Lets Work on the Atmosphere (Education is an Atmosphere)

My eldest is 3 1/2 years old. I am obviously an amateur; venturing this route to homeschool with eagerness and dumbfoundness. At first I thought it was just a matter of buying the best set curriculum. And voila!!! My job is done! But through reading, searching and confused prayers - I've slowly come to see that its not just a matter of memorizing facts, learning skills, or reading the best literature. It is more than that.

I started out by doing "preschool" here at home. Cutting of shapes, letters of the week, and even circle time. For some reason, it felt unnatural to both my son and even myself. We touched base on all the activities that preschoolers do but something just seemed amiss. It felt like I was forcing our dining room to look like a traditional school and this just didn't make sense. It was exhausting. I thought that if I were to plan out a "lesson plan" again with a scripted layout - I wouldn't last another month of "homeschooling" :) The idea of mirroring traditional school in the home is just not working for me. As I researched further, on how I would like to go about homeschooling by reading books, blogs and being part of forums, I came across the Charlotte Mason way. Her way had helped me figure out why I was uncomfortable with this "literally-preschool-at-home" setup.

“Education is an atmosphere, it is not meant that a child should be
isolated in what maybe 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 a 'child's' level.”

- CM. Vol 1, pg. 6

Although the structure does play a significant role, there are other factors that are even more critical. How I view my children as recipients of knowledge and how I view learning is what I believe to matter the most. If I want to lead and influence not just the child's intellect but the the child as a whole, then it has to be more than duplicating and implementing a form of education. It has to be more than copying a step-by-step process of educating from the internet. It can start but does not end there.

Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.

I'm still learning. In fact, I am still confused with the ins and outs of learning at home. But I'm taking little steps in figuring out where to start and what to focus on. To start, I should secure for them a quiet growing time. To not mind the growing pressure of academic work for young kids. I remind myself - it is not just the brain but the whole of the child. We go and search for bugs. Listen to music that inspire. We observe flowers and even spiders. Read books on rabbits and bears. Sing. Dance. Goof around. There's no need to rush. Better late than early. To "sit and work" can wait.

The atmosphere.

...there is nothing in the way of direct teaching that will ever have so wide and lasting an effect as the atmosphere of home.
- P.R. Article, Atmosphere at Home

The home itself, its structure both physically and relationally, is an important part of learning because "Education.Is.An. Atmosphere". Rather than look out and search for the best curriculum - I ought to first look within these walls and see the importance and value they have to the little ones I am to lead. From having nutritious food to art & music, to reading aloud, to pretend play - there is much to cover with the atmosphere of our home. There is definitely much that needs to be worked on but I should always be mindful that my children are themselves persons of their own. It may sound simple but it requires a conscious effort to remember. There is value in seeing them eye to eye. They are not buckets to be filled to the brim with knowledge. They are not plants that need to be pruned or clay to be formed or molded. They are individual persons I should not try to change but rather respect and lead instead. This makes all the difference.

...Atmosphere is more than teaching and infinitely more than talk.
- P.R. Article, Atmosphere at Home

In seeing them as persons - the atmosphere for learning will seem to start more naturally. They will feel safe to be themselves and their curiosity and interest in life will be relevant to them.
Their curiosity will be theirs and they will own it. I hope and pray that I be able to make an atmosphere where my little ones will see and feel that I view them as individuals and that they are individuals who do not need to prove themselves for worth.

...They must feel our large faith in them, our boundless love and our never failing forgiveness.

- P.R. Article, Atmosphere at Home

Atmosphere is just the start. I go on and immerse myself with CM's wisdom on Education as Discipline and as Life. in the coming weeks. Join us in the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival.


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