smiling child

A big part of homeschooling—and especially Charlotte Mason homeschooling—is cultivating our children’s characters through good habits.

“The habits of the child produce the character of the man.”

As you make plans for the upcoming school year, along with the academics, be sure to consider which habits you want to work on. We may feel like time spent on habit-training is not as important as time spent on academics. But really, cultivating good habits is the more valuable time investment.

“Because certain mental habitudes once set up, their nature is to go on for ever unless they should be displaced by other habits.”

For ever. That thought can be an encouraging confirmation of time well spent! But it can also be a caution to us not to wink at bad habits and hope they will go away on their own.

“Here is an end to the easy philosophy of, ‘It doesn’t matter,’ ‘Oh, he’ll grow out of it,’ ‘He’ll know better by-and-by,’ ‘He’s so young, what can we expect?’ and so on.”

It does matter. He won’t grow out of it or know better by-and-by unless we teach him better. And we are teaching—either intentionally or unintentionally. We are investing time in habit-training whether we realize it or not. Sobering thought.

“Every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.”

So the question is not Am I teaching my child habits? The question is Which habits am I teaching my child? Yes, other influences may play a role, but it is the habits learned from parents that have the most impact upon a child’s developing character.

“The habits of the child produce the character of the man.”

So which habits are you planning to focus on this year? Leave a comment and share your ideas.

(All quotes taken from Volume 1, page 118.)

Helpful Habit Resources

Here are some helpful resources to encourage you as you cultivate good habits and character in your children’s lives.

  • Smooth and Easy Days—A free e-book that looks at Charlotte Mason’s common-sense ideas and practical tips for cultivating good habits. A great introduction to the concepts in Laying Down the Rails.
  • Laying Down the Rails workshop on CD or DVD—Our popular workshop on the power of good habits in your home school. In less than an hour you will be up and running with the basic principles and practical tips of instilling good habits. Couple this workshop with the Laying Down the Rails handbook below to get the whole picture.
  • Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook—Our bestselling book on habit training! Here, compiled into one volume, are all the habits Charlotte mentioned in her writings with her thoughts and suggestions for cultivating each one. This work also includes Charlotte’s help for breaking bad habits, hundreds of inspiring quotes, and lots of practical help.
  • Laying Down the Rails for Children: A Habit-Training Companion—A habit-training companion for the whole family filled with more than 400 pages of stories, Bible passages, poems, activities, quotations—living ideas that will nestle into your children’s minds and motivate them toward the habits of good character. Corresponds to the award-winning handbook, Laying Down the Rails, mentioned above.

Check out these bundles for the best value on all of our habit-training resources!


  1. We are beginning the year with obedience, attentiveness, truthfulness but I also plan to work cleanliness in there as well.

  2. These articles are so helpful! Thanks for posting them. We’re going to work on self-discipline in the way of getting up, reading the Bible, doing our chores, and practicing our musical instruments without being asked. Really, it is being disciplined with how we use our time.

  3. We have a five-year old and we are working on teaching the habits of cleaning up after oneself, such as putting dirty clothes in the hamper, picking up toys after finishing playing with them, and taking dishes to the sink; saying prayers and reading Bible; and taking care of our animals. We have learned that in forming habits, consistency is the most important thing as well as the most challenging!

  4. I just started to work on humility with my kids and soon realized they were not the only ones in need of habit training. God is working on me too!

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