Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Character Training For Children

  • What is "character" exactly, anyway?
  • Why should we care about character?
  • One of the ways we teach character to our children
  • Our monthly plan
  • How our own character can re-enforce or undermine our teaching efforts

We have had a great many people searching our blog for character training for children. *smile* So we felt it was a good time to share this post with you of excellent information on this topic.
Have you ever told your children that you expect "patience" or "orderliness", "diligence" or "gratefulness" from them, only to have them look at you with a mystified expression on their face revealing that they have no idea what you're talking about?  Or maybe when you tell them that you expect this type of character they ask you "...Why?" and then find that you can't actually explain that character trait to them in a way they can understand and apply it?  I certainly found this to be true for me!  I began to discover how vague descriptions of character traits were to children and how that made character very difficult  to understand.

What is "character" exactly, anyway?

I was taught growing up that I ought to have good character, and I had a few ideas of what that would mean; but when Bob and I became parents and I faced teaching our children character I realized that I really didn't know what that included!  Here's a definition of Character,

"Good character is the inward values that determine outward actions" (Character First).  

An example:
If our children value showing attentiveness when someone else is speaking to them (instructing, teaching, sharing something, performing, etc.) then they will do these five things:

(1) look at people when they speak to them
(2) ask questions if they don't understand
(3) sit or stand up strait
(4) not draw attention to themselves
(5) keep their eyes, ears, hands, feet, and mouth from distractions.  

(Here are our children showing attentiveness during the main service at church)

If they do not value attentiveness at a music recital for example, then their outward actions will reflect it.  They may be looking around at other things while the musician is performing; dismissing the music and tuning out if they don't like it; slouching in their chair reflecting boredom; drawing attention to them self by yawning blatantly, stretching, or giggling and playing with those around them; or fidgeting noisily with the papers they have, kicking the chair in front of them, noisily twirling a bracelet around on their finger, maybe unwrapping noisy candy wrappers or snacks and disturbing others.

Now our children are not perfect in demonstrating attentiveness yet, especially the younger ones, but they are learning.  And having a defined goal is so important.  *smile*  They know what is expected (it's not vague in their mind), what attentiveness looks like, and why it's valuable.  And they love it when others mention to us or to them how well they did during a recital, or during church, during a class, or even just in conversation.  They love having the pastor or a church family member tell them that they felt honored by the children's effort to show attentiveness during the preaching.

Our children also enjoy being invited to go places to have further educational experiences presented to them because they displayed attentiveness in a situation.  When our 13-year-old daughter demonstrated attentiveness really well with our chiropractor she was honored by an invitation from him to attend (with one of her parents) a prestigious annual chiropractic event with him as a guest.  Here she could learn from doctors a great deal about the body, how it works, how to maintain health in her own life, and if she desired to pursue a chiropractic practice in her life she would have a head start on what that would involve and whether or not she has the aptitudes and desire for it.

There is good "fruit" to be had with good character.  We've recently been invited to a friend's bakery for a tour, to have a tour of another friend's Blackhawk helicopter that he flies for Homeland Security, to yet another friend's dairy farm for a 2 hour tour, to visit a local radio station of Praise 106.5 and Anna Marie (age 8 at the time) even got to go on the air to give the local weather report for one day, and we've been invited to many other businesses and opportunities.  We believe a large part of this is because the children show attentiveness, interest, appreciation, give value to, enjoy, and appreciate these opportunities.

Here is a list of 49 character traits from Character First that need to be taught to children and why - and which we parents need to be able to demonstrate, model, and teach:  Attentiveness, Obedience, Truthfulness, Gratefulness, Generosity, Orderliness, Forgiveness, Sincerity, Virtue, Responsibility, Patience, Initiative, Self-Control, Punctuality, Resourcefulness, Tolerance, Creativity, Discretion, Diligence, Loyalty, Hospitality, Sensitivity, Enthusiasm, Flexibility, Discernment, Cautiousness, Boldness, Dependability, Thoroughness, Determination, Thriftiness, Availability, Deference, Compassion, Persuasiveness, and Wisdom.

Here is a printable list of the traits with definitions, courtesy of Character First (copyright permission granted).  (click on the image below to enlarge; click again to enlarge a second time)

*whew!*  After reading that for the first time I thought, "Well... that's nice to know...so now I'm totally overwhelmed.  How in the world do I teach those things to children... and where do I start?!"  Before getting in to the how of teaching character quite yet, let's look at why character training is important.

Why should we care about character?

