How much do they care?

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  • Melanie32

    “The question is not, – how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education – but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”-Charlotte Mason

    Recently, I was thinking about and evaluating my home school and considering the whys behind the way we do things. I began to feel a bit discouraged because the truth is, my children do not love drawing in their nature journals, they do not love poetry, they do not know which song is playing or who composed it when we are listening to classical music….and the list goes on.

    As I was thinking along these lines, this quote from Charlotte Mason came to mind and suddenly the questions I was asking myself began to change. Instead of asking myself if my children know, I began to ask about what do they care? And my answers changed everything! My children care about nature-they notice things in God’s creation! They pay attention to the wonder all around them. My kids appreciate classical music, even if they do not know the name or composer, they care. They care about the world around them, the people around them. They know good literature and the literature that we have read has become a part of them-has changed them (and me as well!). They care about history because they have read about the people who make up history and they have learned to care for them.

    I walked away from that time of reflection greatly encouraged and inspired to dive even deeper in to Charlotte Mason’s principles. Why? Because they help to make us and our children people who care.

    I just thought I’d share in case someone else might be as encouraged as I was! I also thought it would be wonderful to share various CM quotes and discuss them every now and then.

    Any thoughts?



    That is my all-time favorite CM quote. You are completely accurate in your assessment. My girls know and care. My ds11 falls more on the lightly cares side, but he is growing to care more in different ways. That’s an encouragement to me.


    Melanie, this is simply wonderful.  While I don’t dwell on this issue everyday, it does certainly cross my mind occasionally and you put such great perspective on it.  Thank you for the encouragement!


    My ds11 just finished the Jack’s Insects study.  He liked being directed each week for which insect to draw in his nature notebook.  I know he cares for nature.  But now we are back to regular nature study.  I gave him Nature Connection and he looked at November for ideas of what to do for nature study this week and ended up drawing a plant fossil he found several years ago.  He had a bad attitude towards his nature notebook and towards school.  But I know he cares.  Although it is a different topic, I am wondering if I should still require the nature notebook.  I will see how it goes next week though.

    We had a talk, but also, the next day I played various classical music and his attitude was much better.  Coincidence or not, it was a better day and he did care.  Thanks for sharing the quote.


    Christie-I think it’s my favorite quote of hers as well. My son definitely seems to care less about many of these things than his sister but, if I look past the surface, I can see that he cares in his own way. It may not look the same as my way, or his sister’s way of caring but he does notice and he does care. I have faith that he will only grow in these areas as he matures.

    Kristen-I think I should print this quote out in a nice big font and hang it on my fridge for daily encouragement! 🙂

    Wings2fly-I have struggled with keeping nature notebooks throughout the years. I have required them at times and we have just enjoyed nature with out requiring notebook entries at other times. I’ve found the most important part is to get out in nature as much as possible and to teach our children to notice nature-to form relationships with the wonder all around them, and to simply enjoy God’s creation together. One steady thing in our nature study has been to keep nature guides handy so that we can look up any new creature or plant we might see. I think some children might really enjoy photographing nature rather than drawing it every now and then. My daughter enjoys photography. She took the most amazing picture of a huge mushroom the other day when she spotted it in the woods. It was a large, red mushroom with white spots on it-just like the classic depiction in children’s books!


    Yes, yes, yes!!!

    My children (12th grade & 9th grade) definitely do care about their life and the education they have received (and will receive), manifest in very different ways than one might expect if one did not know them well.  I, however, know them well and am not surprised about their “educational outcomes.”

    My eldest…..people think of her as articulate, intelligent, a natural leader, and highly opinionated.  Most people expect her to say she will be attending a university immediately upon graduation from high school. However, she plans to take a year off to save for college then attend a well-known (and expensive–whew!) cosmetology school.  She wants to obtain her manager’s license in cosmetology, something she has wanted (and something she is creative and good at) since she was very young.

    She is the one who can cook all of our meals (and often does), attends our adult Bible studies, and runs the sound equipment at church (through on-the-job training).  She’s good at these things.  She’s not good at algebra. She’s very good at being 4-H club secretary (and now president for the upcoming year). She’s always been a good reader and enjoys classic literature.

    My youngest also surprises people.  They know her as a struggling reader with dyslexia, a gardening enthusiast, and a good babysitter who wants to have a dozen children of her own.  What they don’t know (unless they get to know her better) is that she’ll tell you one reason for having all of those children is to have a lot of farmhands available.  Yep, she wants to have a farm someday. And, she’ll tell you that she will joyfully have her aging mother (well, I was close to 41 when she was born!) live out her years in her farm home and that her autistic brother is always welcome to come live & work on the farm if he needs a job or a place to live.

    However, the challenges of reading with dyslexia are not going to be a deterrent. Her plan has always been to attend a university and earn a college degree. Right now, she is looking at the agricultural college about an hour away that is part of our state university. She has always loved science and math, and because we tailor our educational methods to suit her, she has always excelled at those things.

    My girls are doing very well with their educational pursuits, thank you. That’s my typical response to those who ask about what our homeschool is like. I would also say that their feet are set in a large arena or concert hall, and it is filled to capacity with welcome opportunities for the future.


    Sue-your children sound like lovely people! I enjoyed reading about them.



    This was such an encouraging conversation for me to read. I’m just the past month trying to switch our schooling over to Charlotte Mason in all ways. It’s been inspiring to read about her, to peruse the SCM website, but the day to day implementation has been a struggle. I have health issues that leave me with little energy by the afternoons, so schooling with three children, keeping up with the two younger ones, as well as looking after our home is often just overwhelming. But in spite of what does not get done a lot of times, it has been a good change for us. My oldest, ds11, has taken on more and is enjoying reading Jack’s Insects.
    Anyway,  it’s just encouraging to read quotes like this and know that keeping on keeping on is good for us and will produce good results. I’ve seen it in others, I’ve read about it, and I can’t wait to see it come to fruition in our family.


    What a fantastic post.  I feel much the same way as those of you who responded.  I can’t always list the tangibles or show the “work” but my children are progressing beautifully and they know themselves and they care about their world and as they mature they are discovering what they want to do with their lives.  I’m learning to stop caring so much about schedules this year and sit back and notice the abundance of what they are accomplishing and caring about.  Treating them as people by listening to them and interacting with them in a meaningful, deep and respectful way.  Definitely my favorite Charlotte quote!


    I’ve so enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

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