Friday, June 13, 2014

Out Door Life for Children - Charlotte Mason

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Hello!  Welcome to our continuing discussing the book Home Education by Charlotte Mason.   I'm hoping that these discussions will be really practical and encouraging for all of us!  I will bring up some areas of the chapter that I'm trying to implement in my home this summer, and I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Out-Of-Door Life For The Children

This chapter (Part II) seems to be broken down into two main ideas.  Why children should spend so much time outside and then what they should do once they are there.  Charlotte Mason encourages us to have our children be outside for 6 hours each day in the bearable months (and 3 hours in the winter months!)  I was just talking to a friend today about how this is so opposite of how public (and private) schools run.  They set their minds on keeping children inside for those 6 hours.  What Charlotte Mason suggests is counter-cultural for sure!

I loved the quote that I put on the picture above, "Never be within doors when you can rightly be without."  That is what I am working on this summer.  Essentially you would have to spend the whole day, up until dinner outside.  My problem is that I really like for everyone to have a rest time in the middle of the day, so we come in for that and miss a couple of hours there.

I was convicted by this line. "Do not send them; if it is anyway possible, take them."  I find myself too often saying, "get back outside" while I am trying to get the dishes done, or laundry put away.  I always have a hard time balancing being mom and getting housework done.  Anyone else have that same struggle?  I mean, how in the world would you be outside for 6 hours and also make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, do the dishes, and keep up with the laundry?  Right now, I send the kids out for part of the time and then I join them after a while.

Wasn't this chapter beautiful to read?  "Here is the mother's opportunity to train the seeing eye, the hearing ear, and to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child..."  Beautiful!

That is something that I need to continually be reminded of.  I tend to (wrongly) think that if I tell my kids something once, that they should have it down pat!  I need to remember that this is a time of training...teaching over and over.

Charlotte Mason makes a big deal about the mother not interfering too much.  She cautions us to not say much at all, except at certain, purposeful times.  She doesn't even want us reading books!  Now, I have a hard time with that one.   Reading to my children outside is one of my favorite things!  I don't think I'll be giving that up =)

Besides just being outside, she talks about infusing into our children a love of investigation.  She tells us to make sure that we are putting thing things in front of our children that are worth observing and let them learn by quietly watching.  My son has always been the type to wait for me to give him something to do.  I need to be extra aware of this concept because he doesn't often find things to really get into one his own.  I need to purposefully put things in front of him that are worth of being observed, and guide him into learning how to be an investigator.

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What to do Outside with our Children

I definitely didn't need to be convinced that spending time outside is the right thing to do, though I do need to learn a lot about how to do it (the Charlotte Mason way at least).  Now that we know why and how to spend time outdoors, let's talk about the whatWhat types of things should we be doing during these 6 hours?  Here are some of the things that she mentioned, that I want to be working on implementing this summer.

Sight-Seeing -

Send the kids out to look at a particular thing/place and have them report back to you exactly what they see.  You might need to help them at first, but they should grow in their ability to observe and express.

Picture-Painting - 

Have your children look closely at something, then shut their eyes.  Once they have a perfect picture in their mind, have them tell you what they see.

Learn all the kinds of flowers, crops, trees, etc. that are in your area.

You can do this through these sight-seeing and picture-painting type activities.  Make collections, press flowers, sort leaves, and follow their courses through the seasons.

Calendars - 

Keep a nature calendar.  Each day, add something new that has come up or changed.  This will give your child a reference for next year as to what should be happening when.  Have them write down what they see and where they saw it.

Nature Journals - 

By the time your child is 5 or 6, they should have their own journal to draw and write in.  Charlotte Mason suggests that these journals should not be a place for instruction, but a place for your child to freely draw and write about what he sees.

Geography - 

Teach your child north, south, east, and west, and from there how items relate directionally to one another.  Learn to read the sun's position in the sky to know what time of day it is.  Add to directions, distance.  "The flowers and 100 yards west of the house."  Once he understands these basics, give him a compass.

Games - 

Of course, let your child have lots of free playing time too.  Climbing, jumping, shouting, singing...these are the exercises of childhood and children grow in every way from enjoying them!  Ms Mason even recommends letting your little ones take their naps outside if all this activity tires them out!

Wow!  That was a lot to take in this week!  I know I have a lot of great ideas to start implementing.  How about you?  What were your take-aways this week?  Do you do some of these things with your children already?

This week only, you can find amazing resources at a deep discount to help you with your Charlotte Mason plans for this summer and next year!

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  1. Great post! I am reminded to make some definite goals for our outdoor time this summer. I blogged about this section a while ago...hope you don't mind if I link it here, since your linky list is already closed. :)

    1. Woops! I did not intend to have the linky closed already...must have pressed a wrong button. I opened it back up and I'm going to add your link. Thanks for sharing. I'll go read your post in a minute.

  2. I appreciate this from this week's reading...
    "she sends them off on an exploring expedition––Who can see the most, and tell the most, about yonder hillock or brook, hedge, or copse. This is an exercise that delights children, and may be endlessly varied, carried on in the spirit of a game, and yet with the exactness and carefulness of a lesson."
    I love the idea of making learning a regular enjoyable part of the day when children do not even realize the valuable lessons that are occurring!

    1. I agree! And what a simple way to do it. That is something I am definitely going to remember to do when I'm outside with the kids this summer!


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