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Welcome to week 5 of our Home Education book club! This week we’ll be reading pages 78-95.
Below are some journaling pages for you to use as you read the scheduled pages this week. I look forward to discussing this section with you guys in the coming days!
Resources Mentioned in this Week’s Video:
Survival School-Air Force S.E.R.E Training (I misspelled this in the video…)
Part II: Out of Door Life for the Children, Continued…
X. The Child and Mother-Nature
The Mother Must Refrain from Too Much Talk:
Charlotte says not to be overwhelmed with the thought of all there is to be taught. We’re not meant to teach every second that we spend outside. On the contrary, the less we say, the better. There are a million things to do, yes, but each has its time and place.
“... no more than a single tick is to be delivered in any given second.” (pg. 78)
Making a New Acquaintance:
The children will probably only take about 15 minutes or so to complete their daily habit of ‘sight-seeing’ and ‘picture-painting,’ says Charlotte. From there, mothers can introduce a natural object to spend a little time observing and she can answer a few questions about it. Do this a couple of times a day and be done! Then there is so much free time left!
The difficulty isn’t in finding things to say, but in keeping ourselves from saying too much! Our goal is for our children to spend time with Mother Nature themselves… being independently present in it and making their own observations.
“This is, truly, a delightful thing to watch: the mother reads her book or knits her sock, checking all attempts to make talk; the child stares up into a tree, or down into a flower-- doing nothing, thinking of nothing; or leads a bird’s life among the branches, or capers about in aimless ecstasy;-- quite foolish, irrational doings, but, all the time, a fashioning is going on: Nature is doing her part…” (pg. 79)
Two Things Permissible to the Mother:
In order to be “interpreter” between Nature and child, mothers can occasionally point out those especially inspiring natural objects that catch our attention and awe. And we can remind our children ever so gently that these things are a “thought” of God, the true Creator.
“She [the mother] will point to some lovely flower or gracious tree, not only as a beautiful work, but a beautiful thought of God, in which we may believe He finds continual pleasure, and which He is pleased to see his human child rejoice in. Such a seed of sympathy with the Divine thought sown in the heart of the child is worth many of the sermons the man may listen to hereafter, much of the ‘divinity’ he may read.” (pg. 80)
XI. Out-of-Door Games
After these many hours spent outdoors observing and absorbing the beauty of Nature, we can squeeze in some short lessons of importance.
The French Lesson:
Charlotte recommends taking 10 minutes or so per day to teach 5-6 new words of a foreign language. Her recommendation is to teach French, though, depending on where you live in the world, this could vary. Many Americans feel it’s beneficial to learn Spanish.
Whatever language you choose, Charlotte recommends tying it into your outdoor time by teaching the words that describe the world around you, such as leaves, branches, colors, etc. These words can be put to use as the child expresses his observations as well.
After lunch has been eaten and the first part of the day has past, it’s a great time to let the children play. Charlotte says it is so important for our children to have access to wide, “lonely” spaces where they can run and shout to their heart’s content, without being annoying to any neighbors, etc.
She calls these wide open spaces Nature’s gift to growing bodies and it does our children good to take advantage of the opportunity to run and play. And if they play pretend in plays and with music, all the better!
“People talk of ‘weak lungs,’ ‘weak chest,’ ‘weak throat,’ but perhaps it does not occur to everybody that strong lungs and strong throat are commonly to be had on the same terms as a strong arm or wrist-- by exercise, training, use, work.” (pg. 81)
A “ronde” is a dance in which the dancers move in a circle. Charlotte says that these fun games that children participate in have more value than we realize. And though our preschools and kindergartens try to teach “educational” versions of these dances, the most valuable ones are those passed “hand to hand through and endless chain of children, and are not to be found in the print-books at all.” (pg. 82)
Skipping-Rope and Shuttlecock:
Finding games that suit our children’s ages is important and valuable. Charlotte recommends things like jumping rope, following the leader, tig (which is tag), ball, and shuttlecock (which is the projectile used in badminton). And creating competitions or keeping record of their achievements in these things will help motivate them to get better at them!
Climbing may not be the most enticing activity for many mothers simply due to the risks involved (scraped knees, torn clothes, etc.). But Charlotte reminds us of the many physical benefits (as well as the simple pleasures) to be found in allowing our children to test themselves by climbing!
