Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 3rd Grade :)

Habit Training at MY House

on March 22, 2013

I pull in the garage from guitar lessons (after a quick stop at the grocery store) every Friday night, and who is flinging the garage door open with a big smile the second I park the car? My sweet little 2 year old Faithy, so happy to see mommy arriving home. Its like she hasn’t seen me in forever. Its the greeting I have always wanted, as Noah is usually the calm and cool “Oh, hey.”, type of guy. Sometimes Faith runs over to the car door, other times she stays at the garage door and keeps smiling big. Then she melts my heart because she purposely holds the door open for me while I come with grocery bags. As I approach, she stretches out her arms and quietly but eagerly says, “Here mommy, here mommy, here.” She wants to help me carry in my grocery bags! I have no idea where she got this from. No one else in our house holds the door for mommy or helps carry bags. I hand her a light weight bag which she can barely handle, but she tries with all her might to get it inside and keep holding the door open for me. Now she is muttering something softly in her high pitched voice like, “Its ok! Its ok! Its ok!” The same little thing she says when she is trying to comfort someone who got hurt or when something is difficult and she is soothing herself. She is a sweet blessing! I wanted to share that helper story to make you think about the blessings of your little helpers at home.

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If you noticed on our March lesson plans, the character trait, or habit, that we are working on is being a helper. Our habit forming themes provide a specific target to attach our faith to each month and believe God to do something extraordinary in that current area of focus. In February, the habit of focus was being kind and loving, in December, worshipful, in November, thankful. Our monthly themes are purposeful, and come from my 2013 masterplan that I drew up with the Lord’s guidance in order to give direction to our schooling month by month. I imagine that some of you may be following along with our monthly lesson plans, however loosely. I welcome any and all to come virtually be a part of Jesus’ Precious Little Lambs as you feel led! Whether you are working on the habit of helping right now as well, or one of your own selected character traits, I would love to hear about your habit training wisdom. How do you do habit training?

Today I will share with all you Little Lambs out there working on habit training, and anyone else who was inspired by my last post on habit training, my personal wisdom and a real life example of training at our house. I came up with a Helper assessment, or list of goals based on areas of need I have seen in my own children throughout the month in the area of being a helpful hard worker. These insights are God dropping things in my spirit bit by bit during the month as I am observing my children, looking for their strengths and weaknesses in being helpers, and taking mental notes of what I see. I love when God points something out in my child for me to pay attention to. It is really fun and personal to train up children with God’s amazing guidance in homeschool!! This special guidance is for every parent, not just me. God speaks habit training wisdom into the hearts of all parents seeking Him, as He is no respecter of persons. So just pray over our themes/your themes (whichever you are using, if any at all), put your faith out there, and see what He does. He is your habit training trainer!

The Kids Putting Away Noah’s Laundry

I absolutely love that Tayler enjoys helping Noah and Faith put their laundry away. They have been doing laundry all together on Mondays, which is cleaning day here, for almost a year now. They are almost independent with this chore by now, and that reward reminds me of how delightful habit training is. Noah likes to “save his laundry for [Monday] when Tayler can help”.

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Helper Assessment

Questions and Examples

1. Do I do my regular chores/jobs before being told?

-I get dressed and make my bed first thing before I am asked (what joy habit brings to a mother’s heart!)

2. Do I do what I am asked the FIRST time I am asked?

-I clean up the first time I am asked because waiting until the second time is disobedient

3. Do I have a happy heart when I am asked to help?

-I smile and say “yes mommy”, never frown or whine, and my face is cheerful while I am working

4. Do I work quickly?

-I don’t dawdle because hard workers enjoy doing tasks with all their might

5. Do I help even when “I don’t feel like it”?

-I don’t whine, “but I don’t feeeeel like it”, because feelings don’t always help us to do what we ought to/what is right, but the Word of God does help us. So what I do is start saying my promise/memory verses, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” or “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right”, and strength to do what is right starts coming into me as I say it again and again with all my heart.

6. Am I thorough, or do I quit when the job is mostly done?

-I check every corner of the room I am cleaning up before deciding I am done. When I think I am done with a job, I always double check my work to make sure I did it all. (I will ask Noah, “Did you check your work?” when he is vacuuming under the dinner table for example.)

7. Do I go above and beyond what is expected in my work?

-If I am expected to wash my plate after a meal, I wash somebody else’s too. If I see food all over the sides of the sink while I am washing my plate, I make sure to clean up the sink while I am at it.

8. Am I always on the lookout for ways to be helpful?

-I go grab the hand vacuum and take care of some dirt that I see has appeared upon the floor, rather than walking by it and going about my business, or calling it to mommy’s attention to take care of.

