Charlotte Mason in the early years is so similar to the way things used to be in the "old days". Mothers had a plan for their day and knew what needed to be accomplished. Home life was a teacher in itself. The home hummed along and was a place of work, worship, rest and learning. Almost as if, the home itself was a "being".
The Kindergarten years of a child that is being educated with the methods of Charlotte Mason are marked by beauty and enchantment.
Mothers prepare the home environment to be conductive to passive education. Routines, field trips, going to the post office are all part of a Kindergarten child's day. He is learning through mother's actions how to respond to life. How to say, "please" and "thank you". What is important to mother becomes important to your child. As mothers we remember that it takes true wisdom to manage a home in this way.
This is that very special time in the morning that gently takes our children into "bigger ideas". I use morning time to read to my children about God.
"Look on education as something between the child's soul and God. Modern Education tends to look on it as something between the child's brain and the standardized test." ~ Charlotte Mason
We are encouraged by Miss Mason to look at education as something between a child's soul and God. Teaching our children to be aware of God gives them an inner moral compass to guide their lives. I often remind my children of this in their day to day lives: God sees everything!
I have used and will continue to use Leading Little Ones To God in the morning with my children. I have included this book in our curriculum this year because of the foundations in builds in our children.
These chapters are beautifully laid out in terms that children understand. Chapter 2..."We cannot see God". To young children, these concepts can be confusing but Leading Little Ones does a excellent job of introducing these deep concepts in a way children understand.
In our list of attainments our children are asked to recite parables in line 2. Leading Little Ones gives many parables and stories about what Jesus did. I love that we can fulfill some of our attainments in morning time with this book.
Morning time isn't just about books. We also use this time to listen to hymns and sing praise to God. Our family will sing The Doxology to mark the beginning of morning time this year. In addition we will sing and listen to all the hymns included in this years curriculum. This will fulfill attainment number 1. Consider a gentle way to call your children to morning time. Some us a chime, a song or a prayer. This cultivates an atmosphere of restful worship in your home.
The next part of our Kindergarten day, for our family, will include a period of blessing our home by cleaning up. We will clean up and tidy assigned areas. I will keep my Kindergarten child with me as I train him this year to:
Help with dishes
Set the table
Sweep the floor
Tidy up his bedroom everyday
Properly put away clothes after they are clean
Vacuum the stairs
And many other chores that I will write about in detail in a later post. Our home blessing hour will take a full hour. I schedule my already trained children certain chores that they will do for the full year. My kindergarten child and toddler will stay with me and be in the training process. This system has worked for me. My method for chore training is: You watch me, we do it together, then I watch you. In this order my children have been successful! We don't want to raise children that cannot keep their homes clean, this will lead to many problems in their adult life and cause "endless friction" as Miss Mason would say.
After our home is "put to rights" we will move on to our Kindergarten routine. The way my curriculum is designed, it will be delightful to our children. Our informal "lessons" should last less than an hour and the rest of the time spent outdoors.
Our BIG goal this year is to build the habit of attention. I have found, with our younger students we are continually working on this. Our informal lessons are short and focused then we move on. We want to read our living books and see their minds open up. After each lesson I award my child for paying attention. Start small and build your way up. As you continue to homeschool, this habit will serve you! Your children will get more accomplished in 1 hour of focused attention, then 5 hours of inattention.
Each "lesson" planned is designed to build this habit of attention and feed your child ideas.
Our day will be filled with times we need to say, "no". We will need to gently disciple our children and determine consequences for bad behavior.
After our informal lessons, I allow free play for a period of time. My kindergarten child can piece a puzzle, play with blocks, ride his bike on the deck, color or play outside. I use this time to prep and prepare our dinner for the evening. During our homeschool season, I cook a lot in an instant pot or slow cooker. Meal plans simplify my life so much!
At this point it is roughly lunchtime. We have a simple lunch, if the weather is nice...we eat outside. Charlotte Mason said our meals should be taken outside as much as possible.
After lunch, we clean up our dishes and quickly put the house back into order. This only takes a few minutes...
Around 1 p.m., it's quiet time! Even if my children no longer nap, I require quiet time for their sake and mine. Quiet time can be built upon in length. I originally started with 15 minutes, we are at 30 minutes now. I use this time to rest and rebuild my own stamina. I NEED this time...I sometimes power nap for 30 minutes and set my timer. I feel so refreshed after this.
The rest of the afternoon for your Kindergarten child should be spent exploring outside unguided and maybe going on errands with you and "helping" you.
What ways can they help you? Learn to set the table, pour drinks, get the mail, put stamps on envelopes, weed the garden, put silverware away... It is helpful to keep your child with you. They learn just by living with us.
In the evening we have "Bible time" in our house. We read the Bible to our children, teach lessons, and pray. I am using this time to teach my littlest ones to stay quiet during church and other fun activities they are invited to attend. This method has worked with all of my children. They are still in training and no where near perfect but I have a goal to bring them to plays, the orchestra, the art museum and other activities that require them to attend quietly.
After Bible time...it's bed time.
Our bedtime routine is: Hygiene, prayers, then go to sleep. I have noticed, last of sleep profoundly affects our homeschool day. Children need sleep to thrive. We want them to awaken refreshed and ready for the bed...Establish some time of bedtime routine for your Kindergarten student to serve your child and you.
After my children are asleep, I take a few moments before bed to plan our next day. I look over lesson plans and glance over "the state of the house". If something needs to be tidied up, I quickly do it. We wake up the next day with our hearts and minds ready!