Over the last several months, especially since Christmas, I have done a lot of reading/researching on Charlotte Mason and her teaching method. It completely interests me, and I am glad I learned of it while the boys are still preschool age. There is so much talk about push, push, pushing our children to do more sooner, that I had felt myself starting to get swept up into that idea. I am a former teacher, daughter of a teacher, product of 5 day a week all day gifted program for a large chunk of my own school years. The pressure to produce/keep up/excel coupled with the fact that Bubby catches on to academic things fairly easily may have had me take a different road if I hadn't learned about Miss Mason.
I don't agree with everything in her method. I am probably a bigger fan of phonics than she was, for one thing. I am sure as I read more of her books and philosophy, that there will be more things to consider how I want or do not want to implement with my boys. I do not like being outside, but Mason advocates lots of time outside, everyday, so children can interact with nature, play, observe, get fresh air, etc. I prefer to just read about nature than to be in it.
But now that spring is here, I am making us get outside more because I don't want to deprive my boys of something they might like. In the last five out of six days, we have spent intentional time outside. That is huge for me. We have caterpillars in chrysalis right now in a mesh home in my living room. They have been fascinating to watch. I am glad (for the most part) that I am getting out of my comfort zone.
Charlotte Mason wants us to read living books, not twaddle. I thought that I was pretty good at that, but over the months I have found some things to fine tune. There are some books we love though, that I'm sure some would call twaddle, but for us they are just well-loved favorites. I have been making book lists for the last year or so, and I am thankful for Before) Five In A Row introducing me to some wonderful children's picture books.
In addition to reading everything Mason I can find, I also read a book called Simplicity Parenting. I highly recommend it to any parent. After reading that, The Hubs and I decided to significantly decrease the amount of t.v. our boys watch. Compared to some, I know they don't really watch that much (we don't have cable- so that leaves us with PBS kids, Veggie Tales DVDs, and some Disney movies). But now that we have said that for awhile t.v. is for Friday nights, Sunday afternoons (so maybe I can get a nap), and sick days, I realize that an hour or two here or there really did add up. I have to admit, I miss my box-babysitter, but we have been less cranky, we have played with more things around the house, and Bubby has utilized his creativity even more.
In big and small ways, I am really starting to understand Mason's words, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life." I wish I would have learned so much of what I am getting know back when I was a classroom teacher, but I am thankful that it's not too late for my own children and myself.