We Choose Virtues has really been a handy tool for behavioral training with Gess who has Down syndrome. I love it's focus on teaching children what is expected of them and encouraging them to make good choices. By teaching Gess these virtues and focusing on what is expected of her before she "misbehaves", it has really helped her see that she can "choose" to do the right thing.
Before we got this product we were going through some serious challenges. Gess is really seeking more independence. She is 10 and wants the freedom every 10 year old gets, but having Down syndrome has sometimes hindered her ability to have it. And if you couple that with the fact that just about every 10 year wants to start making their own choices and decisions, with or without your approval, it can be a very frustrating time for both the parent and the child. However, We Choose Virtues has really made a difference for us in that it has helped us to train Gess to make wise choices without the constant struggle and conflict we had been going through.
As I shared with you before, We Choose Virtues focuses on 3 rules under which all the virtues fall.
I am obedient
I am attentive
I am self-controlled
I am honest
I am kind
I am forgiving
I am patient
I am gentle
Be a Helper
I am helpful
I am perseverant
I am diligent
I am content
Each virtue also has a handy catchphrase to help you remember what that virtue means and what behaviors it does not entail. The example I shared before was:
I am gentle.
I speak quietly and touch softly.
I am NOT...rough, harsh, or loud, and I don't destroy things or hurt people!
Well, Gess has learned all 12 virtues and their catchphrases (minus the section that states what it is NOT, which is our next goal to learn). For the purpose of my review we had already received the Virtue Clue Cards along with the Teacher's Handbook, Family Character Assesment Chart, Kids Memory Verses and Bible Heroes list, and Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Book. Since then we have added the Kids Virtue Poster which we placed above the desk in her room. (In fact I caught it when it was on sale so I bought two of them, one for us and one for our Awana class at church.) Now Gess can visually be reminded of her virtues all the time.
The poster is really cool, especially for review because it has every virtue with the catchphrase and antonyms right on it. Periodically we will review them, usually while sitting on her bed, so I can use the poster as a guide to make sure I don't forget any. As I mentioned before, this is not done when we are having a conflict with behavior, just randomly when we are sitting together playing, talking, reading or doing something else. We really try to make learning about virtues fun. We also bring them up when studying the bible and any other place we feel they belong. The other day we read the passages about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and at the end talked about how they were obedient, honest and perseverant. They certainly obeyed God and told the truth even when it was tough.
Then we also get the pleasure of pointing out the virtues that we see Gess living out in her every day life. Gess is very helpful in lots of ways, and anytime she starts doing something helpful we comment how on just how "helpful" she is being. We then try to add in the catchphrase too. After Gess completes a math assignment that I know was difficult for her I tell her that I am so proud of her because she persevered and did it, "even when it's tough." Whenever we tell her that, she gets this precious smile that just lights up her face and you just know that she is happy that we are happy with her. I think this is the greatest part. If you give that positive feed back to the virtues when the child is happy, they will remember that when they are about to choose the wrong thing. It has certainly been true for us.
Now that we have made We Choose Virtues a part of our daily routine, when Gess does struggle and does not want to obey, tells a lie, gives up too easily on something hard, or has some other issue we remind her of the relevant virtue that she is struggling with. We then encourage her to make the right choice. Of course there are consequences if she fails to do so, but it seems like just having taught Gess what is expected in the first place, in a fun and positive way, she tends to make the right choice more often than the wrong one. She might sigh or resist at first, but when we ask her "is that being self-controlled, kind or honest, etc." she usually realizes it is not and then decides to do the right thing!! For any kid this is a huge breakthrough and for a kid with special needs, it's even more amazing. (At least for me!) Of course, as Christians we already know that following God's Word brings tremendous blessings, we just are not always good at explaining that to our kids. That's what We Choose Virtues has done, taken the biblical character traits we desire for our children to have and turned them into fun, teachable lessons giving children the desire to actually choose to do them and live them out. And on that note, if you recall from my review (or if you missed it) they do have a Kids Memory Verses, Bible Heroes and Truths page to show how each virtue is truly based upon God's Word.
Yes, We are still Choosing Virtues and it has made a tremendous difference in our lives. While I was given products for the initial review, there was no requirement for me to blog about this any further, but I wanted you to see what a difference this has made and how we have continued to use it in our home. They have packages for homeschools, classrooms, churches and families too. Of course be sure to look for the faith based option if you want the biblical portion of the unit as they have also made a non faith based option available for public and non-christian families and schools too.
Oh and guess what I found out right before I posted this? I now follow We Choose Virtues on Facebook and when you do that you learn about some of their great sales. Well, currently they have the Kids Virtue Poster that we bought and I shared with you above on sale right now, for the entire month of June! If you use the code POSTER35 at checkout you will get 35% off any poster in the store and the Kids Virtue Poster and Three Rules Poster will be shipped FREE! (Now if you happen to be reading this after June, check out the Facebook page to see if maybe some other sale is going on. They also share lots of good thoughts and focus on various virtues on different days. You know we adults need to be reminded to choose our virtues too!
With We Choose Virtues learning virtues has become a family goal that we strive for to please and honor God. Doing this for Gess has helped us to do it for ourselves too and in that our family has grown not only closer to each other, but closer in our walk with God too, and that's what life is really all about it!