How to Use 'Polished Cornerstones'

Many moms come by our booth at homeschool conventions and tell me that they’ve purchased Polished Cornerstones.  My follow up question is always, “Do you use it?”  Nearly all of them say they haven’t.  They don’t know where to start.  It can seem overwhelming with nearly 600 pages of information on character training.  Where do you start?  How do you make it work?  This product is too useful to let it sit on the shelf collecting dust. Polished Cornerstones first captured by attention when I attended a local curriculum fair in preparation for our first year of homeschooling.  It looked inspiring and overwhelming (and beyond my price range!) but I found myself drawn to it.  I put it on a wish list—for five years!  There never seemed to be enough money left over after we purchased curriculum, so after five years I finally budgeted for the expense.  It has been a great investment and has served our family well.  While there are some activities for younger elementary, the majority of activities are suitable for ages 8 and up, with some definitely for high school and beyond. I’ve created a template for creating lesson plans that you can download here: Polished Cornerstones Lesson Plan Template.  You will need one template for each week of study.

Planning First, I plan which months we’re going to use the book.  Some school years we’ve used it every month and other years we haven’t used it at all.  I don’t feel guilty that we’re not completing every activity or even one activity for every character trait.  Doing something is better than doing nothing.

Second, I pray and ask God to show me the weak areas in my daughters’ lives.  I talk with my husband too, because he sees things I don’t.  I also look for areas that the girls might enjoy, like hospitality.  I make a list and then narrow it down to assign one character trait for each month of our study.  If one daughter needs it, we all study it.  It’s good for all of us to grow in our character.  I try to vary the topics between character and life skills.  For example, last year we studied a woman who is organized, humble, courageous, and manages her money.  Copy your choices on the lesson plan templates.

Next, I use the list of scriptures at the beginning of the chapter to choose one verse or passage of scripture to memorize for each week of our study.  I base my choices on the ages of the girls, making sure that the concept and wording can be understood.  Copy your choices on the lesson plan templates.  I usually create a document that has all the scriptures typed out in the order we’ll use them.  This page goes in the notebook that I talk about below.  This makes it much easier to read together.

Then, I review all of the possible activities listed in the chapter to see which ones fit our family.  Some require other resources you may need to purchase, some are definitely geared to older daughters, and others require Dad’s involvement.  Some are spread out over a long period of time and others can be done in a matter of minutes.  Some are scripture intensive and require lots of writing or thinking; others are more practical and are more “doing.”  I choose three activities per week, based on the age of the girls, and varying the activities by alternating between writing and doing.  Copy the number and letter of the activities, as well as the page number, on your lesson plan template.

Finally, I make a list of any resources or supplies we need for each unit.  I also make a list any pages that I need to copy.  Then, I order all the supplies and make all the copies for the entire year.  Yep, I said the entire year.  If I only prepare for the first unit I sometimes forget to order a book or make a copy which means we can’t do the lesson and we get behind.  I put all the copied pages in the girls’ notebooks (and the list of scriptures to memorize) so that the pages are ready when we need them.  Check off the column on the lesson plan when you’ve made the copies.

Creating a Notebook I bought each of the girls a 1-inch, 3-ring binder (with pockets) and divider tabs.  I labeled the tabs with the character trait and then inserted the copies for each unit behind each tab.  Over the years, they’ve kept the same notebook, adding more tabs for each new unit.  We don’t always keep our units in order chronologically, but I ask the girls to date their work for future reference.  You could even add 3-ring pocket folders to hold mementos, if needed.

There are reproducible pages suitable for each girl to keep record of her accomplishments.  You could also keep records by copying your lesson plans after you’ve finished your study and placing those in each daughter’s notebook.

Class Time We usually spend about an hour a day, four days a week.  (Until this year, we had an hour delay on Thursday morning because of late nights at church on Wednesday!)  I only choose three activities because I don’t like being in a rush and that allows me space if something takes me longer than I thought.  (The lesson plan template has space for four activities for those who can fit in more.) Each time we meet together, the girls bring their notebook, their Bible and a pencil.   Remember to record the date you complete the activity on the lesson plan template.  One year, we met with another family of girls once a week and worked together on some sewing activities in the “Godly Woman” unit.  The girls enjoyed that very much.

Worth the Work This may seem like a lot of work.  Really, it’s not too bad and well worth the investment.  God has always been faithful to lead me to just the right character traits and just the right activities.  We use our month of study to focus on instruction, but also on changing behavior.  Then when situations arise, I refer back to the scriptures and principles we learned.  Overall, I have seen a lot of growth in the areas we’ve studied.  Our study of hospitality has yielded much fruit, as we often have guests who remark about how welcome they feel in our home.