Character is the core of all people's behavior.  Here's a great explanation from the curriculum I highly recommend called Character First as to why character is invaluable:

"We tend to judge people by wealth, position, demeanor, education, and external circumstances.  We evaluate them by the size of their bank account, the model of their car, or their possession of the latest gadget.  But how much can you really know by looking at these things?  
Contrast such superficial 'success' with the contributions made by individuals such as Mother Theresa, Booker T. Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Edison.  Each achieved a level of success admired by all who dare to believe  they too can change their world.
Upon inspection, these heroes' success lay not in what they achieved, but in what propelled them to their achievements - personal character.  Their impact rose from who they were as individuals.  Character regulated the majority of their life decisions.
You have probably heard is said that 'knowledge is power.'  But a person may understand difficult problems, have flawless logic, or know how to operate machinery perfectly, and still lack character.  Consider the effects of knowledge without character.  What good are facts without the ability to apply them with wisdom, discernment, and decisiveness?
Good character is the inward values that determine outward actions.  It is the inward motivation to do what is right in every situation.
With character and competence, you will discover unlimited possibilities.  You will see challenges overcome with determination, solutions achieved with creativity, opportunities uncovered with alertness, and relationships maintained with patience and forgiveness...Success is not limited to the elite or the rich.  It is available to each person who develops the inward motivation to do what is right."  ("What is Character", by Character First)

In 2003 I began using the Character First Curriculum to teach our children about character traits.  When we first started within the first week the children began developing a very solid understanding of that first character trait we studied.  Now when I say something to the children like, "While we're in church you need to show attentiveness", the children know exactly what I mean.  They know what that looks like, what 5 things that it involves, and they have practiced it.  They associate it with a historical figure they're now very familiar with, such as George Washington Carver, or Abraham Lincoln.  They have observed how an animal in nature such as the deer shows attentiveness (each character trait is associated with an animal that demonstrates that trait), and they have memorized a very simple definition.  The children can now (if they choose) have success in that situation requiring attentiveness because they fully understand it, why it's important and how to apply it.  And I can offer correction if necessary and with confidence that the child fully understood what I was asking and expecting.  The children learn crucial life skills that lay a foundation for success in learning and in their relationships.  This helps them enjoy their own life and they can be all the more enjoyed by others around them.

One of the ways we teach character to our children

When I began homeschooling in 2003 I attended my first W.H.O. Convention (Washington Homeschool Organization) curriculum fair at the Puyallup Fair Grounds.  One of the gems I came across was this curriculum for teaching character, called Character First geared for elementary aged children 6-12 years-old (although I've used it with 4-year-olds successfully, and with our oldest who is 15-year-old).  It's awesome - one of the best teaching items I've ever purchased.  I highly recommend this method for teaching character traits.

There is curriculum available to be purchased for all 49 character traits.  That is the curriculum we used for 11 years, and it is excellent.

However they have just recently revamped their curriculum with a new look - and most of it is offered online now for FREE!  *cheer!*  Here are 8 of the character traits they have put up online so far, and Robert Greenlaw of Character First has told me that they have the goal of adding one character trait to this online selection per month (as of July 2015 they are up to 20 available now!).



Each character trait has these aspects offered with it:

* An 11x17" full color poster (on nice, heavy duty paper) with a photo of the animal associated with that character trait, the definition, and the 5 "I will" statements listed which are the 5 aspects of that character trait to be learned.  (These are available for purchase for $2.99 each - we always buy these.)
For example, for Patience the definition is "Waiting without getting upset". The 5 I will's are: I will wait my turn, I will not complain when I don't get my way, I will accept what cannot be changed, I will use my time wisely, I will try and try again.
* A coloring page of the animal, which is FREE, and you can print as many copies as you need for your family strait from your computer! *beam!*  Our children color the corresponding page while we watch Robert Greenlaw tell the animal story via the FREE video online!  They love it!
* A nature story detailing how an animal in nature demonstrates each character trait, FREE online with a video where children can watch Robert Greenlaw tell the story.

* A song, offered on both audio CD (a whole set of songs on one CD), or there is a video online of each song FREE where the children can watch Robert Greenlaw teaching it.

* A short poem with hand motions, also offered FREE via an online video with Robert Greenlaw.
* A history story, detailing how a famous person has demonstrated that character in their life, such as Abraham Lincoln, or George Washington Carver.

* Several simple crafts, games, and activities to help deepen children's understanding and instill the meaning behind each character trait.  These are designed to reach visual, auditory, tactual, and kinesthetic learners.  FREE online are three activities, or parents can purchase a curriculum guide with even more activities for $9.99.

