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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Homeschooling Post 28-The Virtues and Self-Discipline

Continuing this series, I return to the third category of the normalized child and add the virtues learned through self-discipline.

Now, once the child has learned the home schooling procedure for the day, such as making the bed, eating breakfast, maybe daily Mass, morning prayers and the set-up for work, this should happen automatically. One of the biggest problems in the teaching or rather the EMERGENCE of self-discipline, is the lack of discipline in the parents.

Because I had Montessori training, and because I had worked and taught for years before getting married and having a child, I perhaps was use to discipline more than some. Also, I had been in a strict lay community for seven years.

In addition, I am an INTJ as we are naturally prone to schedules and self-motivation. But, so are ALL children.

These virtues, which come in the setting up and following of daily routine, form character.

I cannot imagine a parent who does not want to see strong self-discipline in the children. Unthinkable for a Catholic is a lack of discipline, and interior discipline can be formed with little exterior punishment. Here is an example from another site, to which I added my own experiences

Preschool Daily Schedules
0830-0915                        morning greetings, prayers, Mass
                                             & free work; several mornings we went to the markets, so the day started later
0915-1030                        Montessori lessons
1030-1045                        morning snack
1045-1130                        individual job which means work on one's own
1130-1200                        circle time or exercises, dancing, singing with movement
1200-1220                        outdoor play time and does not have to be complicated
1220-1300                        hand wash, lunch time; child helps with prep and clean up
1300-1400                        art, craft, story time, such as painting, clay work,  like making of dioramas for dinosaurs, etc.
1400-1530                        nap time but my son never napped to we just did more things; the day ended with afternoon tea

The key is order. Order in the house, the schedule and so one creates or rather, helps bring out the natural self-discipline.

Here is the huge change in perspective parents need for home schooling. All of these traits, including self-discipline come from within if the environment allows this natural progress.

Think about this. Too many parents think that discipline is merely exterior. No, it is primarily interior, and at an early age. The problem is not the child, but the adults raising the child.

I see this from my window in Dublin. I cannot believe that parents are outside talking to each other and their toddlers are running around the parking lot at 9:30 at night. I cannot believe that some parents tell me they have no schedules for their toddlers. This is against nature, and the parents are not cooperating with either nature or grace.

Children thrive with boundaries, and psychological studies have proven that children with boundaries are happier, more secure, and more confident than those who have no schedules, no rules, no guidance. Here is that third category below, and the virtues which flow from self-discipline.

This can happen early, as early as three to three and a half.

Make a schedule and keep to it. If you need help with schedule making, just ask me to help. One can schedule all the children in the home school to do those separately and partly together. Remember that the very young child wants and needs to work alone. 

3) Self-discipline

After concentration will come perseverance . . . It marks the beginning of yet another stage in character formation . . . It is the ability to carry through what he has begun. The children in our schools choose their work freely, and show this power unmistakably. They practice it daily for years.(The Absorbent Mind p. 217) 

And I add; virtues of perseverance, honesty, diligence, temperance, justice, prudence, obedience, purity, courage (bravery), self-control, rectitude, integrity, love. 

The child experiences an inner peace and confidence, which is natural and enhanced by grace. The normal rules of the home schooling environment which should be consistent and repeated daily, lead to this self-discipline. 

One of the most gratifying things which ever happened to me was the ability to walk outside my classrooms of high school students and let them continue Socratic discussion without me.

In fact, the director of one of the schools, use to purposefully bring potential parents to my door and then call me out into the hallway.

He would then merely ask the parent to watch the dynamic in the room.

Students carried on with their interest and discussion in, for example, Xenophon's The Persian Expedition, or the history of the heresies in my Isms class, or Civil War poetry, or Marx's Das Kapital. 

The reason why the students would continue without me is that they had discovered the marks of the normalized child within themselves-love of learning, concentration, self-discipline,and the last discussed in the next post, sociability. 

What parent would not want to see junior high boys discussing Antigone for two hours at an open house (YES, 11, 12 and 13 year olds), and then hearing them spontaneously saying at the end that they wanted to have summer school to finish the trilogy in order to go back and study the other two plays of Sophocles in the cycle. A good teacher teaches children how to learn on their own and how to be excited about the subjects. All parents can do this and they, too, will be rewarded by the shared excitement.

These are not miracles, but normal for children and young persons who are allowed to learn and love God through learning. The virtues literally pour out of the self-discipline.

To be continued....