Over the past few weeks, we’ve enjoyed a little jaunt through Charlotte Mason’s five categories of habits: decency and propriety, mental habits, moral habits, and physical habits. Today we’ll round out the five categories by looking at religious habits.
In Charlotte’s Philosophy of Education, she stated, “Of the three sorts of knowledge proper to a child,—the knowledge of God, of man, and of the universe,—the knowledge of God ranks first in importance, is indispensable, and most happy-making” (Vol. 6, p. 158). It stands to reason, then, that Charlotte would encourage habits related to the knowledge of God.
The habits she espoused in this category are
- Regularity in Devotions (including Prayer, Reading the Bible, and Praise)
Charlotte encouraged us to model and teach our children to develop a daily habit of prayer (both spontaneous and scheduled), of reading the Bible (reading it to a child until he is old enough to read it for himself), and of praise expressed in music.
- Reverent Attitude
A reverent attitude is “a little apt to be overlooked in these days,” Charlotte remarked. We don’t need to be locked into formalism, but we should teach our children to demonstrate a worshipful demeanor during family devotions and at church services.
Sunday activities should be “not rigid, not dull” but “special to the day,—quiet, glad, serene.” What a gift to give our children the habit of a change of pace one day of each week that brings refreshment to body and mind! Charlotte urged us to make Sundays pleasant and to “keep the heart at peace and the mind alive and receptive, open to any holy impression which may come from above, it may be in the fields or by the fireside.”
In a short passage in Volume 4, Charlotte encouraged parents to give children “the continual habit of thanksgiving,” for specific answered prayer as well as spontaneous thanks in everything.
- Thought of God
What a responsibility to direct our children into the habit of right thinking about God—and throughout each day’s events! “Of the child it should be said that God is in all his thoughts; happy-making, joyous thoughts, restful and dutiful thoughts.” Think how your life would be different today if, as a child, you had cultivated the habit of practicing the presence of God and a right understanding of the character of God. “To keep a child in this habit of the thought of God—so that to lose it for even a little while, is like coming home after an absence and finding his mother out—is a very delicate part of a parent’s work.”
Looking back over the more than fifty habits we’ve studied these past weeks, it’s easy to see why Charlotte held that the discipline of habits is at least one-third of a child’s education. It’s a big job! But if we approach this part of education intentionally, we will be laying down “lines of habit on which the life of the child may run henceforth with little jolting or miscarriage, and may advance in the right direction with the minimum of effort.”