“The mother may do a good deal to avert serious mishaps by accustoming the younger children to small feats of leaping and climbing, so that they learn, at the same time, courage and caution from their own experiences, and are less likely to follow the lead of too-daring playmates.” (pg. 84)
She also reminds us that shocked screams of interjection (“Get down from there!”) will usually scare a child so suddenly that it causes the exact thing we were trying to prevent (like a fall from a high place). Best to try and stay calm while children are testing their physical boundaries.
And of course, learning to swim is a great skill for physical development and also a simple delight!
Clothing for these outdoor times don’t need to be extravagant. Instead they should be practical and comfortable!
XII. Walks in Bad Weather
Winter Walks as Necessary as Summer Walks:
It’s easy to spend time outside in the summer months, but it’s not so easy in the winter ones. Charlotte still recommends about 3 hours outdoors per day-- 1.5 in the morning and 1.5 in the afternoon.
Pleasures Connected with Frost and Snow:
Of course frost and snow are a delight to children, but we should train them in the habit of cheerful hearts even on dull and dreary days, finding ways to make these gray days special.
Observations in the winter can be just as fruitful as they are in the spring.
“There is no reason why the child’s winter walk should not be as fertile in observations as the poet’s; indeed, in one way, it is possible to see the more in winter, because the things to be seen do not crowd each other out.” (pg. 86)
Habit of Attention:
Winter walks provide wonderful opportunities to cultivate the habit of attention. Charlotte mentions Robert Houdin (the great conjurer known as “the father of modern magic”) and how, as a boy, he would compete with his father in trying to remember the items in a store window after they had passed. He got so good at this skill that eventually he could recall better than his father. Charlotte recommends a similar practice for nature walks.
Wet Weather Tramps:
Unless there is a hurricane, walks in the rain can be a great delight! Simply dress children appropriately and enjoy!
Outer Garments For:
Charlotte states that as long as children aren’t kept indefinitely in their wet clothes, they will be fine spending time in the wet outdoors. In fact, unless they are sick, they should spend plenty of time outside, rain or shine. Of course, each child is different and may have different needs, but the importance of daily time outside can’t be overstated.
As always, be smart and take precautions, using your common sense to be sure children are suitably dressed for all occasions.
XIII. ‘Red-Indian’ Life
Learning to “scout” like an Indian is a lost art. Families should make efforts to teach some of these skills to their children, even in our “ready-made” world, as Charlotte calls it. (Which has become even more ready-made since the time of her writing this book!)
One of the many skills that comes with scouting is bird stalking.
“Think, how exciting to creep noiselessly as shadows behind river-side bushes on hands and knees without disturbing a twig or a pebble till you get within a yard of a pair of sandpipers, and then, lying low, to watch their dainty little runs, pretty tricks of head and tail, and to hear the music of their call.” (pg. 89)
And the greatest joy, Charlotte says, of bird stalking is becoming familiar with bird songs. By learning to patiently and quietly observe the comings and goings of birds, a whole new world opens up to our children. They’ll learn things like birds habits and habitats, how and what they eat, how and where they nest, and how they are ever watchful and busy.
“This is the sort of thing bird-stalkers come upon-- and what a loss have those children who are not brought up to the gentle art wherein the eye is satisfied with seeing, and there is no greed of collecting, no play of the hunter’s instinct to kill, and yet a lifelong joy of possession.” (pg. 92)
XIV. The Children Require Country Air
The Essential Proportion of Oxygen, Excess of Carbonic Acid, and Unvitiated, Unimpoverished Air:
Charlotte was on to something when she encouraged her readers to leave the cities as much as possible for pure air. No doubt the condition of the air in our cities has diminished even further since her writing of Home Education. She implores parents to consider how very important clean air is to the growth and development of children, and she encourages them to expose their children to clean air as often as possible.
And we take the children out not only for fresh air, but also for the benefits of sunshine upon their skin. We know now that sunshine is the best source of vitamin D and this has both physical and mental health benefits.
A Physical Ideal for a Child:
We want our children to be physically healthy, yes. And we are daily growing habits for or against this result. As important as physical health is, it is only a fraction of the overall health of a child. Our true hope is to grow our children into wholly-healthy people.
“... the bright eye, the open regard, the springing step; the tones, clear as a bell; the agile, graceful movements that characterise the well-brought-up child, are the result, not of bodily well-being only, but of ‘mind and soul according well,’ of a quick, trained intelligence, and of a moral nature habituated to ‘the joy of self-control.’” (pg. 95)
That concludes this week’s readings. Next week we’ll be reading pages 96-118, which is all about habits. I hope you’ll join me!