Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education. ~~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr.
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A myriad of educational programs exists with lofty names such as “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.” All of these focus on academic training and leave little time for character development. Even parents who teach their own children are sometimes caught up with college prep and extra-curricular activities and forget specific time for training their children for life. Then, how we lament when leaders, even church leaders, openly exhibit bad behaviors.
Character training sources list six to ten qualities of good character. The ones agreed upon by most are trustworthiness, responsibility, respect, fairness, caring, and citizenship.
Good character isn’t learned in a moment or two here and there. Nor is a textbook or curriculum adequate for these qualities to be impressed on our children. As parents we must make an effort to ensure our children see and exhibit good character qualities in all aspects of life.
This training is in the little things we teach: saying please and thank you, greeting others properly, good table manners, apologizing. Sometimes it’s hard to be on top of everything our children do. Sometimes we aren’t available to oversee their behavior. With consistent, day-by-day training however, these important qualities will be instilled in them.
Skill Trek, an online supplemental curriculum to teach life skills, includes character instruction throughout. It begins with the idea that the skills children learn through Skill Trek benefits more than the student. These abilities can be used to help and serve others.
In addition, the Trek adventure has lessons, beginning around age 5, specific to our child’s character. For example, preschoolers will learn to say the Pledge of Allegiance (citizenship) as well as “please” and “thank you” (respect). Kids progress through the program up to high school, where “Dealing with Peer Pressure” (trustworthiness), local government (citizenship), and “How to Avoid Debt” (responsibility) are taught.
Most of the lessons involve tasks that have the Trekkers use their skills to benefit the family or others. When learning to cook a variety of items, the kids are given the challenge to cook meals for the whole family. Or if the skill is a household chore, the child is required to perform that chore for the family.
The program features trail guides (or mascots) for each level. Trailblazers (pre-k through eight years old) are led by fun-loving Jasper T. Robertson, a tenacious raccoon. Roland D. Scruffbear, a loveable bear, leads the Rockhoppers (nine years through twelve years old), and the wise and knowledgeable eagle, Balthazar, guides the Cragsman level (thirteen years old and up). Each of the trail guides are honest about areas in which they’ve had to learn a character quality to be a better citizen.
Unlike many at-home programs, Skill Trek involves parents’ oversight. Children are not sent to a series of instructions and left to complete them on their own, hoping for the best. This oversight helps us to guide our children, identify areas of weaknesses and strengths, and even learn a little ourselves along the way.
It’s easy to get caught up in the pressure to of academic skills and not see so many other important life preparations our children. Skill Trek will help us as parents prepare our children for life while helping them have qualities to serve others.
The best part? They will have FUN while learning life skills and growing in character!
Sara Elizabeth Dunn is a Christian homeschooling mom to 7. Having both typical and special needs children, ranging from preschool through high school, she not only understands the unique challenges of teaching several children with different learning styles and abilities, she has experience balancing therapy schedules with family life. She and her husband, Andrew, are the authors and creators of Skill Trek, a life skills curriculum for Kindergarten through young adult.