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Three Tips for Better Habits

Three Tips for Better Habits

The success of our homeschools is primarily a result of what habits we, as homeschooling moms, have formed for ourselves. Of course, it’s our responsibility to help our kids form good habits, but it starts with us.

After some false starts and a whole lot of practice, some habits, like reading more, have taken hold for me. Even though I’m a super-slow reader, I can proudly say I read 41 books last year. My goal was 36. The point is not to brag (though I am proud of myself!), but to show that there really is something to these tips on habits.

Let’s talk about some principles that helped me and may help you in your homeschool habits.

Running shoe and weightsThree key ideas can help build better habits for your homeschool:

  1. Make them small
  2. Realize there will always be an excuse
  3. Failure is not an option

First, make your habits tiny

I’ve talked before about mini-habits. I first heard of this concept when I read Stephen Guise’s book, Mini Habits Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. Guise offers the concept of habits that are “too small to fail.” In fact, they’re embarassingly small. Like do one pushup per day. That’s it, that’s the whole habit

You can feel like a success when you’ve done a single pushup per day. Guise says these mini-habits tend to snowball into bigger habits. You think, “Gee, I can do more than one pushup, and I’m already down here anyway.” So you bust out five or ten pushups.

Second, recognize the excuse.

The part about mini-habits that I was missing is something I learned from my friend Christy at play4lifemoms.com: There will always be an excuse not to do the habit. Even your embarassingly tiny habit. Last year, I watched as Christy kept posting and posting about her runs. She was on a running streak and the days just kept on rolling. Without fail, Christy kept running every single day. Eventually, she was featured on the Brave Writer podcast in their “Awesome Adulting” episode. And that’s where Christy shared the gem: There will always be some reason not to do your habit. Something will come up, sickness, travel, other activities, and for us military wives, even deploying husbands. But we can recognize the pattern: that there will usually be some kind of excuse and we’ll have to overcome whatever that particular excuse is that particular day. It’s so simple, and seems obvious, but that was one of the keys to her now over year-long running streak. When I started thinking this way about my reading habit, the excuses held less power over me. I could recognize the excuse for what it was and move on.

Third, never allow failure.

In her first volume, Charlotte Mason recognizes that decision fatigue is real. Kids struggle for lack of a strength of will and they should be spared decisions as much as possible. I think adults struggle, too! She gives the example of a mom trying to teach her child to shut the door. So whatever habit you’re trying to form for yourself or in your homeschool, think about it in nonnegotiable terms like shutting the door: “This is just something we do.” Or think about it as part of your nature: “We’re the type of people who shut doors.” Just like we’re the type of people who wear clothes, so we’d never consider going to the grocery store in our birthday suit, it’s similarly simply not an option to leave the door open.

Note: this only works when you’ve chosen an appropriately miniature habit. Mason says on page 160:

“No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required as of him as a matter of course.”

So, whether you’re working on homeschool habits for yourself or your students, use these three principles of habit-formation and you should start seeing more of the changes you want!

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.

Rhiannon

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Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool? Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

--the best of the homeschool blogosphere,
--current homeschool news,
--and great quotes that will refresh your homeschool mama mind.

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  • Morning Time Details! E. (12), S. (almost 8), and L. (6). Our Morning Time morphs as the kids grow and change. It usually includes a combination of memory work and reading aloud. We try to cover a WHOLE LOT of things: Shakespeare, Bible, poetry, catechism, hymns, timeline, art study, composer study, and Ambleside selections for nature study, tales, and church history. This term I’m adding Plutarch.
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The hard part is figuring out where I want to aim, with the 5-year gap between E. and S., and then L. being a newbie to full-on school. Having moved twice in 2019, I nixed MT and just focused on individual work. That came with costs. Shakespeare, Plutarch, art study, and composer study suffered. Memory work barely happened at all. I was BUSY. We missed out on discussing things together. Now that we’re settled, it’s time to restart MT.
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This term I’ve decided to aim Shakespeare and Plutarch at the oldest, while the girls listen in and do handwriting/drawing/fine motor. I won’t ask them for much narration. Our reading schedule for these is AMBITIOUS. Maybe crazy. Then we’ll do all the memory & read aloud stuff that suits everyone. These lessons are SHORT. Then E. will go do his individual work while I read aloud w/ just the girls.
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Also, “Morning Time” is a misnomer, considering we break it up throughout the day. It should really be called Morning/Lunch/Nap Time. I need a new name. Circle Time? Except we don’t sit in a circle. Together school? Except we’re together doing school all day. I don’t think English has the word I’m looking for. Maybe Tertulia or Salon?
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Our actual coursework is: the Scottish Play, Plutarch is Alexander the Great’s life, our artist is Gustave Courbet, composer is Paganini, Bible memory is Psalm 46, Hymn is Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me, read alouds will rotate from Burgess Bird Book, Trial and Triumph, Blue Fairy Book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Vanderbeekers, & picture books. Timeline is from Classical Conversations. Poems are Charge of the Light Brigade, Winter Night by Teasdale, and The Land of Nod.
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Whew! It’s gonna be a fun term! What do you guys do for Morning Time?
  • #homeschool #family #weekend projects. Oldest got through a CPR course, curtains are hung, first batch ever of hard apple cider is bottled (a big learning experience!), and Morning Time for the next term is planned. 👊🏻 Time to call Dominos so these people can get fed 😂
  • Oh Halloween. That day when I pull costumes out of thin air at T-minus one hour ‘till trick-or-treating. Then one kid melts down in the middle of the fun, and is carried screaming to the car, with me hoping all the while that no one thinks I’m abducting a child. And, my favorite non-PC thought: one kid suggests we should have dressed as hobos, since we’re going around asking people to give us free candy. Phoned it in this year, Kutzers. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ #gladitsover For the record, we had a soccer player, an archer, Spider Girl, a princess, a tiny farmer, a witchy mom (Is that even a costume or just a Thursday?), and Bat Dad.
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#homeschool #charlottemasonirl #homecookedmeals #livingbooks
  • A husband out to sea. A solo drive to and from MT. A freak snowstorm in September. Unpacking, appointments, and homeschooling, cooking and cleaning, laundry and loneliness without my better half and my biggest helper. All so that a grandson can learn from and adventure with his grandpa. I call it a RAGING SUCCESS.💛🥰 #family #navywifelife #homeschool #worldschool #bravewriterlifestyle
  • #pcs day 5 = #HOME (hallelujah!) 😊 and delicious homemade chili from the amazing @mythirdacrelife It was a long 3000 miles, but everyone made it here alive, if a little less sane than when we drove out of CT. #navyfamily #navywife #roadschooling #homeschool

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