Last year I read a ton of books, blogs, and articles about education. As our first child approached the kindergarten age, I certainly felt the urge – maybe even the obligation – to read up on different educational philosophies, methods, and practices.
Charlotte Mason’s principles for education particularly interested me because many of my friends used her method with their children, at least loosely, and I was raised with many of her ideas implemented in my parent’s home.
“Education is a discipline, an atmosphere, a life.” – Charlotte Mason
After reading several books about Charlotte Mason education, I must admit I started thinking to myself “What’s all the fuss?” and “why does Charlotte Mason always sound so complicated and formulaic to outsiders and newbies like me?”
To put it bluntly, many of Mason’s ideas are just practical, common sense approaches to raising children and guiding them as they discover the world for themselves. Most of her ideas are not rocket science, they’re just what I’d call “intentional common sense” about fostering a deep love for the child and creating an environment for him where learning is naturally encouraged, celebrated, and promoted.
Am I over-simplifying Charlotte Mason? Absolutely. But I think that for many of us parents, simple and easy is how we need to hear about such ideas. We’re all stretched thin for time and talent. Yet I think we all can create an environment where our children are encouraged to stretch their minds and hearts and fall in love with learning.
Just a few intentional yet easy, no-stress steps can help foster a Charlotte Mason education in your home, right now. Starting today.
Here are five of my favorite no-stress ways to foster a love for learning environment in my home:
1. Pandora: Good music played throughout the day.
Introduce your child to a love of music in all it’s wonderful, varied forms. We have Pandora on our TV through our ROKU device, and we play classical music in the morning, and a wide variety of genres during the afternoon. We have Pandora pre-set stations for most of the classical and neoclassical composers, and our kids have grown familiar with their names and their music – I let them choose the stations and they take turns picking Telemann, Scarlatti, Bach, Handel, and so many others.
In the afternoon, we play Celtic music and have a dance party, or Italian opera, or “oldies”. Today during lunch we played a Bluegrass station, and my 3 year old piped up and asked if there was a Red Grass station we could listen to next. ;o)
“They must be left alone, a great deal, to take in what they can of earth and heaven.” – Charlotte Mason
2. Take them on walks and let them play outside daily.
Unless the weather is too cold or wet to make it safe for little ones to be outside, I take my children on a walk every day with our triple jogging stroller. I don’t make a big deal (actually I don’t make ANY deal) of looking at nature or trying to learn anything while we’re outside, but the truth is, kids are curious about nature. If you make the outdoors a part of their life, they’ll learn to love it. They’ll learn to be curious and brave and inquisitive about nature.
Without realizing it we had a mini semester study on Carolina trees last fall. One day we were coming home from our walk and Luke, then almost 3, started naming off the different trees based on their leaf shapes in all the neighbor’s yards. I realized that over the course of the fall they had been asking me “what’s the name of that tree/leaf” and I answered or looked it up for them. Natural, stress free learning 101.
3. Display maps, atlases, and globes in your home.
Charlotte Mason wanted children to have a deep insatiable curiosity about the world. She suggested maps, atlases, and fine art prints readily accessible to the child. Thankfully, my husband and I love maps and we love to travel, so we have maps in most rooms of our home except for bedrooms and bathrooms. My children will gladly engage in a conversation about continents and countries and where they hope to travel in their lifetimes. We don’t force geography lessons, we just let them spin the globe and let their imaginations spin with it.
“They must grow up upon the best. There must never be a period in their lives when they are allowed to read or listen to twaddle or reading-made-easy. There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told” – Charlotte Mason
4. Have LOTS of good books easily accessible to children, and get rid of Twaddle.
Charlotte Mason writes strongly against dumbed-down children’s books that do nothing for their development or love of learning. Last year we did a full overhaul and got rid of tons of books and are still working to rid our home of Twaddle. (I wrote about that journey here).
I also rearranged our bookshelves so that good books are more acessible to our children. I find that often small kids prefer to pick a book off a table or out of a basket, than to choose one from a bookshelf. We still keep the majority of children’s books on bookshelves in our playroom, but I’ve also placed baskets around our home full of books I’d like them to have easier access to. All day long they go sit on the floor with a blanket or in a small rocking chair next to those baskets and flip pages.
I’ve also started using the library a LOT more. I use websites like Elizabeth Foss and Shower of Roses to obtain good Twaddle-free book lists, and then I max out my monthly library hold limit, and go pick up 20-25 books at one time. It keeps the kids always interested in books since the titles are always changing month to month. (Our very favorite library finds then go on my Amazon wish list for our children’s library :o)
“What is required of us is that we implant a love for the Word.” – Charlotte Mason
5. Read a verse of the Bible to them daily.
When it comes to educating our children, regardless of the method, the only thing we REALLY are required to do as parents is to instill in them a love for God. Truly, that is the bottom line of a parent’s duty toward a child, isn’t it?
I’ve found it helpful to read a verse of Scripture to my children every day. Not a whole chapter or even a whole passage, just a verse. To let a few words of actual Scripture (not dumbed-down Children’s Bible story books) soak into their minds and hearts.
Five easy and stress-free ways to foster education, right?
Now it’s your turn – I’d love to hear your ideas for EASY ways to foster a love for learning in the home.
“…my object is to show that the chief function of the child–his business in the world during the first six or seven years of his life–is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses…” – Charlotte Mason