I’ve been a long-time fan of Charlotte Mason’s educational ideas, but probably my all-time favorite idea of hers doesn’t even apply strictly to education. It’s the whole concept of developing habits into the life of a child as they grow.
Charlotte Mason had much to say on establishing good habits in children. Habits (good or bad) are like the ruts in a path from a wheelbarrow going down the same trail again and again. As time goes on, it becomes increasingly difficult to run the wheelbarrow outside the rut, but the wheel will always run smoothly down the well-worn rut in the path. By training children in good habits, the school day (and home life in general) goes more smoothly. Focus on one habit at a time for 4-6 weeks rather than attempting to implement a long list of new habits all at once.
The habit formation pages of my personal copy of Charlotte Mason’s book, Home Education, are nearly dog-eared from consistently referring back to them for inspiration and reference, so I decided to put together a small volume with the pertinent information all in one place, mainly for my own use. Much to my surprise, I’ve heard from other people that they’d been desiring a similar smaller book just focusing on Miss Mason’s habit formation teaching.
I hope it inspires you to read more of Charlotte Mason’s work and discover the wealth of ideas her writing continues to impart to modern day parents, educators and homeschoolers throughout the world.
Not only is habit building a great tool for child-training, it’s also an excellent way to implement new growth into your own life, as well.
One Habit at a Time
I’ve been told it takes four to six weeks for any action to 6 become a habit. So, keeping that in mind, one way I’m going to insure my success at keeping my New Year’s resolutions this next year is by working on only one new habit at a time each month. Then every time I turn to a new calendar page, I’ll work on developing a different good habit. At the end of the year, I could easily have twelve new positive habits in my life.
Once something’s become a habit, it’s simply a part of my life and not something I’ll even have to think about anymore.
Here are some sample goals and habits I’m planning to implement throughout the coming year (in no particular order—taken one at time, one per month):
- Use both an aerobic video and my exercise equipment 3-4 times per week
- Spend 20-30 minutes reading aloud to my children everyday
- Get up at 5am for personal prayer, and Bible study
- Work on my next book for half an hour everyday
- Spend ten minutes each day decluttering
If I start the New Year off by attempting to do each one of these things at the same time, I know I would quickly become overwhelmed, and then give up long before any of these activities became habitual and second-nature.
So, what’s the area of life you’re most concerned about? Exercise? Weight loss? Healthy eating? Getting organized? Saving money? Spending more time with your kids?
Break your goal down into simple steps that you can easily manage, and then start working your way to your goal, one small step at a time. As the old cliche’ says: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. By making small and consistent changes, it’s possible to change your health, your body, and your life.
And the life and education of your children, too!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Taylor-Hough is a mother of three as well as a freelance writer, the editor of The Charlotte Mason Monthly email newsletter and he author of the bestselling Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month and A Simple Choice: A Practical Guide to Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity. Visit Debi on Facebook at A Frugal Simple Life
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