I talk a lot about great habits in my work as a homeschool advocate and mentor. Though I absolutely believe that respecting children means letting them become who need to be, I also feel strongly that kids must develop great habits for a successful life.
We all define success differently. But, I think most people will agree on the basics. Having a solid work ethic and compassion for all mankind, for instance, are great things for all of us to strive for. Those are just 2 of many examples we can set in our homes, and our kids will learn habitually.
Growing great habits in children comes first from modeling great behavior ourselves. Kids watch and learn continuously by what we do. Habits we think are barely noticeable — like saying ‘good morning’ to the people we meet – are easily picked up by our kids. Harder things — like working a problem until it is solved – get noticed too. They’re watching.
Great habits come from consistency, too, allowing habits to become cemented in our minds and become patterns in our bodies. Children raised with continually changing expectations face obstacles in this area. Those raised with consistency are on a much faster track to good habits, and benefit greatly by learning them early on.
Are parents ever perfect? No way. That, too, is a lesson for children, who notice how we handle imperfections and mistakes.
But overall, watching and learning from us, at the very earliest ages is what produces benefits throughout the years.
So, what does this mean for your homeschool? The answer, in fact, depends on your style of living.
In one home, great habits might mean rising at a reasonable time and starting school work without being asked. It might mean stopping to help a sibling who is struggling, or offering to watch a toddler while a parent tends to another child. It could mean working through a problem until it’s solved, or not asking for help until all of the usual steps have been taken (re-reading the lesson, checking a video, or whatever else is required in your home).
In another home, great habits could include jumping in to help with laundry, dinner preps or other things going on throughout the day. It might be answering phone calls and door bells in ways that distract others as little as possible. It might mean moving from subject to subject throughout the day or putting homework in a tray where you’d like it to go.
In our home, habits include starting school each day without being reminded. It means checking daily if a test, quiz or lab is scheduled instead of regular lessons. It means remembering field trip days and other activities, and planning work around time spent away from home. And it means letting me know before taking a break, since breaks and down-time are already scheduled throughout the day.
My kids have learned other great habits, too. Like not watching TV programs we don’t allow, remembering to ask permission before visiting web sites, and asking before downloading games that require consent.
My kids automatically walk pets at certain times of day, close doors to keep them safe, and pick up shredded bits of paper and tufts of hair the pets always manage to leave behind.
They come to my aid every time I return home with a car full of groceries. They never fail to help when I am carrying a heavy load.
My kids follow the chore schedules I publish and read the notes I leave throughout the house. And while this won’t be popular in every family, my kids know I require a certain style of dress and footwear when we go out, and remember to ask me (almost) every time.
Remember, every family is different. Which means habits learned there will be different, too.
The thing that is important to remember is that habits learned at home are the ones kids will apply later in life. Making sure we teach the right ones is the key to getting it right.
My e-book, The Way Homeschoolers Do, answers those questions, and lots more. Learn the 10 habits of the most successful homeschoolers, and which you can apply in your own home today!
My readers like to hear about the habit your kids develop in your home. SHARE some of them here by leaving a COMMENT.