We know of several groups that are using Laying Down the Rails for their weekly or monthly book discussions this coming year. How exciting! I wish I could be a part of each group and hear all the comments. It is always so helpful to learn what other people are doing and how they are applying Charlotte’s habit-training principles.

If you will be leading one of those discussions, here are a few ideas to help get the comments started.

Chapters 1, 2, and 9

An easy way to approach these chapters is to take each summary statement listed (in boldface type) and ask for narrations. Well, you might not want to say it in those terms. We parents sometimes panic when asked to do something as official as “narrate.” But you could ask for personal illustrations, opinions, proofs, explanations, and elaborations (which, of course, are all part of narration, but don’t tell them that!).

Chapters 3 through 8

For the actual habits’ chapters, you could spend a little time on each habit in the chapter. Read through the habit’s summary statements and ask for comments and practical experiences. How have you put this concept into practice in your home? What worked for you in this regard? Then move on to the next habit in the chapter. Encourage moms who have questions to bring those up and that will spawn even more discussion.

The habits’ chapters just seem to lend themselves nicely to practical application and, especially, an opportunity for older moms to encourage younger moms.

One other thing that I have found helpful on a personal level, and that could probably be adapted to a group level, is to mentally arrange the habits into three tiers:

  1. Foundational/must do’s
  2. Do next after foundations are in place
  3. Nice if I have time after #1s and 2s are in place

Asking which “tier” each habit belongs in (and it may differ with each parent) might be another good discussion question.

Chapters 10 through 14

The chapters that deal with breaking bad habits could either be discussed after you finish chapter 8, and in the same manner, or you might want to intersperse those chapters as they fit with their positive counterparts in chapters 3 through 8. For example, when you discuss the positive habit of truthfulness in chapter 5, you could also discuss chapter 10’s ideas of how to deal with lying. Here are some possible correlations:

  • Truthfulness (in ch. 5) with Lying (ch. 10)
  • Attention (in ch. 4) with Dawdling (ch. 11)
  • Kindness (in ch. 3) with Malicious, Mean Behavior (ch. 12)
  • Sweet, Even Temper (in ch. 5) with Temper Tantrums (ch. 13) and Sullen, Moody Child (ch. 14)

I hope these suggestions give you some ideas for fruitful discussions. If you have any “ah-ha” moments during your meetings, please consider posting them on the Habits section of the SCM Forum. I’d love to hear about them! We get notes regularly from moms who have been encouraged and had their questions answered by reading the posts on the Forum.

If your group would like to study Laying Down the Rails or a different SCM book, we have a bulk discount available for orders of 20 or more copies. Contact us for details.