I'm thinking of doing something different

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  • amwg2694

    Has anyone ever stopped their normal school to focus on nothing but character and/or habits?  This is exactly what I’ve decided to do for the time being.  If anyone else has done this, I’m curious as to what your “school” looked like during this time AND how it ended up working out for you.  Did it help?  Was any improvement long lasting?

    Christine Kaiser

    I would love to hear about it , too. I was planning on doing something like that in our few weeks off in the summer.


    I was planning to wait until our summer break as well.  However, I realized this morning that things are just too out of control around here to wait any longer.  I would appreciate prayers in this area.  This isn’t any easier for me than it is the boys! 🙂



    Sometimes it’s not necessarily doing something totally different, but slowing way down and concentrating on the character issues that are involved in getting the goal accomplished. What this has looked like for us is this:

    • There still needs to be a schedule that is followed. My children are eager to pronounce any change as ‘vacation.’
    • Prayer time in the morning is important as we come together and pray about those things that we are working on.
    • Morning routines are completed, regardless of the time it takes. (There have been times when we had to stop and eat lunch and go back and finish what typically should be done before breakfast!)
    • School work is cut drastically, but still takes place (meaning we may do 1/2 or less of the normal load).
    • We work on a family project that is very physical in nature (putting in a garden, building a fence, painting a room, etc.)
    • Afternoon chores/routines are worked on until dinner needs to happen.
    • Always there is time for scripture reading, stories, and rest time (for me!!).
    • Rewards “When this is done, we’ll do this….”
    • I have found that my frustrations are not shared by the children. Therefore, when I get overloaded with the mess or the behavior, they are quite content to let me take care of what is bugging me the most while they go hide in their rooms. That is unproductive, to say the least, so I have found it imperative to keep us working together.




    Cindy — thanks for your thoughts.  It sounds like many of us have the same ideas here.  I agree with the schedule thing.  I have a large number of things I want to accomplish before the end of the school year, but not so large that we can’t see an end in sight.  However, as the days get nicer I see the boys’ attention slipping and a struggle to really want to get out and play. I am planning on continuing math (3x week) and copy work (2-3x week) over the summer. and keep our Friday library routine.  The rest of the time I plan to work on habits, especially where chores are concerned.  There are so many habits that can be formed by doing chores regularily: attention, perfect execution, obedience, perserverance, etc.  As I work our basic day schedule will remain much the same, but with a maximum of maybe 20 mins of school work a day rather than 2 hours. 

    Any other thoughts as to how to put all this into practical application are greatly appreciated!


    I agree with Cindy. I have tried to totally take off of school to work on character issues and it seems like what happens is more chaos vs progress on what is needed. Cutting back on school, while keeping a routine is very helpful.


    Maybe my original post was misleading.  I didn’t mean that our daily schedule was going to change or cease in anyway.  The only thing I was changing was to focus all of our “school” time on character traits.  We are still doing copywork, I’m just making sure that each day they have a Proverb relating to our character trait to copy.  We are still reading, I’m just making sure our books are focused more on specific character traits.  We are still doing music, we’re just learning some hymns that talk about trusting God or obeying God.(these are just a few examples)  I guess I was misleading in the way I worded the first post.  I was just wondering if anyone had every done anything like that.  I TOTALLY agree that our house would be WAY worse if I didn’t continue on with our normal routine.  I just feel like some of our core subjects aren’t quite as important as this is right now.  I realize that the trouble I am having with my kids is completely my (& my husbands) fault.  I truly thought I was teaching my children obedience when they were small.  But now after seeing the fruits of my labor, I realize I was only teaching them another form of disobedience.  You know the kind where they don’t actually obey until I’ve said something 4-5 times and I’m ready to scream because no one has listened. 🙂  I feel like I have to start completely over with the oldest 2 to teach them what obedience really looks like.  I know that they’re human and they’re never going to be perfect at this, but me having to repeat myself multiple times should be the exception and not the rule.  At this point in our lives I feel like teaching them this is even more important than the math or science we are working on.  I hope this all makes sense.  I reread the first post and realized I hadn’t explained myself AT ALL! 🙂  Sorry!  Oh yeah, and if anyone has any real life, practical tips on teaching a 4yo and an 8yo obedience, I would be more than greatful if you’d share!! 🙂  Thanks!


    Ditto what amwg2694 said. 


    I just received my “Laying Down the Rails” book and read that Obedience should be first if not already established.  I cringed at this b/c this is where we are struggling.  I read your post as if I wrote it!  I was planning the start of our hs journey like you mentioned…focusing on Character, Habit, Bible in all we do to some form or another.  I was hoping to do it through story, chores, routine, work vs. play times, etc as we’re not in K yet.  I’m also new to CM and we have a child with special needs so that throws a lot into the mix.  She’s my oldest 5.5 and I wonder if she’s driving the train.  I can look her in the face and ask her to lower her voice and she’ll look me in the eye and shout!  Could be cognitive or complete defiance…have no idea but it’s driving our home nuts.  We desparately need obedience.  Also, how do you start with a 1 yr old?


