Q & A with Ashley Stinson: Teaching Character Through Literature
by Payton Carty and Ashley Stinson
Ashley Stinson is a homeschooling mother of four. She and her family live in a little beach town just north of San Diego, CA. She is a writer, lifestyle photographer, avid coffee drinker, book collector, and an all-around ocean enthusiast who loves to travel. You can often find her with a baby on her hip, camera in her hand, and toes in the sand. Ashley is passionate about fostering a love of justice and empathy and a love for the environment in her children and speaking life and encouragement over homeschooling mothers. You can follow along her journey at @saltwaterschoolhouse on Instagram. Q: Why did you decide to use Teaching Character Through Literature?
A: Spending day in and day out with my kids through homeschooling allows us to build character as a family as we move through life— focusing on matters of the heart as we work alongside one another (chores, life skills), relate to one another (sibling relationships and child/parent relationships), and learn together (both during formal school work and out in the world). This is one of the primary reasons we chose to educate our kids at home. Choosing a study that builds character through literature seemed like a beautiful way to grow together and foster strengths in all of us!
Q: Did you see the fruit of using this study? Did your children grow in their character development?
A: We definitely saw the fruit of studying character as a family using the Character Through Literature curriculum from BFB! Learning lessons through literature is so powerful. The power of story is so strong. And seeing traits in literary characters that you desire to emulate is something that sticks with you for the long haul. My kids refer back to stories and characters often as they are reminded of character traits they want to strengthen in themselves and lessons they have gleaned wisdom from.
Q: Why would you recommend a parent teach a character study?
A: I would recommended studying character as a family because it builds a rich foundation for your children (and yourself) on which to build relationships and wisdom. Discussing conflict and resolution, moral dilemmas and strength of character is a beautiful way to bond with your kids and open the door for honest dialogue, creating a safe place for them to come to you when they are experiencing hardship or need to express deep feelings. Building character traits such as honesty, loyalty, kindness, perseverance and compassion will serve them for the rest of their studies and long after they close their books.
Q: What was your favorite book of the study?
A: Choosing a favorite book from this study is nearly impossible for me (and for my kids). We fell in love with so many of the stories for different reasons. This was a study we went through when my big kids were a bit younger, but when I pulled them back out for this interview and set them on the counter, they picked them up and started DEVOURING them. Book by book, reading them to themselves and then reading them to their younger siblings, completely on their own and without prompting. The love for these stories is true and lasting. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge is maybe at the top of my list, at least in this season of our lives. The multi-generational relationships are so moving. The sweet descriptions of memories, the innocence of Wilfrid's gifts, the beauty of Nancy remembering moments from her childhood... my ten year old son put his hand over his heart at the end of the book and said, "This book is just so touching."
Q: What would you say is the greatest character development area that children in today’s society needs to grow in?
A: I am inclined to say that empathy, in my opinion, is the most needed area of character development by today's children (and adults). The power of being able to see the world from someone else's point of view, to get out of your own way to truly consider someone else's feelings, experiences, and needs is enormous. I believe that the drive to be kind, compassionate, honest and loyal will naturally flow out from an empathetic heart. May we always take time to see, hear and sit alongside others and show our children how to do the same.
Q: Describe this study in three words.
A: This study is three words: bonding, beautiful and lasting. Click here to go check out our Teaching Character Primary Pack. Click here to go check out our Teaching Character Intermediate.