Sunday, January 22, 2012

We Choose Virtues, a TOS Crew Review


We received a really useful and interesting review item for our situation homeschooling a tween on the autism spectrum.

We Choose Virtues is a company that produces materials that assist parents and teachers in teaching character in children. We were given a set of Virtue Clue Cards to review. The 12 clue cards are the size of business cards (but they feel slightly more sturdy than a standard business card); they come in a clear plastic sleeve that velcros closed. The 13th card is the introductory card that asks, "Can YOU use your Virtues the whole day? I believe you can!"

The virtues: obedient, patient, honest, self-controlled, forgiving, diligent, helpful, perseverant, kind, gentle, content, attentive.

I have a lot of thoughts about the little cards.

For typically developing kids, I think they are a creative and fun (and probably quite effective) way to teach virtues, to work on relationships with self and others. You should be able to use them as is, straight from the package. They're priced right - regularly priced at $7.95, on sale for $5.99.

For some children w/ special needs, the little cards need to be used with special care and caution. I sometimes hear (more often than I would like) a parent or teacher telling a child, "If you're good, we'll do X when this class is over." For one little boy, it was to run up and down the Sunday School halls, something he loved to do, and something that gave him enough sensory input to get him through the next activity. What I DON'T hear is a description of what "good" is. And when the child doesn't match the expectations for "good", the child automatically is "bad". A failure. I don't like that.

Some children with special needs have little self-control over themselves at certain times. Mine struggles when she is getting sick, is sick, or when she is hungry (probably a blood sugar issue). Her neurology does not work for her some days. She simply is unable to obey right away or wait with a smile or keep her "wanter" under control.

So we are very deliberately using these cards in a way that they are not "absolutes" (and I do think the cards are intended for this kind of use). We are picking one and spotlighting when my girl does well with one without calling her "good" when she does it and "bad" when she does not. In fact, a lot of the time at my house, these cards are used for a preceding step - for allowing her to acknowledge that she has a choice. It's an awareness piece. A self-awareness piece The behavior piece - the piece that she has a choice - is a second or even third step for us.

I like the way the virtues are listed individually for us and I like the opportunities we have to spotlight them in context in naturally occurring events.

A downloadable coloring book reinforces the info on the cards:


And there is a character assessment for family members to use for the awareness piece. (Click on the picture to take you to the assessment.)  I do not like the chart for the purpose of judging a child.  I would consider using this only as a child's own self-assessment for thinking about purposes (self-appraisal, past experience, forethought).

I was concerned that the virtue cards would create anxiety in my kid in terms of "being good" or "being bad". The parent has the responsibility to keep from labeling the child that way while using these little goodies to turn more responsibility from the parent to the child in terms of thinking about behavior. And I like that.

We Choose Virtues sent me a set of Virtue Clue Cards at no cost to me in order to review here. I was not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

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