Farming in Faith… Teaching Character in Our Homeshcool

“My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice,   even mine.”  

Proverbs 23:15

Before I tell you about all of the stacks of curriculum and books we are using this year in our homeschool, I want to about the most important thing we are learning…

“…if you love your children, let the simple Bible be everything in the training of their souls; and let all other books go down and take the second place.”

“No interest should weigh with you so much as their eternal interests.  No part of them should be so dear to you as that part which will never die.”

– J. C. Ryle,  The Duties of Parents

lessons in character hs

My husband is a farmer, and our house is smack-dab in the middle of cotton, corn, soybean, and milo fields.   No matter which direction I look, from nearly every window, I can see crops in the field, nearly ripe for harvest.  What a gift!  From every window of my house, I have evidence of God’s provision and promises and faithfulness smiling back at me!  Each spring, my husband readies the fields and drops those teeny, tiny seeds in the dirt in hope, expectancy, faith of what is to be.   He spends long, hot summers tending to the tender plants, all the while anticipating with confidence the harvest he will reap in due season.

But it’s the crop of olive shoots around the table that are the most important!

olive shoots

Raising children, godly seed, is a lot like farming.  We plow the tough ground so that the seed can take root and grow.  We plant and water in faith— faith that we will see FRUIT!  We prune the fruitful vines so that they will bear more fruit.  We weed (hopefully before those weeds are too big and hard to pull!).    We do it all in faith that we will reap if we do not grow weary in doing good, faith in our God and His promises!  When I think about reaping the harvest, it’s a harvest of righteousness, good character, wisdom, and fear of the Lord that is most valuable to me.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth!”  3 John 1:4

In our homeschool, I spend a lot of time planting seeds of Biblical character.  If you are a homeschooling mama, I know you do, too!  Whew!  From the formal character lessons to the everyday opportunities that just present themselves in life, we teach character A LOT!   We talk about delighting in the ways of the Lord and loving Him with all our hearts, souls, and might.  We talk about it when are home during the day, when we’re out, before bed at night,  and again when we get up in the mornings– all of the time!  (Deut 6:7)  🙂

I want to share some of the things we are doing to teach our children godly character, Christlikeness, that it may go well with them!  And while there are many times I fail, God does not.  His faithfulness is great, and He uses ME in His plans!

1.  Formal Character-Training Lessons

We are enjoying 2 easy-to-use resources that make it quick and simple for me to introduce character qualities without a lot of searching or planning!  All of the books coordinate so well together!

  • A Child’s Book of Character Building — I have volumes 1 and 2.  They each contain character qualities, definitions, Bible verses, and stories from the Bible or life that illustrate the character quality.
  • Little Lads & Ladies of Virtue —  I got this e-book through an online curriculum sale, and I love it!  Each week there is a character quality along with a definition, Bible memory verse, activities, 3 “I will…”s, and a coloring page.   At the end of the week, after the children recite the definition, verse, and I wills, they can put a badge on their charts!  Fun!

character curriculum

  • My big kids have used character definitions and verses as copy work.  You can download a chart of 49 Character Qualities and cursive or print copy work from my Character Training post from last school year.  Just click the pic…

copy-work-cursive-1-2

 

2.  Informal Character Lessons… AKA:  Life!  😉

Whew!  Isn’t this a tough one?  I think a great way to encourage wise choices and good character is to recognize it and praise it!  That goes a long way!   But then… there are those unwise, foolish choices.   I sometimes feel like I say the same things over and over!  What about you?  Does the soil seem a little tough, like maybe it needs some extra plowing sometimes?  (I need some extra plowing and weeding and pruning, too!)

  • “Count others more significant than yourself.”
  • “Be a good steward.  A place for everything, and everything in it’s place.”
  • “Yes?  Yes what?  Yes ma’am.  Honor your father and your mother.”
  • “Is that good manners?”
  • “Are you being a peacemaker?”
  • “A soft answer turns away wrath.”
  • “Why did God make you?  For His own glory.  Does that glorify God?”
  • … and on and on…. 🙂

Another thing that I find myself saying over and over is “Our actions have consequences; you reap what you sow.”  Yet, instead of giving consequences, I remind, and as a good friend reminded 😉 me, I am not teaching them to think for themselves.

We talk a lot about taking off training wheels in our house.  When the training wheels are off, when Mom and Dad aren’t around, do you ride on your own or fall over?  The training wheels have to come off one day, and my kiddos have to be able to ride.  Are they hearers or doers?

In an effort to have easy-for-mom consequences, I made this chart.  I’ll be the first to admit, it needs some tweaking.  I am already planning to change the consequences!

photo 2-14

(My inspiration for this cart can be found here.)

 The Lord gives us so many opportunities each day to disciple our children, and something else that we try to teach through everyday opportunities is dying to self and serving others.  Elisabeth Elliot said love means sacrifice.  Isn’t that part of being in a family or a church, knowing that you are part of something bigger than yourself?

