Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What I'm Learning from Macaulay's book For the Children's Sake

I have had this book for a year or two. My mother-in-law raved about it, along with many other Charlotte Mason homeschool moms, but I've never made it past the intro. I guess I am not really interested in Charlotte Mason as a person, but I love her thoughts on education and parenting. Once I got to the meat of it, it has been wonderful and enlightening. I'll just share a few thoughts as I work through this book.

I love the idea of having my children be outside for hours each day. It sounds lovely and dandy, but it's unfortunately not realistic. If they are outside, I am outside. If they spend all day outside, I get nothing done inside. If I lived back in the day when you could just send your kids out to play alone, it would all work out. But, I don't. And I don't have an 8 foot lockable privacy fence either. My goal is to get them outside at least once a day, if not more. I have three outings scheduled into our "summer" homeschool schedule and a nature study for every Friday. So, I'm hoping to give them more time outside. I saw how valuable this was when we were on vacation. They spent HOURS together without arguing, unlike when they are cooped up inside. Usually 30-40 minutes together straight is their max and then someone gets upset, hurt or angry. And, even when they faught, they worked it out amongst themselves most of the time since we weren't right there to "offer" our help. So, I agree the outdoors do wonders for children's imaginations and growth, I just hope I can offer something of good value in this altered form.

Narration is talked about a lot with Charlotte Mason. A child telling you their version of a story or what they understood of something you read about. My children do this without hesitation. My girls "read" the stories over and over again at nap and bedtime and can retell the stories almost perfectly to someone else. I've even seen my 3-year-old "reading" a story to my 1-year-old after only hearing the story once! They act out stories amongst themselves and my son even makes books and draws pictures about what he's read, all unprompted.

Love, love, love this quote!

"The Bible teaches that we are like parts of a body. In other words, we are different from each other, we all have different gifts. How immoral to apply an arbitrary yardstick to the little child and expect him to progress at some "normal" speed! We take from him the joy of accomplishing new skills which should be a part of growing up."

She talks then about how we cheer on a 3-year-old who learns to ride a tricycle because it is a personal accomplishment. But, how is a child who recieves a D in a subject at school going to notice his accomplishments that he's made in the year with a negative symbol attached to him that tells him he didn't live up to someone's standard? He can't even have joy in the accomplishments he did have! Oh, how I hate the school system. It's such a broken system. And I'm an educator! A friend of mine is worried when our two girls, who are both 4-years-old, get together this weekend that her daughter might feel inferior to my daughter because Princess Pea has learned to read since the last time they saw each other. So, how do we accomplish this mind-set in real life? How do we avoid the little girl feeling inferior when her friend is praised for an accomplishment? I told my friend to tell her daughter that we all learn to read in our own time, that she is moving very quickly toward reading on her own and that everyone should be happy for others when they learn something new. We'll see how it works out.... But, I agree it's a different mind-set than what the world has.

Charlotte Mason says, "To secure the habit of obedience, the mother must exercise great self-restraint; she must never give a command which she does not intent to see carried out to the full. And she must not lay upon her children burdens, grievous to be borne, of command heaped upon command." She says children must not learn to obey out of fear, intimidation or because it makes his/her parents happy. He/She must learn to do things because they are the right thing to do. Character is not formed in fear or flattery. And mothers should be careful as they discipline and set expectations for their children.

Oh, I could write so much more. I'm only half-way through the book, too. If you are intrigued by the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling, you need to get this book! Even if you just have little ones right now. Charlotte Mason has a lot to say about raising young children and training children before they are school age.


Kristy said...

Hey, I wanted to let you know how I liked Lemans book. I liked it but it was more suited for people who are too timid to discipline. I don't have that problem. It deals with every issue you can imagine, he lists every problem and a brief summary about how to handle it. Mostly his advice is the kids don't get to do what they want to do until they do what you want them to do. I don't think it is helping our issue. We have a child with a bad temper and when he gets mad he hits. I just haven't found a tool to help him from over-reacting. I'll check out the books you've mentioned!

Janna said...

You're making me want to pull this book out and read it again. I love what you had to say about getting the children outside--I wish my kids could be out playing for hours on end, and feel guilty that they are not. But we rent, and have a shared yard with other townhomes (which really isn't a yard). So if they're out, I must be out. In the end, most of our playing has to wait until we can get out in the country to either set of grandparents. I wish it were different--it's kind of hung over my head this whole spring/summer.