“Never be within doors when you can rightly be out. ”
Charlotte Mason, Home Education, page 42
The littlest is sucking on a stick, posing ponderously, like Gandalf with his pipe. She looks far into the distance, perhaps thinking of the beauties of the Shire.
The two oldest volley back and forth, endeavoring each to impress the other with feats of masculine prowess.
And the other looks overhead, fearful of the grey storm clouds pulling in, waiting for his current nemesis to make his presence known: thunder.
And the mother sits with a warm cup of coffee, slippers, a blanket, and a bag of books. She calls to the children about every twenty minutes, saying their name only once. When they come promptly, she reads a small passage of literature to them or gives them a counting task. She calls their attention to the budding apple tree. After the passage is read or task is accomplished, they are free to go and explore their world again.
Charlotte Mason had what would be perceived as unconventional AND inconvenient ideas for how a child should spend the first six years of life.
In the first place, do not send them; if it is anyway possible, take them; for, although the children should be left much to themselves, there is a great deal to be done and a great deal to be prevented during these long hours in the open air. And long hours they should be; not two, but four, five, or six hours they should have on every tolerably fine day, from April till October.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve failed on this account in terms of providing my children with a Charlotte Mason education. While we’ve embraced nature study and nature walks and nature everything, I’ve been loathe to spend so many hours outside during a day. Part of it is our extreme climate, ranging from -34 before windchill to 114 degrees Fahrenheit. But part of it is also laziness on my part. At our old house in a small town, we had a third of an acre, and I willingly let my child play by himself in the yard. It was fenced in such a way that he couldn’t get out of the yard, so safety concerns were not high. There was a big bay window in the kitchen spanning a third of the house, facing the yard, I could cook and watch my child. It was convenient. In this house, we have around a tenth of an acre, and the kids can all get out of the backyard if they want to and run down the driveway. Being outside with them at this stage is imperative, as we live in a busy neighborhood. I need to be outside with them, but balancing the outside time and the “Mama needs to get things done” is difficult.
This is the one area I have great plans for improvement on in the next year. I’ve begun ushering all of the kids outdoors at 7:30 a.m. We do the majority of our lessons for the day outside. We’ll stay outside until it’s naptime for the younger kids, and then after all of the inside chores are done during the mid-day, we’ll all go outside and play in the afternoon. This is when the weather is nice. I’m sure this pattern will change, as weather cools.