Our Monthly Plan

We focus on learning one character trait per month, but we follow the same general weekly plan each week of that month.  To prepare for that month's trait in advance I purchase a character trait's poster from the website (or I purchase 4 posters at a time for the next 4 months).  Then I print off FREE from the website:
  • The history story, to be read aloud by me
  • Copies of the coloring page, one per child 
  • Pages for 2-3 of the different activities offered online, one page per child
  • Copies of the "Family Connection" character quiz (5 questions) to be completed at the end of the month just for fun.
And I make sure I have any items I'll need for the crafts or activities I chose, such as some construction paper, or some cheerios to glue on to the colored paper giraffes we made for the trait "Availability".  Now I'm ready to go.

Each week day morning of the month - We begin by learning the definition on the first day for that month's trait.  (Later we just recite it  aloud daily, maybe alternating who recites it that day, or saying it as a group, or saying it in a funny way, "like a mouse" or "like a big, slow giant").  To help kids learn it initially I read the definition aloud and play a couple quick games that take about 3 minutes.  I write the definition on the sliding glass door with window crayons.

Or another idea is putting each word of the definition on a separate piece of colored paper and used Plasti-Tac to stick it to the sliding glass door. We keep the definition on the glass door the whole month we're learning that character trait, so the kids see it all the time and read it aloud to themselves during lunch, or see who can recite it the fastest.  This is the definition for Punctuality.

We read the definition together out loud, then when they're first learning it I'll remove one word at a time (or cover it up with my hand) while the children have their eyes closed, and see if they can guess which word is missing.  Or, we'll mix the whole definition up and see if they can put it in order.  This takes about 3 minutes.

We also say the 5 "I Will's" aloud together from the poster hung on our white board, or I let the kids each tell me one from memory. The 5 "I will's" are the things we will do to practice that particular character trait.  For example, for the character trait of Punctuality:  "I will be at the right place at the right time; I will prepare for unexpected delays; I will do my work ahead of time; I will plan a daily schedule and keep it; I will not fall in to the trap of 'just one more'."  This takes about 2 minutes.

We review the definition and the 5 I will's very briefly each morning, and we do an activity from the website (free) four times per month, only on Mondays.

First Monday of the month - We watch or just listen to the few minute video of Robert Greenlaw telling the Nature story (free online), of how one particular animal demonstrates that character quality.  From the kitchen table on a laptop while the kids are listening they also do a craft of that animal (free online). This takes about 15 minutes.

Second Monday of the month - I read aloud the 1 page history story (free online) which describes how a famous historical figure demonstrated that character trait.  While I'm doing this the children color the coloring page for that trait.

Third Monday of the month - I play again the video of the animal story being read (it's been 2 weeks since they heard it the first time) and the children either do another very simple craft from the website or they build an image of that animal with our Thinking Putty.

(the whale, which represents Enthusiasm)

Fourth Monday of the month - I read again the history story being read (it's been 2 weeks since they heard it the first time) and the children do another very simple craft from the website.

How our parental character can re-enforce or undermine our teaching efforts

Bob and I are always noticing areas in which we need to develop our own character as well, and we feel thisit is crucial for us to "practice what we preach".  It is especially important with adolescents who are really watching our adult example, and this HUGELY effects both our relationships with them and our ability to lead by example instead of driving them towards what they should be.

In the latest Growing Families International (GFI) class we took called "Reaching the Heart of Your Teen" we were taught that one of the thing teens hate most is hypocrisy.  Parents often have high expectations of their children and teens, but do we ourselves model, for example, Diligence (definition: Investing all my energy to complete the tasks assigned to me")?  Joyfulness (definition: Maintaining a good attitude, even when faced with unpleasant conditions)?  Punctuality (definition: Showing esteem for others by doing the right thing at the right time)?  Orderliness (definition: Arranging myself and my surroundings to achieve greater efficiency)?  Our character as parents can re-enforce or undermine our teaching efforts.  It's not complicated to learn or practice, it's actually simple when we take just one character trait at a time (not easy necessarily, mind you, but simple; not complicated) - and the "fruit" is so very sweet for us, for our children, and for everyone else we and they come in contact with.

