I shared earlier that we are going on Christmas break a little early and celebrating advent. Mainly, to focus on character development through habit training while simultaneously growing closer in Christ by again-celebrating advent. I shared our story with a little more detail in my Charlotte Mason style homeschool group. At which point a reader reached out to me on messenger and asked what habit training looks like in our home. I’ve been in the thicket of bringing peace back into our home for the last week and I am finally making headway, so it is time share what that looks like for us.
What is habit training?
The idea of habit training comes from Charlotte’s philosophy. She has a long list of “habits” we should cultivate in our children. Moral habits, mental habits, physical habits, religious habits, habits of decency and propriety. These are the categories, under each one are specific good habits. The idea is to focus on one for 6-8 weeks at a time. There is so many that you can use habit training as a guideline for the entire duration of your child’s youth.
I know how important this is but somehow along the way, it took a lower ranking on my list of priorities because well I am a imperfect human.
There are no perfect mothers but the ones that are truly perfect understand this and try anyway.
What is the issue?
I am struggling with how to explain this without internet shaming one of my children. Out of respect for my child’s privacy and reputation I won’t be sharing the dirty details but it is enough to say that I have taken a step back to assess the situation. Which is one thing that I do to bring peace back into our home. If it is bad enough than we stop all formal lessons, cancel plans, hunker down then my husband and I tag team whatever the problem might be.
After our united assessment we determined these needs that must be prioritized.
A quiet pause
Return to sensory therapy which had stopped due to illness and frigid weather. I do provide natural sensory therapy by ensuring lots of time outside and intentionally encourage/directing my child with sensory sensitivity towards those special places in nature that give her just what she needs. However, the cold has been a bit much for me this year and so I either have to bundle up even more or become more creative in providing sensory therapy within our home.
Listen to my child. This one is huge. At one point my oldest stood up on the highest point within our house and yelled, “I am just a kid and I WANT to play!” Yes, academics are important but they shouldn’t cause our children stress. To my own defense, I of all homeschool moms was not intentionally trying to stress her out. I know her level of intellect I thought I was providing a feast of an education. Intellect is one thing but doing too much is quite another. My next step is to assess where we are doing too much and cutting out some stuff so that there is more balance. Not too much school and just enough time for her to play. We often forget that kids learn best through play and this is a necessary component of development in order to process anything that they have learned.
That is what I did, I backed off and got back to meeting sensory needs.
Since my oldest has lost her TV privileges for several days as a consequence to one of her actions it has allowed for even more play-time. Which mainly occurs with her brother since she lost the privilege to play with her friends as another consequence to a different and new bad habit. Which brings me to my next point, staying on top of potential bad habits. Sure I feel like I am playing whack-a-mole right now but the longer I allow a bad habit to go unchecked the harder it will be to redirect them to good habits in place of the bad ones. It is an associated or logical consequence immediately as soon as the bad habit rears its ugly head. You can read more about positive parent and charlotte mason here.
This constant play between siblings has brought many bad habits bubbling to the surface. Which is great, I was waiting for them. In fact, I am sitting here right now watching them build a fort to which the final plan is to put together their train set to run through it. They have disagreed, argued, and nearly got physical on multiple occasions. I use phrase reminders like, “Lets make sure we talk and work it out using calm respectful voices.” I don’t solve their problems for them but I do provide rules and guidelines on how to do so respectfully. I only get involved if they are going to take to physical aggression at which point they are separated until they are ready to talk and work it out.
Neither enjoy being bored but it is the natural consequence of not talking and working it out.
These observations have led me to focus on teaching them respect. Respect for themselves, respect for each other, respect for their parents, and respect for others. It has also reminded me that I need to make sure that I stay ahead of bad habits and teach about them before they find themselves within my children.
Yes, I have started to make headway. Yesterday and today have been a little more smooth. The most significant positive change is the surge of growth that has come from my oldest. It started during one of her moments of boredom, she reached into our morning basket and grabbed out a book that I thought was way above her reading capabilities. I actually do all of our read out louds because I didn’t think she could yet. Yes, she has been reading the readers from All About Reading Level 2. I just didn’t think she could read the actual history and living science books that are a little more advanced than her level 2 readers. Yet, she grabbed H.A. Rey Find the Constellations and read the whole thing without skipping a beat. My mouth dropped open, I had no idea she had advanced this much.
I realized in this moment what good can come from taking a step back and letting natural learning take its course. With growth should come responsibility, to this I took her to the library and signed off on her getting her own library card. She was over the moon trying to hold in her excitement she actually did a happy skip to the librarian after her card was issued. She signed out four books of her choosing, a book on Uranus, Jupitar, meteors and meteorites, comets and asteroids. She came home and read them all. As hard as this is to write, I need to let go some because my little girl is growing up.
Already I see a respectful attitude, a bigger sense of responsibility, and listening when told to do something. The three biggest issues that I was concerned about are turning around.
In Our Home…
In our home habit training means I am keeping a careful watch over my children’s behaviors. That I am looking at what is working and what isn’t working. It means listening to my child’s heart. Right now, it means teaching all forms of respect. It means providing an avenue for responsibility and allowing them the opportunity for personal growth. This is how they learn to grow up. I know this sounds like a lot of work but I will leave you with this one single thought. They’re worth it. Your child can be the most intelligent or grow up to have a high earning job but it will matter none if they lack good Godly character.
Mothers and fathers we are called to do this…”If you love your children, you will correct them; if you don’t love them, you won’t correct them.” -Proverbs 13:24
How does character development look like in your home?