This summer we have continued with a lighter load of lessons in our homeschool and have switched our focus onto habit training. Habit Training is derived from a Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. In essence, habit training is the deliberate work of the parent(s) to cultivate moral habits, physical habits, religious habits, mental habits, and habits of decency and propriety. Habit Training is the character development aspect of the Charlotte Mason method.
To further support myself and other mothers interested in cultivating virtuous character in their children I started a Laying Down The Rails book discussion in my Charlotte Mason Style Homeschool group. What I learned in the process about myself is that I had already began cultivating the habit of cleanliness and cleaning. Along the way, I’ve learned some tips and hacks to encourage cleaning in our family, after developing these skills I want to share them with you.
Holistic Homeschooler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an associate advertising program designed to provide a means for Holistic Homeschooler to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and associated sites, at no additional cost to you.
Tip 1: Cleaning Practice
I purchased the Laying down the Rails book and Laying Down The Rails Companion by Sonya Shafer, in the children’s companion book it contains lessons to work into your routine that lasts roughly 6-8 weeks. One of the questions is what activities can you do to practice the habit of cleanliness? To me, that simply means I need to direct my children to cleaning activities that they can do. Acknowledging that there are messes or tasks around the house that they are capable of doing, recognizing it as a opportunity to practice a cleaning activity and setting the time aside to see it all through. In Laying down the Rails it references a point that Charlotte makes and that I agree with- don’t underestimate your child because of their age. If your child is able to make the mess then they are capable of cleaning it up, they will however need loving guidance especially when they are quite young.
Tip 2: Allowing Kids To Clean
Initially, it felt easy to allow my children to wander off and play during times when they should be cleaning along side me. If you’ve ever tried cleaning with a toddler you know it takes 10 times longer and it definitely isn’t executed well, so what would be the harm in letting them just play? The longer you allow them to play during times that they should be cleaning along side you, the longer they will continue in the habit of not cleaning and thinking they have no responsibility in housework. If you have the habit of doing the same I encourage you to redirect your children to cleaning when your child can and should be along your side.
Tip 3: Encouraging Cleaning
This sounds easy right? Yet, when little hands are “trying to help” do you discourage them out of concern for a bigger mess? How and what we speak to our children become their inner voice so encourage them in their efforts. Using encouraging statements internally motivates and over time cultivates independence. I love one liners because it is nice to just have a quick phrase to throw out in those teachable moments. Most of my encouraging words start out with “you are.” “You are cleaning so well look at how you put all the cups in the cupboard.” Eventually, when you encourage your children enough they will reflect that back to you, a sibling, other family or friends. It is truly rewarding as mothers to witness this unfold.
Tip 4: Break Cleaning Into Step
My children are 3.5 and 6…..and I have an older teen. For some of you that have followed my blog, me having a teenager is news. Without getting too personal my mother went to heaven and left behind my youngest sister whom now lives with my family and I. I have in some aspects taken on more of a motherly role and in others I’m just her big sister. However, in the area of cleaning my relationship with her is more motherly. It has helped all of them to have a bedroom check list. It breaks the room up into what needs cleaned step by step. My young children have a picture prompt checklist with words and it is stuck to their door at their height. Both just require a little of assistive help, direction, and encouraging guidance.
Tip 5: Motivation
If you have a procrastinator or one child who simply doesn’t want to clean- motivate that child.
Personally, I practice various positive parenting techniques which blends well with a Charlotte Mason philosophy of education as it is a parenting style that respect the child as a person. “First Then” is a parenting tool that I picked up from the positive parenting tool box. The idea is that you have your child pick something fun that they want to do or maybe they already have it in mind. Then you agree with them and say, “Ok sure, First you clean your room and then you may color that picture.”
If your child resists in anyway remind them, “First you get it done and then you can have fun.” I told you I love one liners.
Now I don’t want you to think that I am some kind of perfect mother when in reality we all know there is no such thing. However, I do agree with Charlotte’s famous quote and aspire for smooth and easy days. I try to encourage my husband as well by telling him, “hard work now for good kids later.” In fact, research from Harvard shows that children that have housework responsibility are smarter, are more likely to be successful, create good work ethic, and are happier in life. Which seems like complete common sense to me but I know everyone like supportive research.
What do you think about household responsibilities for your young children or all children really?