Bob and I are fully convinced that one of the reasons God gives parents children is to help refine our own adult character.  Like a rough-cut diamond He refines us, chips off the undesirable parts, buffs and lovingly polishes us until we sparkle and ultimately come closer to the example of His Son, Jesus.  It's not always easy - in fact, it's often really hard at first to form new habits in ourselves and in our children - but it's invaluable.  And the world notices, and desires what we have.  It's actually a witnessing tool!  And drawing others closer to, or pointing them towards Christ is so important.  *smile*

So we've looked at what it means to develop great character in children, why it's valuable, and at least one great method for doing so.  Building actual character comes through practice and life experience.  For new, young homeschoolers we've used this as their only "curriculum" initially, or we've used it for a summer curriculum.  If they work on character skills alone for preschool, and as a supplement for kindergarten on up, it will prepare them for all the rest of their schooling years, their career, and their relationships.  I have had older children joining in (and it's at least as valuable for them as it is for the younger children!) even though the curriculum is obviously set to a younger age group, so I've had the older ones help the younger ones and learn it simultaneously themselves.  Using Character First is still the best way I've found to learn character traits no matter what the age - adults included.  Our oldest daughters are currently ages 14 and 15 and from my recommendation, and a desire to improve their character, they will sometimes pick up a binder and just read through the aspects of the character traits to learn them that way on their own. 

This spring if you are considering which homeschool curriculum to purchase for next year, I would highly recommend Character First.  It's one of our highest priorities with family discipleship.  You can also purchase more supplies from the website to teach character in your home if you desire.  *smile*

Blessings on your efforts!

You also might be interested in reading my related posts:

Recommended Resources:
Character First Curriculum 
Character Journal - FREE material similar to Character First
"Reaching the Heart of Your Teen", Growing Families International 6-session DVD class with workbook (also available on CD).


  1. What a great help, Erika! I am going to reread and look into this topic some more.

  2. Thank you for this! I have some of the booklets I've picked up used, I might just pull them all together to use this year based on this post!

  3. So grateful for ATI and Character First. I received my AA degree in Character Development. My main project - studying the 49 character qualities!

  4. Thank you for posting this. I have not heard of Character First. I was looking into ATI for this year. Do you know how these compare? They seem similar.

  5. Thanks LADIES! =) I'm not familiar with ATI, but maybe some of the ladies here could answer that question for you? Maybe contact ONENEEDFULTHING directly if no one else has input?

  6. ONENEEDFULTHING - How cool that you could study character development in college! That would have been SO much more useful than my government school BA degree in Early Childhood Education, from which I had to do a ton of UNlearning in order to become a better homeschool mom. *chuckle*

  7. I began teaching character training this year and use a mix of Doorposts curriculum and ATI's Operational Definitions of Character Qualities. I start off teaching self-control and plan to stay on each trait a month. I didn't realize how important they are to teach until this yr. Better late than never!! I love hearing when my children say, "Mommy, I'm showing good self-control, aren't I?" :)

  8. Hubby and I looked at this program last night and were impressed. We browsed the website and found they also have an online classroom. Do you know of anyone who has used that instead of the printed materials? If so what did they think of it?

    Thanks so much.

  9. My Character development training has been invaluable in raising my little ones. I'm not sure people at church know what to think when I start training the children, "Are you being attentive?" "That was not very responsible." "You were not demonstrating discretion when you spoke those words to your sister." He! He! :-) I praise the Lord for His leading in my life! :-)

  10. I am going to add this to our home school this year. I would love to see how you have scheduled this into your day-as a matter of fact, I would love to see your schedule for the new year!
    Your site has been such an encouragement and inspiration to me; especially lately when I've felt really alone and discouraged in this journey.
    Thank you again!


  11. We have ATI/IBLP's Character Sketches, so I can give a quick comparison to Character First. I ordered the first volume of Character Sketches used last year. I tried a few times to implement it into our day, and found it quite difficult. I thought I was just undisciplined.

    Then, I read thie post and looked at a sample of Character First. Well, no wonder! Character First is laid out better, and the "5 I Wills" (or whatever they are called) are invaluable. Character Sketches does not have those included. It does have a natural tale and a Bible story that display the character, but there are no activites like I saw in the sample lesson of Character First.

    So, this morning I listed my Character Sketches for sale and I'm working on getting Character First Series 1 used. :)

  12. KRISTINE - It's never too late! =) Yes! Love-love when kids recognize their success and are proud of it.

    ANNA MARY - I've never heard of the online classroom, but judging from the quality of the website (from what I've seen just writing this post - ha ha) I would think it would be high quality. I'd love to know if you hear any more about it, or if you try it! =)


    JESSICA - I've usually done this right after breakfast, strait from the table and in to that group activity. We always have kids at the breakfast table through the meal AND CLEAN UP time, then we all leave the table together. This way I'm not trying to manage kids behavior while cleaning up the kitchen simultaneously, and they're not getting out tons of stuff that will then need to be cleaned up again before we can start school with good attention. Then we go in to our day dispersing in to the next academic target for each person - older ones independently, younger ones with me. And great idea to post my next schedule for the year! I was just making myself notes to begin thinking that through to do soon; and I could then share my initial schedule, and then the one we actually land on more permanently a week or two after using it. =)

    BETHANY - Wonderful! =) Thank you so much for the first-hand review! Just what I would have wanted to know. I hope you're able to sell and re-purchase quickly for this year.

