Basic Habit Training-Charlotte Mason Mondays
Charlotte Mason talks over and over again about the importance of basic habit training. She wholeheartedly believed that a parent’s job was to instill good habits in their children from early childhood.
“The habits of the child produce the character of the man . . .every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.” ~Charlotte Mason on basic habit training
You are not Your Own
First of all, Ms. Mason thought children were to be raised with the idea that they are not their own. In other words, children, just as their parents, hold their lives in a sacred trust from the Creator. They were created for God’s purposes. And it is their job to develop healthy bodies and minds in order to be ready to fulfill that special purpose that God created them for.
In other words, children are to be taught from the beginning that they are living under a greater Authority than themselves.
What a contrast to the child-centered culture in which we live!
Correct behavior becomes automatic with basic habit training.
One of the many byproducts of good habits is that they make behavior automatic.
If you regularly perform a certain task, such as getting up and immediately making your bed over and over again, it becomes automatic. If you get up and do it ten times, you probably still are thinking about it every morning. But if you do it one hundred times, or a thousand times, you do it ‘on automatic pilot’ without thinking about it at all.
Making your bed is a simple task that takes absolutely no thought and not much more effort. However, if it is not a habit, your child has to decide every day to do it. Thoughts like this creep in: Do I feel like doing it? Do I have time to do it? I will come back later and do it. Or – If I don’t do it, maybe my mom will do it for me.
Carrying one’s own dishes to the kitchen counter, putting away ones’ own clothes, shoes, toys, etc., brushing one’s teeth after eating, feeding a pet, and making a bed are all common tasks. And they can all be accomplished by the youngest of children with loving, consistent training beginning well before they are ‘school-aged.’
Without this training, we would be constantly struggling with our children. There would be no time left to get anything done, let alone schoolwork, because we’d be fussing and/or following our children around all the time enforcing the completion of these daily tasks. Am I right?
One of Charlotte Mason’s goal for families was having a harmonious household. And this can’t be the case without constant, reliable training of good habits.
Nine Habits Suggested by Charlotte Mason
- Self-Restraint: using one’s time wisely and productively rather than being lazy or self-indulgent.
- Self-Control: Staying focused an on task instead of being upset by minor annoyances. Cultivating a tolerant, pleasant, patient attitude instead of being quick to whine or complain when conditions aren’t exactly as we’d like them.
- Self-Discipline: Teaching children to be consistently clean, neat and orderly, no matter where they are—at home, at a friend’s or at Grandma’s.
- Alertness: Teaching children to actively seek ways to serve others. What are the benefits of teaching your child to be alert? S/he will be quick to open doors, carry something for you or a younger sibling, complete a task that needs to be done rather than waiting for someone else to do it, or help you with something without being asked.
- Fortitude: Given the right inspiration, most children’s natural heroic tendencies become activated and can produce an astounding amount of perseverance and tenacity. Reading about the physical heroism of the Spartans or the knight’s Code of Chivalry can help promote this idea in your young ones.
- Service: This is another habit that is promoted by delightful examples of selfless service in excellent children’s literature such as The Box-Car Children. Boxcar. series for younger elementary or Amos Fortune, Free Man (Newbery Library, Puffin), for older elementary children.
- Courage: Again, by reading fine literature as well as emulating examples around them, children learn courage, as opposed to recklessness.
- Caution: Another word for discernment, Ms. Mason describes caution as preserving our health and ability to serve God and others by acting thoughtfully rather than hastily and possibly harming ourselves or perhaps our siblings or friends.
- Purity: The last of the physical habits is the need for purity. Purity is best expressed by 1 Corinthians 6:19: Do you not know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, Whom you have received from God? Ms. Mason believed that if children are raised with this concept when they are young, they’re actions will support that reverence for their bodies throughout their lives.
As parents, we are wise when we realize the value of instilling these habits into our children beginning at an early age. Our daily, often hour-by-hour training using inspiring examples from our literature and stories as well as gentle, loving correction will produce children who are ready and able to manage their own bodies and accept the responsibilities laid upon them by their parents as they continue to grow and mature.
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:9
Let us encourage one another in our high calling!
Basic habit training is one of the most important things you can do to develop your children’s character and make homeschooling easier for YOU.
So have you intentionally worked on basic habit training at your house? If you have, how has it improved your homeschooling? If not, how might it help your homeschooling go more smoothly?