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.
- Decision Making
- Understanding the Nature of God
Charity and Love
- Purity-- of body, mind, and soul
- Inquisitive mind
- Knowing where to get real guidance-- Prayer, Fasting, Scripture study
- Accepting God's will and timing
- Facing adversity with hope
- Accepting personal weaknesses and faults
- Respect- to God, the earth, yourself, and others
- Recognizing pride
- Submission to the will of God
- Hard work
- Enduring to the end
- Goal setting and Prioritizing
- 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)
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.