A Quest for Smooth and Easy Days - Part 2
It's week 2 in our quest for smoooth and easy days. How are your habits coming? If you didn't start with us last week, it is not too late. Find Part 1 below and join right in. It seems most people are working on basic habits like getting ready in the morning, making their beds, and dealing with "stuff" as they come in the door. These small habits make a huge difference in the flow of our lives. Mitchel is working with the boys on their animal chores and I am working with each team in efficient kitchen clean-up after meals. I would love to hear how your habits are progressing and don't forget that each week you comment, you are entered in a drawing for the e-book version of Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook.
I am encouraged in the development of our habits, but there are several things that I have noticed. Mitchel was a bit slower to get on the band wagon and he eased the desired habits onto the children. They are doing amazingly well. They work each morning to beat their time from the day before. They are still slow to wake up at 5:30 am (aren't we all?), but once moving they are really motivated to get out there and do well. I, on the other hand, was eager to get things in shape. I was tired of wasting time after meals and never completely finishing the job. Since the kitchen routine was already in place, I dove right in and drug them in with me. I helped with the clean up and mostly stayed with them until the job was done, but I was still constantly redirecting and getting them back on task. That isn't how this is supposed to be.
I went back to the book, Smooth and Easy Days with Charlotte Mason, and read chapter 4: Her Own Idea. That's what I was missing. It wasn't their idea. They had no motivation of their own to complete the task. Mitchel had created this game of sorts for the animal chores and they were constantly trying to beat their time. They were internally motivated. I had set the parameters of the kitchen clean-up routine with them and had even assisted with the job, but I had not given them any reason to "own" the task. It was simply a job they had to do. Hmmmm. How to change that?
I now went to my good friend Nehemiah. He had a big job to do and some very discouraged workers. Let's see how he handled the task:
"Then I said to them, 'You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer be a reproach.' And I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me, and also about the king's words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, 'Let us arise and build.' So they put their hands to the good work." Nehemiah 2:17-18
Nehemiah did 5 important things that brought about the motivated response from the people. Let's see if there is a lesson that can be applied to our situation.
1. He presented them with the vivid reality - "You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire."
2. He stated the action required - "Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem . . ."
3. He gave them a powerful incentive - " . . . that we may no longer be a reproach."
4. He reassured them that it was the right thing to do - "And I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me"
5. He provided evidence of the necessary support - "and also about the king's words which he had spoken to me."
The result was a motivated response - "Then they said, 'Let us arise and build.' So they put their hands to the good work."
Most of those things I have done, but I am missing one important element - #3. They have no incentive. They have not taken ownership of the job because they cannot see the benefit to them. There is no real reason for them to work quickly and diligently. Hurry up and . . . . do school? That is not much motivation for most of the kids. So I need an incentive . . . what can it be? If you have ideas, post them in the comment section. I'll tell you next week what I have done so far and how it is working.
The homework for this week is:
1. Leave me a comment and let me know how it is going. What is working, what is not. Are you seeing a difference in your days? Are you seeing a difference in the character of your children? or yourself? I would love to hear from you and pray for you.
2. Memory Verses: Parents - Nehemiah 2:17-18 (from above);
Children - Proverbs 15:19 - "The way of the sluggard in as a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway."
3. Read Chapters 4, 5, and 6 in Smooth and Easy Days with Charlotte Mason.
4. Read Chapter 5 carefully and talk with your children about paths (literal paths and brain paths) - how are they formed and what makes them easy to follow. This goes with their memory verse and the following quote:
"The fact is, that the things we do a good many times over leave some sort of impression in the very substance of our brain; and this impression, the more often it is repeated, makes it the easier for us to do the thing the next time." (The Origianl Home Schooling Series, Vol. 4, Book 1, page 208)
5. Read Chapter 6 and then consider the following Proverbs:
"The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly." 15:2
"The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body." 26:22
"A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike;" 27:15 (Yikes - I don't want to be that way!!)
If that is not enough, you can look these up on your own: 13:3, 15:28, 16:23-24, 18:8, 21:9, 21:19, 21:23.
I could do to read those verses daily again and again - constant reminders ringing through my head.
6. Continue to persevere in reading your chosen Bible verse(s) and praying for the development of character in your child(ren). Stay diligent in the training of your habits and do not grow weary, but persevere " . . . and let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (James 1:4)