Updated: Jun 16, 2019
More lessons from nature: For us
I've heard it over and over again. " I love the Charlotte Mason method because it's so easy! The kid's just teach themselves!" The idea that Charlotte Mason taught an unschooling approach is not the correct grasp of her teachings.
Her methods do support less text books, less lecturing and more child led learning. But that does not mean no lesson plans, no books and no teaching.
"Give your child a single valuable idea, and you have done more for his education than if you had laid upon his mind the burden of bushels of information." ~ Charlotte Mason
"Let them get at the books themselves, and do not let them be flooded with diluted talk from the lips of their teacher. The less the parents 'talk-in' and expound their rations of knowledge and thought to the children they are educating, the better for the children...Children must be allowed to ruminate, must be left alone with their own thoughts." ~ Charlotte Mason
Giving children " single valuable ideas" requires our giving. That is not an unplanned approach, but requires a mother to cultivate an atmosphere that promotes valuable ideas. That takes work on our part. It takes our planning and dedication. As mothers, we are being asked to take on so many roles, to cultivate a place and make it into a home. So, if education is an environment, environment making will be our work.
I believe if we provide a fertile environment, nothing will stop their learning.
Creating an environment
Have you noticed plants will not grow unless the environment is right? And when it's right they thrive? As parents, we cannot grow for our children, we cannot learn for them, but we can give them the fertile ground of ideas and the environment that cultivates learning
Children pick up ideas quite easily. I have six children. All of them are so different but one thing is the same. I only had to orally "teach" my first two how to count to 100 and say the alphabet. It amazes me, the little ones that followed the older children just picked up the alphabet and how to count to 100 just by the constant interaction with siblings. At this writing my blossoming kindergartner can count and retell the alphabet with ease. I didn't teach him that. I am pretty sure he does not even remember when or how he learned but he did. Our babies learned to walk and talk naturally. And the more we talk to our babies (ideas) and provide a rich environment of vocabulary (books) the more acquainted they naturally become to words.
Environments that promote growth:
Materials to create with
Living books that are regularly read and cared for ( we are very careful with our beloved books)
The proper personal attention a child craves
Proper discipleship for negative behavior
Orderliness- A sense of orderliness in our home environment affects our children. Have you noticed, as a mother, you feel a sense of anxiety when your home environment is out of place? I simply cannot teach or function correctly without a sense of order. Children must feel the same way. To quiet their minds an orderly home will give a sense of calm.
Routine-A routine is not exactly the same as a schedule but close. Did you know the word "Schedule" in Latin means " a piece of paper"? Isn't that interesting? A routine is different. It is similar to " a gentle flow". For children, knowing what is next gives them security. Routine helps mothers-as children grow and follow their routine they are less fussy and ease into activities. I've noticed when quiet times happen, at the same time every single day, my littlest ones do not resist.
Relationships-All important for home environments. Who would like to sit in a exquisitely clean home but listen to fighting all day? Our home is so far from perfect, but with the goal of a home that glorifies God as the center, we are working together. We have disputes, yes, but we are trying to model the Biblical way to disagree and apologize the right way. That includes saying: " I was wrong, will you forgive me?"
Materials to create with- Raising children to be producers rather than consumers is monumental. Actively being a part of work and creating will foster this mentality. I will never forget this story: A family was moving to a new state and needed help on moving day. This family had three teenage sons. On moving day sweet friends of ours showed up to help this family move. While everyone was packing boxes onto the truck and emptying out rooms, these three teenage boys sat and played video games. Their mother said, " they don't know how to help". They passively sat and consumed while the others produced work. The group of children that were taught to be productive at home, happily packed away boxes and cleaned each room afterwards.
This mother has been diligent to raise productive children. As a mother, we can provide materials to be creative with: Crafts projects, home repairs, making meals, video making equipment, nature study tools, telescopes, microscopes, wood working material, pottery, hours alone in nature, materials to create their own plays etc.
I must say, video gaming and excessive screens teach children to be consumers. Cultivate a creative environment and watch your little garden GROW!
Living books that are lovingly cared for- Loving and appreciating books is not verbally taught to children, it is modeled. The way we handle and regard books is passed on to children. My children know that I have such a high regard for the Bible, I will not throw away even torn pages. In fact, I have a stack in my desk, in a folder, of pieces of the Bible I have found over many years. I hold a personal conviction to not throw away God's Word. That conviction I hold is on display as my children commune with me. We treat our home library with respect and care. No one is allowed to eat or drink in our library, the books are organized by subject. Our love for books is just the way we live, and that creates an environment for learning through the little masterpieces of written words. ( We are rereading The Pilgrim's Progress this summer)
Proper personal attention that children crave- Charlotte Mason said, "children are born persons". They are whole humans who need and deserve personal attention, loving touch, and affirmation daily. Throughout the week I have various errands to make. I frequently pick one child to come alone with me. As a homeschooling family, we are all together all day. There have been times, I will get into the van with children and they promptly spill out everything that's been in their hearts that day. Precious! Needed! This is how we "keep their hearts". Let them tell you everything that's inside. Your kindergartner will love if you plan a monthly or weekly outing that is just for you and them. Children need to say things. I don't know how else to get this thought across. They need to speak and be heard as whole persons.
Proper discipleship for negative behavior- Part of our day as mother is saying, "no". It just simply must be that way. Discipline is an act of love. Proper discipline. Discipline out of anger is always wrong. God does not treat His children that way, He is our model. To have a balanced home culture that promotes a fertile environment requires set boundaries that cannot be crossed. One of my favorite authors is, Karen Andreola. She says, "Mother is queen and father is king". I love that statement. Our children have to respect authority, and that starts at home. How will they learn to respect God and other authority in life without first learning that at home? Being the queen is quite the responsible role!
Self Education needs an orchestrator
Making a home requires homemakers. Homes are empty during the days. Our world is consumed with stuff. Mothers walk away from their roles to acquire more materialism.
Mothers: You are the home. You are the spirit of the home. Have you heard that phrase, "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world?"
Queens, we are the humble listeners to what our Great Shepherd tells us. We find our value in who God says we are, not the world.
Charlotte Mason did not teach unschooling...
However, she DID teach no real lessons for children until age 6. After the age of 6 children are required to have formal lessons, narrations, geography study, language study, math lessons, regular nature journaling, Bible study...all of which are not unschooling.
For me, the Charlotte Mason approach is the serving of a feast.
"As for literature – to introduce children to literature is to install them in a very rich and glorious kingdom, to bring a continual holiday to their doors, to lay before them a feast exquisitely served. But they must learn to know literature by being familiar with it from the very first. A child's intercourse must always be with good books, the best that we can find." ~ Charlotte Mason
The preparing, cooking and serving of the feast requires our planning,effort and prayer life but once the feast is served sit down and fellowship with your guests.