If you want to raise a child who is a hard-working, contributing member of society, spending time focusing on the virtues that they need to have is crucial. So, how do we teach virtues to young children without making it something that they hate? Sometimes I feel like I’m nagging the kids when what I’m doing is trying to teach them how they should behave. So, when I had the opportunity to do a review for We Choose Virtues, I was excited about the possibility of making learning virtues fun.
We received the Parent Cards ($38.49) and a Download Bundle ($7.99) that included a teacher’s handbook, family character assessment, coloring pages, butterfly award and sing-along sheets. These products are meant for use with children aged 3-11, and I used them with all four of my children (9, 7, 4, & 3).
The parenting cards are the heart of the We Choose Virtues program. When you receive the cards, you’ll receive 13 high-quality, double-sided, color cardstock weight cards. Not only are they lovely cards, but the pictures and graphics on the cards will appeal strongly to your children. I know this because all four of mine were excited about the cards and wanted to go through and look at them from the moment I pulled them out of the thick, padded shipping envelope.
The front of each card has a very large and colorful virtue written on it and a catchphrase just underneath. Underneath the catch phrase is it’s opposite because in order to determine which virtues you need work on, sometimes it’s just as valuable to examine that virtue’s opposite. The front of each card also has a Bible verse (your choice between KJV and NIrV) and the picture of the character associated with the virtue. This is the part that got my children’s attention as they wanted to know who that was, what they had and why they were on the cards.
The back of the card is filled with all the information that you, as the parent, actually need to teach the virtue. It has a couple of suggestions for discussion and finding teachable moments, a way to make meaningful apology and the story of the character on the front of the card.
These stories of the characters were my children’s favorite part of the program. They could relate to the characters, their stories and the virtues of the characters through their actions. For example, every time we talked about diligent, at least one of the children would bring up how Chuck cleaned up after duck even though the mess wasn’t his. (This is a very relevant example in a house with four kids!)
Closely related to the parenting cards is the wonderful Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Book. This is a PDF file that comes with large pictures of the character and virtue word for your children to color. We did this every Monday as part of our focus on a new virtue. My boys would very carefully look over the card and color the person to look just like the person on the card while the girls just colored however they felt that day!
I also had Firecracker and Rose complete their own Family Character Assessments. Rose went a little too easy on herself while Firecracker had a very negative view of how well he performed at each virtue. This was really telling for me because it gave me some areas that I could work with on helping them to build self-confidence as well as some areas where I might need to show them when they’re not being forgiving, diligent, etc.
We also received the Sing-Along Virtue Songs. There’s a song for each virtue and they’re all set to the tune of popular children’s songs like “B-I-N-G-O” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” so before you know it, you’ll all be singing about the virtues to the tune. This was one of my girls’ favorite parts of the program because they both love music and singing. Every week Rose would ask me, “What’s the song for this virtue?” Of course, I’d have to look it up and teach it to them while we colored the character coloring sheet. Later, I’d hear her sometimes humming the virtue song as she did other schoolwork.
I also received the teacher’s handbook. There is a wealth of inspiration and some ideas for practically teaching the virtues. A lot of the handbook is geared toward the classroom, but it has some homeschool applications as well.
My favorite part of the handbook is that it explained the four important steps of teaching the virtues. I’m going to share some of the basic ideas from the handbook with you in order to show you why character education is so important and how this curriculum can be effective.
First, you have to expect excellence. If you don’t expect your children to be gentle and kind, they won’t ever be. Even more importantly, if you’re not gentle and kind (or whatever virtue you’re emphasizing), how could you ever expect your children to be?
Second, you need to explain with enthusiasm. You have to be excited about the virtues. You have to truly believe that these virtues are correct and that these are awesome things for you and your children to do with each other. Children can spot a fake a mile away, so they’ll know if you really believe in what you’re preaching to them. Teaching children the virtues is not about controlling your students, but instead, it’s about exciting them to make an inner change that will be with them their entire lives.
Third was to emphasize every day. Over and over again, they emphasize that virtue isn’t a separate curriculum, it’s a part of your every day life. You can find the virtues everywhere in the media that surrounds you and in life itself. The world is full of teachable moments in both these virtues and in their opposites. You should remind your children of the virtue you’re emphasizing daily! When your 12 weeks of introducing virtues is over, just start over again and this time target the ones that your children need the most work on. When you watch a movie or read a book, examine what virtues and vices there are in the movie and books and how those characters could have solved things easier if they’d only had the virtues.
Fourth was to examine everything. We they (or we) do something wrong, we should correct it. Most of us as parents are good at that. Also, when our children do something right we should reward it. The download package I received even came with butterfly awards for catching our children at doing things right.
Why butterflies? In We Choose Virtues, the virtues that children need to develop are referred to as caterpillars, and when they use those virtues, we tell them that they’re showing that they’re turning into a butterfly with these virtues. The perfect way to describe our imperfect progress from immaturity to maturity in use of the virtues. My children now go around telling me that they’ve been acting like a caterpillar in one virtue, but luckily, they’ve got a butterfly in another!
If you’re looking for resources on how to continue to emphasize these virtues, you can check out the posts on the Virtue Blog, the pins on their Pinterest boards, and on Facebook. I’ve gotten several book and Bible story ideas to share with the kids from these resources, and their Facebook page provides a continual source of inspiration.
At first I was nervous about this program because I’m not good at reward programs, and I’d always thought that We Choose Virtues was just another program where you filled up a chart and got a prize. To my surprise, there was none of that here. Sure, they do sell reward charts if you’re into that sort of thing, but the idea behind We Choose Virtues is that character is integrated into everything that we do, and by providing a tangible reminder of the character traits that we want to emphasize, we can help them to choose to behave in a way that builds our children up to be people of high character. I love this program far more than I thought I would and it is so simple to implement.
My children love the characters. They discuss the characters and the virtue that the character is associated with, and when we discuss a book, a movie or have a teachable moment here at home, they always relate it back to the character on the card. Even my four year old is in love with the characters, and I think that’s a wonderful way to help us build the virtues that will help us have a happy home and a more Christlike character.
Don’t take just my word for it though. Check out the banner below to see what other reviewers thought about the We Choose Virtues parenting cards. Also, right now through August you can use Promo Code BTS20 for 20% off anything in the WCV Store. This includes any kit. This would be the perfect tool to have on hand to focus on virtues during the summer or to start off your homeschool year!