“Love means sacrifice.  Each member of the family has to learn to give in, give up, and give over for the sake of the rest…  Give up.  Give in.  Give way.  Give thanks.  Be ye kind.  Wait your turn.  Serve one another in love.”  ~Elisabeth Elliot

Don’t you love that?  😉

3.  Planning and Praying for Each Child

I had grand plans to spend one morning each week of vacation at the beach this year praying and planning and praying and setting goals and praying some more for each child.  (I got the idea from this great post on Hodgepodge… one of my very favorite blogs!)….

word in morn

However, there’s something  about vacation that makes my kiddos want to get up earlier than usual.  Here are my girlies playing on the deck in their pi’s!  Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!….

girls on deck

I’ve had to find nuggets of time other places, and that’s okay!  I always turn back to this book time and time again to help with my prayers and goals for each child.

TAKING A SPIRITUAL INVENTORY FOR EACH CHILD– CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:

  • STRENGTHS — physically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, socially
  • WEAKNESSES — that enable God to later use us and Him to receive glory
  • OBSERVATIONS — become students of our children
  • APPLICATION — something I can do to help my child develop into the person God wants him to become… a strength to enhance or a weakness to overcome

When I find or make (!) the time to do this and really pray for each child, I see the Spirit working in their little hearts.

How is the farming going in your home this year?  How are you planting seeds of character?  Are you harvesting lots of fruit?  🙂

Last night, as I was thinking about this post, one of my kiddos said, “Oh look!  Look at the moon!”  It was a HARVEST MOON… a big, bright, harvest moon.  It’s like God was saying to me, “Trust me.  I’ve got this.  You will reap, my daughter!”  I snapped this pic, and you can see the cotton and milo and that big moon smiling at us!

harvest moon

“He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him!”  Psalm 126:6   (I’m not weeping, by the way.)

I just love Proverbs 23:15.  “My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.”

I read Matthew Henry’s commentary on the verse…

“The wisdom of children will be the joy of their parents and teachers, who have no greater joy than to see them walk in the truth…
Children, if you be wise and good, devout and conscientious, God will be pleased with you, and that will be our joy:  we shall think our labour in instructing you well bestowed; it will be a comfortable answer for the many prayers we have put up for you; we shall be eased of a great deal of care, shall not need to be so strict and severe in watching over you, and shall consequently be the easier both to you and to ourselves.  We shall rejoice in hope that you will be a credit and comfort to us, if we should live to be old, and

that you will bear up the name of Christ in your generation, and that you will live comfortably in this world and happily in another.

pink-white-heart-square

Happy Farming, friends!

Oh, and soon I’d like to share how we are learning to be little ants!  🙂

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14 thoughts on “Farming in Faith… Teaching Character in Our Homeshcool

  1. godmadeknown

    Love so much about this post. The analogy to farming, the Character Corner link, the beautiful vacation pics, the J.C. Ryle quote (have you also read his “Thoughts for Young Men”?), the character chart, but I especially loved the message in that beautiful Harvest Moon. Good job God!

    Reply
    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      Thanks, friend. I haven’t read “Thoughts…” yet. I noticed it on the “borrow” table at church, so maybe I’ll take it home on Sunday! I got the kids “Two Bears and Other Sermons for Children.” I’m glad you liked the link, and I thought the Bedtime Math was great. I can see why it is a big hit! Squirting ketchup stories make math so fun! 🙂

      Yes, we serve an awesome God!

      Do you have any wisdom for NOT reminding for small things so much??? :-/

      Reply
      1. godmadeknown

        Advice on getting kids to do things without reminding them? In what world is that even possible? Certainly not in mine! I think the only cure for having to be told what to do all the time is adulthood. Parents who have to tell 1 or 2 kids what to do are frustrated by this. Parents who have to be telling 3 or 4 or 5 kids what to be or not to be doing every minute of the day can be driven to lunacy by the unending repetition of the same words over and over, day in and day out. I think that’s me and you friend. 🙂 All we can do is cope. Blogging helps 🙂

        Reply
  2. Christa Brown

    This looks great! We do a character study every week as well. I’m kicking myself for not buying the Little Lads and Ladies of Virtues. I guess I will have to head back over to the site and purchase it by itself!

    Reply
  3. Julia F.

    Awesome post (and extremely helpful!) Thank you. I thought I would share a book that my son and I recently read together that promotes good character, good Christian values, and much more 🙂 The book is called “Watson’s Way” by author Joel Lund (http://bit.ly/WatsonsWay). The author uses his family dog to teach life lessons such as patience, and how to better get a long with others. There is something so pure about learning these things from an innocent animal and my son really seemed to enjoy it. Using practical examples of everyday problems our children deal with it teaches us through stories and the reactions of Watson (the family dog) how to lead a better Christian life.There is even a place for kids to write in a journal if they want to! I have always felt that animals, more specifically, dogs are some of the best teachers in the world for how we, as Christians, should behave and treat one another. I 100% recommend. I hope you will share it with your family

    Reply
    1. i have no greater joy Post author

      Hi there! I’m thrilled to hear about Watson! Thank you for sharing with me. It sounds like just the thing my kiddos would enjoy and learn from you. I read your link and also found I can get it through Amazon prime…. my BFF 😉 Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know about that ! We can all learn so much from each other! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Pingback: Lessons in Humility | i have no greater joy

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