Charlotte Mason Mondays – Education is an Atmosphere

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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 in a few different ways 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

The fact is, your child is learning in your home, way before there are phonics lessons or arithmetic worksheets! 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
  • normal daily encounters with others in your community (while running errands with mom/dad, attending church, talking with neighbors, etc.)
  • imaginative play
  • 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.) ?


Did you know that about the best thing you can do with your babies/toddlers in terms of language development is talk to them?

Dr. Jane Healy’s Endangered Minds is not a new one, but the best book I’ve read about cognitive/language development.  Our society’s tendency to park littles in front of a screen is affecting them in scary, physiological ways. Read it.



Another aspect about atmosphere….

Although you want to provide an interactive, language rich, natural environment for your kids…the “learning” atmosphere. There’s also an aspect of atmosphere that includes how everyone “get’s along.” In other words, how harmonious your household is.

Looking at it this way, how would you desribe the atmosphere in your home while you’re homeschooling? Happy? Bored? Warm? Angry?

This can be such a hard area!  We tend to make our homes look good on the outside, but we so often struggle with this at home by ourselves. Especially when we start homeschooling. (Or when we have outside pressures of illness, financial issues, kids hitting puberty…!)

If you struggle keeping a peaceful home, it’s time to step back and examine the issues. Research shows that children have a harder time learning in a stressful environment. (And if you’re household doesn’t have a measure of peace, it is stressful!)

Sometimes this is a result of trying too get to much school and extracurriculars done. Like a 5 year old who orders a huge pile of spaghetti, sometimes homeschool moms just want to fit in too many things. Too much school, too many activties… does that sound like you?

Maybe you and your kids are having conflict over their schoolwork Sometimes it’s a matter of reviewing your curriculum to see if it’s working for you and your family.

Sometimes it is a matter of  building good habits. Often it is learning how to deal with misbehaving children.


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 take an assessment of 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. As well, you can use this tool to help you with the particular things that are keeping it from going well.

This pertains mostly to the “learning aspects” of the atmosphere.

But as a general rule, the emotional atmosphere of the home starts with you.

If you’re unhappy, you’re probably not going to have a peaceful school experience. I know. You have a lot of responsibilities. Start by taking care of yourself.

And if you’re having conflict with your kids, as I said, check out  building good habits  and  learning how to deal with misbehaving children.

Additionally, make sure you have some support of moms who have homeschooled longer than you and who share your values. Join a local accountability group if you can. If you are in a more remote area, there are plenty of online groups of homeschool parents to connect with.

Next:  Education is a Discipline


 If you aren’t familiar with Charlotte Mason, read more about her here.

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