Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 3rd Grade :)

Charlotte Mason Friends Book Club

on February 17, 2013

Home Education (Volume 1), Pages 1-75 Discussion

Mother as Teacher

First, a little encouragement about mother as teacher. Charlotte quotes the Reverend F.D. Maurice, “the woman received from the Spirit of God Himself the intuitions into the child’s character, the capacity of appreciating its strength and weakness, the faculty of calling forth the one and sustaining the other, in which lies the mystery of education, apart from which all its rules and measures are utterly in vain and ineffectual.” This is such an uncommon train of thought–mothers as best educators– but it is invaluable for homeschooling moms to meditate upon. Also, Charlotte felt that children “should have the best of their mother, her freshest, brightest hours.” That is a homeschool mom! Many parents today justify their long hours at work away from their children as a way to be fresher for their children when they finally reconvene in the evening. I know my best hours with the children are during the day when the demands of dinner, baths, dishes, clean up, etc. are not sucking up all my time.

Out of Doors

In the Out of Doors Life for Children section, Charlotte discusses lessons that can be taught while enjoying and learning in nature-nature study being a very important part of a Charlotte Mason education. (Some of what I read has been covered in my Nature is for Kids post, so I will only cover a few brand new ideas here.) Once the children have had an hour or two of vigorous play and wild scampering, while wits are still fresh and eyes keen, their mother can send them off on an Exploring Expedition. Who can see the most, and tell the most, about such and such off yonder. All done in the air of a game, the children come running back excited to tell all that they saw, and the mother clarifies and asks for specifics (“What side did you say you saw the fruit trees on?”), which ensures that the retelling includes the exactness of a lesson. “This is the mother’s chance to train the seeing eye, the hearing ear, and to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of a child, which shall germinate, blossom and bear fruit, without further help or knowledge of hers.” Our own childhood memories are often hazy and fragmented because we were never trained to take the time and effort to fully see a scene. Training a child’s powers of observation while they are young is a gift you can give them that they will take into old age. What a delightful possession to have a set of unmarred beautiful images, feature by feature, in the sunny glow of a child’s mind.

Similarly, in the method of Picture Painting, the mother has her children stare at some patch of landscape until they can close their eyes and reproduce the picture before them verbally. If any bit is blurred, they look again. This is an exercise to do only every once in awhile because Charlotte says recalling and reproducing a picture is fatiguing for children. However, the benefit is that seeing fully and in detail is likely to be repeated unconsciously until it becomes a habit of a child required to do this exercise, and having the power to fully see is altogether pleasurable. This power of observation is what empowers every great artist and poet, and yet this act of seeing need not be some high poetic gift that the rest of us must only be content to admire. It is the reward for all who take the pains in the act of seeing– which parents may do a great deal to confer upon their children.

I think many of us view Nature Study as a type of “tour”, where mother or father take the kids on a walk and spout off names of every form of plant life that is passed by. This method of instruction, filling children’s minds like empty vessels, is very anti-Charlotte Mason style. The result is much teaching with no real learning. Doing Nature Study the Charlotte Mason way takes some of the pressure off of us to be botany experts……….some. A child who returns from an Exploring Expedition, for example, and can not describe whether a tree had pointed or rounded leaves, rough or smooth bark, etc. shall get no encouragement (ie. no tree identification help). Mother shall not move a foot in the direction of the tree to go see it until her child is sent off again and can come back with more descriptive detail. Finally when she concedes to give the name of the tree, the child is full of glee, and carries her off to go and see.

Wow, the way Charlotte puts it, receiving knowledge sounds like candy gumdrops, or drops of water upon a parched tongue. Information offered just when a child is hungry for it is gobbled up. I think any good educator knows this, and gives the uses and names of objects as the need for the knowledge arises and after interest has already been peaked–noted by ‘What is that?’ and ‘What is that for mother?’ type of questions. Information offered at the wrong time, or in the wrong manner (like a tour or like lecture style teaching at school), goes in one ear and out the other. A Charlotte Mason education is based on the premise that “Its not how much a child knows, its how much a child cares.” And of course this is the education method that teaches children to care, and the more they care, the more they really learn.

So we parents do need to know something about the native plants in our community in order to supply doses of knowledge at the right time, but we only need to offer a little information here and little there at the opportune moments. I must get my hands on the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock and start learning more about the plants around me while my kids are still little!

The last idea in the Out of Doors section that made an impression on me was that by doing Nature Study together, we are literally teaching our children to “consider the lilies of the field and how they grow”, as the Bible says. As they study nature, starting early on, they will become so absorbed and in love with nature over the years, that this passion implanted while young, will seem inborn. It will consume their thoughts and energy in a healthy way. With so much lure of glamour, materialism, and temptation for impure interests surrounding our older children and teenagers, a pure absorbing pursuit of “considering the lilies of the field” developed at a young age will do much to preserve our children from future recklessness. Imagine a young person’s room filled with her Nature Study collections of shells, fossils, and flowers, rather than littered with teen magazines and posters of pop stars. What an awesome side benefit of Nature Study.

Children Are Made to Know God

Finally, I would like to share Charlotte’s wise words about not hindering our children’s relationship with Almighty God: “perhaps it is not too beautiful a thing to believe in this redeemed world, that, as the babe turns to his mother though he has no power to say her name, as the flowers turn to the sun, so the hearts of the children turn to their Savior and God with unconscious delight and trust.” Because it is so natural for a child to come to Jesus, now, during childhood, is the time to nurture, not overlook, this relationship.

Let’s Consider the Lilies with Our Children this Spring!!!

Valentine’s Day Friendship Tea Party

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We Used Our Best Manners and Served Each Other

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Faith’s Hand Really Wanted to Put That Strawberry on Her Own Plate

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Noah Was All About the Food (“What’s Next Mommy?”)

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Hearts, Cinnamon Sugar Apple Hearts, and Coconut Cinnamon Banana Hearts

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Tayler’s Valentine from Noah and Faith

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Our Surprise Tea Party Guests

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Just a Few Days Old

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So Sleepy

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So Soft

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Even Comfy Upside Down

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Playtime with Chickies

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