Friday, September 7, 2012

Home Education: Part 1

I found so much wonderful food for thought in this section! Most of it is parenting related, not so much education specific, which is actually quite helpful for me at the moment:) Some thoughts for discussion and pondering, Miss Mason's ideas with my own extrapolations:

-Home is by far the biggest influence on a child's future, more than any other element. I have certainly witnessed this in my relationships and teaching. The children who had loving, involved, thoughtful parents were....loving, involved, thoughtful children. They really do mirror what they receive.

-It is the mothers, more than the fathers, who have the future in their hands, as they are usually the ones with the children in those early years. Talk about pressure! Prayer and grace please!

-For all other jobs, there is great training and apprenticeship. Not so for parenting, which is crazy. We need a vision for our families and our children individually, which includes how we handle discipline, traditions, faith, education, etc., and to take seriously the task before us.

-Parenting is a serious calling, and "nothing is trivial which concerns a child." I feel like this is an uphill battle these days, at least in my experience. I've often heard "Oh this little thing doesn't matter...they're so little." For instance, television. We have one. My husband and I watch it in the evenings. The children watch on occasion. It's a treat, and only is allowed on weekends with good behavior, for a short time. In other words, we have rules:) I've been told we're too strict about it, but if children are a reflection of what they take in, then nothing is trivial, even a "little t.v."

-System vs. Method: I immediately thought about TWTM vs. CM when I read through this idea. The system, with all its rules and organization is appealing, because it seems to promise a successful outcome. The problem is that you are using a system on a living, breathing, thinking, willing child, and as no two are alike, the system cannot work "the way it should" on each one.

-"The child's estate": I loved this section. I have long been interested in ways of thinking about children, in how we see them, and Miss Mason has some wonderful ideas here. She works from the biblical principles of not despising, offending, or hindering a child, and suggests we must teach children to obey and choose rightly. To do otherwise is to commit a sin of omission by not doing what we should have done, by letting them do as they wish and catering to them. Love that.

-Children must see that their parents have a duty, that they must say no to things because it's right to do so. I concur with this idea, but I don't yet know how to make this work in practice with very little children. Miss Mason writes that the child must be able to see Mama's resoluteness and know that her mind is not to be changed. So, a part of this is consistency, for sure. I'm wondering about the child knowing the parent has a responsibility to God, and how that looks. This might veer too far into explaining yourself to a child, which does sort of bring down the dignity and authority of the parent, to a certain degree.

-The child should never be allowed to do wrong without knowing it's wrong, and to ignore even little tempers or sulky faces is to say they are acceptable, basically. I have a hard time with this one, from a practical standpoint...I think we want to be careful not to be on our children over every little thing all day. I try gentle reminders about little things, and try to be serious about bigger things. Perhaps that allows too many things to slide?

-Attention to a child's learning: carefully administered breaks for running and fresh air, change of subjects from brain work to hand work to imagination work.

-The 100 year old nutrition advice is hilarious here. I love it! "Everyone knows children shouldn't have cheese or highly flavored foods." Oops! I do think she is right on, that meals should be en famille, pleasant, and full of healthy foods. In our home, that means we eat foods cooked from scratch, we always eat with Daddy when he gets home from work, and there's no children's food and adult food. The food is for all of us, and I am a stickler for not discussing weight, calories, or dieting in the home. We tend to eat in a more traditional European way (things have changed a lot there too, but that's another story), which means whole dairy, fruits and veggies, bread and butter, meat, homemade treats, and cheese:) Sorry Miss Mason.

-Air out the house, accustom the children to fresh air at night, and get them outside for hours a day, if possible. Yay for living in CA where that's totally doable!

I'm still pondering the habits of obedience and the parent's duty. Anyone with thoughts about those ideas, or anything else in this fascinating section?


  1. I have the same questions you do, Angela, about how these ideals play out in practice. I have found very little to disagree with here in terms of her suggestions for discipline, obedience, and good habits--it all sounds great! And it bears out in my own experience--each allowed misbehavior helps to form the habit of misbehaving. It's true. But I'm not sure how to go about living out those ideals, though, given my personal situation. I've never been a "pick your battles" kind of person, but on the other hand, I can't handle everything all the time. And CM also mentions in her habit-training sections about choosing one habit to work on and not becoming distracted from that end by other habits that need forming. I have always had trouble understanding what to do in the meantime about all the other discipline issues. I do know that good habits are much easier to form than bad habits are hard to break! So I think starting early, before those bad habits start to surface, is helpful, obviously.

    I also think it's interesting how she says we want the child to *perceive* that we have a duty to instruct them and aren't being frivolous in our child-training BUT that we don't want to actually tell them this and thus give them the idea that we need to explain ourselves. I'm not sure how to give that perception...Perhaps children seeing their parents in prayer, taking their vocation seriously, acting according to God's laws in other duties will give them that perception? I think it has for my littles. It's good for me to keep that in mind.

  2. Yes, how DO we focus on one habit and not all of them at once? Great question. I think the perception thing about a parent's duty is fascinating. So many things come into play here, I'm sure: being dressed and ready for the day, praying for guidance and letting the children see you in prayer, as you suggested, and being in community with other moms who are living their vocation and following the Church's teachings.