  13. I too am interested in your new schedule. I would also love to know how you handle school planning for your children. That is an area I really struggle with, which isn't a good thing since I have 2 in high school.

  14. ANNA MARY - Oh great! =) I'll look forward to sharing our up-coming new school year schedule and the in's and out's about it soon. I'm all the more motivated to get it done soon! =) And how I do planning, too. Blessings on your day today!

  15. Hi, Erika!

    I also use the Character First curriculum. Our family has the first volume and we have not made it all the way through yet. I also came across an additional FREE website that is so incredible. Since the Character First curriculum does not include scripture, we also print off these character journals and put it in our book right along side the CF material. I pull some of our songs or lessons from these. Please check this site out and consider sharing it with your readers as well. For someone who can not yet afford CF, this might be a good tool to use. Here's the site, click on the characters to the left:

  16. I love the idea about writing the hand motions on the postit note! We do a lot of scripture memory work and I never thought to do this. Thanks.

    We are in the ATI program and have been in 11 years. We love it!

    Character First was written for teaching character in the public school system and other secular outreaches so you don't find scripture in it. As Jennifer pointed out though, the website characterjournal.com is a wonderful resource as the scriptural "why" behind character qualities! I second that recommendation.

    I would be happy to answer any questions about ATI if anyone needed.

    Erika, I enjoy your posts and always glean a little something out of them.

    1. I know this post is from a long time ago, but I was curious at what age did you start the ATI program with your children. I was thinking of enrolling my son when he is 4, but I don't know if that is too young for the material??

  17. JENNIFER - I'm looking forward to checking this out, thank you for this great supplement recommendation for character training! =)

    MISSUSMECHANIC - I'm so pleased you've been enjoying our blog, and that you've found some encouragements or ideas here! =) And thank you for offering yourself as a resource for info on ATI, that's wonderful. I've actually never even heard of it, so maybe you could give me a website to explore for it? Blessings on your day today!

  18. JENNIFER - I've just now had time to look in to the website you recommended and it looks awesome! Thank you! I'll recommend it on the bottom of this post. And I've signed up for the free emailed Character Journals. So good to have.

  19. I recently put in an order for Series 1 with Character First thanks to you! I am so excited and can't wait to get it. We have 4 rowdy boys and this is a must. I had talked to my husband at first about it and he thought I was wanting to change curriculums (we homeschool also), but when I read him this blog entry, he emphatically said "Get it, now!". Thanks again! You are so inspiring in many areas to me!

    -Janet Chasteen

  20. JANET - Praise the Lord for wisdom when we find it in good curriculum, hm? I'm so excited for you! We are loving going through it again this year.

  21. I have been checking out Character First's website and saw that they have an online membership for $49.00. You get access to all 49 character traits and elementary, teen and adult studies, coloring pages, videos, and lots more. You can print up to 15 copies of each thing for your classroom. It seems like a great deal if you can print cost efficiently compared to buying and collecting the binder sets. I may go this route. Thanks for such great ideas, Erika!!

  22. JULIE - Oh interesting! Thanks for sharing! And let us know what you like or dislike about this option if you would, if you choose it.

  23. Hi Erika...I'm getting caught up on your posts...I JUST LOVE YOUR BLOG! Thanks so much for this post...just ordered my first set! Can't wait. I appreciate your step by step and I'm going to do the same thing with my kiddos...LOVE IT! You're so inspiring.

  24. I just recently found your site! Thank you for sharing your wisdom you've learned over the years!

    I have a question about the above post....

    I have a 7 year old girl who's very mature and would really enjoy the Character First curriculum. But I also have an almost 5 year old energetic boy that I don't think would sit and listen very well to this. If I do this with my daughter for a year and then have my son join in next year, do I have to do them separately since they are supposed to build on each other? I would much rather have everyone doing the same thing? (I also have a 3 year old that would be read the year after that to join in. Three different levels??)

    What would you suggest?

    1. Well, our 4 and now 5yo boy loved doing these activities with the older kids. The lessons only take about 15 min, and it involves verbally learning something, singing a song with hand motions, and doing an activity. It's all interactive.

