According to Charlotte Mason, education is
- Developing your child as a unique person.
“The function of education is not to give technical skill but to develop a person” (Vol. 6, p. 147).
- An atmosphere, a discipline, a life.
“Education is a discipline—that is, the discipline of the good habits in which the child is trained. Education is a life, nourished upon ideas; and education is an atmosphere—that is, the child breathes the atmosphere emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives” (Vol. 2, p. 247).
- Mainly carried out within a family setting.
“By far the most valuable part of education is carried on in the family” (Vol. 3, p. 94).
- Not trying to teach your child all about anything, but rather giving
him plenty of opportunities to form personal relations with people and
things around him.
“Education is the Science of Relations; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we must train him upon physical exercises, nature, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books; for we know that our business is, not to teach him all about anything, but to help him make valid, as many as may be of—
‘Those first born affinities
That fit our new existence to existing things.’ ” (Vol. 1, Preface).
- Giving your child vital interests in a wide variety of subjects.
“Our aim in education is to give children vital interests in as many directions as possible—to set their feet in a large room—because the crying evil of the day is, it seems to me, intellectual inanition” (Vol. 3, p. 231).
- Guiding your child to apply wisdom.
“Some day we shall be told that the very word education is a misnomer belonging to the stage of thought when the drawing forth of ‘faculties’ was supposed to be a teacher’s business. We shall have some fit new word meaning, perhaps, ‘applied wisdom,’ for wisdom is the science of relations, and the thing we have to do for a young human being is to put him in touch, so far as we can, with all the relations proper to him” (Vol. 3, p. 75).
- Encouraging useful living, clear thinking, aesthetic enjoyment, and the religious life.
“We are empirically certain that a chief function of education is the establishment of such ways of thinking in children as shall issue in good and useful living, clear thinking, aesthetic enjoyment, and, above all, in the religious life” (Vol. 6, p. 100).
- More about character than about conduct.
“We who teach should make it clear to ourselves that our aim in education is less conduct than character; conduct may be arrived at, as we have seen, by indirect routes, but it is of value to the world only as it has its source in character” (Vol. 6, p. 129).
- Feeding your child’s spirit with that which is good and wholesome and, especially, the knowledge of God.
“Education is part and parcel of religion and every enthusiastic teacher knows that he is obeying the precept,—’feed my lambs’—feed with all those things which are good and wholesome for the spirit of a man; and, before all and including all, with the knowledge of God” (Vol. 6, p. 246).
Of course, one of the disadvantages to sort of flying by the seat of my pants, is that it can, and does, lead to chaos. Maeve is required to do handwriting and math everyday that we do school. She reads throughout the day and we've been doing science a couple of times a week.. Unfortunately, I don't think this is enough to feed her mind this winter, nor is it structured enough to keep all of the kids out of trouble.
Our days have a routine, but my kids need more parent-lead activities. I try to include them in as much as possible throughout the day, but transitioning from a lot of outdoor play to being mostly indoors, has lead to a lot of fighting, tv watching, and boredom. I need to switch things up a bit after the holidays.
I found this site for free McGuffy's readers and I'm going to give them a try with both Maeve and Finn. I want them both to do some copy work. I'm thinking I will either read Magic Tree House books, Little House books, or maybe some other historical series. The kids love it when we read together and we typically finish a Magic Tree House book in a couple of hours or less. We've finished Little House in the Big Woods and Maeve is getting the boxed set for Christmas. I want them to narrate the story back to me and I found a Charlotte Mason site that has some good narration ideas. I need Finn to be more involved with schooling on a daily basis and I think this should help with that. As a side note, Finn has been learning a lot this year too. He can read and has been fascinated about weather and comic books.
I like many of the Charlotte Mason ideas because they incorporate kids of all ages. Oren has definitely been left out a bit this year. He's not into coloring or letters or holding a pencil or counting or workbooks, but he does like to do school. He likes having some kind activity to do (or choose not to do). I'm going to work on handicrafts and life skills with him since he's a very tactile learner. Maeve and Finn will benefit from this also and it should help fill the time when the cold weather hits.