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A couple of days ago a friend shared something exciting over lunch. She had been reading a book about the origins and use of colors throughout history. In it, the author mentioned several artists. My friend enthusiastically explained that she recognized many of them from our Picture Study Portfolios. In fact, some of the specific works of those artists that the author cited, she could picture in the art gallery of her mind as she read, because she had looked at them closely—had studied them—for herself. She knew firsthand what the author was talking about.
As she told me about her experience, her eyes were shining with interest and she expressed a sense of confidence and growth as a person because she didn’t just recognize those references, she had her own personal relationships with them.
Those are the moments we want for our students (and for ourselves)! Those moments demonstrate what Charlotte called true education: “the science of relations.”
A truly educated person has her own personal relations with ideas across all of life. And she sees how something over here relates to something over there; how this is connected to that, which is connected to still another. The more relations we form, the richer our lives will be.
“Fulness of living, expansion, expression, and serviceableness, for each of us, depend upon how far we apprehend these relationships and how many of them we lay hold of” (Vol. 3, p. 186).
This is the principle that prompts the second tip for a smooth year.
Tip #2: Provide Variety
Don’t get stuck providing just the typical required school subjects. Yes, give your student history, language arts, science, and math. But don’t stop there. If you want your child to have a full life and a rich education, to form relations with many things across all of life, you need to give him a wide variety of subjects.
“We must get rid of the notion that to learn the ‘three R’s’ or the Latin grammar well, a child should learn these and nothing else. It is as true for children as for ourselves that, the wider the range of interests, the more intelligent is the apprehension of each” (Vol. 3, p. 209).
There is vast array of ideas just waiting to nourish your child’s mind and heart in art, music, handicrafts, Shakespeare, poetry, hymns, foreign language, and nature study. Don’t leave them out! A hallmark of a Charlotte Mason education is a generous curriculum—a wide feast of many subjects to provide ample opportunity for your child to form personal relations.
Now, don’t panic; sometimes when people realize how many subjects Charlotte included, they think, “We’re going to be schooling all day long!” No, here’s the key: you don’t do every subject every day. Sprinkle them throughout the week. If you need help, our Enrichment Studies, Volume 1, details a whole year of daily lessons in these wonderful subjects to make your children’s education rich and enjoyable.
Variety in your week through a wide array of subjects will help your days go smoother. Each day will offer its own change of pace—no boring same-old same-old, day after day after day.
The rich variety will keep interest and energy levels high, because in Charlotte’s words, “the variety in itself affords refreshment” (Vol. 6, p. 158).
Plus, your unique students will each have something to look forward to. Maybe one struggles with words but excels in pictures. With the enriching variety of subjects spread throughout the week, each student will have opportunities to “shine” and connect.
Education is the science of relations. Make sure you are providing a rich variety of subjects that will encourage those personal relations to be formed!