In winter I get up at night

And dress by yellow candle-light.

In summer quite the other way

I have to go to bed by day.

~Robert Louis Stevenson

It’s that time of year! School has started for another academic year. The weather is changing. Days are getting shorter. And we are running kids everywhere!

How do you develop good study and work habits while running kids from one activity to another? You don’t! Think about it. When you fill your personal schedule too full, do you consistently do things around the house that need done? Do you fix nutritious, eat-at-home meals? Do you get to bed at a decent time and get up when you need to in order to have good mornings before the day’s activity? No…because it is basically not possible to develop good habits of study and work when you overcrowd your schedule. The same is true of our children.

If we want our kids to develop good study habit and work routines, we must be sure that their schedules are not too jam-packed to make those goals realities. Many experts nowadays (Kevin Leman and Ray and Donna Reish (! LOL!) included) are advocating the slow down method with our children. We adopted Leman’s one activity per child per semester guideline long before we ever read it in his book—and it has worked wonderfully for our family. It allows us to have three or four evenings a week together at home—family dinner, discussion, homework help, read alouds, movie nights, chore times, family work, business work, problem solving, relationship developing, and more.

It might be too late for you to adopt this lifestyle for the fall—but please consider it for the second semester. It gives us time to teach our children those important things—and time for them to learn to develop good study habits and work routines.

I will leave you today with an excerpt from Anne Kroeker’s “Not So Fast”:***

“Imagine your child wrote a college application essay that began something

like this:

‘I lived a deliciously slow childhood. My siblings and I took long walks in

woods and caught fireflies in jars in the summer. We would wade in the

creek and stare at pond skaters skimming the water’s surface. In winter,

after tromping over piles of snow, we curled up in front of the fireplace

with books and read all afternoon with no noises other than the subtle

swoosh of a page being turned. We prayed often—at dinner and

bedtime and anytime we felt the urge to worship or be thankful or ask

for help. By draping sheets over a clothes line, we imageindd we were in

an army barracks, fighting in the Revolutionary War. Life was slow and

sweet, full of spontaneity and creativity; embracing a natural approach to

learning as part of everyday life, and mingling reading and play with

meaningful work.’

What do you suppose the Harvard admissions office would say to that?

Would they dismiss it as a poetic framing of ridiculous underachievement,

or would they celebrate it? Would they embrace someone who benefited

from a real childhood, full of wonder?

{Actually, they have indicated that they possibly would!} …..the

former dean of students at Harvard himself sent out a letter to all

incoming freshman recently, an essay, entitled, “Slow Down: Getting

More Out of Harvard by Doing Less.” ….the hypothetical “slowed down

childhood” in the earlier paragraph sounded a little like it was written by a

person who already enjoyed some of the {recommendations in the

Harvard article}.”

People everywhere are starting to recognize the desperate need we
have to slow things down for our kids. We hope you will start to
recognize it too.

So, if you do have time in the evenings at home, how do you help your
children develop good study habits and work routines? I’m going to
pull out some of my old “study skills” articles and workshop notes and
dig in to give you some ideas in the coming days.

***Note: The formatting on the “one hundred word or more quotation” in this post is not correct. I had to just use quotation marks since I could not get the indenting format to work on the blog. I say this because I try to use correct grammar and punctuation on here as much as possible. (I am, after all, a language arts curriculum author! 🙂 )


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