I am in the process of preparing two workshops for our community's annual homeschool conference the end of March. In addition to reading, synthesizing, and outlining content for the talks, I'm making lists. I go to every homeschool conference and curriculum fair with lists. There is the list of vendors' booths to be sure to visit list. The list of new curriculum I want to get my hands on. And the lists I labor over the most: each child's list of subjects and texts for the next year. Sometimes, it can almost seem like I'm Santa - making my lists and checking them twice. Actually, checking them ten or twenty times is more realistic.
As I mentioned in The Cost of Homeschooling series, our children's character development was one of the primary reasons we decided to teach them at home. At the end of each day, if I have only taught them academics, I haven't reached my primary goal - to train their hearts. Our family has found a number of resources in to help in this effort. You might want to consider adding the following to your own curriculum fair list this spring.
Doorposts - This company has been in business since 1990, and by God's grace alone, I somehow found them shortly thereafter. At one point, I think I owned every piece of literature they had in print. And all their amazing kits! My copy of For Instructions in Righteousness has to be from one of their first printings - it's the three ring binder version Pam writes about collating by hand at Office Max. This book has been the most often referred to book on my shelves. I've carried it into the bathroom when I needed a "time out," and came out convicted of my own selfishness, greed, or bitter spirit. Countless times, it has helped Rich and I with discernment and understanding. This book has help us parent our children biblically and keep our focus on their hearts.
As a side note, for decades our bathroom has been our classroom for character building. I laminate Doorposts' posters and hang them on the back of the bathroom door. It is a great place to have a private conference with a child. By having character building visuals on display, it reminds you and your children of God's principles while you move through the daily acts of brushing your teeth or fixing your hair. Even today, with our children in their teen years, we have the Put On Chart hanging in our family bath.
If Doorposts has a booth at your curriculum fair, stop by and visit them. I suggest you start with one or two items that seem most appropriate for your family right now. Grow your character building library and resources as your children grow.
Young Peacemaker - Focusing on conflict resolution, The Young Peacemaker Teacher/Parent Manual and accompanying student booklets have been worth their purchase price over and over again. Based on Ken Sande's book The Peace Maker, the materials for parents break down the prevention and resolution of conflicts into constructive steps. Honestly, I got the idea better after teaching the material to my children over a period of time than I did reading the book for adults. I recently learned an inner-city youth intervention program uses this material to train at-risk young people relationship building skills. This is quality material; you will use it again and again. And it's not just for your children - I know my marriage would benefit from a monthly mini-refresher in conflict resolution.
Character building starts with our hearts as parents. The process of homeschooling can be refining - shaping parents and children more into the image of Christ daily. As you prepare for the curriculum fair, include some items that will instruct and edify your family beyond the 3 R's.
Fox Catcher: Psalm 119:9