I’m not saying Polished Cornerstones is the only character curriculum you should use, or even that it’s the best one out there.  I will say that it is has worked well for our family and that we have seen much fruit.  It is a flexible tool which parents can use to teach their daughter godly character.

Available from www.Daughters4God.com or from Doorposts for $48.00

Doorposts has a similar book, Plants Grown Up, to train sons in Godly character.

Help Your Daughter Develop a Prayer Life

girlpraying

Every Christian parent wants to pass on their faith to their children. I am no different.

Like any goal, it doesn't happen by accident; it requires a plan of action. In our home, we have used different strategies for different ages.PRESCHOOL

It's never too early to introduce your daughter to the power of prayer. Preschoolers are capable of praying more than "God is great; God is good." Once when my youngest was only two, we visited a 99-year-old saint who attended my church when I was a young girl. During our visit, we had a time of prayer. Each of us placed our hand on this precious prayer warrior and offered a prayer of blessing. The last to pray was the 2-year-old who babbled something incomprehendable. The woman was moved to tears that such a young child would pray for her. Here are some ideas for your preschooler:

1.Explain to your preschooler that prayer is talking to Jesus is as easy as talking to their friends.

2.Remind them that God hears every prayer they pray.

3.Give them opportunity to pray from their heart. If they have trouble thinking of anything, start off with "Thank you, God, for" and let them fill in the blank.

4.Make a prayer book. Place pictures of your family, friends, pastors, missionaries, etc. in an inexpensive photo album. As you flip through the book, your daughter can pray with you or repeat after you: "God bless____________." Unfortunately, I didn't think of this while my girls were pre-schoolers.

ELEMENTARY

When our girls were old enough to read on their own, I made them a prayer card that doubled as a bookmark in their Bible. This simple tool helped our daughters develop their own prayer life. You can make this card on a computer, but these directions are for doing it the old-fashioned way, by hand. Be sure to write clearly and print unless your daughter can read cursive. Here's how to make a prayer card for your daughter:

1.Choose a 3x5 card, with or without lines. Look for one in your daughter's favorite color or use a white card and make it colorful with colored gel pens or stickers.

2.Begin on a side with no lines. Hold the card in a vertical position with the longest side going from top to bottom. Begin by listing names of your family, one name per line: Ex. Dad, Mom, brothers, sisters, grandparents, other close family members.

3.Next, (on the same side) list pastors, missionaries, teachers, or others in authority.

4.Lastly, include things on the heart of your child like a friend who is ill. My oldest daughter included the country of China because she felt called to missions at a very young age.

5.The opposite side is for your daughter. Choose one or two character traits that your daughter needs to work on. (Honesty, Laziness, List the trait and a Bible verse about that trait. For example, if you need to work on honesty, then you may want to copy Psalm 34:13. If you're struggling with a lazy child, you could copy Proverbs 10:4. Each day your daughter can read the verse and pray that God would change her heart. If your daughter reads the scripture each day for several weeks, she'll memorize it without any trouble.

Of course, the card will not be accurate forever and will have to be updated every 1-2 months. Involve your daughter as you make changes. Pray together about which trait(s) your daughter needs to develop and encourage her as you see growth in her character.

UPPER ELEMENTARY/MIDDLE SCHOOL

Encourage your daughter to begin a prayer journal. Many Christian and non-Christian bookstores carry bound books with lined or unlined blank pages or create your own with a 3-ring binder and dividers. Here are some ways you can help your daughter prepare her journal:

1.Use a prayer plan like ACTS:

Adoration - telling God how great He is

Confession - repenting for what you've done wrong

Thanksgiving - thanking God for His blessings

Supplication - bringing your requests to God

Prayer isn't a laundry list of requests; it's about building a relationship.

2.Make a list of daily prayer requests, similar to the list above or help your daughter divide the requests: Monday for Missionaries, Tuesday for Wednesdays for Pastors, Thursday for Friends, Friday for Friends, Saturday for School.

3.Make a chart for prayer requests, include a space for the date you begin to pray for the request, the date it was answered, and the answer. Seeing so many answers to prayer will grow your daughter's faith.

4.Record the scripture you read each day. Write one sentence summarizing the scripture in your own words and one sentence about how it applies to your life.

5.Write your prayers to God. Encourage your daughter to write her feelings, but written words should be respectful and represent only what she would speak to others.

6.Listen to God. In my own journal, I record my thoughts and prayers in cursive writing and what God says in all caps. Prayer is a conversation, not a monologue.

These are just a few ideas of how we taught our daughters about prayer. Prayer is such a key part of a relationship with God. The earlier we teach our children about prayer, the earlier they establish a vital spiritual discipline. Ask God to show you how to best reach the heart of your daughter and help her develop a vibrant and powerful prayer life.