      But if he does not participate well that's fine; I would encourage you to do the same binder of lessons again next year with the then 6yo son. There's so much in each binder that repetition and reinforcement would be great for the older girl; and I bet she'd love it. I would also have the youngest sit in on the lessons, too, perhaps in a booster seat, so the 3yo is exposed to the material, too. But when the 3 yo is ready to be participating more, I'd just add him in with the other material you'd moved on to. He'll pick up easily on the material from the first binder just being at home with the kids who learned from the first binder. He'll still "get it", and if you refer to a particular lesson (i.e. Daughter, remember the lesson with the paper masks for the attentiveness dear? That's what I need you to do now) and littlest son wants to know what that lesson was about, I'd have oldest daughter tell him about it, taking about 1 or 2 min. You don't need to start at the beginning with every single child.

  25. Hi Erika, I am really intrigued by this curriculum. I use a Charlotte Mason approach with our homeschool, and she highly emphasizes character training, particularly in the early years, but I feel I have never really found a good, practical way to implement it. I have one question for you, if you don't mind. I've read so many controversial things regarding Bill Gothard, and I'm curious what your thoughts are on this, and how (or if) it plays into this curriculum...Thanks so much, Jennifer

    1. Well Bill Gothard has many great things about what he teaches, too, from my experience. But it's been many years since I've read his material - could you tell me, please, what your concerns are specifically about his materials and then I could tell you whether or not those types of things are taught in the CF curriculum?

      From what I can tell, this curriculum stands totally by itself. Bill Gothard is never mentioned. And CF is strictly excellent character training, morally based and scripturally, too, as I understand it, however there is no scripture included in this printed material. But I understand you can get supplemental material that has scripture to go hand-in-hand with the CF curric. If you look in the comments section of this post I believe people have linked to it and it's discussed. =)

  26. Hi Janet,

    I also teach character qualities to my children and enjoy finding blogs that discuss how others are doing it. I was wondering, if this curriculum only covers 36 of the qualities, what do you plan to do to teach the other 13?


  27. Hi Erica,
    Can you please informed me of where to purchase character first. I have a 11 year old that could benefit from it tremendously.
    Thank you in advance

    1. Oh sure, there is a link in this post, but here it is, too. =) http://store.characterfirst.com/collections/frontpage/products/teachers-guide-kit-elem

  28. Thank you so much...Happy Holidays to you and your family.

  29. Do you also use the student guides or just teach from the teacher guide? This looks like an awesome program but I don't want to spend more money than necessary. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  30. My friend said that the CF curriculum is good, but since it's made for businesses and schools there is no mention of God, so she really didn't use it because she thought it pointless to be teaching character without a godly curriculum. What are your thoughts on this? I'd love to hear. I'm looking into getting a character curriculum to go through with our homeschooled children. Thank you!

    1. All of the discussions/activities/stories/definitions/songs in CF we tie in to scripture just in our conversations automatically, tieing them to the Lord. I haven't sought out additional scripture on each of these traits, but we're surrounded by scripture and knowledge of Godly character so I haven't felt the need to do more. You could of course. This curriculum is *so* well done, and done by a Christian company. And the animal stories focus on creation, not saying things like "when the animals evolved to this present state"; and the historical stories are about Christians... I've never felt like it was lacking personally.

  31. I was also wondering the same as Jessica, (last comment). I love everything about this curriculum, but was wondering if you do the scripture piece on your own or supplement with something else. I think that would be the most important part of CT. I have looked at other products online that have a biblical componant, but they are more for classrooms or sunday schools. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

    1. All of the discussions/activities/stories/definitions/songs in CF we tie in to scripture just in our conversations automatically, tieing them to the Lord. I haven't sought out additional scripture on each of these traits, but we're surrounded by scripture and knowledge of Godly character so I haven't felt the need to do more. You could of course. This curriculum is *so* well done, and done by a Christian company. And the animal stories focus on creation, not saying things like "when the animals evolved to this present state"; and the historical stories are about Christians... I've never felt like it was lacking personally.

  32. I was wondering if someone can give me the order to do the character qualities? I just got the subscription online and they don't me the order. From what I read you do one and then the next and they build on each one. Thanks

    1. I noticed they no longer offer them in a binder set, but rather individually; I don't know if that's because they don't really need to be learned in order, or because people desired to assemble their own order? But here is the order of my two binders, #1 and #2 that were the series before.
      - gratefulness
      - obedience
      - truthfulness
      - generosity
      - orderliness
      - attentiveness
      - forgiveness
      - sincerity
      - virtue

      - responsibility
      - patience
      - initiative
      - self-control
      - punctuality
      - resourcefulness
      - discretion
      - creativity
      - tolerance

  33. Erica,
    I know I am late to the party here, but I was just reviewing the curriculum and was also disappointed about the lack of scripture accompanying the curriculum. But I discovered that the Character First curriculum is actually derived from Bill Gothard's character traits, the the two organizations are not related. You can read more about that here: http://www.characterfirst.com/aboutus/character-first-and-iblp/

