Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book #6 Review: For the Children's Sake - Part 2

I am getting behind in my reading goal this year and also in the reviewing of the books I've currently read. So, I am just going to jump right in and try to catch up.

Part 2 of my review of For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer.

Some of the key princples of Charlotte Mason's educational philosphy are...

1. Education is an atmosphere.
2. Education is a discipline.
3. Education is a life.
4. Education is a science of relations

I agree with these principles wholeheartedly. But reading For the Children's Sake helped me to better understand exactly what these mean and how to incorporate them into my home (or a school setting for those in the public or private educational setting).

Various types of education can "work".

You see, this is what I love about this book. It doesn't condemn the public school system or private schools in sole praise of homeschooling. Each family must make the decision as to what is right for their own family themselves.

We must be tolerant when scrutinizing them, realizing that there is no simple answer to the question of what should be included in "education"

That's right. It isn't easy. While I may feet strongly about a certain math curriculum, another family may feel just as strongly about a totally different approach to math. How much? Should you use flashcards? or an abacus? It gets messy. I've seen it get messy, firsthand.

But I feel similar to the author when she states...

I would rather my child had a limited curriculum and access to limited educational resources, and yet learned by basking in the atmosphere of someone who had true pleasure in the books that were pursued, than that he should go to some well-equipped and soulless situation where, theoretically he could "learn" at optimum speed.

Yes, yes, yes! I want my daughter to LOVE learning! I want her to feel that the world is hers to explore.

I found the section on habits to be helpful in this book. Simple encouragement and practical ways to help in the areas of attention-concentration, truthfulness, self-control and unselfishness. Of course, there are many more habits (and I wish to read Laying Down the Rails soon to help in this area) that are not mentioned in this book, but this list gives me a place to start.

"Education is Life"

This is important to me.

"Let the children at the best of life!" is Charlotte Mason's challenge to us. Liufe includes not only living experiences, but also the best that mankind has produced in art, books, mucis, ideas, and many more areas.

Let the children feed on the good, the excellent, the great!

I sometimes just want to scream, "Let the children LIVE." Let them be kids! Let them play. Actually play! With no parental involvement and direction. The other day Chloe asked to play outside in the back garden. She took with her a tablespoon from my kitchen drawer. (I found out about it later. No worries. It will remain out of circulation.) I peeked out the window later to see her sitting in the middle of our yard digging a hole with the spoon. I asked her what she was doing and she replied, "Digging a hole." It was like, duh. What did I think she was doing? Right? When left to herself, she dug a hole for the sheer pleasure of digging a hole. An hour later she set the spoon down in the grass and walked into the house. "Whew!" she sighed. "That's hard work." A week later, she was back outside (with the same spoon) digging in her hole again.

The point I am trying to make here is that Chloe was living. She was choosing to do something and doing it. I allowed her the use of my spoon (partly because it was already caked in mud by the time I saw it) to do whatever she thought up to do. She has her own idea of what constitutes fun. She learned that it is hard to dig a big hole with a little tablespoon. She also learned that the ground is easier to dig up when it is wet. She didn't need me to tell her that information. She learned it on her own by playing.

This book was very helpful to me in the area of practical ways to allow a child freedom to play in a variety of settings. She also mentioned how to help a child who may already be "passive" or "glazed over" while staring at a television screen. I don't like to see bored children. Childhoood is such fun. We should not see bored children. Just today, Chloe was wandering around...bored. Yup. She wanted me to entertain her. But I can't do it. I want to, but I can't. I believe it is important for her to learn how to entertain herself. I brought out two large moving boxes I purchased at Home Depot this weekend and told Chloe to use her markers, construction paper, glue and whatever else she wanted to create something with her boxes. She informed me that they were not boxes but actually her clubhouse. One of the boxes is being transformed into a cat hideout (Chloe being the cat) as I sit here and type. So, I provided the boxes in the midst of her boredom and you see what she did with that? Her imagination took over and she went to town, all because I provided her with the freedom to be creative and just play.

So, again I say, this book was extremely helpful and I am very glad to own it. I will pull it off my bookshelf many times in the next few years, I am sure of that.

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