We Choose Virtues: Youth Virtue Journal {TOS review}

How do you teach your child to be virtuous? A simple answer would be to exemplify that type of behavior. “We Choose Virtues…Simply Inspiring Character that Lasts,” is the foundation of the products created by We Choose Virtues, because they realize the task is easier said than done.

Heather McMillian has a love for children (and adults that I sense through the monthly e-mails she sends out to her newsletter subscribers) that exudes through the products she created after seeing a “lack of self-control, honesty and perseverance that was almost debilitating” in the children she worked with as a children’s pastor.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew was given the opportunity to review Parenting Cards and the Youth Virtue Journal from the company. These are just a couple of the items available from We Choose Virtues, a company that makes teaching virtuous ways easier for churches, schools and families with the variety of products they sell geared towards children ages three to 18.

We reviewed the Youth Virtue Journal Volume 1, which is one of two volumes. I think the curriculum is appropriate for River who is not far away from his teen years. He has a loving and kind heart and I want to help him discover that within himself, so that he can flourish.

The Youth Virtue Journal comes with a physical book, the journal; Mentor Handbook (PDF download); Mentor Meeting Report Form (PDF Download) – sign-in sheet for each meeting; Youth Character Assessments (PDF Download); and Youth List of Memory Verses and Bible Heroes (PDF Download). The Youth Virtue Journal is geared towards children between the ages of 12 to 18. The journal covers nine virtues: I am Attentive; I am Content; I am Forgiving; I am Gentle; I am Helpful; I am Honest; I am Obedient; I am Perseverant; and I am Respectful.

The suggested study time with the journal isn’t very long with one hour per week over a two-week period on each virtue. The journal may be used for mentoring multiple children, like in a Sunday school setting or as a counseling tool as it was for the Idaho Court system. It is also a tool that you may work through with just one or two students at home and it is still an effective tool. The position of the mentor is not necessarily supposed to be the parent, but rather another person like a pastor, counselor or other type of group leader. If you use the curriculum at home, then you, as parent, will have to fill that role.

There is a quote in the Mentor Handbook:

Merriam-Webster defines a mentor as “a trusted counselor or guide.” Another definition is “a wise, loyal advisor or coach.” A mentor’s power is simply that of influence.

Although, we can’t be everything to our children, I see the role of a parent somewhere in that definition.

I read through the Youth mentor Handbook, so that I would know what I was to do. There is no special preparation required to begin using the journal and covering the virtues.

The first thing River and I did together was go over the Youth Character Assessment form where we both shared opinions about his display of the nine virtues we would cover through the journal. This was an interesting discussion as he shared examples and we both got a better understanding of what the virtue means to each of us. You and the student are to complete the assessment again after completing the journal.

On the first day that we started working through the journal, we used the Youth List of Memory Verses and Bible Heroes. River started memorization of the selected verse, which I had him recite at the end of both weeks as we covered each virtue. We also read the bible verse that discussed the virtue hero. After that we continued reading through the virtue section together, which is quite self-explanatory. The material is brief, but thorough enough to complete during that one-time weekly meeting.

River provided written answers when prompted in the journal. The section I really like in the journal is the “Take a moment to dream,” where the child writes a dream/goal he has and lists any obstacles he may see obtaining them as well as any virtues he has learned that may help him accomplish that dream.

The process of working through the journal promotes open discussion as opposed to question, answer and correction of responses provided by the protégé. Real encouragement, not false or patronizing encouragement, is desired from the mentor (parent) and very important throughout the completion of the journal.

The mentors are encouraged to also be of strong character, be virtuous in their behavior, because they are standing as an example for the children they are mentoring (or raising). Completing the material with your child is more than just reading through the pages. It is also an opportunity for parents to reinforce the covered virtues in their lives.

I like the virtues that are presented in volume one. It may be easier for a mentor, someone who doesn’t have a close relationship with the child, to work with the child as he goes through the book. On the other hand, I like the opportunity to cover these virtues with my son, because I am able to learn more about the way he thinks. It also is a time where I am to step back and allow him to be honest without any concern of discipline or correction for the responses he gives. If I display virtuous behavior, he might just learn the same.

There is a second volume of the Youth Virtue Journal that covers the following virtues: I am Diligent; I am Kind; I am Patient; I am Self-Controlled; I am Flexible; I am Grateful; I am Joyful; I am Punctual; and I and Resourceful. I believe that we will be adding that volume to our character study after we complete volume one.

The Youth Virtue Journal and PDFs of the Youth Character Assessment and list of scriptures in the program are available for $17.

Learn more about We Choose Virtues on Facebook, Pinterest and on their blog.

You can read more reviews of this item by fellow crew members on The Homeschool Crew Blog.

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