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How do I balance building character and academics?    

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Mercy Every Minute   
The Wuehler FamilyA wise homeschool speaker once said that character is always more important than academics. And, if you have to, stop the academics to work on the character. I sometimes forget and get it backwards as I try to keep that agenda of schoolwork going.


The scenario might be two children sitting at the kitchen table doing their math. They begin arguing as one boy kicks the other under the table and voices rise. Normally, we might say, “Stop that fighting and finish your math.” Or we might say, “If you keep arguing, I am going to double your assignment!” Or we might even say, “You stay here, and you go in the other room to finish your math,” just so we can have peace.


The better way would be to stop, drop, and pray. Stop the math. Stop whatever you are doing (believe me, it really isn’t that important) and talk about the character flaw in each child, and the virtue and rewards of obedience and loving each other. Do this without anger–after all, your children are natural born sinners. Your angry authority will not help, but God’s peaceful authority will, so open your Bible together, and then pray together. After all that, then resume the academics.


Will it put you behind in academics? It might! But you’ll be ahead in character. Academics can always be caught up in the later years, but you won’t get these younger years back to work on Godly character. They don’t get better or more reasonable as they get older, rather they can become set in the character they have formed in the early years.


Our kids might be well-behaved and polite in public. But behind closed doors, they argue with each other, are slow to obey, and tattle constantly. Something has to change. Their character needs improvement. This is a good time of year to sit all the kids down and let them know that you will be working on character building and how that will look in your house. Here is some help:

  • Be the example of the needed character trait. If there is anger in your home: be slow to anger. Have a soft answer. Be kind. If your children won’t repent, start repenting to them for your ungodly behavior. Be the example.
  • Pour the Word of God into them daily. Memorize scriptures pertaining to the character trait. When situations arise, remind them of those scriptures or go research together from God’s Word (extremely important: more so than academics!) Here’s one I pull out often:

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

  • Find products that encourage good character. Take time off for a unit study in a particular character trait.
  • Stop, drop and pray!

Academic excellence is important, but let’s not make it the primary goal. Character excellence comes first in God’s house, as it should be in ours as we keep them Home Where They Belong.


“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23, 24




P.S. Have you ever inwardly or outwardly pointed the finger at another homeschooler who didn’t live up to your standards? Homeschool Pharisees from our Jan/Feb issue is a must read.


Our world continues to grow in complexity and uncertainty. Despite the challenges in today’s world, there are two essential areas for us to guide our children to ensure they have the best chance to reach their hopes and dreams: academics and character.


The statistics are clear about the importance of an academic education to enable our children to reach their potential. Despite this overwhelming evidence about the importance of education, we have all experienced the disastrous impact when leaders in business, ministry, or public service have a great academic education, but lack character in the conduct of their responsibilities. The importance of strengthening character along with an academic education is a “winning” combination for sustaining a life of positive impact.


How do we do both as parents and educators? Here are a few steps to consider:

  1. The instruction of academics should be reinforced with the importance of character. Without the demonstration of character traits like discipline and commitment, most students will not achieve academic success. As parents, when we provide academic instruction, we should reinforce the instruction with the necessary character traits that will ensure success. “Learning a second language is important to succeed in a diverse world and it will not come about without strong commitment and determination” is an example of speaking to the importance of both.
  2. Reinforce the importance of character in successes and failures in the academic journey of our children. “You set a great example of perseverance by overcoming a slow start in math to then finish the year with an A” is an example of reinforcing character in everyday academic results.

The consistent application of these small steps will ensure our children grow in appreciation of the importance of academics and character in reaching their goals.

Character Creates Opportunity

David Esposito, Managing Partner, Harvest Time Partners, Inc.


David has developed award-winning resources under the brand Character Creates Opportunity®, a character-development initiative designed for all ages. He is the inventor of Abundant Harvest®–families, schools, counseling programs, and faith-based organizations nationwide enjoy playing this patented and award-winning conversation game. It opens the door to more productive dialogue and encourages decision making based on such principles as honesty, loyalty, and commitment. David provides support to individuals, families, and organizations on a variety of topics.


You can contact David at or by calling (877) 786-4278. Visit to learn more.


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