The Homeschool Minute ~ Balance building character and academics

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How do I balance building character and academics?
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Gena SuarezHey Mama,


In an ideal world, you would be able to perfectly balance character building and academics. But this isn’t an ideal world, and it never will be. If you have to choose between teaching character building and academics, always go with character building. You’ll never regret raising up godly children who obey the Lord. What good is it if your children are top-notch scholars, but don’t follow God? Plus you’d be surprised how quickly you can catch up on academics when your children’s hearts and character are in the right place.

And here’s something else to remember …

Almost mid-week. Look around. You have had heart talks with some of the kids. You have taught and they have learned. You have learned.

The house isn’t perfect, but it’s not deplorable by any means. Well, it has its ups and downs. But that is because your highest priority is your CHILDREN, not the “stuff.” The stuff will burn. Our kids are our heritage …

Let’s tackle the rest of the week with the same grace and poise. Or maybe do better. Either way, His hand is on your head tonight.

~ gena

PS. Check out these articles from the magazine with some ideas for teaching godly character:


No More Brick Walls – Morna Gilbert

Godly Character Is the Goal – Jessica Hulcy

Biblical Role Models – Cathy Diez-Luckie

Character and Virtue and the Little Notebook – Malia Russell


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Relational Homeschooling    
Diana Waring

Dear Friends,


I love new days, new years, new opportunities! There is an invigorating freshness when we start new, isn’t there? All things are possible.


And, for homeschool parents, this is a great time to bring fresh eyes to this age-old challenge: how DO we balance building character and academics? After all, academics is a big deal. It’s half our job title: Homeschool (Parent). It occupies most of our waking hours and we think about it through many sleepless nights. How do we teach Sally that 2×2=4? When will Bobby finally read on his own? Should Jessica take the pre-SAT tests this year, and have I taught her everything she needs to know?


This makes sense. It is logical, measurable, and students can win awards with this stuff.


Character, on the other hand, is not so much taught as caught. What I mean is that if we read a book on generosity to our kids, for example, will that make them generous? If only it were that simple!


In many ways, our kids will pattern their character after us. If they observe our honesty, if they see that we highly value honesty, and if we lovingly call them to the same standard, honesty will become foundational in their lives. And, contrarily, if our kids see us lie and cheat, they will learn that character lesson from us.


The somewhat uncomfortable truth is that, when it comes to character, we are the textbook our children are reading. What a good thing that it is a NEW YEAR and we can have a fresh start!


Okay. So, we have logical, measurable academics and the real deal of our kids learning about character from us. Now, how do we balance the two? Do we spend four hours a day on academic lessons and four hours a day on developing character? What do real people do?


To answer this, let me ask you a question: How do you balance eating and sleeping?


It’s obvious, isn’t it? You eat when you’re hungry and you sleep when the lights go out. You aren’t puzzled about this. You don’t sit down to a meal and wonder, “Oh, dear, should I eat or sleep?” The situation (and your body’s needs) give obvious clues to what is appropriate.


In the same way, academics and character-building provide obvious clues. When Mary asks, “Mom, what is a preposition?” you know that what is needed is an academic explanation (and maybe some fun “Preposition Charades”). When Jimmy says, “Mom, Willie took my truck and won’t give it back!” you know that it is time to talk with Willie and Jimmy about respecting one another’s property AND sharing.


You are good at this! You’re the mom!


Remember, stay relational.




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It’s interesting to me that we often view character and academics like they’re two Middle Earth foes battling it out for dominance. I think we have that idea because someone, somewhere, told us that we should teach character as a subject, in the same way other academics are taught.
And so the problem arises, how do I have time for both? What if I do one at the neglect of the other? What if I make a mistake and doom my child to a life of stupidity or worse, moral shipwreck?
Here’s the deal: character isn’t taught in the same way as academics, but it is often taught while we teach academics. The truth is: character is taught all the time … and you’re the teacher. Your children are watching and learning as you shop at Wal-mart, run errands, make a meal, clean the house, do your taxes, and interact with your husband. They see what brings you joy and how you handle hardship. They listen to your words, catch your attitude, imitate your actions, and observe what you value.
When you make academics your main emphasis, you ARE teaching them character. You are showing them that what really matters in life is NOT how they behave or the relationships that they have, but what they know.
Academics are needed, but they are not what matter most. How does that look in your homeschool? You open up the books and do your lessons, but you don’t measure your children by their achievement, you take breaks happily when people need you, and you see homeschooling as a wonderful opportunity to spend time with your children “teaching” character.
One of my wife’s favorite quotes is: “Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.”
Have a great day with your family!


Be real,



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