I am a huge fan of habit building for kids – I have been inspired by the writings of Charlotte Mason and by mothers I know who have taken the time to intentionally build up their children’s character. It is hard work, but it is an investment for the future and one I believe will be worthwhile.
I have tried to organize my posts on habit building here in this one page – you will find a link to our 2012 habit building plans, our 2014 habit building plans, printables that we use each month for habit building, and encouraging quotes on the subject of habit building.
A Charlotte Mason Companion and For the Children’s Sake are two books that discuss habit building – both talk from the perspective of home educating children being best and discuss other aspects of homeschooling, but habit building is included in there and I appreciated them both.
2012 Habit Building
In 2012 we chose 1 habit for each month and had an activity, story, game or object lesson related to the habit to focus on each day. Everything about the habits in 2012 can be read here.
2013 Habit Building
2013 had no intentional plan for habit building – big mistake! We all missed it and because there was no plan there was no intentional focus on habit building. Funny how that works.
2014 Habit Building
I learned my lesson, and 2014 came with a plan – the introductory post for the year can be read here.And all of the 2014 posts can be seen here – it is a lot more simple this year and focus a lot more on verses, quotes and hymns. We still do activities and games, but rather than create them for the habit I use every day opportunities to point towards the habit. We have lots and lots of discussions about the current habit (and previous ones as the occasions arise!)
Useful Downloads we Use
I use a calendar that they fill in each month – this is useful for teaching the months, the seasons, days of the week, how calendars work, and emphasizes the habit.
This is the first activity we do each month. The printable is here. There is a spot designated just for the monthly habit to be written, and then they draw how they conceptualize the habit.
We also do a lot of copy work – looking up at the white board, reading, remembering, writing it down … an excellent way to help with memory work! The copy work pages we use are available here with a title page and room for coloring and here as a full lined sheet. Our copy work lines up with our monthly habit – you can see our 2014 habits copy and memory work verses and quotes (organized by habit) here.
Quotes about Habit Building
Of course, Charlotte Mason has much to say about Habit building. Her words are encouraging and inspiring, and so I leave you with just a few of her thoughts on habit building.
This relation of habit to human life––as the rails on which it runs to a locomotive––is perhaps the most suggestive and helpful to the educator; for 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.
The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.
…habit, in the hands of the mother, is as his wheel to the potter, his knife to the carver––the instrument by means of which she turns out the design she has already conceived in her brain.
It takes a few weeks of work to build a new habit. Once the habit is in place, it must be guarded diligently to prevent a reversion to the old ways, but keeping watch is not stressful or difficult once the new habit is secure.
Whether habits are planned and created conscientiously, or allowed to be haphazardly filled in by chance, they are habits all the same. Habit rules ninety-nine percent of everything we do.
One last word about habit–the point of training children to have good habits is so that they’ll do things without being nagged or scolded. Then the mother isn’t constantly chasing them down with a barrage of commands and reminders. She can leave them alone to thrive in their own way once habit has secured a boundary for them to grow in.