    Just curious cuz I feel the same exact way with my kiddos about starting all over… how old are your children?


    Laying Down the Rails is a great suggestion – I realized that with character traits training, the first thing I had to start with is ME and my attentiveness to the habits my kids were forming (yikes!). We haven’t changed our “normal” school for character training, but one thing we added in, besides the principles in Laying Down the Rails, is a great little book called Our 24 Family Ways.

    Here’s the description from CBD:

    “Each week features a day-by-day breakdown with a question to ask, scripture verse, discussion questions, and a prayer. The daily lesson pages include a commentary, character trait, scripture memory verses, and story starter with room for notes underneath. Each four-week unit has a different theme concerning authorities, relationships, possessions, work, attitude, or choices.”


    In our home, using this book, along with CM’s principles of habit formation, was really helpful in targeting specific habits and character traits and working on them for a week, revisiting as needed. We didn’t always go in order – I picked traits at times that reflected what we needed help with. It gave me a starting point for discussion throughout the day and helped train me in discussing these things with my kids too.



    Habit training is an area I get very frustrated with myself! Some habits have been easier for me to train for than others. I’ve not figured out all the reasons why it is sometimes so difficult, (I had to stop training for “orderliness” and my house is a mess, but i was so frustrated – we had to do something else! I’m picking up on my own for the time being) but off the top of my head, I think it has a lot to do with me getting distracted and losing focus. (Nodding head and agreeing with Aimee here!)  Our family has busy periods of time throughout the year relating to my husbands work schedule and stress tends to run higher and I’m trying to help him and I just don’t pay as much attention to the kids as I usually do. Predicatably, I can trace re-occurance of bad habits or a backslide into disobience to my own divided focus. There are several threads here about training for obedience, and several different resources for parents are mentioned. I’m sure you’ll get others who will describe them better than I could right now (stayed up too late last night reading!).

    I think you are the best judge as to wether or not shifting focus with your school materials will add additional motivation for your children. And I hope you get suggestions for some good books and things. The idea of scaling back on schoolwork is likely to help YOU the teacher/mother to have more time to focus your efforts to train them. And that in itself is worth lightening the load for, even if you don’t shift your material over to the topic of obdience. For all my frustrations with habit training is goes better for me when I eliminate as many extra distractions as I can to really zero in on the one thing we are working on.

    You asked for some practical adivce, all I can do is repeat what a wise mother once told me, that unless I was willing to literally drop everything I was doing to correct a child who disobeyed right then and there I should expect to have the behavior I was seeing. Now obviously, there are some things you cannot do that for at that exact moment of disobedience – there must be a short delay – but the very next thing you do is correct (by whatever method your family uses) that child. Here’s how I’ve done it various times: Cooking dinner, turned off stove – corrected child. When driving, I’ve kept going and the first place I could pull over safely, I did, we did not drive any further until they quit fighting. I’ve found I have to be willing to hang up the phone and call back later, leave a store, have dinner late, pull over to the side of the road, turn off the computer, do my housework later on, etc. etc. The one area that this did not work with was nursing a baby or changing diapers. Then there was a longer delay in the disobedient child recieving correction. How fast this works goes hand in hand with how willing I am to have life distrupted to handle misbehavior. The other thing I’ve found that works really well, to ask ONCE for something to be done and issue ONE and ONLY ONE warning for misbehavior. I am still working on this, but it is so much easier! If I make an effort to follow through after the first time, without telling them 3 and 4 times to stop “If you keep doing that, then this is going to happen…” If I stop giving them the 3 or 4 or 5 extra chances, they have only one option, obey the first time or not. This way I am not training them to obey after mom has told me three times and is getting irritated. Following through straight away with correction and staying consistent and just as important as giving instructions or warnings one time.

    I hope something there helps you! Pray. Pray specificly for each of your chidren and yourself. Whatever time you invest in training them in the habit of obeidene and however you go about it with the materials you use for school, it will be worth it, it will take some time – so don’t give up! It may take longer than you want to see results but stay consistent yourself and you’ll find even when they don’t listen it’s much easier and faster to get them back on track. (And for the record, while obedience is habit you can train for, imho, is also a heart issue that every single person alive with deals with every single day. I ask myself, how obedient am I to God? And should I be surprised when I see them struggling to obey since I do myself at times? What I’m trying to say is that, a mother can train a child to obey and that yes, it will make his life and his mother’s life easier, but he will still face choices daily to obey or not and as a mother I’m trying to train him to make obedince the easier of the two choices! (it’s a habit)! But not to be surprised if a child make the wrong choice, no one does the right thing all the time – that is why we need a Savior – but you can help your children develop a strong will or the strength to override their desires to make the right choice – see “The Way of the Will”, it’s now a free ebook here! Very helpful – thanks Sonya!!)

    please forgive my spelling errors!

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