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Drill the phrase: “Obedience is cheerful, immediate, and thorough!”

What are you working on with your child? What are your goals? We would love to hear!

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A little advice on putting any habit assessment you draw up to use at home. Write down/take mental notes of examples of how your child has met the above goals, and also ways she has fallen short. Use the information about her weaknesses to head off and prevent typical problem areas. For example, give a preventative reminder before the assigned chore to assist your child in succeeding: “remember to check your work when you are done” is better than noticing later that the job was not done thoroughly (again!), and calling her back in frustration to do the job right. Next, use your habit assessment observations to pray, and then to reach your child’s heart on the topic of being a helper during circle time/devotion time/heart to heart time. Your discussion will be insightful, personal, and applicable. Use your teaching time to both encourage (provide personal examples of how you have noticed her being an awesome helper), and to exhort (provide personal examples of how she could improve on being a good helper). Also, mention how the habit will benefit both herself and the family in the short term and long term. Finally, pray with your child about their areas of need. Your child will definitely be thinking about how to be a better helper after all this! Now just watch what happens and give God all the glory!

So Excited to Be Back at the Nature Park

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We Found Lots of Signs of Spring

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The Camera is Poised and Ready for Spontaneous Cute Poses

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Putting Our Backyard Vegetable Garden In

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Unbelievable!

I said, “which one did I write??,” in disbelief. Its hard to tell!

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Tips I Have Learned for Conducting Successful Handwriting Lessons:

-Use a chalkboard! Whether starting to print or do cursive, don’t let your child’s handwriting be chicken scratch on paper or the whiteboard. Remember my last post on habits? Everyday, your child is forming either chicken scratch habits or beautiful letter formation habits that may persist for a lifetime. The roughness of chalkboards provide the necessary tactile feedback for optimal letter formation.

-Use small chalk bits! Small writing utensils force children to use the correct tripod grip. An incorrect grip practiced for too long can be hard to change later. Even coloring matters–use small broken crayons to encourage the tripod grip. Always correct an incorrect grip so that a poor habit does not become engrained. When a child is ready to switch to pencil and paper for handwriting, do not use regular pencils or jumbo size kindergarten pencils, use golf size pencils. Small hands require small tools in order to write correctly. The weight of large pencils make the tripod grip more difficult.

-Two lines are the easiest format for writing. The standard three line kindergarten paper is very confusing for children, and very unnecessary. Make your own wide ruled two line paper if you want. Otherwise, two line paper, chalk bits, and two line chalkboards can be purchased at Handwriting without Tears.

-We choose to learn handwriting through one theme relevant word a month, rather than writing a string of letters one letter at a time, because it makes handwriting more meaningful. The children see that handwriting is for the purpose of making words which is for the purpose of reading. That is satisfying. We are in no hurry to try get all 26 letters covered in a certain time frame anyway.

-I started doing a mini lesson every time before the children write because I realized they need to be drilled in order to remember some things (and it makes handwriting practice go much smoother):

-I ask, “What letter comes first, next, next, last?,” to push them to recall the spelling of a word without looking at a reference. They were previously not remembering the spelling of a word after a whole month of practicing writing it.

-I ask, “Where does ‘b’ start?” “Now what do I do?” (go down, up, over, and around) “Where does ‘i’ start?” “Now what do I do?” and so on. The correct starting point of each letter is the hardest thing to remember about each letter and requires special mention every time.

-I point out an area of concern if necessary: today, Noah I want you to work on making your ‘b’ and ‘d’ bellies nice and fat rather than skinny. Today, Tayler I want you to make sure your letters don’t have too much space in between.

-During practice time, the children use my written word sample as a reference while they are writing, even tracing my letters on my chalkboard first if needed to recall directionality. But they do little tracing because usually after all this thorough instruction, they do not require me to write letter on their board to trace, they just take off writing all on their own!

Noah did Small and Big Sorting with our Button Collection

We have also sorted by number of holes, smooth and bumpy, wavy and not wavy (Tayler’s idea that made sense in her mind). See March math lesson plans for instructions

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Our New Favorite way to Build Words

The kids think it is so funny to spell out huge nonsense words and then have me read it. Today Noah used the whole alphabet, sounded it out himself which was great, and then he and Tayler cracked up like its the funniest thing ever. Even though I hardly ever picture it, we do word building on every school day (see Welcome Back to School post for word building information). The real word to build for today was ‘bus’. The kids are doing really great with hearing all the sounds in 3 letter words at this point in the year. So pleased!

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Word Building is Hilarious Stuff Lately

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Faith’s First Time Helping with Calendar

She noticed me preparing to do calendar time, and before the older kids could jump on being the helper, she started sliding her chair over to the calendar saying, “My turn!”

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