As parents, we want to instill character in our youth. We want to see integrity, honesty, and genuineness carried into the next generation. But in a society where character training is often overlooked or dismissed, where can one find parenting tools to help guide youth so that they’ll make right choices, be positive culture changers, and stand for truth and justice?
A review copy of the Youth Virtue Journal from We Choose Virtues arrived just in time for my oldest daughter’s 12th birthday. We’ve used a variety of character curriculum with our children, but this is the first time that she and I did something one-on-one. Since it was also the first character curriculum we’ve used specifically geared towards ages 12-18, we delved deeper into topics than we have before.
The Youth Journal:
A little over 100 pages, the Youth Journal is colorful and glossy with vibrant illustrations that immediately grabbed my daughter’s attention.
The journal covers nine virtues:
For about an hour each week, we met to discuss a virtue. I loved this part as it provided opportunity to talk about some tough topics.
Each lesson includes several quotes on the virtue, short descriptions of what the virtue means and what it doesn’t, questions to help the young person examine his or her own choices, a place for the mentor to write notes or observations, and an opportunity for decision-making.
As my daughter considered her own actions and where she would place herself on a scale of 1 to 10, writing in the journal section became the most difficult task. Sometimes it took her hours before she felt comfortable writing something, especially when she felt convicted about a specific virtue. This required real soul-searching on her part; but afterwards, it prompted even more discussion.
We wrapped up our sessions by reading about the corresponding Bible story, writing down the accompanying Scripture and worked together to commit it to memory. Throughout the week, we reviewed the Scripture and discussed ways we could personally exhibit a particular virtue.
The Youth Journal package includes:
- Youth Mentor’s Handbook
- Youth Character Assessment for measurable outcomes
- List of scriptures appropriate for the Virtues covered in the program
Youth Mentor’s Handbook
The Youth Mentor’s Handbook is a downloadable document. It isn’t necessary to print it out, but I found it useful to do so. I started reading it on the screen but after finding so many helpful bits of information, printed it out so that I could highlight and create notes.
Since the We Choose Virtues Youth Journal was originally written as a program for youth in the court system, the Youth Mentor’s Handbook is directed to those individuals who play a mentoring role, rather than a parenting role. As I read the handbook, I tweaked a few things to make it suitable for our family, and I still found several sentences on each page that were worthy of highlighting.
Youth Character Assessment:
Before we started working through the journal, my daughter took an assessment of where she was on a scale of 1 to 10.
After reading the examples for each virtue, my daughter told me how she felt she related. After the program is completed, the assessment is given a second time to see how the young person has progressed.
List of Scriptures:
Because the Youth Virtues Journal was written for mentors working with a variety of people, including those who may not be in a faith-based environment, the Scriptures corresponding to each virtue are a separate download. Included with the verses are references for a “Bible Hero.” For example, “I am Attentive,” relates to Samuel from 1 Samuel and the memory verse is Proverbs 22:17. While the verses are written from the NIrV, families with a different preference for Scripture memorization can easily plug-in the verse from their favorite translation.
For those working with at-risk youth:
When I learned this program was created for youth in the court system, I was intrigued. My husband and I used to work with kids in the Juvenile Detention Center, and it was difficult to find material they could relate to.
Most of the youth we worked with felt that they couldn’t do any better or that they had no choice but to follow in the steps of their parents, who likely had been or were in jail. They didn’t view themselves as unique individuals capable of making their own positive choices. Once they got to know us and started having hope that they could break the cycle, they looked forward to each week’s visit. Being able to offer the journals, complete with the mentor’s notes of encouragement, would’ve been a great asset.
One of the highlights would’ve been the “dream journal.” I can only imagine the impact of allowing the young men and women to dream– to dream of a future in which they didn’t see themselves as only being capable of making negative choices, but to see their potential as positive culture changers– as heroes.
If you have the opportunity to work with at-risk youth from a faith-based perspective, this package in its entirety, would make an excellent tool.
The complete Youth Virtue Journal package is $17 but We Choose Virtues is offering a summer sale.
- May-June: Use Promo Code BIG50 for 50% off a set of 12 11×17 Kids of VirtueVille Posters. These could be suitable for school classrooms, Kids Church, a child’s bedroom, or your homeschool room.
- June-August: Use Promo Code BTS20 for 20% off anything in the We Choose Virtues Store. This includes any product for kids or youth.
*Only one promo code per order
Overall, we enjoyed our time working through the journal, and since character education is a year round mainstay in our family, I plan to pick up the Virtue Cards for my little ones in a few months.
For more information on We Choose Virtues:
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