We've been working a lot lately on habits at our house. Not only in the area of schooling but in general daily work and play.
First and foremost I have been focusing on training my children in the habit of obedience. While I have always disciplined my children and demanded a certain level of obedience up until recently I had not trained them to obey. In fact I had barely trained them at all. Instead I had gone the "normal" way and simply coexisted beside my children instead of engaging, guiding and training them. And as they have gotten older I have been reaping the fruits of my labor which to say the least where not what I had hoped or desired for.
What is the difference? Quite a bit actually. I used to wake my kids in the morning, issue directions for getting dressed and so forth, eat breakfast and then send them on their way, either outside to play or to their toys or to a movie so that I could have my space to do what I "needed" to do but more often to what I "wanted" to do. And this is how our day would progress, I would work with them at school but them send them off when we were done and only when their misbehavior would warrant my attention would they get it.
Recently God has convicted me of my selfishness and laziness and has been pruning those areas from my life for my children's sake as well as for mine.
Take this morning as an example. The kids all wake up and we work on getting everybody dressed and through the bathroom and then sit down to the table for breakfast, after we eat instead of each child having a separate chore to be accomplished alone we now spend 15 mins. all together working as a team to clean up. Yes, it's a bit hectic but a lot more gets done and the kids have really picked up on the teamwork part and enjoy helping each other out and see the benefits of doing so. Next, (on the good days) we move to devotions (Old Testament reading), memory work (Psalm 100), and then sometimes we read some Aesop with narration. This is a rough outline of our summer schedule since we are on summer break right now. And then while Willy is napping I work with Tom and Alissa and Emily on phonics and reading. This takes about an hour which is the length of William's morning nap so after waking him we grab our picnic quilt and a snack and head outside to spend the rest of the morning (1 1/2 to 2 hrs). And here again I have become aware of the changes Miss Mason has wrought in my thinking and acting. In previous years when I would be outside with the kids (out of necessity since we had no fence) I would sit like a bump on a log bored stiff or I would bring a book or magazine out and spend my time engrossed in that and occasionally correcting the children when needed.
Now I look forward to our times outside! We sit and listen to the birds singing and try to identify them, I direct their attention to the new plants and flowers that are growing and the buds, seeds and leaves that are springing forth from the trees and plants, we lay on the ground watching the ants at work, we dig for worms to observe, we plant seeds in the garden, we watch a starling bird couple bring meals to the nest of babies hiding in the lid to our propane tank. But most importantly I am engaging and enjoying my children. The other evening instead of watching them play on the slide and swing set in our backyard I got up there and played with them; we had a rollicking good time chasing each other and playing tag and it was such a delight to share the laughter and smiles with them as we played.
It has taken me some time to accept and act upon the knowledge that I must be with my children in order to see that they are properly trained and growing in the habit of obedience. Thankfully God has graciously made children much less stubborn and set in their ways than we adults and much more able to see and respond to the heart attitude of the authority in their lives so my small efforts are being rewarded.
step by step,