Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Education Begins in the Heart of a Home

Ever heard of Charlotte Mason?

I know most of you homeschooling mamas have!  

But I've been thinking, lately, about many of my dear friends who are not home-educators - but who equally have a heart for giving their children the gift of the love of learning.  

In case you have never met, I would like to introduce you ladies to a wonderful book written about a woman of years-past, whose words and ideas make her feel like an old friend to me (though I have never actually met her, either ;)

Charlotte Mason was a teacher from the late 1800's whose ideas on "real learning" have inspired many educators and parents in giving their children a life-long love of learning.

Her philosophy in a nutshell:
learning from "living books" (you know, the interesting ones - not textbooks!)
"real learning" through experience and personal interest in a subject
cultivating an appreciation for nature, art, poetry, classical music and other elements of classical education

. . .and, most importantly. . . learning all of these things from the warmth of a loving home - from the gentle security of a Mama's knee.

See, as much as I heartily believe in the benefits of homeschooling (which I will save for a loooong post on another day!) - the truth is, whether a family chooses to homeschool or not, the success of a child's education ultimately rests in the hands of his parents....and by what happens at home.

I know this first-hand, because I grew up attending public school during my elementary years.  Honestly, I don't remember much at all of what we learned in my classes, besides the math!

What I do remember from those childhood years are endless days spent playing outdoors, watching the squirrels and birds at our feeders, helping my Dad plant flowers and take care of the yard, keeping a small garden, learning about wildflowers with my Mom (who happens to love them herself), going for occasional day-trips with my parents who would point out beautiful or interesting things in nature as we drove past. 

I remember our home being filled with music - and hearing all the different genres of classical music, especially, because Mom and Dad would turn it on in the background.  We also watched orchestra concerts on the PBS channel - I thought it was all wonderful and beautiful!  Later, I learned how to play many those familiar pieces when I studied the flute.

I spent many winter afternoons writing little stories about animals or silly poems.  We always had (what seemed to me) endless supplies of paper, paints, sketching pencils, crafting items - and books.  Good books, which Mom made sure would spark my interest.  I can appreciate now, as a Mama myself looking back, all the effort she went through to make sure I always had something good to read!  My Dad, too, read many books aloud with me - including our children's Bible and the Narnia series.  He read (still reads!) the Lord of the Rings trilogy after Christmas every year, during the week before New Year's...a little tradition I couldn't wait to be "old enough" to join him with.  I think I was in 6th grade when I "journeyed off to Middle-earth" (as my mom would say) and read the Trilogy for the first time.

Every summer my whole family (Mom & Dad, brothers & sisters, neices & nephews) take a trip to the rural Northwoods of Wisconsin, spending a week or two in a few cabins on a lake.  As a child, I remember the highlights of those vacations including things like sighting bald eagles, giant tortoises, bears, wild raspberries; canoeing, fishing, and taking walks on the paths through the woods.  Everyone in my family has an appreciation for nature in one way or another - all because my parents were the ones excited about these things in the first place!

Mom & learners, teachers and wisdom-givers!

I'm not sure if Mom and Dad had read about Charlotte Mason...although, all of those wonderful homeschooling books eventually did find their way into our home later on.  My point is this - although I attended school, it was really my parents who educated me.  They gave me the gift of a classical education and a life-long love for learning, which I am now able to pass on to my children.

For all of you dear Mamas who have not chosen the path of home-education, but are still looking for ways of making the love of learning come alive in your homes, I highly recommend this book to you!  It is so full of inspiring ideas for guiding your children through their education, it is a treasure-chest that all families can benefit from.

And for those of you who may be contemplating the idea of homeschooling, stay tuned as I continue on this little ramble in my posts over the next week or so...


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  1. Mom and Dad are great! And they did a terrific job instilling the love and discipline of learning, and the encouragement to dig in and master a skill. Or at least give it the good old college try ;) Thanks, Mom and Dad! And thanks for the post, Collette! Your kids are blessed to have a fun-loving and fun-learning mom :)

  2. Collette,

    this was so beautiful and such a wonderful tribute to your loving parents!!! I was hanging on every word as I feel the same way about how I was brought up... Very loved. I appreciate it so much more now that I am a Mama.

    I too love this book, I was introduced to it last year by Amanda from Home grown and beeyoutiful. I am so thankful for it and thankful for the role I get to play in my children's lives.

    Looking forward to your next post!

    Love carissa

  3. Collette,
    I love this book too. In fact, I need to reread really is encouraging.

    This was such a good post! Thank you for sharing, and also for having such kind and encouraging words for mothers who do not homeschool. You said it all so well.

    I am about to work on more school planning....and I hope to blog about it later today.


  4. Looking forward to reading your new post. I am a momma in transition.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! Things are pretty busy around our house, so I can't always leave as many replies as I would like to. But please know that I look forward to reading every note you send my way - they brighten my day! Blessings,Collette

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