Wednesday, June 11, 2014

“We Choose Virtues” Youth Journal (Schoolhouse Review)

We Choose Virtues

We Choose Virtues is a company that focuses on character education. Their various products are geared for ages 3-18, and include posters, coloring books, character cards, and suggested activities that teach and reinforce virtues such as attentiveness, gentleness, kindness, and helpfulness. Children learn these virtues in the form of “I am _________,” which helps them visualize themselves already exhibiting these character qualities.

Youth Journal

We reviewed the Youth Virtue Journal ($17). While the materials for younger children are bright and fun in appearance, including cartoon characters, the Youth Journal appeals to an older group with its “cool” design. In fact, when Emily first saw it, she snatched it up and started paging through it, declaring that it looked like fun. The graphic designers did a good job! This 100 page journal covers these 9 virtues:

  • Attentiveness
  • Contentment
  • Forgiveness
  • Helpfulness
  • Honesty
  • Obedience
  • Perseverance
  • Respect

Accompanying the journal were these downloadable products:

Mentor Handbook
Mentor Meeting Report Form
Youth Character Assessments
Youth List of Memory Verses and Bible Heroes

The Youth Virtue Journal was actually designed as a counseling tool for use in the Idaho court system and is designed to be used in 9 weekly, 1-hour sessions with a mentor. We found that it is just as useful in the home, with a parent acting as the mentor.

The Mentor Handbook is a 39 page PDF book that explains the journal and how it is to be used as well as the mentoring process. It was helpful for me to have this information before we started using the journal, although some of the content was not applicable to a parent-mentor. The tips about establishing rapport and setting up meeting times were written for a more formal mentoring situation.

We started our journey with the Youth Character Assessment, a chart that lists the virtues, describes what the virtue does and does not look like, and a place for the teen to rate himself of herself on a 1-10 scale for each virtue. It was interesting to note that Emily rated herself lower than I would have rated her in many cases.

Next, we started with Chapter 1: I Am Attentive in the journal. Each chapter follows the same format.

  • First, the teen describes a dream for the future—big or small. Then, he or she considers obstacles that may be in the way of that dream and what virtues might help him attain the dream.
  • Next, a list of questions is asked to help the student consider how well he has mastered the virtue for the lesson. I thought they were very helpful at addressing many different aspects of the virtue and its use in varying situations. After considering the questions, I know that Emily had a better grasp on what each virtue included.
  • Then, a 1 to 10 scale is proved for self-evaluation.
  • Additional questions are asked that enable introspection and discussion-Who do I know that is ______?  What is it that impresses me about them? Have I ever been negatively affected by someone who didn’t choose to be _______? Do I need to apologize to someone because I was not ______?
  • A page or two of quotes offers some thought-provoking ideas and inspirations from others—ancient philosophers, writers, leaders in society, etc. (Although this is not a faith-based program, there are a few Bible verses in this section—attributed to Solomon, or St. Paul, for example, rather than by Bible reference.)
  • Room is given for the mentor to write his or her own advice to the mentee.
  • The student reflects and responds about the virtue and the session in writing.
  • The student sets a goal for improvement of the virtue, using the same 1-10 rating scale.
  • The student signs his name to a pledge… “I, _________am attentive: I watch and listen carefully. I, ________, am NOT forgetful, distracted or distracting, and I don’t ignore or interrupt.

A separate downloadable list of Bible heroes and memory verses allows the user to add faith-based content to the program.

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We have enjoyed using the Youth Virtue Journal. It has sparked some good discussions, and has hopefully helped Emily think about these virtues and how she can develop them in her life. Because we had the Virtue Clue Cards from a previous We Choose Virtues Review, I was able to pull out the corresponding card to post each week as a reminder of the virtue of the week.

I like that the teens are encouraged to dream about the future and what they might like to see happen in each session. I also like how the virtues are presented in a positive, visionary manner. (“I am content. I have my “wanter” under control.”)

Unfortunately, we both tend to forget about the focus virtue between sessions. That’s mostly my fault for not finding a way to emphasize the virtue every day and I know that if we worked on the memory verse each day and briefly discussed the virtue between sessions, the program would be more effective. I do still think that it’s valuable to make time to think about and discuss the virtues though, because character education is important, and teaching positive character qualities is more effective than correcting misbehaviors after they occur. At age 14, Emily is not particularly enthused about developing virtuous qualities and she definitely does not want to feel corrected or judged. I had to tread lightly, letting her come to her own conclusions about areas of strength and areas that needed improvement. But that’s part of growing up too—taking responsibility for one’s own character and actions. The Youth Journal was a good tool in helping her do that.

If you are looking for an easy-to-use character education program for you teens, the Youth Virtue Journal from We Choose Virtues is worth your consideration. Here are a couple of summer promos that are currently being offered:

1. MAY-JUNE: *Promo Code BIG50 for 50% off our amazing set of 12 11x17 Kids of VirtueVille Posters! This is the first time we have ever offered these posters at this price. They are great for school classrooms, Kids Church, or your homeschool room. Kids love them for their bedrooms, bathrooms and kids’ hallways.

2. JUNE-AUGUST: *Promo Code BTS20 for 20% off anything in our WCV Store. This includes any product for kids or youth. Let’s start School with Virtues this year!  

*Only one promo code per order

Connect with We Choose Virtues:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/wechoosevirtues
Pinterest –  http://www.pinterest.com/WeChooseVirtues/
Blog -- http://www.wechoosevirtuesblog.com/

The Crew also reviewed Parenting Cards, a fun way to teach virtues to younger children. Find out about this tool at the Crew blog!

Click to read Crew Reviews
I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

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