Friday, June 27, 2014

The Habits of Attention and Obedience - Charlotte Mason

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Hello!  Welcome to our continuing discussing the book Home Education by Charlotte Mason.   I'm hoping that these discussions will be really practical and encouraging for all of us!  I will bring up some areas of the chapter that I'm trying to implement in my home this summer, and I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comment section below!

The Habits of Attention

This chapter ties in quite closely with the last one.  The first part focuses on helping our children acquire the habit of attention.  This one hits close to home because my son really struggles with staying focused and paying attention.  I'm sure that is true in some sense for every five year old boy =)

Ms. Mason reassured me that,

The children are thinking all the time about something else than their lessons; or rather, they are at the mercy of the thousand fancies that flit through their brains, each in the train of the last.

Ok, good, so at least I'm not alone over here!

She says that inattention is bad, though, because it wastes time and also forms a "desultory habit of mind," and reduces the child's capacity for mental effort.

Ok, I'm not alone, but I do need to work on this!

How to help your child stay focused:

  • Call your child's attention to the details of the little things he is interested in (instead of letting the child move quickly on to the next play thing).
  • Find ways to make everything your child comes in contact with interesting and delightful.
  • Don't let your child dawdle over their school work.  Move onto the next subject so the child will only be working on any one subject when they are actually giving attention to it.
  • Set specific lengths of time for school work so your child knows how long they should strive to work hard for. (10 minutes for copywork, 20 minutes for the math lesson, etc.)
  • Reward your child with free time if they finish early and well.

The goal is that eventually your child will be able to have the self-control to keep himself focused.  A practical benefit that the work will be done much better with your child's full attention than it would be if they dawdled through it.

The Habit of Thinking

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  • Ask your children "Why?" instead of giving them all the answers when they ask you questions.
  • When you give lessons, let each one be linked to the last.
  • Re-visit frequently the lessons you have learned so they do not forget.

The Habit of Obedience

My husband and I were quite good at this when the kids were younger, but as they have grown we have let up a bit.  I try to give my children more freedom to have opinions and desires as they grow, but it seems as though obedience (without asking 'why' or saying 'in a minute') goes downhill when I do that.

Ms. Mason says that commands should be given in a quiet, authoritative tone, and then expect that they should be done.  Obedience should also be prompt, cheerful, and lasting.

I don't know if I ever thought of obedience as habit training.  At least, not in the sense that once a child gets in the habit of obedience, it is easy to do.  Also, that it needs to be practiced over and over until it is second nature as opposed to being a more formal obedience because of a "constant exercise of authority."  My kids definitely obey when I tell them to (my exercise of authority), but it's not something they are in the habit of doing on their own.  It's interesting to think about those ways of obedience differently.  I'm going to try to work on cultivating the habit of obedience this summer!

Why is the habit of obedience so important? 

 Obedience Brings Liberty

 I love that!

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  1. I really enjoyed this post. This is my biggest issue with working with my Son. While we do homeschool and I feel like I am on the front line dealing with this issue I think would only be further highlighted if he went to traditional school. At least I have the ability to adjust and make daily changes as needed. Prayer helps too!

  2. Thank-you for this post! I just stumbled onto your blog and can tell I'll be here often! My son is 4 and we're just getting to where we can probably begin some "formal" education on a regular basis. I am fascinated by the Charlotte Mason method, and want to learn more so that I can implement it with him before he gets much older! Six years old is really not that far away!


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