How to develop character in your children & get the laundry done

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You have a vision for the kind of people you want your children to become...but then life happens. Dinner must appear; the laundry pile grows; toddlers demand attention. How do you successfully instill character in your children as a natural part of your life?

Character is caught, not taught.

Your children are watching. Parents often underestimate the power of a living example. When you make right choices in front of your children and explain why you make certain choices, they are more likely to act in a similar way when they face difficult situations.

Jill shares some more thoughts on this topic in her blog post Catching Character.

Thought-provoking literature and discussion make life-lessons memorable.

Conversations with your children form the foundation for their character. As a homeschool parent, you have a unique opportunity to experience life with your children and to spark discussion about topics that matter.

Books can serve as great conversation starters. Every good story has conflict—use the ethical dilemmas in good books to help your child learn how to make right choices.

For example, you can talk about violence and the need to belong when you read The Outsiders, or discuss respect for human life and courage to face injustice when you read the book Twenty and Ten. You'll be amazed how life lessons stick when you introduce your children to godly heroes and hope in the midst of the realities of the world.

Read more about Sonlight's literature-based approach to homeschooling.

Help your children experience character in context—a key aspect of life, not a chore to complete.

You can be sure your family will encounter countless opportunities to grow in character naturally as you read and talk about thought-provoking books. You don't have to tack on a character-based checklist in addition to the studies you and your children already do. Be efficient!

Because character development is one of our high values at Sonlight, we structure our curriculum to give you the maximum opportunity to pass along your family values and enjoy quality interaction with your children. As intriguing plots, interesting characters, and beautiful imagery captivate you and your children, you'll all be growing along the way.

Browse your homeschool curriculum options to see all the books you could read for school this year!

Simple ideas you can try today to help your child develop character...

Talk with your children about the books you read.
Ask questions to help them think critically:

  • What would you have done in this situation?
  • What kind of consequences do you think could come with this character's actions?
  • How do you think this character showed bravery (or kindness, or honesty, etc.)?

Work together while you talk

My mom and I engaged in some of our best conversations while we dried dishes or weeded the flower bed. The work gave our hands something to do while our minds, mouths and hearts took over! Encourage your children to work alongside you. You'll help them develop a good work ethic, and grow together through your discussions.

Affirm right choices
Do you find you focus only on the situations where your child disobeys? Be sure to affirm the right choices they make as well. When your children faithfully obey, let them know how proud you are. When they give you an honest answer when they're in trouble, follow through on discipline, but reward their honesty. As a parent, you know your child best. Tailor your responses in a way that will help them grow.

Enjoy these days with your children and come and share in the Sonlight community.

Make the most of your own example, intentional discussions, great literature, and everyday experiences to help your children blossom into confident people of character. Feel free to explore Sonlight and find out more ways we seek to help you and your family grow and learn together. We would love to have you get involved in the Sonlight community.

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Laura Lee Ellis

About Laura Lee Ellis

Laura Lee Ellis is a writer, speaker, former missionary to Africa, and a second-generation homeschooler. She is passionate about world missions and the potential of motherhood in shaping culture. She has contributed to national magazines and radio and works as a writer for Sonlight Curriculum. She, her husband Nick and their three children have lived in six countries and recently returned to the States from the University of Oxford, England. She believes in the power of stories to bring people together and inspire action.
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