Chores: Teaching Habits is the first lessons of life

October 1, 2015

Part of our conscious outlook on our homeschool curriculum is chores & habits. I caught myself, in my busy schedule, allowing my children to make a mess of the house. If I asked the children to clean up their mess, they wouldn’t unless I stayed with them and coached them. But the truth is, I’m not doing them an service by cleaning up their messes for them, that’s just not the way the real world is. “What should I be doing now during the preschool years to prepare my younger child for homeschooling?” Its grace and many agree.

Charlotte Mason said “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. All day she is crying out, ‘Do this!’ and they do it not; ‘Do that!’ and they do the other. ‘But,’ you say, ‘if habit is so powerful, whether to hinder or to help the child, it is fatiguing to think of all the habits the poor mother must attend to. Is she never to be at ease with her children?”

Once you have given the child an age-appropriate task, expect their best. I would like to clarify that when I refer to ‘perfect’ I mean doing their absolute best. “I don’t expect perfection, but I DO expect your best,” is a statement I say almost daily to my sweet children. I just believe that many mothers THINK they are requiring their child’s best, but they are actually underestimating them, sometimes my children underestimate themselves too, I love teaching them that they can!

My three year old, Lucia, has to make her bed every morning and to clean up her toys after she plays.If she wants to go outside or play a game, etc, her toys must be picked up first. If she refuses, then she stays in her room until they are picked up. If she is choosing to be extra obstinate, then I, on purpose, think of something very fun for the Maya to do next, and broadcast it within her hearing. This usually does the trick and the task accomplished. If not, she may not participate in the event-no exceptions allowed. I remind myself, Teaching good habits  isn’t easy at first but will pay off.

I stopped making beds and cleaning up my children’s toys and it feels so good!

I have other more important duties to attend to.  They do most of the cleaning, laundry and much of the cooking and baking with me, they find pride in their ability to help. This frees me up to plan their school lessons, meals, preserve food, work outside on our farm, etc… Natural consequences and rewards have been most helpful in teaching them this particular habit of perfect execution.

When asking “What should I be doing now during the preschool years to prepare my children for homeschooling?” It’s teaching “grace”, household chores, they can begin help cooking, cleaning and gardening.  Teaching the wonderment of nature. Maybe this is something we need as parents anyway! Take it slow and simple, but full of purpose.

Charlotte Mason outlined two chief duties for parents.

  1. To form in his child right habits of thinking and behaving is a parent’s chief duty” . Molding and shaping your child’s character with good habits is your first priority. If your day is too crowded to allow you time to stop and deal with bad habits, it’s too crowded.” This was my problem, because in order to order to teach this “grace” we are discussing, I really needed to put in the time & teach these things and I needed to drill it in as habit.
  2. “To nourish a child daily with loving, right, and noble ideas we believe to be the parent’s next duty”. Feed your child’s mind with good and right ideas every day. Remember that a child soaks up a lot from his surroundings. So make sure everything you give him is wholesome and nourishing, including the atmosphere in which he grows. Feed his mind on what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, excellent, virtuous, praise-worthy.”. 

Keeping the Bedroom clean If a child is told to clean up her room and there are a lot of toys out, she can be easily overwhelmed just by the sight of the mess and give up on the idea. First and foremost, purge unused and broken toys. Do this on a regular basis. Children do not need a lot of toys. It stunts their imagination.  Keep the room simple and organized so that clean up times are easy. If they don’t follow the rule, put the majority of toys up in the top of the closet or put a lock on their closet door. You get down a few toys at a time for them and they don’t get to have any more until they have completely cleaned up the first ones-perfectly. Now they have fewer toys to clean up. Any child can clean up a few toys.

The littlest ones (1 to 3yr olds) need Mama by their side continually singing and helping them, but 4 yrs old and up should be trained to clean up by themselves. This is a gradual process requiring patience and consistency. When they have earned your trust in this area, eventually the toys can be placed in a more accessible area for the children.

Never let the room become a disaster. I always have the kids clean up their room before they leave it to go play elsewhere and also before every meal and bedtime. In this way, it is being picked up four or five times a day routinely. I grew up in a family of seven children and we were always cleaning because no one ever learned to simply clean up after themselves.

We are learning that when we have guests coming, we put up some of the toys in a closed closet because we understand that not all children are taught to pick up after themselves. This helps clean up time to be more enjoyable afterwards.

