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Building Blocks - The Elements of the Building Boys, Making Men Program

Posted on | Presbyterian Day School

Building Boys, Making Men isn’t just a class or an event. It’s a complete program to teach every PDS boy what it means to be a man of God—beginning when boys enter PDS as
two-year-olds and becoming more intensive as boys approach their teens and prepare to graduate from PDS. So what does that look like in practice?

We don’t just want our students to say the right words or do the right things. We want to make sure every boy at PDS knows who God is, that God loves him, and what God wants for him. This starts with chapel, which every PDS student attends. All Early Childhood boys go to chapel once a week, and the older boys have chapel twice a week. Starting in first grade, the boys also have Bible class, where they learn about God, his commands, his love, and the heroes of the Bible.

We know that parents play a unique and essential role in shaping their sons’ character, and we want to partner with them. All parents are invited to our weekly Friday chapels. They also receive the monthly virtue calendars, and 5th- and 6th-grade parents receive the discussion guides for The 7 Virtues of Manhood and Flight Plan. Finally, we also provide parenting advice on our Strategic Parenting blog.

In 6th grade, we have a father-son trip every fall and a father-son retreat in the spring. This spring retreat is the culmination of the Building Boys, Making Men program, a final send-off before boys graduate from PDS and move into their teens and on toward their next school.

Building Boys, Making Men shapes every part of life at PDS, and much of that happens through the 7 virtues. Each month, we teach the boys about a specific virtue with core verses and daily challenges. The virtues are woven into how we teach and redirect the boys as well, so that they learn what it means to live out the virtues day by day. In 5th grade, the boys read through The 7 Virtues of Manhood—a book written at PDS for PDS boys—and they discuss it with their mentor groups.

Boys need more than lessons about what it means to follow God — they need to see examples of what it looks like in real life, and they need relationships that will encourage them to follow God themselves.

This starts with our buddies program, where each boy in our Early Childhood program is paired with a boy in 4th, 5th, or 6th grade. This encourages the younger boys, and it teaches the older boys about leadership, kindness, and serving others.

Our 5th and 6th grade boys also have mentor groups led by men from the PDS community—coaches, teachers, and staff.

We also focus on equipping boys with the real-world skills to live as men of God. In 4th grade, boys have a weekly seminar with the dean of students on being a true friend. In 5th grade, this seminar is on servant leadership, and they also begin monthly seminars on life issues. In 6th grade, the boys have a weekly seminar with the principal about being a man of God, as well as monthly seminars teaching life skills. With their mentor groups, they also read Flight Plan, which helps them think through what it looks like to follow God as they grow into men.