What is the one thing that “really successful” people say made them so wildly successful? It seems that from pro athletes to billionaires they all have the same answer. They never mention math – not even high level math. Not spelling. Not geography. Not science. Not reading. Not writing. Not physical education. Not band or choir. Of all the subjects offered in school, I have never heard a single person attribute their success to any one of them.
So far, I have found that 100% of all success stories are attributed to perseverance – the willingness to never give up! Success is the reward of those individuals who never give up even in the face of failure, criticism and hardship. Since this is so important, it seems like something we should actively teach our children.
In our homeschool we treat character development like other school “subjects.” We devote a certain amount of our homeschooling week (probably not enough) to learning and developing virtues. We use the (free) “Book of Virtues” to introduce them. But unlike, math or spelling, character development is not about knowing the right answer, but living it! Figuring out how to foster virtues in our children is definitely not as straight forward as teaching math, but it’s also been a lot more fun than hunching over a textbook all time.
“The NEVER GIVE UP Hike”
This weekend we headed to the mountains to learn about perseverance. What better way to challenge our children’s will power than to have them climb a mountain? It was a 2 hour drive to our grandparents and the Great Mountain (as we called it). As we drove, we sold our children on the planned hike. We started by talking about how wonderful it feels to stand on top of a mountain, how you can see everything for miles, and how you are as high as the birds.
Then as soon as our girls accepted the idea, we changed directions. We told them that maybe the hike wasn’t such a good idea. Perhaps climbing a mountain is too hard, or too dangerous, for such young children. Instantly, our girls began to protest, reassuring us that they were old enough, that they could do it, that they would never give up! The more we protested, the more resolved they became. “We will never give up!” they promised.
And they were true to their word. Oh, there were occasional complaints of blisters, thirst, being too hot, scrapped knees, going too fast, going too slow. But whenever the grumbling started, we simply indulged them, “Yes, this is too hard, let’s just quit! We will never make it!” Immediately the girls changed their tune, trying to persuade us that we shouldn’t give up. It took some convincing on their part, but we always gave in and continued on.
When we reached the top, our girls’ perseverance was rewarded with a view of the beautiful valley below. We named our climb the “NEVER GIVE UP HIKE” and we plan to make it an annual tradition!
How do you teach your children values? Please comment, we’d love to hear to hear your suggestions.
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