-laying the foundations of our Christian faith in those around us and rebuilding the walls which have crumbled, much like Nehemiah led the Jewish people to do in Old Testament times. My sense is that this is something the Lord will be emphasizing to His Church a great deal in the near future.

While my dream was specifically about those of us who are in the grandparenting age group, this does not mean younger generations are without responsibility. If you still have children growing up in your home, you can do your part by building solid foundations and kingdom walls in your children. To them, you are the older generation!

What are the foundations I’m speaking of? They are the pure and simple gospel (what 2 Corinthians 11:3 calls “the simplicity which is in Christ”) and the nonnegotiable beliefs of Christianity, which were firmly laid in place by the original New Testament apostles.

The apostle John said of these, “Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, you also shall continue in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).

The apostle Paul likewise exhorted Timothy, “The things which you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit those same things to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

The “walls” we are to build are more about discipleship, how to live out godly lives in keeping with Christ — in essence, character education.

Paul gave a few specifics of what that should look like, in Titus 2:1-8:

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

NIV – Bible Gateway

Homeschooling parents have a powerful opportunity to lay the foundations and build the walls in our children’s lives, so that they will grow up to be mighty men and women of God.

I encourage each of you, you can do this! You may not know everything there is to know about the Bible, but you have the Holy Spirit to teach you, and He can also bring resources to your attention to assist you. My series, A Well-Grounded Faith,  and Character Building for Families can help you get started.

Take the time to pray with your children. Read the Bible with them. Instruct them in the foundations of our faith. It’s even more important than getting all the academic stuff accomplished. Raise up those mighty warriors for the Lord.

homeschool character training

 

Character Building for Families

 

teach children to pray

 

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Coping with Overwhelm (Part 2)

homeschooling overwhelmToday, let’s look at some common areas where we can get overwhelmed and how to alleviate them.

Measuring ourselves by other people’s standards

Maybe you find yourself thinking, “I just can’t get it together like other homeschool moms do!”

If you’ve gotten your image of what the perfect homeschool family looks and acts like from some homeschool magazine or hotshot Internet site, get rid of that notion. It’s not reality. The families on those mags and websites got themselves gussied up for the occasion. It’s called a photo shoot. If you could be the proverbial fly on the wall the rest of the time at their house, you’d see they have issues, just like the rest of us.

People sometimes talk like they have it all together, tempting the rest of us to beat up on ourselves because we fail at being just like them. We want to do it all, because they seem to be doing it all — with a smile on their faces!

The truth is, God doesn’t expect you to live somebody else’s lifestyle or hold yourself to their standards. He just wants you to follow His plan and seek His wisdom for your unique family.

Frustrating curricula

There is no perfect curriculum. No matter how glowing the reports, if the system everybody else told you to use just isn’t working, it’s OK to change to something different. Some of these are short-lived trends anyway.

Some families thrive using a very relaxed approach: exploring their interests at their own speed, using “living books” (non-textbooks), seizing learning experiences as they arise. Others do much better with highly structured materials — perhaps a full curriculum package that covers all the bases. Some even do well with a correspondence course, complete with deadlines. It all depends on you and your children.

If your homeschool materials are causing you or your children to stress out, it’s probably time for a change. One of the wisest pieces of advice I received in our early years of homeschooling came from Mary Pride, in her first edition of The Big Book of Home Learning. She said to expect to spend some money on resources which turn out to be duds. She felt it was just part of the process, and nothing to feel guilty about.

Housekeeping — too clean or too messy

Either extreme can cause stress. I said in Part 1 of this series that it’s likely you will need to lower your standards a bit in this area, but letting it all go to the dogs isn’t healthy either!

Use part of your homeschooling day or week to teach the children to do housework, and then put it into regular practice. You can count this as Life Skills, and attribute school hours to it. In addition to learning how to keep a tidy home, cooking and sewing can be part of this “class.” Older children should be helping care for the younger children’s needs, as well as bearing some of the overall workload.

Child care, home economics, and shop classes are making a comeback in public schools. Why shouldn’t you include them too? You will just accomplish them more informally than an institutional school. If you need ideas, check out my article, What About Life Skills?  for a list of basic life skills our children should be proficient in before they graduate.

Make summer activities work for you

If your state homeschooling laws require a minimum number of hours, get a head start on your next school year by counting summer hours spent doing educational activities. Include summertime trips, sports, reading, clubs, etc. and note the hours spent on them. This is a practically painless way to accumulate lots of learning and lots of hours credited toward classes.

Those historical spots you visit? Vacations to other parts of the state or country? Those are social studies field trips.

Sports? — physical education.

Reading? — part of your language curriculum. Keep a list of the books read.

Arts and crafts with the parks department? — Yep! That’s part of your art course for the year.