    Given that the character traits are almost identical, it would be very easy to go the Bil Gothard site and find the accompanying Scripture for each character trait. You can find that here: http://billgothard.com/teaching/characterqualities

    I should note that I actually do not know much about Bill Gothard or what makes him controversial. I do not follow him. But, I also don't see anything scripturally incorrect about these character traits. We just started homeschooling this year and I am really convicted that character training should be first and foremost in our curriculum, but wasn't really sure where to locate good curriculum. I may order a couple of booklets and see how the kids do. Thanks so much for sharing! (And I hope you had a wonderful birthday!)

  34. I haven't checked to see if they still sell them but I purchased the Series 1 book with 3 VHS videos on ebay! At first I thought I wouldn't need them but my DD LOVED the video! It's old (2001) but she loved it and it will work so great for our video-while-mom-makes-dinner time. If they still sell the video's they would be well worth the investment! (ok, so 2001 isn't that old but I guess in electronics time......how "old" would that make us?! Yikes!)

  35. Thanks Erika. I live in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Our marriages, careers, relationships etc suffer from the poor character built into our young lives unknowingly. I wish I could help our children to avoid some of the problems our marriage suffer today

  36. When do you do the rest of the reading beyond the Page and a half after the first day?

    1. The rest of what reading? =) I do the animal analogy on one day, and the history reading/story on another day. I've done the activities in the past but currently don't have time to prepare for them and do them so we're just doing what we can which is the stories and learning the definition and the song with motions. So, what is it that it seems to you that I'm missing? =) Not sure I'm answering your question well. ;)

  37. I have learned a very valuable lesson today...I first saw your post about Character First when you originally posted it a few years ago. I wanted to try it, but thought I should wait, since I was a new Homeschooling Mama and I didn't want to overload myself and my children.

    Over the years I have thought about it, reminding myself that when the time is right, I will buy it without hesitation. Anyhow, this past Sunday I was reading in the Book of John and was caused to think about this program. I knew the time was finally right and so I came back here to your blog and followed the link to CF...only to find they no longer sell it in the same packages as you have!

    Oh no! In order to have all of the Teacher Guides, Coloring Pages, DVD's, etc. I would have to spend over $300!

    I could kick myself! I can't believe I missed out on such a wonderful curriculum. There is a website, but it does not really offer the same thing.

    Please let me know if you ever hear of a used set for sale. I would really love to have this. I will keep looking on Ebay, and praying about it.


    1. Have no fear! =) It's way better than you think. I just haven't had time to update my post yet. Most of the curriculum is offered online now for FREE! Go to their website, www.CharacterFirstEd.com and select "Elementary Curric.", then select the one you desire to teach. The only things you'd need to purchase would be the booklet of activity ideas, the poster if you desire to have it (I use it) and any cards you'd like to use (I also use these). The rest is all offered online for free, for the currently 6 character traits. They are completing more and more of them all the time and will eventually have them all. The binders I posted about before they no longer offer.

    2. Thank you Erika. It actually turned out for the better. I went to the website as you suggested and decided to buy the Set of 36 Elementary Students Guides, the Coloring Book and 1 of the Teacher Guides (from the Original sets like you have.)

      When I tried to choose the Teacher Guide, the drop down list was not working and it would not let me "choose" which one I wanted, just $9.99 for one of them. So I placed the order and figured I would just leave it up to God to choose which one I would start with.

      I received the box on Tuesday and was shocked to find all 36 Teachers Guides in it along with the rest of my order. I called the company to tell them of the mistake, and the Customer Service Rep on the phone, Brittany, told me that they had seen that there was a problem on the website and were going to call me, but then decided to bless me with the whole set!

      I just couldn't believe it! I kept saying, "Are you sure because I don't want to take advantage of your company!" But she said they had actually had a meeting about it and felt good about it because they were discontinuing the Old set and would have the new set to replace it on the website within a few weeks!

      I am overjoyed at this! I believe this is an awesome curriculum and I can not wait to get started with it! Thank you so much for writing about it on your blog.


  38. Do you only do Character First on Mondays?

    We bought one of the binders and I'm excited to see so much free!

    1. Currently, yes. That's what we have time for. But you could do it every day - which we've done in the past! We review and talk about it every day, and review the def. and I wills, but we only do a craft type of thing on Mondays. This also helps me not have to purchase anything but the poster, and utilize the 4 activities or so offered for free online.

