Stop and Wait: Simple Tips for a Smooth Year, Part 1

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This morning my youngest and I went to the store. Schools in our community started today, so it was a quiet time to go shopping. I pulled a shopping cart from the end of the stack and wheeled it to the automatic sliding door, and that’s when I realized that I was smiling. You see, I got a smooth cart! You know, one with wheels that all roll freely! None of that shimmying and shaking that jar your teeth and make you want to abandon your selections halfway through the store. What a delightful surprise!

We like smooth. Smooth carts. Smooth days. Smooth homeschooling.

Over the next few weeks let’s look at a few practical reminders. Little tips that can bring a smile back to our lips and help us take delight in the journey again. Simple tips for a smooth year.

Tip #1: Stop and Wait

Days seem to flow more smoothly when we have something to look forward to within the day. The same is true for your students. It’s a great help when they have something to look forward to in their schoolwork.

With Charlotte Mason’s emphasis on interesting living books, you very often hold in your hands a great tool for giving some anticipation to your homeschool day. A living book that holds your children’s interests will add something to look forward to.

If your children beg for “just one more chapter,” take note; that means you are holding a valuable treasure! Don’t throw away that advantage by continuing to read! Stop at the end of the chapter as scheduled—while interest is still high—and wait until next time to continue the story.

You are not being mean by stopping and waiting; you are actually giving your children two gifts. First, you are giving them the gift of something to look forward to in their schoolwork. Yes, one subject may be more difficult than another during the day. Not all assignments will be eagerly anticipated. But knowing that a favorite book is coming—that there is a light at the end of the tunnel—can help motivate a student to keep on keeping on over the rough spots.

And the second is closely related. By stopping and waiting you are giving your children training in an important character trait: delayed gratification.

“Now it is exceedingly easy for us to gratify all a child’s desires immediately and on the spot. It is easy to compass this little treat and that, to arrange that every day shall have its treat or its new possession, that the child get used to it and grow up with the habit of constant gratification and without any practice of hope. Even the birthday is forestalled a hundred times in the year, and everything comes, not to him who waits, but to him who wants. We can, at any rate, bring up children in hope, see to it that they wait and work for the bicycle, or the book, or the birthday treat, that they have things to look forward to” (The Story of Charlotte Mason, p. 237).

Your children need to know how to stop and wait for something they want. The stakes will be much higher as they grow older and encounter situations in which they desperately want something outside your control. What a gift to teach your children now about the benefits and rewards of waiting!

You have a built-in tool that can help you gently teach such an important habit of character every week, that will give your children something to look forward to—reading aloud bit by bit.

So this year enjoy those living books to their fullest; let your children stop and wait for each new reading.

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