Monday, January 7, 2013

Mom's Missionary Training Center

Last summer I spent a lot of time researching educational methods, curriculum, and  learning activities. Jon and I are about 90% sure that we would like to home school our kids (ack! Did I really say that out loud) and so I was trying to figure out what I needed to have in order to teach them. Yet, the more I dived into the world of educational materials the more discouraged and confused I felt. I wondered if this was God's way of telling me that home school was not the right choice for my family, which was confusing because I'd been feeling for years (even before I had kids) that it was. I decided to make it a matter of prayer and ask God what HE wanted me to be teaching my children. Over the next several days the thought came to me that I needed to teach them the "Developing Christ-like Attributes" chapter from "Preach my Gospel."

However... that is NOT what I wanted to do.

I wanted to teach them letters, study world cultures, geography, study music, art, history, numbers, and go on field trips.

So ignored the prompting and delved back into my hunt for just the right educational curriculum. My feelings of unease increased and so I went back to my knees. Again, the same answer, "Chapter 6, Christ-like Attributes . Once a week on Family Home Evening isn't enough, they need it every day."

"But God, that chapter really isn't designed for 4-year-olds how am I going to teach that? But I get the idea you want me to teach them virtues, right? Okay, I can do that."

So at that point I abandoned my hunt for traditional educational curriculum and started searching for curriculum's that focused on teaching children values and virtues. I got some really wonderful suggestions from some of my readers (which helped a lot) but still I couldn't find anything that was really what I wanted. I think the one I was the most impressed with was the Character Qualities that the Duggar Family uses. There is a company that makes booklets to go along with each of the Character Qualities, but when I looked at the sample I realized it wasn't exactly what I wanted for my family.

In fact, the more I looked the more the Lord reminded me, "Chapter 6, Preach My Gospel, everything you need is there Heather."

So one day for my scripture study I pulled out "Preach my Gospel" and read  through Chapter 6 and saw  that He was right. Everything I needed to teach my children virtues was right there.

The chapter focuses on developing nine Christ-like attributes: Faith, Hope, Charity and Love, Virtue, Knowledge, Patience, Humility, Diligence and, Obedience. As I studied the chapter I saw that these nine virtues are "umbrella virtues" and that all the skills and traits I wanted my children to develop fell under one of them. For example here are all the nine attributes and all the character qualities that fall underneath them.

  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Trust
  • Strength
  • Decision Making
  • Understanding the Nature of God
  • Optimism
  • Patience
  • Enthusiasm
  • Perseverance
  •  Joy-fullness
Charity and Love
  • Service
  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Kindness
  • Forgiveness
  • Integrity
  • Purity-- of body, mind, and soul
  • Honesty
  • Self-control
  • Loyalty
  • Agency
  • Wisdom
  • Inquisitive mind
  • Creativity
  • Discernment
  • Knowing where to get real guidance-- Prayer, Fasting, Scripture study
  • Accepting God's will and timing
  • Endurance
  • Facing adversity with hope
  • Accepting personal weaknesses and faults 
  • Flexibility
  • Contentment
  • Meekness
  • Gratitude
  • Respect- to God, the earth, yourself, and others
  • Reverence
  • Recognizing  pride 
  • Repentance
  • Submission to the will of God
  • Consistency
  • Dependability
  • Hard work
  • Enduring to the end
  • Goal setting and Prioritizing
  • Thoroughness
  • Punctuality
  • Listening
  • To God
  • To Parents
  • To the Prophet
  • To the Holy Ghost

After I went through this I saw that if my children internalized the basic concept of those nine attributes, that many of the other virtues and skills I wanted them to learn would come naturally or easier. In fact, it dawned on me that these nine qualities were THE MOST IMPORTANT things I could teach my children.

 If they never learned to read but had Christ-like charity for others, or if they couldn't add or subtract but could obey God, the prophet and the Holy Ghost, or if they didn't know where Cambodia was but had unshakeable faith in Christ... they would have learned what really matters.

Don't get me wrong, I still plan on teaching my children how to read and add and subtract but I have realized that focusing on teaching them how to become like Christ is the-single-most- important job I have as their mother. And whether I home school, public school, or do something in between that responsibility doesn't change.

So for our pre-school this year I have devoted one month to each of those nine Christ-like attributes. I separated "Honesty" and "Respect/Reverence" from their umbrella categories and gave them their own month because I felt like my kids need extra help in those areas.  As I get them done I will post them and make a list at the end of this post.

I have been using some of the wonderful resources my readers suggested, as well as this awesome website, to create activities and lessons to teach my children. My lessons consists of a mix of scripture stories and stories from Christ's life that that illustrate the principle, activities and crafts that revolve around the principle, and picture books that reinforce the principle. It really hasn't been too much work and I am really grateful that I have had to put this together myself. I have learned so much, and have gotten inspiration specific for my family and children.