  39. Are you afraid of totally overwhelming your children with constant reinforcement of endless rules and recitations? This regimine seems like it can cause major anxiety for children, since these specific expectations are unreasonably high for their still developing bodies and minds.

    1. Not at all, and we're not overbearing about it at all. Children have great freedom where there are healthy boundaries and clear expectations, enabling them to be successful with good behavior, and safe, and in good healthy relationships with their family and outside the family. Children love to be enjoyed; so does everyone for that matter. We don't require any more of them than we expect of ourselves and other grown people. We are raising children to become healthy, saved grown ups; not raising children to remain immature children, frustrating them, and causing them to be unsuccessful and totally dependent upon others always, unable to be out in society being a success and a blessing. We don't require hardly any memorization, unlike many families who pour it in and children still drink it up anyway. Our children don't receive anxiety from good training. They receive great freedom. And earn the right for more and more privileges when they are responsible and kind. And we always make the distinction between childishness and foolishness when giving correction. Childishness being what children do even when it's mistakes or "misbehavior" that is unintentional and due to a lack of experience and young age. Foolishness is malicious and intentional, which requires correction. Hope that clarifies for you. =)

  40. It's interesting to me that there is an entire guide for these kinds of lessons. I would think that most people just teach this stuff during the course of day to day living.

  41. Erika,
    Thank you for posting this! I love the character curriculums but I wasn't sure how to implement the structure. My children are very small (just turned 2 and 9 months with another baby on the way) and I can already see how CRUCIAL it will be to teach these qualities to my children. Thank you for taking the time to lay out the resources and structure you use!!!!


  42. Oh my! This is awesome! I have purchased some of the curriculum (about 1.5 years ago), but I'm so glad to see it for free where I can just print out coloring pages for the littles. Your site is amazing and I'm so happy I have stumbled across it. You are an answer to a prayer!


  43. I just ordered the posters and will be printing off the other things and starting this asap with my six children! Thanks so much for taking the time to write about this very important topic! :)

  44. Thank you so much for this! I only have 3 kids, and they're little (5, 3, 1), but I've been looking for an inexpensive character curriculum. I really appreciate how thoroughly you laid this out, including the plan you use. We're starting with gratefulness tomorrow - it seems like a good week for that! :) Love your blog; your heart for the Lord is obvious!

  45. We already use the Character First curriculum in the old binders and it is a great programme. Thank you for the links to the free stuff though - I hadn't realised the format had changed and as we only have 2 of the files I will need to start on the new character qualities soon. We have been a bit hit and miss with it but you have inspired me to get back on board. We use these materials during our circle time http://angathome.com/2012/01/07/circle-time-planning/

  46. Thank you for sharing this! I have been looking for something that that encompasses my beliefs, but uses stories, fun, and historical people to teach. I'm glad I found your blog. Question, ordering from their site doesn't have any sign of security for my bank card. How did you get the materials?

    1. I think I purchased our first binder at a homeschool convention, but probably the other binder online. Not sure about security. You could contact them.

  47. Thank you so much for posting about this, Erika! I am excited about looking into it and perhaps trying the same schedule you outlined. I love that it is so simple.


  48. Are you interested in selling your Series 1 & 2 or know anyone that is? Thanks!

    1. Forgot to click to receive follow up comments.... Thanks! :)

    2. No, not selling, sorry. =) I don't know anyone who is.

  49. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  50. I am loving your blog!! Its has inspired me to get in gear! My husband and I cleared out our home and decluttered almost all. It will be complete this week. Its been so easy to keep up on, I am so much happier! I too am a homeschool mom and I love this article you've written. Ive never heard of this company before and am going to use this for a character study. I think personally Character building is the hardest to do but when we pray and give ourselves over to the Lord he helps us accomplish anything that is his will. Thank you for this blog. I am excited to read more and improve more. :)

  51. This comment has been removed by the author.

  52. I am starting this with my four year old but I don't see where they explain why each animal was picked for the character quality. Am I missing it? Or is that only in the curriculum that can be purchased?
    Thank you!

  53. I'm so glad we found this resource recommendation, and for walking us through how you use it - THANK YOU! We're excited to get started (and for FREE!). Aside from the daily review, do you only work on the stories/activities one day per week? It seems that you skip the songs and poems, am I correct? I tried to print the list of trait definitions you shared, but the image was too blurry to read.

  54. ok, so your my official virtual mentor! The content on your site is amazing and Im grateful to have found it. I feel like 'Im in college all over again for family training. As the saying goes" each one, teach one", you are making an impact in so many lives. As we grow as wives and mothers we are preparing our children to be change agents and enable our men to be stronger leaders. Im sending virtual hugs, kisses and blessings!



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