Building Character Through Discernment and Planning of Service and Activities

Our God-given responsibility for the education and development of our children — physically, socially, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually — is something we take very seriously.  

Get started by planning 

A very careful examination of what God wants for each child with the talents and gifts given will lead to the proper and moderate amount of academics, sports, activities, and service that will really contribute to the whole family as well as each individual child. God is aware of all the choices out there and how tempting it is to get involved in too many things. Hastily made decisions lead to over-involvement in outside activities which drain the family of time, money, and togetherness.  

One year I prayed a Novena to Our Lady of Good Counsel, asking for the grace to know how to plan. It was the best school year we had. I did this every year after that. I would write out goals for our family, including family prayer, then for myself and each child in the areas of Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Social, Intellectual, Creative, and Practical.  

My family’s plans for growth in skills and virtue 

Here’s how this has looked for my family. Spiritual goals would include each child’s prayer life and service opportunities (keeping in mind our family prayer and liturgical celebrations already planned). One of our children might be gifted at sewing. In service she could sew baby blankets for the crisis pregnancy center and skirts, scarves, and hair scrunchies for family members. Kids who love music could sing at retirement homes for the elderly.  

Physical goals may include daily jumping on the trampoline, walking, or biking. For a particularly active child who has a great propensity for sports, we might discern that he needs to be in basketball, soccer, or baseball. This would meet both physical and social needs on some levels. We exercise care and caution with sports. A decision to do sports involves our time and presence. We don’t have to coach, but want to be there as much as possible. The same is true of ballet, which is excellent for fostering gracefulness as well as strength.   

Emotional goals may involve helping a child increase her ability to exercise patience and unselfishness. I found that tutoring younger children in different subjects and music greatly helped to increase my children’s emotional maturity.  

Socialization happens on so many levels: in the home, within the extended family, with friends, through service, at school, and through sports and other activities. One child may be precocious, while another is shy. We know they need different things, and actually setting goals will help us not to lose sight of these needs. Setting everything on paper helps to see if something is unbalanced or simply undoable.  

Specific intellectual goals such as mastering reading, improving handwriting, and learning the multiplication tables help us to keep focused on the problem areas God is asking us not to overlook. 

Creative goals can include music, art, writing, poetry, drama, dance, and anything else the child shows an aptitude for. Developing creativity through these areas is very important. We have only so many hours in the day, so how do we accomplish all these things? Lessons are great if finances and time permit. We scheduled all piano lessons on the same day, one right after the other, and brought literature, art, and writing to the studio to do while each child waited their turn. I took little ones to the store for groceries while the others were in their lessons.   

Functional and practical goas for my children have included teaching them to tie their shoes, skate, ride a bike, clean the bathroom (or other chores they need to learn), start a fire in the fireplace, sewing. What is it at this time in each of your children’s lives that they really need to learn that will help them all throughout life? 

Forming well-rounded children takes prayer and planning 

We need sufficient reflection, prayer, discernment, and planning so as not to be over-involved in outside activities or on the other hand, isolated. Remember, the main thing is to do only what we know God wants us to do, in moderation, with perseverance, and faithfulness. With prayer and planning, our goal of forming well-rounded children who are capable of contributing to the evangelization of this world and then living before the Holy Face of God in the next will have a tremendously good start.  

Author: Belinda Mooney

Belinda Terro Mooney, author and Catholic Coach is mom to 7 grown children, whom she homeschooled for 28 years. A Secular Carmelite and Adjunct Professor of Human Services, she is the author of 5 published and 5 upcoming books. Belinda writes about the Saints, Catholic History, mental health, and wellness and addictions. She loves mentoring and coaching Catholic moms. Connect with her at: