There’s a young boy, fidgeting in his seat again and gazing out the window at who knows what. Secretly wishing he were outside, jumping in puddles and exploring, he is suddenly called back to the mundane task of filling out a worksheet by sharp words from his exasperated teacher. To this boy, learning is a chore and education is a dirty word. There is no joy for him in the day to day tasks he is assigned.
Children are born persons. They have innate desires, gifts, scientific minds waiting to dive in and devour the world around them. They long to experience learning rather than lectures. They have bright minds that soak up the beauty of their surroundings like a delicate but effective sponge. They crave the truth, goodness, and beauty that can be garnered through a gentle feast of education and experience.
Now imagine this same boy, but joyfully playing at his mother’s feet with his favorite blocks while she reads him poetry, adventure stories, and heroic tales from the Bible. See him jumping into the cold water of a bubbling creek to catch a fat brown toad. Watch as he delights in the turkey tail moss he finds on a log, the graceful flight of a red-tailed hawk he immediately begins to imitate, listen as he intently studies birdsong and learns to mimic his favorite friend, Mr. Robin Redbreast. This boy learns without constraint. He acts out the famous battles from his lessons and recounts the story to his listeners with eagerness and eloquence like only a child can.
Having a child that loves to learn isn’t something that happens by chance. While some children are more intuitive in the way they pursue knowledge, every child can be inspired by a beautiful piece of art, a remarkable piece of literature, or the beauty of God’s creation. Choosing to put before them what is excellent is the driving force behind the Charlotte Mason method.
Education is an Atmosphere
Charlotte Mason stated that “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.” How are you cultivating the atmosphere of your home?
Our children learn from our actions far more than our words. By setting the example of exploring nature ourselves, we encourage an atmosphere of curiosity and appreciation for the wonders of creation. By reading beautiful pieces of literature out loud to our young ones, we are creating an atmosphere of rich and vibrant words. When we respond to spilled milk with soft words and gentle corrections we are creating an atmosphere of grace.
This atmosphere can fuel their desire to learn or it can crush it. By tuning into our own actions, we can create beautiful homes filled with an atmosphere that builds up and encourages deep and delightful education.
Education is a Discipline
We so often cringe at the word discipline. When Charlotte Mason declared education a discipline, she was simply pointing out that part of educating our children includes helping them to develop helpful habits rather than allowing poor habits to grow and become thorn bushes that are difficult to uproot and remove.
The habits we have, our children pick up without our noticing quite often. Generally, the ones they pick up first are poor habits we have not realized we have until we see the undesirable results in our children. All manner of habits can be cultivated through diligence, gentleness, perseverance, and these habits help to form the character of our child. Charlotte believed that physical, moral, mental, and religious habits were all worth of parental attention. Helping your child to develop the habit of telling the truth, regularity of devotions, and giving their full attention to a speaker are all habits of character that will serve them well in both the pursuit of education and life.
Education is a Life
The true beauty of a living education is the life that springs from it. Not only did Charlotte Mason believe in using living books, books written by a passionate author in a narrative or story format, but she believed that exposing children to great ideas from the great minds of history was imperative to their education. This could be done through literature, through art, through music, and experience.Mason believed that exposing children to great ideas from the great minds of history was imperative to their education. #CharlotteMason Click To Tweet
Hands-on math and copywork, narration and nature study, art and foreign language are all parts of the life-giving and elegant education that makes the Charlotte Mason method such a beautiful and gentle feast. It is this feast that brings a love of learning into the atmosphere of your homeschool and into your scholars’ hearts.
Don’t miss the rest of the Charlotte Mason Homeschooling series.