Tuesday, February 10, 2009

List of Habits from CM's Home Education

This is a list of the habits mentioned in Charlotte Mason's Home Education, which was directed towards children from infancy up to the age of nine. What I'm hoping to do is go through them in more detail one at a time. If you remember my CM Learning Goals for 2007 -- I took one thing a month (a CM topic like Nature Study) and focused on it in more depth. That was really helpful for me. I want to try something similar with habits, now.

These are some habits she thought particular important for smaller children. More habits are listed in her volumes targeted to older children, and I hope to get there someday.

Nursery Habits (habits which are mostly passively received at first, through the infant's caretaker)

  • Cleanliness
  • Order
  • Neatness
  • Regularity
  • Punctuality

Early Life Habits (starting in the early years before age six)

  • Outdoor Life
  • Observation
  • Physical Vigor
  • Manners
  • Enunciation
  • Music

Intellectual Habits (which help develop readiness for future learning)

  • Attention
  • Application
  • Quickness
  • Thinking
  • Imagining
  • Remembering
  • Perfect Execution

Moral Habits (for young children -- these are primary, and most of the other moral habits develop from these early beginnings)

  • Obedience
  • Truthfulness
  • Temper

Charlotte Mason said that even twenty habits faithfully formed and kept would make a big difference to a child once grown to adulthood. For this reason I don't think she was talking about micro-habits like closing a door after you but about larger dispositions like the ones listed above. Of course, most micro-habits fit into a larger scheme of things, so there is a place for them but maybe thinking of the principles or mental attitudes BEHIND the little habits might be helpful in knowing which are more important to work on and which are less.

I've noticed that everyone has to balance their temperament somewhat. I am an intuitional "global" thinker. That means I spend a lot of time thinking through the "big picture" and it can get silly because I am thinking about Immersing My Children in Great LIterature (say) while the children are playing video games because I am too busy pondering to actually sit down with them.

A sensory type of person might be excellent at arranging the environment and sitting down to do things with or sometimes TO the child, but not feel strong in thinking through the reasoning, so this type of person might make errors in what she emphasizes because she hasn't thought it all through. Simply basing rules on "because it IS that way" tends not to foster real, internal consent to the rules. So a sensory, practical type may need to pay some attention to the whys and principles behind the practical strategies.

Most of the systems of education I like most pay attention to BOTH aspects and help those of us who work from their mode of strength balance out our weaker points. This seems to reflect a deep truth. Our whole selves ideally ought to be integrated -- body and spirit, hands and head. The Bible often uses the "heart" as a word for the uniting of these aspects of ourselves. "Heart" does not mean emotions per se in the New Testament -- the etymology for "heart" relates to "middle" or "core" or "center". The "heart" is our center, and its activity is love, which unites our various capacities and directs them towards the good.

2 comments:

Susan said...

I like this list, Willa, may I use it please?

"That means I spend a lot of time thinking through the "big picture" and it can get silly because I am thinking about Immersing My Children in Great LIterature (say) while the children are playing video games because I am too busy pondering to actually sit down with them."
You mean I'm not the only one with this problem? LOL

Willa said...

Yes, you're very welcome to! I don't think CM would mind and I just took the list from her book : ).