Teaching Character From Real World Experience
“Mom, why do you think she has her kids with her on the street?” my son asked as we drove out of the grocery story parking lot . We were driving with a car full of groceries as a young woman with a dirty face and thinly covered head wrap held up a sign on the street corner with her 3 kids under the age of 6 played in the rocks nearby. Her sign was simple and read, “Hungry: Anything will help”
It was in that moment that compassion filled my heart and I mentally put myself into this lady’s shoes. We were able to stop and help her out with some money and food. I would be willing to bet that interaction that day was more valuable than any math lesson I could have taught my sons.
My ability to homeschool, gives me opportunities to teach the whole individual, not just the academic part. I want my kids to grow up as people who will love fiercely, show empathy to those around, have perseverance when times get tough, speak up for the person who’s getting bullied, and fight for the underdog. You can’t really find those lessons in a text book or online curriculum.
What are some of the characteristics that you want to embody during your short time on earth? Do you want the same for your kids? When we can get involved in the world around us and step into the world of those that might need help and we bring our kids along with us. Those are lessons that are more powerful than we can ever imagine.
I have memories of being 8 and my dad taking me to a nursing home to visit Sister Lee who was 100 years old. She went to our church and was slowly spending her last days on earth in the care of a run down nursing home. My dad would bring her Wendy’s coffee, her favorite, and bring my siblings and me to visit with her as she talked through her toothless smile.
As a kid I remember being a little scared of the nursing home with all of the sterility and medicine smelling atmosphere. However when I witnessed the gentleness that my dad had with Sister Lee and the compassion he had, I was forever changed. My heart and character grew each time we went to visit her. She had absolutely no family in and around the area of Detroit, and we were just about the only people that visited her.
This is what we were called to be as human beings. I believe we were meant to take care of the people around us, to love despite differences, to pick people up when they fall down, to persevere when things get tough.
How can we incorporate these lessons into our homeschooling days? Ask your children where do they see a need that they can fill in or be useful in their world. Is there an elderly neighbor that needs their snow shoveled? Is there a new mom that needs help with making a meal? Can you carry a plastic bag full of snacks, gloves, or money to hand out to the next person holding up a sign on the street corner?
There is a need for you and your children to become a force of love in your world. When you step into these roles, character and hearts grow like a muscle and we can step into the human beings that we were created to be. I would challenge you to incorporate these practices into your homeschool days. Take a chunk of time out of each week and together with your kids, go and make the world a better place. If you need to skip a math lesson to do so, do it. This is far more important and will have greater lasting impact anyway.
Again it could be as well thought out as serving at your local food pantry or as simple as walking a neighbor’s dog that can’t quite get out to walk. Brainstorm with your kids about ways that you could be helpful, and I promise you they will have tons of ideas on ways you can be helpful which will be valuable lessons that they will carry with them for the rest of their life.