Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) talked about habits being the tracks that we can run our lives on.
Charlotte Mason was a British educator that Loved the Lord and loved children. She observed children and taught others how to nurture children and guide them to their destiny. Her approach is used in many homeschools and some charter schools.
Her philosophy has not only impacted the education arena but has also impacted the home life of many families.
Habits Make Life Run Smoothly
Good habits lay the foundation for the character of a man later in life. What is a habit? How would you answer that question? I would say that a habit is something you do, on some level of frequency, without much thought. For example, I don’t give much thought to buckling my seat belt when I get into a car. Do you? I just reach for the seat-belt and fasten myself in while I am thinking about something else or talking with someone in the car. I don’t expend much mental energy at all in getting that task done. It’s a good habit that keeps me safe.
Step by Step
What if I had to think about every step of brushing my teeth? Normally, when we brush our teeth, we think about a million other things. Or if you are like me, you are half asleep in the morning or falling asleep as you get ready for bed. It’s a good thing that brushing my teeth is a habit. We do not have to give much thought to the process. When we brush our teeth, we think about so many other things at the same time. It’s not uncommon for your mind to be engaged in something totally unrelated to brushing your teeth because it’s a habit. It is second nature to you. You’ve done it for a long time, right?
Brushing Your Teeth is a Good Habit.
Think back to when you first started brushing your teeth. Don’t worry. This will be a quick trip down memory lane. When you were much younger you had to figure out how to hold the toothpaste tube just right. You thought about how to hold the tube. Then, figured out how NOT to squeeze too much toothpaste out. Once you have that mastered, you start brushing your teeth. Did you ever push too far back and nearly choke yourself? Or maybe you were a little too aggressive and you scraped your gums. Usually, someone had to watch you and make sure you were doing it the right way. Thankfully, you learned how to brush your teeth so well that you didn’t have to spend hours going over each part of the process. We all have good habits and bad habits. Even though habits do not take much thought, they impact our lives in a big way. If you have a good habit of washing the dinner dishes after you have eaten dinner then you have the wonderful delight of walking into a kitchen with a clean sink every morning. (I’m still working on that one).
Good Habits Make Life Flow
Making up your bed every morning after you get out of it means you are going to have a neater looking room when you get ready for bed. Those habits make your life more pleasant and easier to manage.
What are some of your good habits that make life more pleasant and productive? Your habits can also take place in your head. Your thought life is an important part of your life that we all need to pay attention to.
Recently, the Lord has been drawing my attention to my thought life. He highlighted some negative thoughts I began entertaining. The thoughts centered around a loved one that has some habits that annoyed me. I’m sure you can relate to the reality that those closest to us can irritate us the most.
I hear you mothers out there! Oh, there are several dad hands up as well. So, you can relate, good?
As I allowed the negative thoughts to bloom and grow in my head, the Lord arrested my attention and prompted me to think about what was happening. I was allowing negativity to take a color my mood. The color was very dark and unpleasant.
Those negative thoughts can creep in without our realizing it. There was nothing positive or productive coming from those thoughts. In fact, I sensed frustration and agitation as the thoughts lingered.
Our Thoughts are Powerful
The alarming thing that occurred to me was that the person I was thinking about wasn’t even present. I was getting annoyed and agitated by thoughts and the person was nowhere near. I promptly repented and asked the Lord to forgive me and help me with my thoughts.
He, in turn, had me bless the person I was thinking about. He reminded me that “The weapons of my warfare are not carnal but they are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (My paraphrase of 2 Cor 10:4). Our Heavenly Father is a good father and will teach us good things. He will help us form good habits.
Renewing the Mind is Powerful
The Lord also highlighted the importance of renewing my mind. Romans 12:2 tell us not to be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Click To Tweet The enemy is relentless in his fight against us. It takes an emersion into the Word of God to keep our thoughts healthy.
What Comes Next!
I am excited to see that long-term fruit comes as a result of taking unhealthy thoughts captive and allowing the Lord to purify them. The immediate benefit is that my attitude changed from being ugly to being more pleasant but I am sure there will be more benefits as I allow the Lord to help me tweak my habits.
Establishing Habits Early
Parents have a wonderful opportunity to assist their children in developing good habits that will make the home a happy and peaceful place. These habits will also help the child as they grow into adults. As mentioned earlier the habits of the child are the character traits of the adult.
Habits of observation
Let’s take some time and look at Habits of Observation.
Careful and close observation is key to the narration. Narration is a skill that Charlotte Mason stressed in helping children attend to something and then report on what they noticed. This is a habit and a skill that serves children and adults well.
We will discuss what observation is and how it can enhance life in different areas.
Observation is putting your mental energy on a particular thing and allowing yourself to experience what you are seeing or reading to the fullest extent. Parents can encourage observation skills in many different ways.
When doing nature studies, children can look at a tree and notice colors and textures. They can further the observation experience as they touch the tree in different areas. Children can be directed to ask themselves questions about how the tree feels when they touch the trunk and how the leaves feel.
The sense of smell is an important element of observation as well. How does the trunk smell? How about the leaves? Children can note sounds they hear when they are observing a tree. The leaves make a particular sound as the wind blows by.
As far as taste goes, you would not encourage a child to use this sense when observing outside. This can be saved when you are inside preparing dinner.
Spices and sauces can be sampled. Children will develop the ability to notice different spices and how they change the taste of certain foods. You may discover you have a budding chef on your hands as you explore different tastes.
Benefits of observation
Careful observation helps children store up pictures in the mind. These memories can be recalled at any time and individuals can enjoy those memories even into their adult years.
Observation can help children take notice of the needs of someone else. Children need to be aware of the needs of others. This helps the children focus on someone other than themselves. Parents can guide children to notice the needs of others and assist where appropriate
Careful observation also causes individuals to be truly present with their family and friends. Many people are easily drawn in by phones and other electronic devices and miss connecting with people around them.
Connecting with the people that we love is important and makes life pleasant, rich, and full. The attachment to electronic devices creates an empty atmosphere that leaves people feeling lonely and detached.
Observation also enables us to focus more intently. This applies to reading a book or listening to a sermon or lecture as well as to our children and family.
Academic excellenceThis practice of focus and observation lays the foundation for improving academic performance. Click To Tweet
A student is able to pay close attention to what they are reading or listening to. As attention is given to these platforms children and adults remember what has been said or read. This will enable the person to receive the information or concepts shared.
Focus can be a Life-Long Habit
They are able to use their power of thought and concentration to learn from what has been shared. A child will learn to judge for him or herself whether or not what is being taught is true or not.
This skill is becoming more important as time progresses. People have agendas and would like to skew information to promote a particular narrative. Our children need to be able to recognize faulty thinking when they come upon it.
Children will also be able to pay close attention to the directions given. This is important because often students breeze over directions and as a result, the work they produce is sometimes lacking accuracy. Furthermore, children will increase the stamina in their ability to read and write. This will also translate into writing and composition skills.
Crystal Wagner, at Triumphant Learning, does an excellent job of further describing the benefits of developing Habits of Observation. She also describes different activities that can be used to teach our children how to observe in different ways. Check out her post and take advantage of the resources she highlights.
What habits have you been working on? How has the Lord helped you with those habits? Leave a comment in the comment box and let me know.
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Habits of Observation
Get the checklist to help remind you how to use the five senses when practicing Habits of Observation.