Saturday, September 18, 2010

Giving our children the gift of good habits.

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Charlotte Mason calls this habit formation or character training "laying down the rails" so that the rest of our children's education and even their lives will run more smoothly, like a train that runs along its track, never deviating to the right or to the left.  I've been thinking about this a lot lately.  Here are some habits I want my children to have.

1.  Truthfulness
2.  Obedience
3.  Orderliness
4.  Attentiveness
5.  Gratefulness
6.  Diligence

This list might look familiar.  We've been working through character booklets that teach on each one of these character qualities.  Charlotte Mason referred to these types of habits as the "minor moralities" meaning that instilling our children with these virtues is the least we can do for them.  These types of good habits of character will give our children a good start in life, but there are many other habits that will be helpful for their education and their lives, in general.

Here are some additional habits, more on the practical side, I'm hoping to help my children establish.  (I'm not listing every moral quality such as love, forgiveness, etc., though my husband and I pray our children will mature into godly young adults who strive to be like Christ, which encompasses all of them.)

7.  Early to rise

This is the practical habit we've been working on lately.  The kids have awakened at 6:30 am now for 3 weeks and it's going quite well.  It helps us to get such a wonderful start to our day.  And making sure they shower first thing helps them to be alert in the mornings.  Of course, I need to wake up about 30 minutes before I get them up, so I'm laying down some rails, too : ) .There are several reasons I want my children to be early risers.

-  I find the early hours are more productive compared to late night hours when the mind and body are exhausted.
- It will serve them well when they are parents themselves.  The Proverbs 31 woman rises while it is still dark and works into the night, as well. 
- There are several examples in the Bible of rising early to pray.  I love starting our homeschool day with prayer and Bible study. 
- It's such a blessing to attack each day prepared, rather than combating the stress of constantly running behind.

8.  Daily and weekly chores

I want my children to be in the habit of doing the work it takes to run a household.  Laziness is a crippling disease that makes the rest of life difficult.  I want my children to be accustomed to work so that it doesn't seem like work.  This is an area in transition for us and we're constantly tweaking our chore system and assignments. 

9.  Regular exercise

It's hard for me to relate to people who find it difficult to exercise.  I know this is because exercise has been a habit in my life for as long as I can remember.  Not only is making time for exercise not hard for me (even if it requires keeping a double stroller stashed in my vehicle for any opportune moment), but I really love it.  I want my children to enjoy exercise as much as I do.  This is why my kids are on the local swim team and we also try to get outside for bike riding, riding scooters, walking, hiking, etc. as often as possible.

10.  Reading

We have become a nation with two major reading problems:  functional illiteracy and aliteracy.  Functional illiteracy is when someone knows how to read, but is not able to make meaning of what he reads.  Aliteracy is when people who know how to read simply choose not to.  My husband is a pastor and it's frustrating to him how many people want a short-cut to knowing God's will for their lives, because reading the Bible just seems too laborious for them.  Reading is easy when it's a habit.  I want my kids to love to read so that they will be able to learn about anything that interests them.  What a gift to give our children!  I still remember fondly choosing my next book to read with my dad.  We would walk around the bookshelves in our house reading titles and my dad would pull off one leather book after another, blow the dust off the top, and then carefully open it as he told me about that book.  My dad also read to me every night of my life and my mom helped me discover the joys and benefits of reading practical Christian living works by men like John MacArthur and RC Sprould, Jerry Bridges, and John Piper. 

This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but these are the habits we're specifically working on developing in our children right now.  What about you?  What habits do you want to give your children?  Which ones are you currently working on?


  1. We are so much alike!I agree with all of this.I want to get the Character books.They look wonderful.Thank you for letting me know about them!Blessings,You are doing a wonderful job!Marla

  2. recently i'm finding....when we have an issue in our homeschool, with character, bible study...I keep finding the answer seems to be we need to rise earlier. so, we are working on this one too. i so agree with all that you have said here. learning to work hard and enjoy it is such a great thing to learn.



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.