Friday, April 11, 2008

Concerning Habits

When considering education, Charlotte Mason had a "picture" of more than just The Three R's. She spoke of character, life skills, and of HABITS.

"The discipline of habit is at least a third part of the great whole which we call education."

What of training our children in HABITS ?? How much better it would be if we helped train our children to good habits ?? This photo speaks volumes -- what are my children's habits ?? And which direction do those habits lead ??

Charlotte Mason said
"Just as it is on the whole easier for the locomotive to pursue its way on the rails than to take a disastrous run off them, so it is easier for the child to follow lines of habit carefully laid down than to run off these lines at his peril. It follows that this business of laying down the lines towards the unexplored country of the child’s future is a very serious and responsible one for the parent. It rests with him to consider well the tracks over which the child should travel with profit and pleasure; and, along these tracks, to lay down lines so invitingly smooth and easy that the little traveler is going upon them at full speed without stopping to consider whether or no he chooses to go that way.” (Vol 1 pg 109)

In other words, as parents it is of great importance for us to help our children form habits that are good so that these habits become a part of them -- Habit Training.

"Habit begins as a cobweb, and ends as a cable."

Charlotte Mason also said "If we had to think, to deliberate, about each operation of the bath or the table––life would not be worth having; the perpetually repeated effort of decision would wear us out.” (Vol 1 pg 110)

"Education is the formation of habits."

"Education is a life as well as a discipline."

So – what are these habits that our children need training for -- so that they are “going upon them at full speed without stopping to consider whether or no he chooses to go that way” ?

Decency and Propriety Habits: Cleanliness, courtesy, kindness, manners, modesty, purity, neatness, order, regularity, candor, courage, diligence, generosity, gentleness, meekness, patience, temperance, thrift, attention, imagining, meditation, memorizing, mental effort, observation, perfect execution, reading for instruction, remembering, thinking, accuracy, concentration, reflection, thoroughness.

Moral Habits: Integrity, obedience, personal initiative, reverence, self-control, sweet even temper, truthfulness, usefulness.

Physical Habits: Alertness to seize opportunities, fortitude, health, managing one's own body, music, outdoor life, quick perception of senses, self-control in emergencies, self-discipline in habits, self-restraint in indulgences, training of the ear and voice

Religious Habits: Regularity of devotions, reverent attitude, church-keeping (Sunday-keeping), thanksgiving, thought of God (views, speech, practices)

**This list is from the Appendix of Laying Down The Rails by Sonya Shafer, available from

Our lives are made up of habits - and this (above) list names but a few.

"Do not let the children pass a day without distinct efforts, intellectual, moral, volitional."

What habits will our children have if left to themselves for this training ??

"Habits are not fully formed so long as supervision in necessary."

"The more we prod, the lazier they become."

What is keeping us from actively helping our children form right habits ??

"It is impossible to overstate the importance of this habit of attention."

What habits are we currently working toward ??

"The discipline of habit is never complete until it becomes self-discipline in habits."


Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

Thanks for the great reminders about habits. I agree whole heartedly with the forming of good habits. If we go through childhood without making sure to pay attention to what kind of habits we are instilling in our children, we would be neglectful.

Good habits pay off and they also take a long time to make a part of our children's lives. Little by little, step by step....we must be consistent.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Anonymous said...

Great post. Parents have an awesome task of placing down the "habit" rails for our children to follow. It is so how all of CM's habits line up with the fruit of the Spirit. I want my dc to bare much fruit.

Melissal89 said...

Thanks so much for this great post! And thanks for submitting it to the CM Carnival. It was very informative and thought provoking. Habits are an area that I and my children need to work on!

In the Sparrow's Nest

Andrea said...

This is such an important part of educating our children that is too often overlooked. Thanks for putting these thoughts together. It is a great reminder.

I love your blog and I will be back soon to check it out some more when I have more time.


Shannon said...

Thanks for the wonderful reminder of training our little ones in habits. It can be so hard, but it's so important!