The habit of perfect execution. Sounds intimidating, and perhaps a bit elusive. But what exactly is it?
It’s simply requiring our children to always do their best work.
Charlotte Mason tells us,
“’Throw perfection into all you do’ is a counsel upon which a family may be brought up with great advantage.”
This seems like a tall order. But Ms. Mason’s idea of requiring “perfection” does not mean instilling in our children a “spirit of perfection” but rather a “spirit of excellence” and a habit of completion in all they do.
And if we go about it in the right way, we can successfully instill this habit of perfect execution, this excellence, in our children.
The first thing we must do is pray for our children, trusting in the Divine Life to guide their hearts in the development of their habits—any and all habits we embark upon to train.
When it comes to actually training the habit, God’s word provides the guidance and power needed.
Begin with memorizing a verse with your children that exemplifies the habit you wish to train.
A wonderful one for the habit of perfect execution is Colossians 3:17.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
As Charlotte Mason always reminds us, the Word of God is powerful and is capable of applying itself, capable of working in the hearts and minds of our children without our help.
Once hidden in our children’s hearts, most of the work of training this habit is complete as God will build upon the Divine Idea implanted in our children’s thoughts.
The next phase in training this habit is ensuring we never give our children work to do that cannot be done successfully. We must wisely give our children enough work to challenge them but not drain them of the energy needed to complete each lesson with “perfect” execution, the very best they are capable of doing.
Charlotte Mason says,
“Closely connected with this habit of ‘perfect work’ is that of finishing whatever is taken in hand.”
Are there so many problems on your child’s math sheet that sloppiness is inevitable? Are you expecting too long of a passage for your child’s copy work?
Charlotte Mason tells us,
“No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required from him as a matter of course.”
She goes on to explain:
“For instance, he is set to do a copy of strokes, and is allowed to show a slateful at all sorts of slopes and all sorts of intervals; his moral sense is vitiated, his eye is injured.
Set him six strokes to copy; let him, not bring a slateful, but six perfect strokes, at regular distances and at regular slopes.
If he produces a faulty pair, get him to point out the fault, and persevere until he has produced his task; if he does not do it today, let him go on tomorrow and the next day, and when the six perfect strokes appear, let it be an occasion of triumph.”
And that is the simplicity of training the habit of perfect execution.
Keeping Charlotte Mason’s tenet of Short Lessons in mind, determine how much of the curriculum you think your children can finish each day, then require them to complete each assignment with excellence.
It is better to do less—done well, than to do more—done poorly.
Keep the workload doable and only increase the workload when they have the skills and ability to do it with excellence. Instilling this mindset in your children early will help them develop the strong work habits they need to thrive not only in their homeschool education but in every area of their life—setting them up for success in “whatever is taken in hand.”
For more Charlotte Mason insight read here.