In fact, after the announcement about the age change for LDS missionaries and how missionaries would spend less time at the Missionary Training Center (MTC),  I felt some sadness about what could have been, but I also remembered what Sister Julie Beck had said in her "Mother's Who Know" talk,  
"Think of the power of our future missionary force if mothers considered their homes as a pre–missionary training center (MTC). Then the doctrines of the gospel taught in the MTC would be a review and not a revelation. That is influence; that is power."
(Chocolate on My Cranium also made this connection and says it beautifully here)
The thought made me smile, because in my heart  I already knew that the Lord had been helping me to start my own little MTC, with my very own little pre-missionaries. He had given me everything I needed and had been giving me patient nudges in the right direction; quietly telling me that what I was doing was important.

I never got to be a full-time missionary, but I guess that didn't really matter because now I get to be a full-time MTC Mission President!

Which, I am finding, is really fun.

Besides, I have a cute companion.

So far we have done:

and are working on Virtue.

I will put up those lessons as soon as I can! 


  1. Squee! I love reading this post. I have been feeling prompted to read Preach My Gospel too but have not fit it in yet. I'm going to pull it out today and plan when I can go through it.

    I was not able to be a FT missionary either - married a month after I turned 19. I wouldn't change that for the world but I do look forward to when I can go with my hubby as a couple.

    I agree, all the academics matter little if our children lose sight of Christ. That's why reading is one of our big focuses in elementary for homeschool, being able to read the scriptures is so important! The scriptures have the ultimate heroes for our children (and really clear examples of villains and Satan's traps - it's always good to know the opposing side's strategems so you're prepared).

  2. Did you see this?

  3. thank you so much for this. I feel such a spirit when i read your posts. I have actually had many experiences when reading your blog where I could feel the Lord telling me, "This is what you need to do too."

    Thank you for the post and the resources. I think i'll be putting some things together for my young ones. My oldest is in grade one full time, but hopefully i can work him into it too.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing these ideas! I am excited to see the lessons you post!

  5. AWESOME for you Heather!! That is amazing! For us, I have felt that public school has been the right option. The last two years we have home-schooled the middle school children and I am considering branching out further. (And have been looking into other educational philosophies and curriculum.)

    When I was a little overwhelmed (about 10 years ago-ish) about what/how to teach my children all that they were required to learn, I went to the scriptures. I decided that if I could just figure out what the prophets felt was important to teach their children, and follow that, then I would know what my focus should be (This was pre-Preach my Gospel).

    I was comforted by this passage of scripture: Mosiah 1:1-6, paraphrasing:
    And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers, that thereby they might become men of understanding; and that they might know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers.....And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass....v 4 emphasizes teaching the same things to future generations. Basically to be able to read the scriptures, understand the doctrines, know their truths, apply them to their lives, and teach them to their children.

    I thought, OK....I can do that. Then I read v.8.....and was overwhelmed again.

    But seriously, you are right. If we can teach the basics of the gospel, the principle virtues and help them learn the doctrine, understand it, apply it, and teach it.....the rest will come and the most important will be met. Bravo Heather, Bravo!!

  6. Thank you for sharing- I too have felt the prompting to use Preach My Gospel to teach my children. I can't wait to see your lessons

  7. This is awesome! Thank you for your willingness to seek out and follow the Spirit and then SHARE with us so we can learn from/with you! I have been battling in my heart/mind/prayers about public school vs. private schools vs. home schooling...for now, we've settled on a charter montessori school to start out, but I have felt the promptings that I too need to seriously STEP UP my Mom job for teaching...beyond the adding, subtracting, reading projects...into strengthening the CORE of our family and each of us individually.

    Thank you again!

  8. This is such a wonderful idea! So happy that you are sharing with us.

    I have always felt that the LDS mothers could have the best to offer in gospel centered curriculum, but often find that the evangelicals are far ahead of us. Their work has been such an inspiration, and I am thrilled to see LDS mothers catching up and being so generous!

  9. PLEASE post all your lessons. I really love this idea and want to do them all with my kids too!

  10. What a wonderful post! Tomorrow we start seminary again after the Christmas break, and as I was trying to figure out a good "back-to-school" lesson, going over Chapter 6 in Preach My Gospel was my answer too! So, we're going to combine that with "follow me" verses in the New Testament and Book of Mormon, and throw in Elder Hales "More Christian Christian" talk as well. I'm excited. Maybe that will help the 4:30 AM alarm feel more palatable. (I've enjoyed sleeping in for three weeks!)

  11. That is wonderful, I love it Heather! I look forward to seeing more of what you have done and are doing with the character qualities. I've also been feeling that the gospel is the most important thing for them to learn at this age, and in a lot of ways, all other learning can stem from that. If they have learned those qualities, they know that they can always turn to their Heavenly Father to guide them to what they need to learn next and how they should learn it. They become capable lifelong learners. :)

    I came across an LDS-based homeschool program that I think I'd like to start using when my oldest is 6 and might interest you at least for someday (since you already know what you're doing for the now. ;) The homeschool program was developed from the American Heritage LDS private school that was created when the LDS academies died out. They developed the homeschool program using their main curriculum, in coordination with actual LDS homeschooling moms. It teaches history, geography, science, literature, music, and art from an LDS perspective.

