I have, for some weeks, been assigning the writing of sentences from a Code of Conduct as teaching opportunities for our 8-year-old. This isn't a new notion and one can do it with Bible versus too (as I have). What has been so useful about these sentences is that this 8-year-old signed this Code of Conduct as a requirement for attending his beloved Altar Boy Camp as run by a parish of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (which was cancelled last weekend due to weather).
Boys must agree to this Code of Conduct in order to attend camp. I read the Code and thought it so very well worded and I taped it up above John's desk in order to remind him, but more importantly me, of what behavioral goals are reasonable for a boy of First Holy Communion age and an Altar Server no less. As a holy priest will teach, an altar boy is an altar boy always, not just when he is at the altar, and his behavior should reflect as such.
I slip into thinking that young ages of children aren't capable of certain behavior, that various standards aren't reasonable. However, this Code of Conduct reminds me otherwise, plus I believe the wording is superior, succinct, and respectful.
Therefore, for weeks, when this boy shows a certain misbehavior, I take him to his signed Code of Conduct, we talk about how his behavior violated a certain promise of his, and then I assign him to write that sentence however many times.
This practice has led to some really fruitful conversations, such as when he is pointedly mean to his four-year-old sister and he is reminded that a Christian gentleman is respectful to others at all times, especially those younger or smaller than he. He says that it is easy to be respectful of boys, but not his sister. I remind him that that is just the argument Jesus refuted, that he shouldn't just love boys, but that he also has to love girls, even 4-year-old girls, which is much harder when you're an 8-year-old boy.
43 You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy.
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you:
45 That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.
46 For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this?
47 And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this?
48 Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.
(Matthew 5:43-48, Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)