Now, what do you do to decrease your overwhelm? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Previous: Coping with Overwhelm (Part 1)

 

Character Building for Families

 

inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Coping with Overwhelm (Part 1)

Perhaps you and your children started homeschooling with high expectations of it being an exciting new adventure. You were all going to have lots of FUN together. Much like an avid gardener poring over seed catalogs in anticipation of spring planting, you eagerly researched the multitudes of homeschool curricula available, finally settling on the perfect one for your family. But that was months ago, and now reality has set in. You and the kids are not having nearly as much fun as you thought this was supposed to be, and the workload is overwhelming.

Yes, homeschooling is a lot of work, but there are ways we can make it better for ourselves — and keep the fun in it. Part of it is about changing how we think, part is spiritual, and part is just plain making some practical adjustments.

Cutting back on nonessentials

First of all, if you are going to have the staying power you will need, life will not be able to go on quite the same as it did before homeschooling. Some things will most likely have to slide a bit. Let the nonessentials take a back seat during this season of your life.

Maybe neither you or your family will be able to handle as many outside activities or hobbies as previously. Sports activities and classes for dance, art, or music are great, and can be included as part of your homeschooling experience, but if you are losing your peace or grinding yourself into the ground to make them happen, it’s time to assess which are most important and curtail the rest.

Pre-homeschooling, my house was tidy most of the time. I made all our bread and fixed time-consuming meals. I did a lot of scratch food preparation. But once we started schooling at home, the house wasn’t quite as neat, the meals became simpler, and the bread making died — because if they hadn’t, I probably would have had a major meltdown. Preserving your sanity and staying peaceful are important!

Make two lists of ways you currently spend your time. Label them “Essential” and “Nonessential.” Be ready to cut out what isn’t as important, as you need to. You don’t have to let go of everything all at once, as long as you and your family are peaceful. Modify your lists regularly, because both priorities and preferences change over time.

In my opinion, maintaining a daily prayer life belongs on the essential list. It’s easy to let prayer slide when life gets busy, but if we make our time with the Lord top priority, He has a way of making all the rest of our day go much smoother. In God’s economy, if we make time with Him our top priority, the other stuff tends to get done. I don’t know how He does that for us, but it really works.

Time devoted exclusively to your spouse also belongs on that essential list. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a weekly date night. That works for some, but for others it adds to the stress, especially if finding a baby sitter is part of the equation. It doesn’t have to be a marathon event. If a daily fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time chatting with each other right there in the living room works, then do that. Make it a joy, not another reason to feel overwhelmed.

I never have a moment to myself!

Yes, it’s true. Me-time does suffer. You probably won’t be able to socialize, whether on the computer, phone, or in person, as much as you once did.

Keep in mind, though, that a half hour with the Lord in prayer and Bible reading will do more to help you regain your peace than that same half hour airing your frustrations to your friends. The Holy Spirit refreshes us with His presence. He renews our strength as we wait upon Him, according to Isaiah 40:31. If God says it, we ought to take His advice.

If possible, do occasionally schedule alone time for yourself or coffee with a friend, if you really need those to recharge your battery. Well-rested moms do a better job of parenting and schooling than worn-out, frazzled moms. If you have children who are old enough to watch the younger ones, set aside a day of relaxed activities they can do while you are absent. Some homeschool support groups provide ways for moms to take a break, too, whether by sharing child care responsibilities or scheduling co-op classes, activities, and events. Some of those will require that you take your turn at volunteering, so other moms can have a break; some require a fee to pay the people who are teaching the classes or supervising the activities.

Next time, we’ll talk about a few more ways we can avoid or cut down on overwhelm.

Next: Coping with Overwhelm (Part 2)

 

Character Building for Families
 

inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Protecting Our Children from Supernatural Evil (Part 1)

Christian parentingAt my Out of the Fire blog, the most-visited post of all time is one about getting free of nightmares which involve feeling suffocated, choked, a horror of great darkness, etc. Typically, the dreamer struggles to call out the name of Jesus and has a hard time doing so — but when he succeeds, the nightmare immediately ends.

Many, many believers are experiencing these terrifying dreams, which are actually demonic in nature. Why is this so common? Why are multitudes of Christians afflicted with this? The answer in most cases is that they have had some involvement with the occult – often going back to their childhood.

You may say, “That could never happen in our home. We don’t dabble with the occult at our house.” Good for you! However, it is all around us, showing up sometimes in subtle ways, which aren’t always easily recognized.

It is our responsibility to protect our children from demonic influences, so that they don’t suffer from them through nightmares or in some other way. We must be vigilant to keep them safe while they are very young and to instruct them so that, as they get older, they know how to protect themselves.

