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Charlotte Mason: Habit Training for Children

“The mother who takes pains to endow her children

with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days;

while she who lets their habits take care of themselves

has a weary life of endless friction with the children.”

-Charlotte Mason

I first learned about habit training from the Charlotte Mason world. She wrote much about this subject in her six volumes and believed the early years, ages one - six, were a perfect time for beginning to develop and strengthen good habits.

“What you would have the man become,

that you must train the child to be”

-Charlotte Mason

Simply Charlotte Mason offers a wonderful book set called Laying Down the Rails for Children. I've used this as my starting point to work on several habits with my family. This set of two books includes ways to teach over 60 habits in these categories: Decency and Propriety Habits (such as kindness, manners, and patience), Mental Habits (such as attention, remembering, and thoroughness), Moral Habits (such as integrity, obedience, and self-control), Physical Habits (such as outdoor life, self-restraint in indulgences, and music), and Religious Habits (such as prayer, thanksgiving, and thought of God). Each habit includes over 10 different lessons with a variety of methods of imparting the habit such as Bible verses, games, poetry, and stories.

“The formation of habits is education,

and education is the formation of habits.”

-Charlotte Mason

The book is designed for all ages but a few of the ideas and lessons are better suited for older children. When working through a habit with my younger children (2 and 5), I often sift through the lessons out of order and use what works for us, adding in extra ideas I've found.

The goal is to work on each habit for 4-6 weeks. It takes time and repetition to instill good habits and break poor habits. The book recommends completing lessons only once or twice a week, but continuing to reinforce the new habit throughout the week.

I'm working on creating supplemental printables and ideas for several of the habits that are better suited for families with younger learners. Having some visuals and printables displayed helps to keep me more accountable in prioritizing habit training with my children.

books and papers about truthfulness
These are some of the truthfulness printables I've created to go along with Laying Down the Rails.

Charlotte Mason urged parents not to overly moralize and preach to their children, but instead to share nuggets of truth and wisdom and let their children chew and digest on them.

Sharing these good, true, and beautiful things allows them to grow in your children's hearts and minds over time!

“Let children alone... the education of habit is successful

in so far as it enables the mother to let her children alone,

not teasing them with perpetual commands and directions -

a running fire of Do and Don’t ;

but letting them go their own way and grow,

having first secured that they will go the

right way and grow to fruitful purpose.”

-Charlotte Mason

papers about truthfulness on bulletin board
Having some printables displayed for the habit that we're working on helps keep me accountable for remembering to work on that habit!

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