People I met at CPC: Heather & Elton McMillan

At CPC San Diego I got a chance to sit down with Heather and Elton kids pastors and founders of We Choose Virtues.

I asked them a few questions –

What made them start We Choose Virtues?

– It started off as a classroom management tool for the preschool class Heather was teaching. The kids had no concept of biblical values and there was no common language that the kids understood. There was little expected of the kids. Heather also saw from her interactions with parents that they were unsure what to discipline kids for that many parents where unsure what to expect of their kids. Upon seeing these things Heather set out to create a tool for her class that was simple enough to be consistant with so that she could use it in her class and so parents could use it in their homes.

How does it work?

The system can be used in most any environment from schools, church, to home. It is based on memorization, repetition and hopefully internalization.

The genius of We Choose Virtues is in the catch-phrases. They “catch on”. Your kids will be quoting the Virtues from the very first day on, and more importantly, they will know how to put them into action in the real world. Both the Kids Collection and the Youth Collection use these phrases that are age-appropriate. Here is a sample of the Kids phrases.

  • The Virtue: Each Virtue is preceded by the words “I am.” Not “I hope to be” or “I wish I was”. “I am” creates positive momentum and a sense of personal ownership. “I am Content” for example.
  • The Catchphrase: More than just a definition, the catchphrases are positive, practical and precise action statements that form the core of this system. Use them throughout the day to reinforce right attitudes and actions. “I am Content. I have my ‘Wanter’ under control”.
  • The Antonyms: The antonyms are a glimpse into the person they no longer want to be. These explain the negative form of the Virtue by using the phrases “I am not” and “I don’t”. “I am Content. I have my ‘Wanter’ under control. I am not bored, greedy or always wanting more and I don’t beg or whine!”
What I think is really valuable is that once the kids know the virtues they choice what virtue they need God’s help with that day and Parents do the same. It makes a massive difference when parents are transparent and admit to the virtues they need God’s help with.
What ages is this system for?
3 and up – There is stuff for kids and youth.
Is this a full on curriculum?
No the beauty of We Choose Virtues is that it is a supplement. You can teach it as a transitional segment in your kids church just like you would do your rules etc. They are short simple and easy to remember. (In my opinion they are perfect for preschool classes.)
Why add this won’t it confuse kids learning more than one thing a sunday?
They have found that it actually improves the retention of the class as a whole. You can teach more to the kids as a result of using this program.
– There are 12 virtues for the kids to learn. I have started using the system with my kids and they have been loving it so far. I love how it gives your family a common vocabulary for issues like whining and pouting. It’s a great tool we plan on using in the Luce household for years to come. I want my kids to first understand the Gospel that they are sinful and can do nothing outside of the grace of God. I also however want them to know what the fruit of a Gospel centered life should look like. In my opinion teaching virtues is not in opposition to the Gospel but the result of truly understanding the Gospel. I am not patient because it pleases God I am patient because of the power of the Gospel in my life empowering me to live for him based on what he has done for me. 

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