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Many of you are making plans, doing research, and trying to get a handle on upcoming subjects even as you finish current ones. Some of you are preparing to enter those huge (often intimidating) vendor halls at homeschooling conventions near you. You might even be experiencing what we call around our house Bad Mommy Syndrome as you seek to figure out what needs to be changed, what needs to be tweaked, and what you need to stand firm on (“or should I?”). It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as different people recommend different directions you should head with your precious children.
In the midst of all the commotion, remember three words. These three words lay the foundation to the Charlotte Mason way of homeschooling. These three words can guide all those decisions that need to be made. These three words are understandable and paint a complete picture of home education. These three words will help you!
The three words are “atmosphere,” “discipline,” and “life.” Charlotte Mason used those three words to describe her approach to education. She said, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at those three words and see how they can offer help for your homeschool. Today, let’s talk briefly about “atmosphere.”
“I just don’t know what to do with my son,” Evelyn confided. “We’re constantly butting heads, which leads to a yelling contest and both of us storming out of the room. It’s a wonder we get any schoolwork done!”
Evelyn would find help in Charlotte’s counsel that “Education is an atmosphere.” We all know how the atmosphere at home can affect our day of school. In Evelyn’s case, an atmosphere of conflict is prevailing.
The fact is that much of what a child learns he picks up by watching and listening to those around him. Remember the saying, “More things are caught than taught”? The ideas that rule your life as a parent will rub off on your child.
So the question begs to be asked, “What ideas rule your life?” Is your child learning that anger is the way to respond to conflict, or is he soaking up an atmosphere of peacemaking? Is he being educated in the “art” of worry and anxiety, or is he learning to trust the Lord even in the small things of life? Does he think that learning stops when you get your diploma, or is he seeing your desire and love for learning as an adult?
It’s easy to get caught up in the reading, writing, and arithmetic and forget that our children are watching us day in and day out. Now, I don’t believe that Charlotte intended to dump a guilt trip on parents by stating that education is an atmosphere. She just wanted to make sure we realize that the ideas that rule our lives play a big role in what our children learn from us. The truth is that all of us need that gentle reminder every so often to nudge us back on the right path.
Next time we’ll take a look at how this key word, “atmosphere,” can affect your book choices and even your schedule.