Last week our local homeschool co-op had the opportunity to work with Clinton (or TinTin as the kids call him) learning and practicing circus tricks. Catching a flying diablo, spinning plates on a stick, juggling, twirling sticks, walking on stilts and one girl had a go at a unicycle. Lots of fun.

Before we started with TinTin though we had a short character session looking at Determination. According to Character First,determination is purposing to accomplish the right goals at the right time regardless of the opposition. I tweaked this as I taught the kids to:

Deciding to do the right thing, even when it is hard

I focused on three things
• Keep our attitude right
• Have a go
• Keep trying

I have found, over the years that it is very helpful to take the time to teach a relevant character trait for a situation that our children will shortly find themselves in. Though most of the kids had done CirKAS with TinTin before the skills he was teaching them were tricky, and very much a situation where kids baulk or give up. I wanted to give them the wherewithal to try something new, to keep on going, to pick themselves up when it didn’t happen for them.

When our children have these ideas in the forefront of their mind it means they can begin to govern themselves. This is a primary goal for all parents.

There is a secondary benefit for reviewing a particular character trait before an activity and that is that we ourselves are reminded of the language of that trait and can then continue to encourage our child as they walk through their situation. Looking at determination gave the mothers in our co-op the words to encourage their child: ignore distractions, move ahead with courage, never turn away! These words meant something to the kids because we had talked about them in our lesson time.

Talking about determination though will never produce the fruit. It is only as the kids stepped into the cirKAS lessons and where challenged with spinning, balancing and catching different things that they could decide to act with determination or not. As they made the choices to not give up, to have another go, to keep working on it they were developing determination in their own life.

Every day we face situations where our children can be reminded of a relevant character trait. We may not give a full ‘lesson’ (we don’t want to appear to lecture all the time) but we can give a gentle reminder before they step into situations. We can remind them to be patient with their younger sibling, tolerant with the person who annoys them, attentive at church, dependable when left at the library, and to be helpful and show initiative when at a friends for a sleepover.

If your family has a situation or activity coming up it may well be a good opportunity to teach into before the day. Consider now, what are your children going to struggle with, and what character trait will help them? Start teaching and practicing that now so that when they move into that situation or activity they will be prepared.

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