A friend of mine said she goes through your her children’s closets and drawers and figure out how many outfits are necessary per child. Most children don’t need more than 7 outfits a season. She gives away the rest, constantly purging.I love this idea and plan on doing this right away!  Be ruthless. This will free up so much space and allow your child to be in charge of keeping his drawers neat.

If children are trained at a young age to work around the house, they grow to appreciate it and feel like a very important part of the family because they are contributing something valuable.  After my 3 year old finally got the hang of doing the bed herself, she began to want to make the bed “really good” with decorating the bed with extra pillows. She found pride in her new task.

This leads me to my interest in all the other habits Charlotte Mason listed. I love this list and I know you will too. Alot of these things we already do, but it’s nice to see it spelled out. Here is the list below:

Charlotte Mason’s List of Habits to foster


Attention: Turning the whole force of the mind to the subject in hand; the fixed gaze of the mind

Imagining: Forming a mental image of something that is not present

Meditation: Following out a subject to all its issues

Memorizing: Storing information in the mind

Mental Effort: Exerting oneself to apply the mind

Observation: Seeing fully and in detail

Perfect Execution: Working carefully with one’s hands with an aim at “perfect”

Reading for Instruction: Reading with the mind fully engaged so as to learn something

Remembering: Recalling at will knowledge stored in the memory

Thinking: The actual labor of the brain; a real conscious effort of mind

Accuracy: Freedom from mistake or error; conforming to truth or to a standard

Concentration: Actively engaged on a given problem rather than passively receptive

Reflection: Ruminating on what we have received

Thoroughness: Dissatisfaction with a slipshod, imperfect grasp of a subject


Cleanliness: Careful to keep clean

Courtesy: Behavior marked by respect for and consideration of others

Kindness: Friendly regard shown toward another

Manners: Social rules of conduct shown in the prevalent customs

Modesty & Purity: Propriety in dress, speech, or conduct; being morally pure in conduct

and intention

Neatness: Everything in a suitable place, so as to produce a good effect

Order: To put things into their proper places; organize; straighten out so as to eliminate


Regularity: Adhering to a schedule or routine

Candor: Freedom from prejudice or malice; fairness to the opinions of others; frank,

honest, or sincere expression

Courage: Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or


Diligence: Steady, earnest, and energetic effort


Generosity: Liberal in giving

Gentleness: Mildness of manners or disposition; free from harshness, sternness, or


Meekness: Enduring injury without resentment

Patience: Bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; not hasty or impetuous;

steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity

Respect for Other People:

Temperance: Moderation in action, thought, or feeling; restraint

Thrift: Careful management, especially of money


Integrity: Firm adherence to a code of values; being a good steward of all that we possess

Obedience: Submitting to the restraint or command of authority

Personal Initiative: Acting at one’s own discretion, independently of outside influence or


Reverence: Consideration for others; respect for person and property

Self-Control: Keeping back the expression of our passions and emotions

Sweet, Even Temper: Making the best of things; looking on the bright side

Truthfulness: Aligning words and actions in accordance with fact

Usefulness: Offering valuable or productive service


Regularity in Devotions: Having a personal time of prayer, praise, and Bible reading

Reverent Attitude: Expressing worship in one’s demeanor and actions

Sunday-Keeping: Setting aside Sunday to focus especially on God and to rest from

everyday pursuits

Thanksgiving: Being grateful to God for all His blessings

Thought of God: Thinking rightly about God throughout each day’s events


Alertness to Seize Opportunities: Being aware of ways to serve in your surroundings and taking the initiative to do them

Fortitude: Bearing hardship or discomfort with courage

Health: Taking good care of your body, through nutrition, hygiene, exercise, and rest

Managing One’s Own Body: Knowing where one’s body parts are in space and being

able to use them to best advantage

Music: Singing in tune

Outdoor Life: Regularly enjoying and studying God’s creation outdoors

Quick Perception of Senses: Being aware of things around you that you can see, hear,

feel, taste, or smell

Self-Control in Emergencies: Thinking clearly and keeping emotions in check no matter

the circumstances

Self-Discipline in Habits: Regulating oneself to continue doing the good habits learned

Self-Restraint in Indulgences: Enjoying pleasure in moderation; not being controlled by


Training the Ear and Voice: Hearing and pronouncing words accurately

By admin