Think of things you and your family do daily without thinking. Get out of bed, brush your teeth, get dressed, brew coffee, let the dog out … the list goes on. Can you imagine if you had to decide whether or even how to do each of these things every day? Lucky for you, these activities have become habits—things you routinely do and are actually difficult to not do!
Habit formation is foundational to learning at Redeemer School. Our understanding of habits comes from Charlotte Mason, who likened good habits to railroad tracks that keep us rolling in the right direction:
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. It follows that this business of laying down lines towards the unexplored country of the child’s future is a very serious and responsible one for the parent.Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1, p. 109
Habits give our brains a much-needed break, transforming otherwise stressful decisions into easy and automatic ones. Good habits can overpower our natural tendencies, and they allow us to reap rewards without conscious effort.
At Redeemer School, students focus on age-appropriate expressions of one
common habit each month. Consider the following tips as you partner with us to build good habits at home:
Focus on one habit at a time.
It can be overwhelming to think about the many wonderful habits we can teach our children. If you focus on one habit at a time, your children will soon have a wealth of good habits.
Think deeply about each habit.
Approach the habit you are building from multiple perspectives. Consider not only the active expression of the habit, but also the motive behind it. For example, when you practice the habit of punctuality by being on time for appointments and completing chores or schoolwork in a timely manner, consider also how punctuality communicates respect and love for others.
Be consistent with your expectations.
Building habits takes repetition, and you’ll get there most efficiently when your expectations are clearly expressed and consistently monitored. Extend grace to yourself and your kids as you tackle new habits, but remain committed to the task. Expect that it will take six to eight weeks of consistent repetition to build a new habit.
Set a good example.
As your child’s primary teacher, rest assured your children are paying attention to what you do at home. The strongest habits are picked up by close observation. Children can even pick up the habit of cultivating good habits from you!
Encourage and motivate your child.
Inspire your child to learn a new habit by planting a seed in the child’s brain that makes the act worthwhile. Hero stories, bible stories, and inspirational tales can motivate children to see the value of a new habit. Reinforce that new habit with more engaging examples, prompt redirection, and deliberate praise.
Sow an act, reap a habit;Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6, p. 102
sow a habit, reap a character;
sow a character, reap a destiny.