Knights in Training review

knights in training book review

I love knights. I enjoy the stories of King Arthur as much now as I did as a kid. And I love studying the Middle Ages with my children. So what could possibly be better than tying in character training with knights and chivalry, right? When I stumbled upon Heather Haupt’s Knights in Training at the homeschool convention this year, I really felt like I’d hit the jackpot.

Knight training started out as a way to equip the warrior class in medieval times. It soon became so compelling that all nobles sought to have their sons embark on this training and take up the chivalry challenge. The principles are timeless and ready for a new generation of boys to take up.

Knights in Training is a creative way to teach 10 areas of character using inspiring knights stories to captivate our sons’ imaginations. This is habit-training that encourages boys to be boys—strong, daring risk-takers, protectors and champions. By shaping and nurturing their natural masculinity with biblical principles and character-building stories, we teach our sons to be men, in every sense of the word.

In the first few chapters of the book, the author explains the problems she is addressing with her principles. She discusses how the culture undermines our boys, the struggles they face to become honorable men, and the solution that knight-training provides. Her principles are based in Scripture and creatively presented to young boys. I agree whole-heartedly with the problems she mentions in these chapters, although there were a few areas I would disagree in practice. Nothing major, but for instance, we have no problem with superheroes at our house, while the author avoids them. So while, you may find practical ways to live out these principles that are different than the author has chosen for her family, don’t let that discourage you from reading this book. The meat of this book is phenomenal!

The rest of Knights in Training takes each of the 10 “codes” and develops them for you. Every chapter begins with a knight story to illustrate how the code was lived out and to inspire our young men to do the same. Then, Heather spends some time giving you practical examples of how to encourage and teach the character lesson in your day-to-day life. Finally, each chapter ends with a challenge to “throw down the gauntlet,” with practical goals and action steps for you to take on the journey.

Her website also includes a downloadable poster of the Knight’s Code. My boys have one hanging in their room, and my oldest has the code memorized without any prompting from me! He will remind me throughout our day which code applies to the situation we are facing. “That’s number 4, Mom,” he’ll tell me when he has the opportunity to defend or protect his younger siblings. 

I loved this book and the conversations it’s prompted me to have with my boys, and I’m really looking forward to implementing the code with my boys throughout this year, especially as we study knights and castles and medieval life in history. Knights in Training is aimed for your younger crowd, preschool to middle-school, I’d say. If you have older boys that you want to include in this training, they’d probably enjoy training your littler ones and even creating a Knight’s Training Camp with some of the ideas that Heather includes in her book. She also includes a ton of great books and read-aloud options for each principle in “the code.”

For a list of places to purchase the book, an audio sample, downloadable resources (including the poster), and a preview of the Table of Contents, visit Heather’s website.

Planting Habits, Reaping Character

One aspect of my Charlotte Mason research that I have loved is the great advice on habits or character-training.  Her advice is phenomenal.

  • It begins with prayerfully considering what character trait to work on with your child—just one at a time.
  • The next step is a conversation with your child to discuss the harm of his/her current behavior and the character trait that will be the solution. This is not a lecture, but rather a healthy conversation to engage the will of your child in this effort and to position yourself as your child’s friendly ally in this endeavor.
  • During this conversation with your child, discuss some strategies that you will use to help remind him/her until the habit is established: a question you will ask to help the child think about his/her behavior and a nonverbal cue to strengthen the child’s will and remind him you are their to help. The idea is that you do not want to nag or command. You want the child’s brain to be doing the thinking, charting a new neural path for this habit.
  • The last step is patient vigilance; new habits aren’t made overnight. Be vigilant as you hold your child accountable for the new behavior. But then, provide reinforcement as well—a Scripture verse to encourage, a biography of a person learning or exhibiting this trait to inspire your child.

So how do habits coexist with the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit? Is this my work or His? My son and I recently had this discussion, and I illustrated it this way: I can plant a seed in good soil, water it, provide just the right sunshine and nutrients, but only God can make that seed grow into a plant and bear fruit.

Habits are prepping the soil and watering the seed. I can teach good habits and encourage right behavior, but I cannot change my child’s heart or inject character into his life. That’s the Holy Spirit’s work. Habits may plant the seed, but only God gives the increase.

I cannot recommend these free resources enough! They have been absolutely invaluable to me lately. For more on habit training and parenting, download Smooth and Easy Days, Masterly Inactivity, and The Way of the Will.