Habits and Children: What am I Learning?

I have mentioned just a few times on the blog that my husband and I are embarking on a journey of home educating our children. This decision came with lots of talking, processing, prayer, and input from other friends we mark as wise and discerning. We didn’t take this decision lightly and still don’t. Maybe in a future post I’ll share the process we went through to make this decision.

Charlotte Mason. Habit Training. Volume 3. Chapter 10.

Since we have a three year old, I am in the thick of reading books and blogs to gain a better grasp on the philosophy we have chosen to use. Since this is such a HUGE part of our lives right now, you will see more and more thoughts about what I am learning popping up on the blog. I have a LOT to learn, but I am excited and thankful for the opportunity to train and shepherd my boys right from our home.

As I was reading through Charlotte Mason’s volume on School Education (written for home educators OR traditional schooled children), I couldn’t help but sit a bit smitten at chapter ten. As I was reading, I kept telling my husband, ‘wow, this is great wisdom in written form. You really need to read this!’ In all the writings I have read by Mason, she just emanates wisdom. I am not always sure how to execute her wise words, but I will continue reading from a wise and godly woman who loved children and believed every single one of them is made in the image of God and deserves a rich and full education.

Charlotte Mason. Habit Training. Volume 3. Chapter 10.

Mason prefaces this list with instilling in children a mindset that you are not your own.  God has given us life. And He has given us a body specifically adapted for His service. She explains that we have the responsibility to keep our body in utmost health to be ready for any bit of service that God may call us to. We (all!) are living under authority, and training and serving under authority. (Paraphrased.)

…the disciplined life has more power of fresh enjoyment than is given to the unrestrained.’

The chapter emphasizes the importance of teaching our children to learn to live under authority. First, under his parents. Second, to his own will (self-control). And finally, what we ultimately desire, to put himself under the authority of God.

Under His authority is where our children (and us) will find the most joy in life. This is what Peter and I desire most for our children.

Charlotte Mason. Habit Training. Volume 3. Chapter 10.

Here is a summary on twelve habits she believes to be ‘the part of the parents to give their children…’ Please know we haven’t instilled all these habits in our children, and we don’t have a ‘method’ to do so, but these are really good for me to keep at the forefront of my mind.

1. Self-restraint. My three year old shouldn’t mind whether he has one piece of candy, two pieces, or none at all. It shouldn’t be a big deal, and it shouldn’t matter to him. He is well fed.

2. Self-control. This encompasses teaching my child to be cheerful despite small inconveniences or annoyances. Mason talks about keeping it to yourself or holding your tongue if you are annoyed or angry. Any small irritability grows with expression but passes away under self-control.

3. Self-discipline. A well trained child delights to be cleanly, neat, prompt, and orderly. He understands that these habits make a man of him.

4. Local habits. A child should understand to use self-discipline at all places, not just in his home. These include habits of behavior, tone of voice, his actions & mannerisms, the way he addresses another, etc. At first, he will need supervision, but eventually, he will do these of his own accord.

Charlotte Mason. Habit Training. Volume 3. Chapter 10.

5. Alertness. This is teaching your child to be alert to serving. Bring up a child to think it is a failure to miss the opportunity of serving someone else, whether it be opening a door or carrying a box. Also teach them to take advantage of any opportunity to expand their knowledge.

6. Quick perception. Teach a child to be observant. Don’t let him miss out on all that is to be seen or all that is to be heard. (or tasted, smelled, or felt.)

7. Stimulating ideas. Teach a child to read strong literature and expose himself to rich ideas.

8. Fortitude. Teach a child to be strong and bear hardness. A child can learn to bear inconvenience without reacting poorly.

Charlotte Mason. Habit Training. Volume 3. Chapter 10.

9. Service. Serving is a knightly quality. Teach him never to let an opportunity to serve slip by.

10. Courage. Let a child learn to be courageous by looking at heroic examples. Teach him that the ‘thing to be done is always of more consequence than the doer.’

11. Prudence. Children have a duty to keep their bodies healthy. Think it a shame to make your body unable for any due service.

12. Chastity. Instill in a child that his body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. My job as a parent is to raise my child to be fit for service and to teach him how to keep his body under his own rule.

Charlotte Mason. Habit Training. Volume 3. Chapter 10.

Quoted, studied, and paraphrased from Charlotte Mason’s School Education: Developing a Curriculum Volume 3. This is all taken from chapter ten titled ‘Some Unconsidered aspects of Physical Training.’

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