Monday, October 28, 2013

Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline (Our Sunday Visitor)

In case you haven't noticed, at the end of each month I've been trying to highlight a book or product geared toward the homeschooling parent. It hasn't been an easy task, as this is a relatively new market. Luckily, good Catholic publishers like Our Sunday Visitor have some books that fit the bill and are ever-generous in allowing me to review their offerings. Today's review is for the book Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline, and while the target audience is not primarily homeschooling parents, I believe it contains some wisdom that can be applied in the home.

Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline is a book that advocates a different approach on behavior and discipline. As opposed to the tired methods of "carrot and/or stick," Lynne Lang introduces a different method - one based on teaching children virtue. The Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline (VBRD) model begins with helping children to grow spiritually by teaching them virtue. Then, when harm occurs (and it will occur), you look at the cause of harm or misbehavior and work on making amends. This is a completely different approach than "zero-tolerance," which simply advocates for suspension or expulsion of the bully without getting to the core of the bullying or working on repairing relationships between the children.

The VBRD model is ideal for Catholic schools for the following reason: "In public schools, if a child is marginalized, there are other places to go for acceptance: community-based extracurricular activities and church and neighborhood community events. In Catholic communities, however, if a child is marginalized or bullied at school, that same experience can spill over into sports teams and scout groups and even affect church attendance." Therefore, in order to make VBRD successful, you need community-wide cooperation, including parents, students, and staff, both at the school and at the church.

If you send your children to public school or choose to homeschool, this book is still a worthwhile read. It can also help with your parenting or even self-improvement. For example, I know I am guilty of gossip, negative humor, sarcasm, etc. However, I am trying to eliminate this so I don't pass it on to my son and his future siblings. This book gave practical actions to institute change, like being encouraging toward others, changing the subject when gossip arises, and paying people genuine compliments. I know it will be a struggle, but I know it will be worth it.

Though one could argue that the book is primarily directed at correcting bullying, the VBRD model is so much more. It has already shown great success in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. If given the chance it could work in your diocese as well. I plan on telling our Director of Religious Education about this book, and I would recommend this book to parents, teachers, principals, and school volunteers.

I received this book for free from Our Sunday Visitor in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!