    The program is called the Family School and is meant to be used with all of the kids in a family together. (Math and reading/writing are left out for this reason, as they are more 'leveled' subjects...) It's designed for kids K-6 or ~4-12ish. (I think the 4-5 year olds could get something out of it if they're in the same room as their older siblings, certainly, but I've decided I'm not going to start teaching these lessons until my oldest is at least 6.)

    Just thought I'd pass it on in case it sparks something for you....

  12. Yay, Heather! Years ago I was part of a group of LDS mothers who put lesson plans together utilizing The Friend and other church resources. I wonder what I did with all those? There is so much we can use just through the church's resources to teach our children.

  13. Sister Beck and sister Dalton came down to Australia a couple of years ago and I attended a multi stake women's meeting where they spoke. Of the many profound truths they shared, the one that stuck with me was sister Beck's comment about preparing our children for missions. She said our children are not waiting for missionary calls when they are older, they have received them already, they received them in the pre-existence. What we need to do is to help them get their luggage together. What they need for their suitcases is not just clothing, but testimonies and spiritual knowledge/gospel knowledge.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this :) I feel inspired to use Preach my Gospel more.

  14. Awesome! I love Sister Beck's talk!

  15. LOVE this idea! I, as a mom, have been prompted lately to study that very chapter myself. I can't wait to see your lesson plans. Thanks for being willing to share!

  16. I loved your post! I am an LDS Homeschooler in Florida. There are very few in my ward that homeschool. I have been homeschooling for 2 1/2 years. I was excited to see LDS Family school come out because other than that and a few other choice resources, the options can seem pretty barren for LDS Homeschoolers specifically but, I think we are going to see that changing in the future. We as LDS Homeschooling Mom's are just headed in that direction. One thing I will say is that LDS Family School does use church resources to a large extent and also uses Preach My Gospel. It's just organized to where you don't have to create lessons and schedules from scratch, which I like. On the other hand, the planning and choosing of multiple resources is also quite fun in it's own way. To each their own for sure. I am still trying to decide which way I want to take it next school year. Thank you for writing such an insightful post!

  17. This is AWESOME. I'm so glad I know you.

  18. I have been pondering how to do this in our home lately-- your post helped fill in the pieces I was missing! THANK YOU!!!

    Your outline alone is giving me just what I need. (I looked at what the Duggars use, too, and also came to the same conclusion. :-D)

    Thanks again!
    ~Mama Rachel

  19. Thank you so much for posting this. I have never read your blog before, but i am definitely going to be starting my own little mtc with my 4 boys...and would love to follow your journey. Teaching sometimes seems so overwhelming...but I look forward to what you have to share. Thanks again!!!

  20. Please consider looking into American Heritage in American Fork, UT. I wish I'd had this when my older two were younger. Their Family School is amazing! Your post is wonderful and I appreciate all your inspiration!

  21. I have also been feeling that once a week at FHE is just not enough time. I've been pondering a while now what I can do to teach my children all they need to know. My last stake president emphasized over and over that we need to be using Preach my Gospel in our homes and that each of our children should have a copy. I used the lessons in there (adapted of course) to prepare my son for baptism. It was perfect. I am so excited to see your lessons--I know that they will be useful to me and my family. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  22. I'm in the same boat,with my oldest just turning 4 and seriously considering homeschooling. I've been researching curriculums and theories and am so overwhelmed. Reading this post helped take my anxiety down a few notches and remember what is most important for me to be teaching. I know the rest will fall into place. Thanks for sharing all of this, can't wait to see what you've put together!

  23. wow so incredible... Your such a kind hearted and keep it up. God Bless you and please to read this also TFI thefamilyinternational for sure it can help you more. :)

  24. My children are raised and are now raising their own families, but I find your ideas an inspiration to this Grami! I am eager to share your ideas with my children and grandchildren and my early morning seminary class! Yes, I think they will love learning as "little" children once again. I appreciate you sharing what you are learning and find your thoughts, ideas, etc. so applicable to my time in life:D

  25. Just wanted to let you know I'm starting a blog and putting up all the FHE lessons I've made from Preach My Gospel, in case you were interested! It's :) Love this post! Thanks :)

  26. WOW! Thanks. I started to teach from "For the Strength of Youth" because of the values it teaches, and because of the promise that is given at the beginning of the pamphlet from the prophet. "We promise that as you keep the covenants you have made and these standards, you will be blessed with the companionship of the Holy Ghost, your faith and testimony will grow stronger, and you will enjoy increasing happiness."

    Thank you for sharing your testimony. It was wonderful to read and be uplifted and know I can do a little more to help my children along!


  27. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!

    Service Center

  28. I came across your blog on Pinterest. Thank you for sharing your inspiration with me. As I was reading, I felt like you have the same story as me. I spent a lot of time researching and studying different curricula for my children. I do a 'Mom school' every summer with my young kids, and will most likely homeschool my children full time in the future. I have begun creating my own summer curriculum that I call 'Make Time Count for kids'. I've just begun a rough draft trial of it and would love to hear what you think. You can find me on Facebook in the group "Make Time Count for kids". or email me spartridge05(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks!

  29. Just wanted to let you know I love these posts and check back every couple of months to see if you've completed more.

  30. These are wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to put these lessons together! Can't wait to see more!