Education is an atmosphere
“Our motto is,–‘Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.’ When we say that education is an atmosphere we do not mean that a child should be isolated in what may be called a ‘child environment’ specially adapted and prepared, but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere both as regards persons and things and should let him live freely among his proper conditions. It stultifies a child to bring down his world to the ‘child’s’ level.” –Charlotte Mason, Volume 6
People have interpreted this quote differently over the years, but most agree that children do the best when they are exposed to “real-life” experiences rather than sitting in a room of their peers all day.
Of course, as a homeschool mom, that’s right up your alley!
Ms. Mason goes on to say:
“We all know the natural conditions under which a child should live; how he shares household ways with his mother, romps with his father, is teased by his brothers and petted by his sisters; is taught by his tumbles; learns self-denial by the baby’s needs, the delightfulness of furniture by playing at battle and siege with sofa and table; learns veneration for the old by the visits of his great-grandmother; how to live with his equals by the chums he gathers round him; learns intimacy with animals from his dog and cat; delight in the fields where the buttercups grow and greater delight in the blackberry hedges.”
Education happens in a more natural atmosphere
Your child is learning in your home, way before there are phonics or arithmetic lessons! She’s learning by being exposed to language-rich social and natural environments all around her.
She’ll learn by:
- Listening to you talk, sing, and read to her and others
- Interacting with parents and siblings
- Encountering others in your community (while running errands with mom/dad, attending church, talking with neighbors, etc.)
- Playing imaginatively
- Absorbing the character lessons that are taught in normal family and community interactions
- Learning age-appropriate responsibilities, such as caring for pets
- Spending time in nature
Speaking of reading to kids, here’s a short video of our one-year-old grandson practicing his new verbal skills. (Since this was taken at bedtime, it’s a little dark, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it.) ?
Dr. Jane Healy’s Endangered Minds is not new, but the best book I’ve read about cognitive/language development. Our society’s tendency to park littles in front of screens is affecting them in scary, physiological ways. Read it.
Another aspect of “atmosphere”…
Although you want to provide an interactive, language-rich, natural environment for your kids…the “learning” atmosphere, there’s also another aspect of atmosphere. This includes how everyone gets along. In other words, how harmonious your household is.
Looking at it this way, how would you describe the atmosphere in your home while you’re homeschooling? Happy? Bored? Warm? Angry? Peaceful?
This can be such a challenging area! We tend to make our homes look good on the outside, but we often struggle with this at home alone. Especially when we begin to homeschool. Or when we have added outside pressures like illness, financial issues, kids hitting puberty, etc.
If you struggle to keep a peaceful home, it’s time to step back and examine the issues. Research shows that children have more difficulty learning in a stressful environment. So take this seriously and take steps to get it under control. Seek outside help from a trusted friend or mentor if you need it.
Sometimes stress is a result of trying to get through too many planned lessons or too many outside activities.
Nothing can blow up your educational atmosphere faster than expecting too much from your children or taking on too many activities outside your home.
It’s like a 5-year-old who orders a huge pile of spaghetti, sometimes homeschool moms want to fit in too. many. things. Too much school, too many activities… Does this sound like you, homeschool mom? It has sounded like me before, especially when we were beginning our homeschool journey.
Maybe you and your kids are having conflict over schoolwork. Sometimes, it’s a matter of reviewing your curriculum to see if it’s working for you and your family and making a change if it’s not.
But before you trash your curriculum, let’s look at a few alternatives that might help.
How do I make it better?
If you’re having a hard time getting school done, no matter what the issues are, here’s how to assess how your homeschooling is going. That way, you can take a step-by-step, objective look at what is going well and what’s not.
If, after doing your assessment, you’ve pinpointed some areas that need work, try these resources:
- Try some basic habit training with your kids (and possibly yourself!)
- Consider these 5 tips to figure out why your child has a bad attitude.
- Read how to make the most of how your children learn in this brain-based teaching series of four posts, beginning here. (These posts will help you build your children’s confidence as well as learn some easy hacks to help your kids retain information more easily.)
Another thing to consider: the emotional atmosphere of your home often starts with you.
If you’re unhappy, have consistently low energy, and struggle to put one foot in front of the other in the morning, you’ll probably struggle to homeschool. You might have a chronic illness, a differently-abled child, or multiple children five and under.
No matter what situation you’re dealing with, you have to take care of yourself to be able to take care of your children, especially if you are homeschooling. It’s a lot to take on! The link in the last sentence will help you focus on your own health and well-being for a minute.
In addition to taking care of yourself, gather the support of moms who have homeschooled longer than you and who share your values. Join a local support group if you can. Or, if you are in a more remote area, there are plenty of online groups for you to connect with.
Just make sure you get in a group that supports your values!
I have faith in you!