Let’s start with an elementary list of some of the things we must, as believers, totally avoid:

  1. Ouija boards
  2. ESP (extra sensory perception) games and exercises
  3. Fortune telling
  4. Seances / mediums / attempting to contact the dead / “channeling”
  5. Astrology (horoscopes) — I might add that quite a few of the personality quizzes and games people indulge in on FaceBook are actually covers for astrology.
  6. Experiments with levitation, astral projection, telepathy, releasing “energy” toward others
  7. Spells and incantations
  8. Feng Shui, Reiki, Taoism, other Eastern religions

Those are fairly obvious no-no practices for most of us, aren’t they?

But there are more subtle forms of occult influence. Some of these should still be obvious, but apparently they are not, since so many Christians participate in them:

Harry Potter, Twilight (vampires), zombies, Merlin — You may think these materials are just harmless entertainment. I have heard Christians hotly defend them. Unfortunately, they are an open door to the influence of evil spirits in our lives, whether we want to admit it or not.

Halloween celebrations — Again, hotly defended by many believers. Ask any Christian who formerly was a satanist what they think about this! We are being very foolish in trying to whitewash, or even Christianize, this holiday.

Pokémon — Short for “pocket monster,” the origin of the characters is Japanese folklore, including demons. Here is an article from Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry which outlines some of what goes on with Pokémon and Pokémon Go. Decide for yourself, after reading. (It’s not one of those hyper-ventilating articles, by the way.)

Dora the Explorer — Now you may really think I am nuts! I’m sorry, but those cute little shows contain magic. It looks innocent, but it is not. With any children’s TV shows, I believe we should pay attention to what is taking place in them before we plunk our children down in front of them. The Holy Spirit will help us discern, if we just ask.

Personally, I would avoid any children’s shows which incorporate mystical powers, magic wands, saying magical phrases, exploring pagan temples, or spooky things. They encourage a taste for these things in our children. In my opinion, it is better to stand conservatively when it comes to questionable entertainment.

Yoga — Whether you utilize the breathing techniques or only the exercise positions, yoga opens doors to demonic influences. You cannot use the breathing exercises and try to listen for the Holy Spirit through them. They open the way for evil spirits to speak into your mind. Each of the exercise stances are dedicated to a Hindu god (demon). It is not possible to Christianize yoga, no matter how we try. Former Hindus who now follow Jesus understand what is involved in yoga, and have nothing to do with it. Maybe we should listen to them.

Masonic things — including the King’s Daughters and the Shriners. These are not social clubs. Freemasonry is completely immersed in the worship of demonic entities, incantations, and placing curses upon oneself and family (even to future generations).

Hypnotism (and any other type of mind control)

Fortune cookies — They are what they are called, folks. Eat the cookie, leave the little paper inside unread.

Energy healing and acupuncture

Mind reading, mental telepathy

Aliens — Many of you are probably Star Trek and Star Wars fans. This is a bit of a gray area. I think some of the things in sci-fi should be avoided as viewing entertainment — like mind reading and mental telepathy, or the concept of equal light and dark sides of “the Force.” That harks back to the Eastern religion concept of yin and yang, while the Bible teaches us that the devil is NOT equal in power to the Lord — not even close, in fact. Besides, God is not an impersonal force we tap into. He is a Trinity of three Persons, with emotions, desires, and love for us.

Entertaining ourselves with stories of aliens is borderline, in my opinion, depending on what goes on. However, do keep in mind that some unfortunate people have had genuine encounters with “aliens,” which are really demonic entities out to deceive people with tales of superior powers and intelligence and wanting to bring peace to Planet Earth. Often these encounters involve gross sexual perversion and mind control.

So, be careful what you allow in sci-fi entertainment into your home, so that you do not inadvertently open a door to the occult.

Some role-playing games Dungeons and Dragons should be obvious, but others (like Pokémon Go) may be less obvious.

Lists are a good place to start in the quest to protect our children from evil, but they are only a beginning. Occult deceptions can be quite subtle, so we also need to teach our children how to discern by the Holy Spirit. Next time, we’ll talk about that.

Next: Part 2 (Teaching spiritual discernment)

 

Character Building for Families

New Homeschool Group for Moms

Do you sometimes feel like homeschooling is way more of an adventure than you bargained for? Are there days when you feel overwhelmed with navigating all the parenting issues — or you just don’t know what to do to get Johnny to behave? Maybe you’re concerned about whether you are doing a good job, and whether your children will turn out all right.

Announcing a new homeschool group on FaceBook:

Older Homeschool Moms Helping Younger Homeschool Moms

Our goal is to connect younger homeschool mothers with older women who have been there before you — so that you can receive encouragement, ask advice, receive prayer, and just be assured that you can do homeschooling well.

We’d love to have you take a look, and join if you’d like!