How Michelle Duggar Combines Character Building with Homeschooling

love_noteBesides learning the basics of homeschooling, like math and spelling, we work with our children on something called character qualities, which we think kids are never too young to begin learning about. There are 49 character-building qualities, and each quality has an opposite so that we can give our kids more of a reference point.

For a month we focus on that quality and memorize it together. For instance, we might learn about taking initiative and its opposite, unresponsiveness. We look for ways to practice initiative creatively. Once we decided we would have secret acts of initiative and help bless other people's lives with it. We would do something that needed to be done before we were asked to do it and try to do it in secret and then see if later in the day someone noticed it.

So somebody would come along and clean up somebody's area around their bed. They might straighten or make their bed for them while the other person was in the bathroom brushing their teeth to get ready in the morning. It's about finding fun, creative ways to practice the character quality throughout the month.

During the month that we focused on gratefulness (and its opposite, unthankfulness), we wanted to express the way God and others have benefitted our lives. We wrote little notes of gratefulness and left it under a pillow or in the Bible on a nightstand. One day all of us wrote down on little pieces of paper what we were thankful for that day and shared it at dinner.

I helped the little ones who couldn't write, and it was so great to take a minute out to hear things like, "Thank you for showing me how to match the clean socks and fold them so they don't go missing" or "Thank you for helping me with my music practice."

When we practice learning those qualities and doing that in our home, it literally makes a joyful, happy home -- a fun place to live. We genuinely love hanging out with each other; we become each other's best friends because we're looking for ways to praise and encourage each other. 

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