From Chores to Character: The Importance of Consistency in Habit Formation
Habit formation is an important part of a child’s development in education. In fact, Charlotte Mason believe that habit formation was the cornerstone of education. According to Mason, “the formation of habits is education, and education is the formation of habits.“ In this post, I will discuss and explore the role of habit formation in Charlotte Mason‘s educational philosophy and how consistency is key to performing positive habits.
Charlotte Mason approach to education emphasizes development of good habits in children. She believed that habits were formed through repeated actions and that they were essential for building character in shaping a child’s behavior. She also believe that children should be taught good habits starting at a young age and that these habit should be reinforced consistently over time.
For example, when we step into a car, it's a natural instinct to buckle up. From the very first time our children enter a car, we make it non-negotiable to buckle them up. As they grow older, they develop the habit of buckling themselves in automatically. It's crucial to prioritize organic habit formation. As parents, we serve as the primary role models if we want our children to adopt certain behaviors. If the parent does not buckle up, but preaches how important it is to buckle up, then the child is going to question this and likely break the rule.
Consistency, which I know is a term used a lot when it comes to habit formation, but it is particularly important when it comes to chores in the household tasks. By establishing a routine for children to help with age-appropriate chores, we’re not only teaching them responsibility and valuable life skills, they were also setting them up for success in forming positive habits that will benefit them throughout their lives. For example, if a child is expected to make their bed every morning, this task be reinforced until it becomes a habit. The same thing goes for any other task you want your child to become sufficient with. Overtime, the habit will become automatic and the child will be more likely to continue making their bed as a grow older. Remember to start small and slowly build up to harder tasks.
I highly recommend approaching habit formation with patience, consistency, and a focus on positive reinforcement. It is OK to praise the child for their efforts and encouraged to continue practicing good habits. I don’t give gold stars or treats, but instead say, “Hey, I noticed you made your bed and tidied up your room like we talked about. This is going to make going to bed much easier and give us more time to read together.” However, it’s also important to recognize that forming positive habits is a process that takes time and requires patience and persistence. Again, start small and slowly build up. Once they are able to make their own bed, move on to unloading the silverware from the dishwasher. Then eventually they can help unload the entire dishwasher.
Are you still with me?
Some may argue otherwise, but habit formation is a crucial part of a child’s development and their education, and like I’ve mentioned, consistency is the key to forming positive habits. Once you establish a consistent routine for your child then you’re not only teaching them responsibility and valuable life skills, but you’re also setting them up for success in forming positive habits. This will most definitely benefit them throughout their lives.
Here are some ideas for age appropriate chore for children ages 4 - 7:
Chore Ideas for 4-year-olds:
- Pick up toys and put them away in their designated spot
- Help fold small towels and washcloths
- Water plants with a small watering can
- Help put away clean utensils or dishes
- Put dirty clothes in the laundry basket
- Help dust low surfaces with a cloth
- Help feed and water pets under supervision
- Help sort and match socks
- Wipe up spills with a cloth or sponge
- Help put away groceries in low cabinets or drawers
- Help set the table with dishes and utensils
- Help sweep or vacuum small messes
- Put away books and magazines
- Help clean up spills and crumbs after meals
- Help load and unload the dishwasher with adult supervision
Chore Ideas for 5-year-olds:
- Make their bed
- Dust higher surfaces with a duster or feather duster
- Help put away groceries in higher cabinets or drawers
- Help sort laundry by color
- Help fold simple clothes, such as towels and socks
- Put away clean dishes in the cabinets
- Help prepare simple snacks, like sandwiches
- Help sweep floors with a small broom and dustpan
- Help wash dishes with adult supervision
- Set and clear the table with adult supervision
- Water outdoor plants and garden beds
- Help put away outdoor toys and equipment
- Sweep outdoor patios or decks
- Help feed and water pets with adult supervision
- Help clean up spills in the bathroom with adult supervision
Chore Ideas for 6-year-olds:
- Help plan and prepare simple meals
- Help with grocery shopping and making a shopping list
- Put away laundry in their drawers and closets
- Help with cleaning tasks, such as wiping down surfaces and cleaning windows
- Help wash and dry dishes with adult supervision
- Help sweep and mop floors
- Help clean bathrooms with adult supervision
- Help fold more complex clothes, such as shirts and pants
- Help wash the car with adult supervision
- Help rake leaves and gather yard waste
- Help prepare their school backpack for the next day
- Help with basic yard work, such as watering plants and pulling weeds
- Help with meal cleanup and washing dishes
- Take out the trash and recycling
- Help with organizing and decluttering their own spaces
Chore Ideas for 7-year-olds:
- Vacuum carpets and rugs
- Help wash windows and mirrors
- Help prepare simple meals with adult supervision
- Help clean the kitchen and appliances with adult supervision
- Help with yard work, such as mowing the lawn or raking leaves
- Help with basic home repairs, such as tightening screws and changing light bulbs
- Help with deep cleaning, such as cleaning the oven or refrigerator
- Help with laundry, including washing, drying, and folding clothes
- Help with grocery shopping and meal planning
- Help with organizing and decluttering common areas
- Help with taking care of pets, including feeding and bathing
- Help with basic sewing tasks, such as sewing buttons or fixing small tears
- Help with basic gardening tasks, such as planting and weeding
- Help with basic car maintenance tasks, such as checking tire pressure and changing windshield wipers
- Help with budgeting and managing their own money.
Please know, these are not all tasks that we have mastered. They are simply ideas to help you get started. This would be an overwhelming list to implement all at once, please remember to start small.
I'm Julia Mederich - My husband Jordan and I have 3 boys (7, 4, and 2) and a girl on the way. We are a Charlotte Mason inspired homeschooling family and enjoy going on nature adventures, reading aloud, and learning through play.
We live in Northwest Wisconsin.
I'm excited you're here! And hope this content inspires you on your homeschooling journey.
”Home is the nicest word there is.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder