"Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life."

Turning our hearts to our children.

A Study Through
"For the Children's Sake"

book by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

Turning our hearts to our children.

Study outline written by Cindy Rushton and Lynn Hocraffer

Introduction / Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 / Chapter 5 / Chapter 6 / My Conclusions

Useful links:

For The Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School
by Susan Schaeffer Macauley (Crossway Books)
An Interview with Susan Schaeffer Macaulay on the Greenleaf site.



The last few months I have been doing my annual "Re-education." There is something about the months of November and December that brings a strong craving for some of the staples that encourage my soul as a homeschooling Mother. One of my dearest staples is the book For the Children's Sake. I have spent every year since 1991 reading through this book twice a year...sometimes more! I just went back through it again on my own and found soooo many jewels that I cannot believe I missed all the other many times...but those words written by Clifton Fadiman describe my experiences with For the Children's Sake perfectly, "When you re-read a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before." Every time I read this magnificent "classic" truly I do see more in myself AND life than was there before!

 My first formal introduction to Charlotte Mason was through the gentle and powerful words in For the Children's Sake. It is such an honor to be leading this awesome group through such a fantastic study! Thanks!

 It is truly amazing how I happened upon For the Children's Sake. I came into homeschooling totally blind. I had worked the year before I began homeschooling in my dream profession. In High School, I had begun a career in Dentistry. I loved my career and planned to become a Dental Hygienist...well, until Harold! Even while we dated, I intended to continue working in my career until he was finished with college...then, I would go back to finish up the last year in Dental Hygiene. Well, a precious surprise came into our lives changing all of that into a stay-at-home profession!

 In the back of my mind, I was still desirous of "going on with my life" when the children went to school. The year before Matthew began kindergarten was my chance! We had moved to Alabama where one could apprentice under a Dentist and just take the boards to become a Dental Hygienist...well, that was that..."GOD had evidently worked out my dream!" Well, you will see how He did! ha!

 I threw myself into my career. I LOVED dental work...I LOVED my patients...BUT, it was taking a toll on family life. Not only was I not there physically in my home, but often, I was not there in my heart either! My husband was growing more and more concerned. You see, he knew of my passion for being a wife and mother...but, this passion was slowly melting away into a passion for things that simply were not eternal!

 We moved that year to our hometown. I soon found out that the office that I had worked in while I was in High School needed part-time help. I was thrilled and reasoned that it would be ok...help pay the bills...wellllll...so on! It was there that God began to revive my heart and call me towards my home AND *His Dream* for my life!

 I had elderly patients who wanted to encourage me to savor these years at home...not just till school time...but throughout their school years. Yes, I learned about this strange thing called Homeschooling. I was beginning to find myself under great conviction to Homeschool my children. I began to feel such a pull toward home. I began to see that there was nothing in life that was worth losing my children...or my calling in my home. I think that it really took this year to prepare my heart to really COME HOME and Homeschool!

 We began homeschooling as many homeschoolers do. I wanted to encourage Godliness in my children along with Academic Excellence. Soooo, I spent weeks searching for my supplies and preparing my home to bring the children home. Yes, this meant that I hunted all over town for a Christian Flag, a school desk and a Dry Erase Board...you know we were going to have a CHRISTIAN Homeschool. So, I began with a twist between my own school education and Vacation Bible School!

 After getting all in order to begin, I went to a homeschool convention hunting for "my books" only to find a curriculum hall FULL of so much that it made my head hurt! I could not find anything that I was told to buy...but I ran across a book called Survivor's Guide to Homeschooling (I was sure after looking around that I would need that one!)...and Teaching Children (I was looking for a scope and sequence but found MUCH more!!).

 Our "school" stuff went on for about 2 days...then we would resort back to curling up on the couch with captivating books! I felt sooo guilty about my "lack of discipline" but at the end of the year, I knew that the only thing that was working was using Real Books and Real Life for our learning! It seemed that the whole year I kept running across some mysterious names...Charlotte Mason and Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.

 Well, I finally bought For the Children's Sake and felt like I had come home! The ideas that were presented in that 161 page book transformed my life and methodology completely! Since that year, I have found that so many of my personal interests have come back to this little book. So many of my philosophical and spiritual ideas could be given legs through the practical ideas presented in this one little book!

 When I have wearied under the weight of feeling alone, I felt that Susan Schaeffer Macaulay came alongside of me to encourage me and give just the right idea that would ease the tensions in my home! When I have needed a "picture" of the life that I could have within my home, I just had to open the pages of this book and take a peek into Susan's childhood home and the home she provided for her children. When I have needed to be challenged in my own writing, I have been able to go back and study the life of this author, truly one of my favorites!, and I could see a model that I could pattern after as I walked heavenward.

 A few years ago, I read a book by Susan's mother, Edith Schaeffer called "What is a Family?" I will be pulling in some of my treasured quotes from that book as we go along. In her book, she detailed things that she did naturally in her home. These things gave a foundation for Susan's love of the writings of Charlotte Mason. Ms. Macaulay was able to bring the philosophy of education presented by Charlotte Mason into her home so readily because this was the "life" that she lived in her home. This was the life that she felt that all children should be given...For the Children's Sake.

 Why do I keep going back to For the Children's Sake? I guess it is because I need that constant re-commitment to the ideals presented in this book. The ideals that weave Christianity into all areas of life...the home...the church...the lessons...relationships...and even ministry outside of the home! I need to see that vision of what our home can do for the world! I need that constant reminder that education is so much more than desks...grades...college... diplomas...or the 3R's! I also need to know that stepping out in faith to follow God each step of the way will reallllly work!

 So, I introduce For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.

 I am not sure how many of you really read the prefaces and introductions to books, but in this study that is exactly where we will begin! Here goes...

 In the preface, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay writes, " A very special thank you to my parents, Francis and Edith Schaeffer. You gave me much of this child-life, and this book grew from the life you nurtured. Your work forms the basis of these considerations. Your combined books are surely the base of this philosophy and practice of education. Your great love and concern for children and young people encouraged us to try to be of some practical help to others."

 Questions...What "life" do you desire to nurture within your home? What are the basics of your philosophy and practice of education? What does this "practically" look like within your home? What kind of fruit do you desire from the training within your home?

 In the Introduction she says, "Another point I would like to make is that this book takes the accuracy of the Christian World View for granted, without first making out a case for it being true." We will also skip this discussion...because this is not the place for debating Christianity, we are assuming that those on this list either believe such or are understanding of that Worldview. What I would like to ask is just how do you feel that a Christian World View could affect Education? How do ideas shape the views of education? How have the ideas of Charlotte Mason shaped the Education in your home?

 For our family, I must say that the ideas presented in For the Children's Sake and books by Charlotte Mason have affected our family by weaving education into all of our life AND by weaving life into our education! This could not occur until we developed our own philosophy of education. Ms. Macaulay shared that she and her husband "tried to find a practical educational philosophy." I guess that what I found in this book was just that! This book was the first step in finding a philosophy of education that was based totally on a Christian Worldview! This is the first step that parents need in homeschooling children!

 So often, I have run across families who think that the ideas of Charlotte Mason are not for them because they use "XYZ" curriculum...but, I find that these ideas are more than what is to be taught in the home...they are a lifestyle of living which teaches more than mere academics. These ideas are really right. They can breath life into any curriculum...into any home...into any mind! These ideas can be used with any approach. Although so many of us call this an approach, it is really more of a lifestyle than an approach.

 For many moms, the ideas presented will seem to echo the ideas of many Christians AND Non-Christians. Ms. Macaulay says in her book, "if we stumble upon things that are really right, we'll not be the only ones who will have noticed them. Good and true ideas keep cropping up in different contexts." Because of this, you are encouraged to take what is for you and implement it YOUR way...yes, there is no right way or wrong way for anyone with these ideas!

 For this reason, I agree that "This book can be applied to people's lives anywhere, at any time." Perhaps this is the most crucial thing to note in this study...we all come into homeschooling from various backgrounds...with various reasons for homeschooling...and with various callings! On this list, we have moms who have little children who are just beginning their homeschooling journey...we have moms whose children have enjoyed this life, but are now moved on in their high school or college journeys...we have moms somewhere in between! It does not matter where you are, just like with the open arms of Jesus Christ, these ideas are for you... just like you are!

 I will end with the last sentences of the Introduction... "Education is an adventure that has to do with central themes, not the particular packages a given generation puts them into. It's about people, children, life, reality!" How are you giving a real education to your children that is an adventure filled with people, children, life, and reality? How are you applying these ideas in your home and in your way? Let's discuss what you are doing for the children's sake...

 Love, Cindy

This lesson is copyrighted by Rushton Family Ministries and may be used only with permission. Cindy.

Turning our hearts to our children.


Chapter 1...What is Education?

On to Chapter One of For the Children's Sake!

 Again, this is definitely one of my favorite books! It has changed the way I think about motherhood...the way that I think about Education...and the way that we do things in our home! I am so thankful that God led me to the wisdom of Susan Schaeffer Macaulay! He truly had a great plan for our Homeschool! Let's jump in so that I can share some of these morsels!

 On page 3, we find the challenging question, "What should we aim for when thinking about education? We want the best, but when we look around at what's available, we often have to settle for situations which we would not have chosen in the first place. When we tried to figure out guidelines in education, we couldn't find a practical overview of the subject." As you have come into Home Education...Discipleship of your little treasures, what do you consider to be your aim?

 On page 4, "Well, Margaret had the best we could find, and all went well until we moved. The school near our new home turned out to be a blight on our youngster's life. Why? One reason was that the program of learning just didn't fit this particular child. Although we hadn't been able to organize an overall understanding of the subject, by now we were experienced enough parents to realize that something was badly wrong; drastic action had to be taken. We took Margaret out of school. Suddenly our child revived. She read books, played in the garden, worked alongside of us, enjoyed music."

 How about you? What is YOUR story? Have you brought your children home to an education that is LIFE-giving? How about those of you who brought your children home to "school at home" but found that to stifle the child...how are you breathing life into your home through a Real, Living Education?

 We find that Mrs. Macaulay describes how she ran across the Charlotte Mason Schools...she notes some awesome characteristics that stood out to her...
...the school still practiced the gentle art of education
...the ideas made GOOD sense!
...the ideas were relevant to today's child and today's society!
...the ideas are SO universal that they can be applied in the home...school...in orphanages...in villages...in day care centers...in the inner city schools...and even in churches!
...the ideas are SO true that many of them are INSTINCTIVE and are used INSTINCTIVELY by those with different educational or religious systems.
...the ideas give us a satisfying view of education or a child's life from a Christian viewpoint.
...the ideas give us a FRAMEWORK!

 What are some of the ideas and benefits of this approach that have stood out to you? What have you found in your search that keeps you coming back to this mentor for counsel with your family?

 On page 5, we are introduced to Charlotte Mason.

 I will let you all jump in to share more insights on Charlotte Mason...especially those of you who have read her biography! Here are some jottings about this dear woman...

 She was born in 1842 and died in 1923. She shaped her ideas about education from her experience with children, rather than by her education. As many of us have found the education of our day insufficient for our children, so did Charlotte Mason. Instead she considered the CHILD as she developed a philosophy which was centered on how Children learn best. She used simple, easy and very practical methods to teach the children. She kept her aims high, yet articulated them clearly so that the child, parent and teachers KNEW where they were going!

 Some things that I feel are distinctives...

 ...She Valued Children. They were valued as friends and real people! In turn, her educational philosophy was developed around training the child as a person...in a full education!
...A Full Education. The educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason was balanced. It was an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life! All aspects had equal focus. All aspects were valued and included! There was not a neglect of subjects due to the emphasis on others...the children were given a liberal education!
...Broad, helpful outlines. Charlotte Mason's work was first taught to parents and teachers through lectures. She later published her ideas into pamphlets, publications, journals, and later books. Even after her work was in print, she still never forgot her first love...going directly to the parents who would never be reached by her writing. She organized meetings to teach these parents a better way! Her ideas embraced all areas of teaching and training children. Her writing gave thorough how-to's for developing habits...teaching lessons...and developing the whole child (and family!). My favorite aspect of her work with the parents/teachers is that she not only trained them for teaching, but "for living an abundant life!" Yes, "through her work, families had been strengthened and guided in their life and purpose." Yes, this is living a full, abundant life!
...The Fruit. Perhaps, the most impressive aspect of Mrs. Mason's work was the fruit it bore in the lives of children. Susan Schaeffer Macaulay shares, "Perhaps her greatest joy was when numbers of underprivileged children had the richness of her school curriculum and practices applied in their overcrowded and underfunded schools. She delighted in the awakening of these previously dimmed minds. Children became fluent speakers and lovers of literature and art. Her vision was that these good wholesome aspects of life would bring joy, stability, and richness to every child."
...The Worldview. The impact that Charlotte Mason has had on education can only be attributed to one thing. She knew and loved God. All of her beliefs were based on His Word and a Biblical Worldview. Susan Schaeffer Macaulay says on page 7, "Christians can't develop a Christian view of education by accepting the usual aims and views of our society and then adding a "Christian message" or interpretation. No, we start from a different basis. We have another world view--another people view!" Yes, we must see education different from our world. We must see education as God designed it. Education does extend to all of life! With this Worldview, we will see children differently...on page 11, Mrs. Macaulay says, "If Christianity is indeed true, then every last little child matters. Bright to dull, privileged or from any variety of troubled background, each is valuable. Persons matter!" with this Worldview, we will see educating children differently...their education will be one of opening many doors of interest. We will KNOW that we can never teach everything...or that " life will not be long enough to follow everything through fully." We can be comforted KNOWING that we must not teach all, that our role is to just open many doors!

 The parent...Perhaps I feel that this is where Charlotte Mason and I are so kindred. She FIRST turned to the parent! Susan Schaeffer Macaulay shares on page 8, "She believed that THEY had the most interesting and valuable vocation that exists amongst mankind. Into their love, care, and responsibility this person was placed. Charlotte Mason never spoke of education as merely taking place behind the walls of the schoolroom. She saw the home as the basic educational environment."

 The School...This is one aspect of For the Children's Sake that I love the most! I love that Susan Schaeffer Macaulay holds up the home as the primary educational environment...but, she does not limit this philosophy to just the children who are taught at home. She extends this philosophy to those children who do not have the homes that so many of us are blessed with...or to the family that must have their children in school for a period of time or for good. These ideas of a full life are not only for a few of us. They are extended to any choice or any arrangement!. We find Mrs. Macaulay sharing on page 9, "Any choice and/or arrangement should be done for the children's sake. We are told in Galatians 6:9, 'Let us not become weary in doing good,for at the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people [children are real people], especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Charlotte Mason certainly did this! She loved all children...yes, all children. She wanted to bring life into all schools...yes, all schools! Her ideas could do just that!

 But, how? Mrs. Macaulay shares on page 9 the wonderful passage from Matthew 7: 7-11 and says, "First of all we must humbly ask for answers, we must seek, and then, 'Knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.' Surely this basic principle includes that broad lifelong seeking in all areas. That God that there is a definite answer! We are not only seekers, but finders."

 She says that just as we would never dream of giving our children a diet of inferior food, should we feed their minds with any old, canned, mental junk food? "Do we brush off the eager questions, and then expect the children to listen to some 'spiritual lecture' another time?"

 This is a tough call...how do we begin? Well, Mrs. Macaulay recommends that first we evaluate our priorities. She says, "They need to consider WHY they respond, 'We wouldn't have time to read a book together every day. We don't have time to hike/camp/paint/talk with our children.' What is really important? The sacred career? Educational institutions make poor substitute mothers, fathers, and homes. There has never been a generation when children have so desperately needed their parents' time, thoughtful creativity, and friendship. The surrounding culture is deeply out of step with the Word of God. Other pressures threaten to take away sanity, stability, and simple humanity. One of the greatest powers for good is a family whose members respect each other and who have learned to function, however poorly, with the rich concepts the Word of God gives us as human beings. It is almost incredible to think of the stabilizing affect ordinary families can have not only for themselves, but as a light in a troubled generation."

 What an ideal! How about you? How DO priorities affect the family...community? How do you balance life so that you may give FAMILY the priority?

 She says in conclusion of this chapter..."Much of what follows goes against the daily pattern of most lives. It's interesting to read about, but it will remain as so many words on a page if we cannot DO what is right. One day we will stand before the Creator. Were we willing to give, serve, and sacrifice 'for the Children's Sake'?"

 Oh, dear friends, may we make this a pattern of our lives! What is really most important? Do person's matter? Yes! Person's Matter! Children are most important. Our godly heritage is most important! May we go against the flow to a better way! For the Children's Sake!

 Love, Cindy

This lesson is copyrighted by Rushton Family Ministries and may be used only with permission. Cindy.

Turning our hearts to our children.


Chapter Two..."Children Are Born Persons"

Good Morning! I have to say in preparation for this post, that this is ONE good chapter! I have studied through it for weeks and found SOOO much wisdom and SOOO many ideas! I KNOW here that there will be NOTHING off topic as we work through discussing these awesome ideas. Sit back with your cup of tea and let's visit For the Children's Sake!
For the Children's Sake
Chapter Two "Children Are Born Persons"

 As we come to Chapter Two, we find a concept that seems simple, "obvious," and easy to implement. However, as we take a closer look at the idea, we find that even in the most thoughtful and Christ-centered home, this concept is often overlooked or misunderstood. Truly Children ARE born persons!

 They come to us as gifts from our Heavenly Father. There is a tendency to look upon child training as a process of OUR own..."to prune, form, or mold." However, child training is a process of revealing our God...discipling our children to become in the very image of God...and teaching them to see ALL in their life from God's perspective!

 Charlotte Mason knew this as she took a look at educating children. Her perspective, based upon Scripture, would introduce an educational process that would be much different than the educational "systems" of her day...or OURS of today, as well! She knew that the tendency of educators and parents is to view the child as "a cog in a machine, or even that he is a possession, like a pet animal." Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (page 13) says, "Many adults now 'have' a child, in the same way that they have a washing machine or a collie dog." Oh! What a tragedy! This view steals the beauty from the precious relationships that God freely gives us with children.

 Truly, children are precious individuals who are fully able to think...discern...act...feel. Their strength is not found in what they will become, but in who they are today! Tomorrow may never come...they are special and essential TODAY! Their lives count for God today! Each and every little child! Perhaps, this is one of the most crucial areas of parenting! We were reading in the last weeks from C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. One passage jumped out to me and I have applied it to many areas of my life in the last weeks. It was as the "Uncle" Screwtape advised the lesser demon Wormwood to work in the life of his "Christian" to keep the "big" thing to be feared afar and NEVER let the "Christian" see that today was where he needed to carry the cross...in the little things!

 As we read this passage, God spoke to all of us. This passage has come back time and time again! It can be applied here as well. If we hold out for "what our children are to become," then we simply miss WHO THEY ARE! We miss the wisdom that God brings to us through the means of our children. We very simply disrespect the "personhood" of our children.

 They are REAL people today...just as they are! Today is the day that they are TO BE what God wants for them to be! To illustrate this, as we read this passage from Screwtape Letters, we discussed how satan works to give us lofty goals of REAL MINISTRY like "when they go ON the mission field to Russia" instead of seeing that every day and every where we are on our mission field TODAY! Our ministry here...right where we are...IS THE MINISTRY that the Lord has given us! It may be as we and our children scrub the floors...feed the animals...smile and laugh as a family...go about our daily errands...or even go minister in our churches and abroad. Souls can be saved and discipled ALL along the way...oh, if we see every single moment as part of OUR MISSION!

 We discussed this concept this week. I shared with my children that their lives TODAY count! That they may never live to "go to Russia" for missions. That may be their passion...but, today their ministry is in the little things...well, some NOT so little! Their ministry today is silent...but more powerful than my own. I shared with them that our lives are not just BEING Noble and Godly ONE DAY when they are older...it is responding in all circumstances today more and more like Christ would! They must learn lessons that would bring them to become more like Christ TODAY...yes, they are His vessels now!

 This comes into our educational training as well. We must see each and every day as crucial and essential...part of building the whole person! Not as a preparation for some unknown or big event such as college...diplomas...jobs! How sad if that is our success...our goal!

 Charlotte Mason alludes to this as well,
"We must know something about the material we are to work upon if the education we offer is not to be scrappy and superficial. We must have some measure of a child's requirements, not based on his uses to society, nor upon the standard of the world he lives in, but upon his own capacity and needs."
Towards a Philosophy of Education, page 65, 66

 I see this over and over. Parents are often in bondage from working toward the standards of the world or their ideas of what would make the child useful to society instead of offering a real education that is based upon the individual needs of the child as GOD determines! Parents have a heart for their children...they love them with all their hearts...but, the view of education becomes hindered by the pressures to conform to the low standards of our society...

 2 Timothy 2:19-21 (Amplified Bible) "But the firm foundation of (laid by) God stands sure and unshaken , bearing this seal (inscription): the Lord knows those who are His, and let everyone who names [himself by] the name of the Lord give up all iniquity and stand aloof from it. But in a great house there are not vessels of gold and silver, but also [utensils] of wood and earthenware, and some for honorable and noble [use] and some for menial and ignoble [use]. (ignoble means dishonorable, evil, common… Common means average, standard, traditional, familiar, conventional, customary.) Whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work."

 This verse brings me to realize that MY children ARE very precious...I do not want for my children to be just for menial and ignoble use...I want for them to be prepared to be a vessel set apart...useful for honorable and noble purposes...consecrated and profitable for the Master...fit and ready for any good work. If I have a vision of who my children are, then now all I will need is a process to prepare them for God's purpose for their lives! A process that brings them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

 This is where we come to Charlotte Mason's Approach. AN approach built on the ideas of a woman who KNEW children...LOVED children...RESPECTED children. She accepted and appreciated children JUST as they were. She did not Romanticize the child NOR put the child down. She served them as they were...on a basis of what was good and right for every single child as a person! She sought to identify the child's actual needs and capabilities rather than make the child fit into the system at hand! Truly this woman was wise as she looked at each child with wonder and deep veneration!

Some discussion questions...
How has God taught you of the preciousness of your child/children? What practical differences do you see as a result?

 What DOES God have to say about children? How are HIS ways different from OUR ways? How can we get HIS VISION of our children?

 What are some ways that you see Charlotte Mason "fleshing" out her beliefs that Children are Born Persons??? What are some ways that you see the current "system" of education in conflict with this philosophy?

 How could looking toward "their use for society" inhibit our respect for them today? How do you encourage your children to be "Christ-like" today??

 What ARE you reaching toward in the education of your children?? How are the ideas of Charlotte Mason helping you reach toward the mark?

 Cindy R.


Perhaps the reason that the ideas of Charlotte Mason have resurfaced to be used as a model for so many homeschools of our day is that this woman didn't just "say" that she loved and respected children, she based all of her work upon the premise that Children are Born Persons. She based all of her ideas on the basis of the Biblical view of life…including the Biblical View of the Child and Education!

 Susan Schaeffer Macaulay wrote, "One aspect of life is not more Christian than another. SO it's Christian to enjoy a juicy melon. That is because I am eating, it is a real event, and I'm made so that I enjoy cool melon on a hot day. It is Christian to put my arm around someone to love or comfort them. That is because this is a way human beings relate, show they care, enjoy each other. More than this: it must be said that certain Christian books are in fact not so. For instance, some go beyond the biblical teaching and, like Pharisees; burden the people with weighty rules and regulations. This is why we have to be very careful when we consider "Christian education." To be that, it has to serve the person, the way he really is. And it must, of course, be based on the sureness of biblical truths. SO, it has to be appropriate for the needs and minds of that same person."

 This is exactly what has distinguished the Philosophy of Charlotte Mason from so many educators. She focused primarily on the distinct needs and requirements of the child…just as they were! She knew the way that God had created children…to enjoy the beauty and depth of all of life! She based all of her techniques on ideas from Scripture so that it met the needs and requirements of the child. You may be wondering, "How did this work itself out in her methodology?" The following are some of the "practical ramifications" of her ideas…

 Get to Know the Child…This is the best advice for those beginning to Homeschool or those re-evaluating their Homeschool. We have to be willing to get back to the basics! Get to know our children! The first year we Homeschooled was spent getting to know one another again. The year before I had worked full-time outside of my home. In that short year, it seemed that I looked around and barely knew my children. We came home, got to know one another in a new way! I finally felt FREE to pour myself into my children…you know, "it was school!" ha! We had a wonderfully quiet year full of plenty of time spent cuddled up reading aloud…lots of time outside…and lots of discussion! Oh, how I had missed these moments in the hurry and flurry of working outside of the home!

 Well, guess what this is exactly what Susan Schaeffer Macaulay recommends in For the Children's Sake. She says, "We have to be willing to start again." As she shares about how to start again, she shares some simple ways to get a good start (start again) with your child. She says that we have to get to know the child, get some really good books and read them together (she recommends listening to the child! What great advice! We learn so much by their keen minds!), go to a really nice place outside and explore together, talk together with the child, relax, and Live abundantly! She says, "It isn' t all as hard as the experts make out. We are human beings, persons created to live. To have life more abundantly. Wonder together; grow together. Together share the struggles of knowing that we cannot perfectly follow God' s law. We are fellow-pilgrims. We walk side by side as human beings under the love and authority of Him Who made us." Yes, this approach is based on the premise that the child is important, a person! The approach is designed to offer many opportunities for the parent/teacher to get to know this young person more fully so that the whole child can be ministered to through education/training!

 Play…Play may seem to be an odd thing to discuss when discussing how to teach a child, but this is one of the most crucial areas of teaching children! Charlotte Mason wrote, "There is a little danger in these days of much educational effort that the children's play should be crowded out, or, what is from our present point of view the same thing, should be prescribed for and arranged until there is no more freedom of choice about play than about work. We do not say a word against the educational value of games (such as football, basketball, etc.)…But organized games are not play in the sense we have in view. Boys and girls must have time to invent episodes, carry on adventures, live heroic lives, lay sieges and carry forts, even if the fortress be an old armchair; and in these affairs the elders must neither meddle nor make." She warns that with too much interference by the parent, there is a "serious danger. In this matter, the child who goes too much on crutches never learns to walk."

 Play is so important that Charlotte Mason dedicated pages 42-95 of her book Home Education just to the topic of play! She believed that play was essential for the "whole" child. But, in our day just as in her day, play is often crowded out. The time is taken with long, tedious lessons…organized (by the parent) play…outside lessons…church and social activities…errands…homework…and the good old television!

 Given a choice, children prefer play! Actually they need play in order to experience a full life! They need to have those long days outside making mud pies…climbing trees …making tree-houses …playing cops and robbers …laying sieges …watching nature …climbing mountains…swimming …nursing and "mothering" animals …building …having adventures! Susan Schaeffer Macaulay shared that if we are to encourage our children to "play," we must give them the following…space, free time, let them get outside, let them make noise and messes, give them access to raw materials so they may create, privacy, support in quarrels, allow them to solve problems, and give them food! The one thing that Mrs. Macaulay notes is that this will not happen unless the parent prioritizes! She says this will mean giving plenty of time to "support this kind of play," placing children as more of a priority than the furniture or home, "saying no to too many time-consuming activities both for adults and children," welcoming other children into the home, "diverting" any children who would "spoil our game," or helping any passive, dull children learn to play!

 Speaking of passive, dull children, she gave some ideas for helping those children learn to play as well…taking them to water, limiting television, giving them raw materials to work with, organizing their lessons in the day to allow for play (short lessons, finished early!), and to give a varied, liberal education of real living ideas!

 Mrs. Macaulay wrote, "When we begin studying the person, the real child, we must serve who he is, not fit him into our schedules or plans. Part of this is allowing him play."

 The Presentation of Living Ideas…The last four months, I have studied on this topic from Charlotte Mason's 6-volume set. I was amazed to find so much information on the presentation of living ideas to the child. When Charlotte Mason said that she believed that Education was an Atmosphere, a Discipline, and a Life, she really meant that the body of her work could be summed up in this one sentence! We might be able to sum up her ideas in one sentence but explaining these great concepts entails so much! Approximately one-third of her work detailed the practical presentation of living ideas…LIFE…to our children! Unbelievable!

 The reason for this focus in the writing of Charlotte Mason is that she believed that children were hungry for ideas. She said, "Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we must sustain a child's inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food…He is eclectic; he may choose this or that; our business is to supply him with due abundance and variety and his to take what he needs… Out of a whole big book a child may not get more than half a dozen of those ideas upon which his spirit thrives; and they come from unexpected places and unrecognized forms, so that no grown person is capable of making such extracts from Scott or Dickens or Milton, as will certainly give him nourishment. It is a case of, --'In the morning sow thy seed and in the evening withhold not thine hand for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that.' (Page 109/110, Volume 6) She believed that ideas were daily food for the mind. She felt that simple presentation of real, living ideas for the mind of the child so interested and enlivened the child that it inoculated them from boredom! I must agree! When things get out of kilter in our home, we find that taking time to give a bountiful supply of ideas just seems to chase away the boredom, dullness of mind, and poor attitudes! We have been amazed which ideas have nourished our children along the way!

 The sad thing is that far too many children have this opportunity. The first things crowded out of their lives by the busyness (either by too much busywork or too many interruptions or too much organized time or "school-at-home") so common in most homes is the time for children to play OR the presentation of living ideas! You have probably seen the results! The child is never fully whole!

 It is much easier to hand a child a "text" than to present the child with living ideas! Charlotte Mason said, "We…put into the children's hand lesson books with pretty pictures and easy talk, almost as good as storybooks; but we do not see that, after all, we are giving them…little pills of knowledge in the form of weak and copious diluent. Teachers, and even parents, who are careful enough about their children's diet, are so reckless as to the sort of mental aliment offered to them, that I am exceedingly anxious to secure consideration for this question, of the lessons and literature for little people…We see, then, that the children's lessons should provide material for their mental growth, should exercise the several powers of their minds, should furnish them with fruitful ideas, and should afford them knowledge, really valuable for its own sake, accurate, and interesting, of the kind that the child may recall as a man with profit and pleasure." Children learn more easily with lessons that feed their mind…meet their daily need for sustenance! Their young minds are capable of big ideas…deep and profound! But they will never carry to adulthood the snippets of information passed off as "school."

 She shares the difference between "schooling" and giving our children a full life…a real education. That education that they carry with them all throughout life! She says, "Our aim in Education is to give a Full Life…We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests…Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking—the strain would be too great—but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. We cannot give the children these interests; we prefer that they should never say they have learned botany, conchology, geology, or astronomy. The question is not,--how much does the youth know? When he has finished his education—but how much does he care? And about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room, in which he finds his feet set? And, therefore, how full is the life he has before him? I know you may bring a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink. What I complain of is that we do not bring our horse to the water. We give him miserable little textbooks, mere compendiums of facts, which he is to learn off and say and produce at an examination; or we give him various knowledge in the form of warm diluents, prepared by his teacher with perhaps some grains of living thought to the gallon. And all the time we have books, books teeming with ideas from the minds of thinkers upon every subject to which we can wish to introduce children."

 In fact, she said that, "A child has not begun his education until he has acquired the habit of reading to himself, with interest and pleasure, books fully on a level with his intelligence. I am speaking now of his lesson books, which are all to apt to be written in a style of insufferable twaddle, probably because they are written by persons who have never chanced to meet a child. ...Therefore, the selection of their first lesson-books is a matter of grave importance, because it rests with these to give children the idea that knowledge is supremely attractive and that reading is delightful. Once the habit of reading his lesson books with delight is set up in a child, his education is—not completed, but ensured; he will go on for himself in spite of the obstructions which school too commonly throws in his way."

 I am amazed as she describes the typical books that are provided for children in the name of education! Truly so many are "twaddle!" Perhaps it is primarily because much of the educational philosophy of our day…and hers!…is based upon the assumption that children are just vessels to be filled…cogs in a machine…yet, Charlotte Mason knew that mere facts were not enough to nourish the minds of the child. She knew that ideas were the substance that contributed to the growth of the person, the dear child! She said, "I believe that spiritual life, saying spiritual in the sense that I have indicated, is sustained upon only one manner of diet—the diet of ideas—the living progeny of living minds. Now, if we send to any publisher for his catalogue of schoolbooks, we find that it is accepted as the nature of a schoolbook that it be drained dry of living thought. It may bear the name of a thinker, but then it is the abridgment of an abridgment, and all that is left for the unhappy scholar is the dry bones of his subject denuded of soft flesh and living colour, of the stir of life and power of moving. Nothing is left but what Oliver Wendell Holmes calls the mere, brute fact.' It cannot be too often said that information is not education."

 Lessons were set up in the home or Charlotte Mason schools to include a daily table time "structured and fitted" to each child. Lessons were taught "precept upon precept" with mastery of skills being the focus rather than passing a test! Table time was short and finished early in the day to allow plenty of time for presentation of living ideas through reading aloud and real life (real people/time out of doors/continued studies of interest for the child).

 Mrs. Macaulay writes in For the Children's Sake, "It was Charlotte Mason's conviction that the child should work steadily through a complete book. Little snippets of information here and there just don't hang together." After reading aloud a passage, the child would retell what was read, expressing it in his own words. This was called Narration. Narration replaced the need for testing and examinations as well as artificial composition lessons. The children had to deal with the material at hand. Their minds formulated their own questions and thought through those questions to find their own answers, then they communicated the passage back in their own words. Just merely listening to the retelling would enable the teacher to discern whether the child fully understood the passage at hand. Tests were not necessary because what the child could retell in their own words would become "their own." Narration replaced the need for tests, enabled the child to become the student of the masters, helped the children to become more attentive to details of the content of their reading, and allowed them to react to the information in their own way with their own personality and insights!

 This process enabled the parent/teacher to have plenty of time to devote to presenting ideas from resources with "literary power," hence the name "Real, Living Books." Susan Schaeffer Macaulay captures the vast use of literature by Charlotte Mason as she writes, "she believed that education has to include the proper use of books. She said that reading the Bible directly and systematically would in itself educate the mind. But she made wide and varied use of literary books covering every field. This is what she meant by a liberal education." Whole books on a wide range of varied subjects were presented to the students naturally and easily. This use of the best literature available not only meets "requirements" and covers "subjects," but it nourishes and feeds the minds of the children!

 This process began in the child the process of education for all of life, that of self-education. Charlotte Mason wrote in Philosophy of Education on page 26… "There is no education but self-education, and as soon as a young child begins his education he does so as a student. Our business is to give him mind-stuff, and both quality and quantity are essential. Naturally, each of us possesses this mind-stuff only in limited measure, but we know where to procure it; for the best thought the world possesses is stored in books; we must open books to children, the best books; our own concern is abundant provision and orderly serving." This is the means by which we teach our children how to "find out" or learn on their own. As they begin to learn on their own from real, living books written by those passionate about their topic, we find true education beginning to take place!

 Charlotte Mason wrote later on page 28-29… "It occurred to me that a series of curricula might be devised embodying sound principles and securing that children should be in a position of less dependence on their teacher than they then were; in other words, that their education should be largely self-education. A Sort of correspondence school was set up, the motto of which,--"I am, I can, I ought, I will," has had much effect in throwing children upon the possibilities, capabilities, duties, and determining power belonging to them as persons."

 Susan Schaeffer Macaulay says that this "self-education begins with listening to carefully chosen books read out loud to the child every day. He then sometimes tells back in his own words what he has heard. Or he may draw a picture to illustrate what he has pictured in his imagination. When older, the same child will read for himself and write essays which narrate some part of what he has read." This moves on to an education that directly trains a child for their individual life-purpose! Prayerfully, if we are successful in establishing an atmosphere that establishes the habits of a lifestyle of learning, our children will continue learning all of their life!

 Again, what does this look like? Mrs. Macaulay says that around the age of six or so, the child will spend around 20 minutes a day learning the basics of reading and writing. She recommends only beginning when the child is ready and going at their own pace. She says, "By being allowed to learn at their own speed, the children taught by Charlotte Mason were happy with their mastery of skills. They did not "fail" or "pass." They learned how to read and write accurately. A high standard was expected, but at a level appropriate to the child's ability. It was like climbing one's own private ladder. It was not to be like a race." She continued on to say, "There is no question of failing or passing. Instead there is joy." She wrote, " The Bible teaches that we are like parts of a body. In other words, we are different from each other; we all have different gifts. How immoral to apply an arbitrary yardstick to the little child and expect him to progress at some "normal" speed! We take from him the joy of accomplishing new skills which should be part of growing up."

 The education is not measured by grades or competition…it is measured by whether the child is "progressing at his own rate of development' or reaching for high standards of personal work! The focus is on the development of good habits and skills "to carry on their own education at a later stage."

 In spite of the development of skills, children are not limited by their present level of accomplishment. Perhaps this is the greatest tragedy of an education void of daily read alouds. Mrs. Macaulay says, "This does not mean to say that this mind should be left "frozen" at the level of his skills. When the essential, regular practice has been completed, the child puts all his little books and papers away, and turns his full attention to the adult. She will now be the medium through which he can "read" real books (not second-rate books)." Children need this daily feeding. Well, I will go one step further…all people need this daily feeding. Even after learning to read themselves, my children (and husband!) LOVE our daily read aloud time. There is something nourishing about relaxing for an hour to listen to the beautiful stories placed for our enjoyment within the covers of books! Even though our table time is intense as we learn and practice the basics skills necessary to learn on our own, this time of day is more educational as we enjoy and devour the Bible, fine literature, poetry, fine art, and gorgeous classical music! Our true education comes during this special time regardless of the level of our skills!

 Mrs. Macaulay concludes this chapter with the challenge to provide ALL persons with a generous diet of ideas. Of course the student needs this diet…but as she shares so does the parent/teacher! Ideas enliven any person! Ideas awaken any dull soul! We cannot fully enjoy the journey with our children unless we ourselves learn to select resources and studies that appeal and excite our minds! In the PNEU schools (established by Charlotte Mason), the teachers were encouraged to choose different books every year. They read books in their entirety in original versions, which captivated the students and the parents/teachers! Susan Schaeffer Macaulay wrote, "the riches of good books may bring healing education. The light of new ideas and interest can be used anywhere and at any age for all persons. Books of merit are open doors to a lifetime of exploration." I would say that this healing education is the perfect solution for children needing a touch of life in their education…but I will go one step further, this healing education is what we parents and teachers need to open the floodgates to a lifestyle of learning in our lives as well! Susan Schaeffer Macaulay says, "There is no normal child who will not respond to proper feeding, either physically, spiritually, or mentally." I would love to go one step further since we are seeing children as no different than adults…we are seeing them as persons… There is no normal person who will not respond to a proper feeding. May we seek feed the whole person so that they can become vessels that God can use?

 With love, Cindy

Other Neat Quotes…

 Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, For the Children's Sake page 16… "If I were to have to label much educational material today, I'm afraid a large percentage would definitely be twaddle. How colorfully and scientifically our generation talks down to the little child! What insipid, stupid, dull stories are trotted out! And we don't stop there. WE don't respect the children's thinking or let them come to any conclusions themselves! We ply them with endless questions, the ones we've thought up, instead of being silent and letting the child's questions bubble up with interest. We tire them with workbooks that would squeeze out the last drop of anybody's patience. We remove interesting books and squander time on a clinical procedure called "reading skill testing," using idiotic isolated paragraphs, which nobody would dream of choosing to take home to read. The recording of testable features of a child's taught tricks ('Skills") is held to be more important than the mysterious, exciting growth of a person."

 Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, For the Children's Sake page 18… "We devalue the personhood of our wonderful children. We rob their minds of proper, interesting, strong meat to nourish their growing needs. We belittle their interests. We compete with the entertainment of TV. We flick images, flash colors, use tricks. And yet many small children are at the same time robbed of free and happy childhood play. Endless "play-approach" lessons bore them and leave no time for imaginative real play in or out-of-doors."

Some discussion questions...

 How has God taught you of the preciousness of your child/children? What practical differences do you see as a result?

 What DOES God have to say about children? How are HIS ways different from OUR ways? How can we get HIS VISION of our children?

 What are some ways that you see Charlotte Mason "fleshing" out her beliefs that Children are Born Persons??? What are some ways that you see the current "system" of education in conflict with this philosophy?

 How could looking toward "their use for society" inhibit our respect for them today? How do you encourage your children to be "Christ-like" today??

 What ARE you reaching toward in the education of your children?? How are the ideas of Charlotte Mason helping you reach toward the mark?

 How do you deal with the battle for TIME for Play and Presentation of Living Ideas?? How do you set limits that enable you to have a productive Charlotte Mason Education?

 What would be your description of a Whole, Living Book? Share a written narration (YOURS!) about your favorite book! Include which ideas have influenced you the greatest! What do you think makes up great literature? How do you choose books? What standards have you set? How do you deal with literature that is questionable?

 How is the Charlotte Mason Education helping to move your child toward Self-education? How about those of you doing this for a while…are your children becoming self-educated? How is this education different from other approaches? How are you "documenting" this Real, Living Education for your transcripts???

 Since the Charlotte Mason Education is not focused on grades, tests, or competition, how do you base your progress with your children? How do you document that progress for "the state?"

Additional References…

 A Charlotte Mason Primer…To be forwarded to the list!
Time for Tea or Language Arts…The Easy Way… see
Narrations…Beyond the Test!,
Whole Books in the Homeschool,
Teaching the Various Subjects Using Whole Books
Time for Tea…Volume 3, Issue 1, see Education is an Atmosphere
Time for Tea…Volume 3, Issue 7, see The Presentation of Living Ideas, Using Whole Books
(If you are not a subscriber to Time for Tea…you may request this issue as a sample via email by sending your request to haroldr@getaway.net)

This lesson is copyrighted by Rushton Family Ministries and may be used only with permission. Cindy.

Turning our hearts to our children.

Chapter 3: Authority And Freedom

For The Children's Sake By Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
Discussion Notes and Questions

 Good Evening!

 Alas we come to Chapter Three! Every time I begin a new chapter study in this Awesome Book, I think to myself that THIS chapter is the most crucial! No wonder that we find For the Children's Sake to be a classic irregardless of the homeschooling approach pursued by the family. These ideas cross all boundaries and apply to the deepening of the quality of every home for every child! This chapter especially calls for heart surgery for every parent. During this study, we will evaluate the parental role and our response as we disciple our little lambs!

 Let's jump in!

 In the first section, pages 42-47, we take a look at children as God made them. The first few paragraphs bring us back to a discussion that popped up during our study a few months ago, the nature of the child. Mrs. Macaulay introduces Charlotte Mason's approach as "friendly, reasonable, and realistic." Saying that, "She knew that the biblical teaching on this subject applies to each person regardless of age. We are all under God's authority. Although we all share in the fallen human condition, there is also the positive, good side of human nature."

 This is a beautiful response to the concern that is raised by the following quote by Miss Mason from Philosophy of Education, Page 46...

 "A well-known educationalist has brought heavy charges against us all on the score that we bring up children as children of wrath.' He probably exaggerates the effect of any such teaching, and the 'little angel' theory is fully as mischievous."
[This ought to dispel the myth that she taught that children are born GOOD. Let's continue...]
"The act seems to be that children are like ourselves, not because they have become so, but because they ARE BORN SO; that is with tendencies, dispositions, towards good and towards evil, and also with a curious intuitive knowledge as to which is good and which is evil. Here we have the work of education indicated. There are good and evil tendencies in body and mind, heart and soul; and the hope set before us is that we can foster the good so as to attenuate the evil; that is, on condition that we put Education in her true place as the handmaid of Religion."

 There has been much concern raised about this position of Miss Mason. In this full statement, we see that she believed that we are all born with tendencies and dispositions which are not always WHAT we want to do...but none the less tendencies and dispositions that we are all having to face. The main premise is that children are no different than we are. We must see them as God sees them. To do so, we must go back to Scripture to see the picture that God gives us of children (well, all people moving toward their maturity) so that in turn we can glean the principles from Scripture that are necessary to train our dear children up in the Lord!

 God sees them in "process." He gives us the responsibility and blessing of being part of the training toward His Product…Let's look at some of the names that He calls these little ones…

 a. Children are very precious to God! They are God's creation…Known of God…Planned by God…A life with Purpose!

 Psalm 139: 1-18…(Amplified Bible)
"O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.
You know my downsitting and my uprising;
You understand my thought afar off.
You sift and search out my path and my lying down, and
You are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word in my tongue [still unuttered],
but, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have beset me and shut me in—behind and before, and
You have laid your hand upon me.
Your [infinite]knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high above me,
I cannot reach it.
Where could I go from Your Spirit?
Or where could I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend up into heaven,
You are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol (the Place of the Dead), behold,
You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there shall Your hand lead me, and
Your right hand shall hold me,
Even the darkness dies nothing from You,
but the night shines as the day;
the darkness and the light are both alike to You.
For You Did form my inward parts;
You did knit me together in my mother's womb.
I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful,
and for the awful wonder of my birth!
Wonderful are Your works,
and that my inner self knows right well.
My frame was not hidden from You
when I was being formed in secret
[and]intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors]
in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery].
Your eyes saw my unformed substance,
and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious and weighty also are Your thoughts to me,
O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I could count them,
they would be more in number than the sand."

 Question….How does this view change the way we view our Homeschool? What difference does it make in the view of the child…their purpose? What are some practical ways that we "show" that we "see" children the way that God sees them?

 b. God sees Children as our Heritage, Fruit, Reward…

 Psalm 127: 3…"Lo, Children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his Reward."

 Question…How does this differ from the view of our society about children? How about you? How do you see your children? Future children? Grandchildren? The children around you?

 c. God sees them as our Arrows

 Psalms 127:4-5… "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate."

Prepared- prepared with great care, much time, much effort, much focus, much expense…must be ready to shoot
Straight- does not get off course or misled…Must be guarded so they won't get broken or bent before shooting forth!
Precise- goes where shot, hits the mark…Must rightly divide the Word of God…apply it to life…and live out its principles!
Fully equipped- lacking nothing-prepared exactly for its purpose…Feathers…has right spin..keeps on track in the right direction…light…guides where it is going!
Sharp- not dulled by the world, ready to be used

 Question…What picture does this give you of God's purpose for parenthood?
How different should an "arrow" intended to be used for battle be prepared from those unequipped to battle?
How are you preparing your children different from the common arrows we see about us which are not "dressed," "broken," "dulled" by the world, "crooked," or worse yet unable to shoot forth?
How are you protecting your arrows from being damaged?
How much effort are you putting into preparing them for battle?

 d. God calls them as like Olive Plants or well-nurtured plants…

 Ps. 128:3-4… "Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD."

 Ps. 144:12… "Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants."


 a. Precious plants…Most valuable tree to ancient Hebrews. Symbol of Beauty, Strength, Divine Blessing, Prosperity, Security, Greatness, and Grace!
b. Beautiful in form and fruit (Jer. 11;16) Attracts others to Christ and Bears fruit!!
c. Rich Roots-steady supply of the Word of God!
d. Strong- withstands, ready for its task! Must have tender care in its youth!
e. Flourishing- blessed bountifully so it can share with others, no need for any other supply of food/nurture.
f. Yielding- bears fruit!
g. Fat & Green- well-cared for, vital!!
h. Fruitful- produces fruit for the kingdom of God!!
i. Still yielding fruit in old age (Ps. 92:14)- there is not a starting or stopping of being fruit!!!
j. Message of life to the World-(Noah)
k. If pruned, can be used as a standard! (Page 18, Herbs)

 Questions…This week I have spent my FREE (ha!) time preparing my garden. We have gently placed our precious herbs, flowers, seeds, and vegetable plants into freshly prepared soil...in JUST the RIGHT amount of sunlight…by just the right plants that SHOULD surround it. We have begun the process of daily watering of these tender plants. My mother just recommended today that I prune back one plant that would flower now quickly but would die away and not flower in the fall when we will want "color" around about us.

 As you think of the similarities between the process of gardening and parenting, what lessons can you share about how you are tending your dearest of "plants," your children? What qualities do you think God wants from our children that we tenderly care for and nurture for Him?

 e. God thinks of our children as being like Grown Trees

 Psalm 1:1-3… "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of the sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."

 Jer. 17:7-8… "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green."


 a. Firmly Planted- unmoveable, well-nourished, does not fear heat, wind or drought!
The Soil anchors the plant and is the source of nutrients and water! Soil must be improved before planting…has to have a rest time or the plant will not be as fruitful.
b. Yields- yield good fruit and does not cease to yield good fruit!!
c. Offers a place of refuge in its shade!
d. Stays nourished- Leaf does not wither!
e. Prospers
f. Must have pruning to be most productive!
g. Must have proper nutrients to grow and mature…
Water…Washing of the Word!
Minerals…W/o they produce inferior growth with little flavor or fragrance…will decrease fertility…With minerals, produce steady, stable growth!

 Questions…As you envision God's picture of your children as trees, what qualities do you most desire for your children? What principles do you draw from this "picture" that would apply to the process of parenting? What is your role? What preparation do you think is needed for a "tree" to be firmly planted? What responsibilities does God leave for the "gardener" of the tree?

 f. God plans for our daughter to become like Polished Cornerstones

 Psalms 144:12… "Then our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as cornerstones polished after the similitude of a palace."


 a. Unmoveable- doctrinally sound, firm in conviction!
b. Support Structures- ready to bear the weight of the home!
c. Fashioned by royalty for royalty- fashioned by God Himself for His purpose! She knows that she is vitally important to the KING'S plan, with dignity and class!!
d. Either lead correctly or astray.(Is. 19: 13)
e. Used for the foundation (Is. 28:16)-tested, costly, firmly placed, starting place of construction/you line up all else with it, central in uniting two walls!! For this reason, must be IN LINE/LEVEL!

 Questions…I love the picture from this Scripture. It reminds me of the special position that God has ordained for wives. How can you prepare your daughters for the awesome role as wives and mothers that God has planned for them? What principles from this Scripture teach a plan for them? In what ways are you currently training them for their duties?

 I am so excited about the discussion on this topic! What a treat it will be to discuss this vision for children. God has not established parenthood to be just merely raising up our children to a certain age. He intends for us to give them a standard to live by all of their life. He intends for us to train them up toward HIS purpose for their lives. I have begun writing down some of the names that God calls His people which seem to indicate our calling/purpose in life.

 Here are a few…Ambassadors for Christ, Letter of Christ (2 Cor. 3: 2-3), Body of Christ, Vessels of Honor, Fellow Sheep (fellow Pilgrims)...

 To move to this point, we must take our relationship with God very serious. God wants for us to first have a deep relationship with Him, ourselves. Remember that popular "Homeschool" verse found in Deuteronomy 6:6-9…

 "Here, O Israel:
The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy gates."

 We cannot "diligently" teach anything that we do not have on OUR heart! God first calls to the parent to love Him and walk with Him. Then THE PARENT…notice the call here was not to a teacher, preacher, Sunday School Teacher…but to the parent…the parent is to then disciple the children. Disciple means to "make followers." What a challenging call before us!

 Miss Mason taught that our "work" in Education is to spur our children toward that which is "true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
Philippians 4:8 because "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" Proverbs 23: 7. Truly Education IS the handmaid of Religion!

 Charlotte Mason illustrates this further as we continue on page 47...

 "Physicians and physiologists tell us that new-born children start fair. A child is not born with tuberculosis, for example, it with a tendency which it is our business to counteract. In the same way, all possibilities for good are contained in his moral and intellectual outfit, hindered it may be by a corresponding tendency to evil for every such potentiality. We begin to see our way. It is OUR BUSINESS to know what parts and passions a child is made up, to discern the dangers that present themselves, and still more the possibilities of free-going in delightful paths. However disappointing, even forbidding, the failings of a child, we may be quite sure that in every case the opposite tendency is there and we must bring the wit to give to play."

 Note OUR business as parents is...
...To know what parts and passions make up the child
...To discern the dangers that present themselves (Isn't this beautiful?
Reminds me of the care of arrows…or the danger in setting out our plants too early…or in not pruning them so that they could bear forth more fruit…)
...To discern the possibilities of free-going in delightful paths (to discern paths that lead to delightful study…or on the spiritual side to the Lord and His plan for their life! WOW!)

 I love her picture here that for every negative tendency there is an opposite to instill...
...disobedience to obedience
...dishonor to honor
...hate to love
...confusion to peace
...inattention to attention
so on and on! Yes! We have but such a challenge before us!

 Now…back to the chapter in For The Children's Sake…

 I have outlined some important things to remember as we train up these blessings…

 *Remember that we are all under the same authority. The Word teaches us all. We are not imposing arbitrary rules upon our children. We are under God's Authority…God's Standard! Sin is sin…there is an absolute standard!

 *We have the challenge to take the child as they are…and train them up in the way that God has planned for them to go. We can take the good…improve it and build upon it. Take the bad…teach that it is sin and has consequences. The greatest lesson that we have to teach our dear children is to instruct them so that they may have "pure heart, good conscience and a sincere faith." (1 Timothy 1:5) We are truly tools that God uses to inspire them toward Himself!

 *We have a responsibility to establish good habits in our children…
...habits of right doing
...habits of right thinking
...treating others well
...respecting others
The best way that we do this is by appreciating children…fully appreciating them, being "doers" of the Word of God, and developing habits early! It is our responsibility to see that the atmosphere of the home provides a lifestyle that encourages good habits through routine and consideration of the child (their development, nutrition, emotional needs…).

 *We have a distinct responsibility to balance the authority that God has bestowed upon us in the relationship with our children. We do this by…
…serving the child not ANY system
…focusing on relationships
…slowing down to keep our priorities straight
…discipling our children
…letting them know what to expect from us and from our day
…leading them gently (instructing them…giving them secure guidelines…leading them in small steps…expecting excellence…encouraging success!)
…teaching them Godly Self-control and temperance
…watching over them yet trusting them with freedom within protective limits
…walking alongside them in humility
…providing them with a full, real life
…helping them to form good habits by giving them freedom to make mistakes and bear the consequences of those mistakes…while teaching them the process from failure to restoration in relationships with God and others.

 What a powerful position we have as parents. Susan Schaeffer Macaulay says on page 58, "We have to study the child's needs as a person, and consider what is fully human, balanced, and whole. We need to juggle the complicated pieces of a puzzle--the child, the community you live in, what is available, and what are the alternatives. 'If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, Who gives generously to all men without finding fault, and it will be given to him' (James 1:5)."

 As we continue this study, may we all take this time to go to God's Word for HIS VIEW of our dear children. May we become His student as we study the child He has blessed us with...as we take a look at the child's needs as a person...and the ideas of what the life should be like that we present before our children.

 What an incredible blessing we have as we participate in this process of training our children up for our precious Lord!

 Proverbs 22:6 (Amplified Bible)… "Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it."

 Love, Cindy

This lesson is copyrighted by Rushton Family Ministries and may be used only with permission. Cindy.


Turning our hearts to our children.

Chapter Four...A New Perspective! Lesson 1 by Cindy

Today we are moving on in our study of For the Children's Sake. I have broken this new chapter up into several different lessons. This lesson will cover pages 59-64. This chapter has SOOO much to discuss that a quick study won't do! Sooo, let's dig in!

 Chapter Four...A New Perspective! Lesson 1

 Sitting in our conference last week here in Alabama, I found myself with tears streaming down my cheeks. It was the first time that Matthew had ever prepared a "talk" for others. I had been sooo busy that I did not have time to help him at all. On the way to church, he asked me if he could just go over it. I was thrilled. I listened to my little (well, not so little anymore) baby as he shared the commitments that he has made in his life. He was so cute...so funny...yet, so profound. I sat there crying...while laughing...while thinking to myself, "Homeschooling is not so bad!" "FRUIT!" "Oh, God! How great You ARE!"

 As I read through this chapter of For the Children's Sake, we come to the challenge before us. That of taking a look at how WE have the power to affect the lives of our children! WOW! How profound!

 We DO leave a mark on the lives we touch. I could see MY mark on Matthew and I could see HAROLD'S mark on Matthew. I could see our MINISTRY'S mark on Matthew. I could see our GOD'S mark on Matthew! Wow!

 What shapes this young man? Well, I am afraid that it is not all of our wonderful homeschooling savvy! I am afraid it is not our "qualifications" as parents or teachers. I am afraid that it is not "socialization"...now that is a scary thought! I am afraid that it is not "testing," "achievements," or even "plans for college." The things that have shaped my dear child have been the most important...the eternal. Those are the only things that count...that make a difference!

 Charlotte Mason recognized that education was more than simply lessons. In this chapter of For the Children's Sake, we find some of the keys that Charlotte Mason felt opened the door to true education. Here are a few...

 1. A few hours of study later, when the child is ready, is better than all the years of drudgery.

 She said, "This horse-in-a-mill round of geography and French, history and sums, was no more than playing at education; for who remembers the scraps of knowledge he laboured over as a child? and would not the application of a few hours in later life effect more than a year's drudgery at any one subject in childhood? If education is to secure the step-by-step progress of the individual and the nation, it must mean something over and above the daily plodding at small tasks which goes by the name."

 Yes, REAL education means more! Of course, education is teaching the skills needed to learn...but, it is more! It is giving a love of learning so that children will USE those skills to pursue areas of study that grab their interest! The key to Real Education rests in this principle...all else will result in "playing at school."

 2. Done all...yet still struggling with the child?? Try God!

 All of the "work" is not going to change basic character...habits...or the flesh of our children. The key to dealing with the struggles and the frustrations can be summed up in considering and developing the will of our children. NO. The children that we consider to be "strong-willed" are not "strong-willed" but as Donna-Jean Breckenridge would call them, they are "weak-willed." They have no control over their will. Those children with true strength of will can mix that strength with godly motives, purpose, desire, and power to serve the Lord with all their hearts.

 Charlotte Mason said, "Consideration made the reason of the failure plain; there was a warm glow of goodness at the heart of every one of the children, but they were all incapable of steady effort, because they had no strength of will, no power to make themselves do that which they knew they ought to do. Here, no doubt, come in the functions of the parents and teachers; they should be able to make the child do that which he lacks the power to compel himself to do. But it were poor training that should keep the child dependent upon personal influence. It is the business of education to find some way of supplementing that weakness of will which is the bane of most of us as the children."

 Yes, Real Education must strengthen the will. The function of parents is to make the child do what he or she lacks the power WITHIN to do for himself. We have this role as our primary role in the early years, with the goal in mind of weaning our children away to independence. This is ONE of my favorite things about the CM education...that vision for where we are going with each of our children...not a mindless "schooling" of our children! This education encourages the parent to step in to help the child who is willfully choosing sin rather than the right way...but the parent is encouraged to train that same child to independence, meaning that the child is not dependent upon others for instruction nor personal influence nor correction. What would our society be like if our people were self-governed...willing to do God's Will...independent??? What a different world this would be. Just take a look around us...there is such a resentment toward authority...such an aimlessness...such a dependency upon the opinions or instructions of others...and such a lack of purpose and self-motivation! We want the fruit of REAL EDUCATION! We will have much fruit if we seek to train our children in their will while they are young.

 3. How to give a REAL, RICH, ACTUAL Education...

 ...Respect the child. They are born REAL persons. They do need authority. They need to learn obedience and submission to that authority, but they also must be UNDERSTOOD as persons. The danger in parenting lies in parents being so strict that the child does not have any concept of WHO they are as an individual OR those that hinder their children from becoming all that they can be as they let them go in they way that they want just out of a "false respect for the child."

 Children DO need discipline...they DO need a clear picture of authority...BUT, they also need a clear picture of WHO they are and WHERE they are going! They need for our picture of authority/discipline to be a picture of their relationship with God. Yes, there are going to be mistakes/actions which require a penalty/consequence. We should show the grace, lovingkindness and mercy of God while also giving them a picture of Godly wrath and penalties for sin. Of course, as Charlotte Mason shares in her writing, children do not need to DO what they do because of fear/love/suggestion/influence/or undue play of any natural desire. They need to be taught that we DO what we do because of it being RIGHT. This perspective can bring us to a richer understanding of the importance of relationships and godly discipline as a tool toward REAL education!

 ...See the Children Through God's Eyes. Last study, I shared some of the names that God calls children from Scripture. My study in this area opened my eyes to see how very precious children are to God...how much He thinks of us as parents...and most of all, I could see a more specific plan for training them. Real Education can never occur without a REAL vision of the child.

 ...Establish Authority and Obedience to that Authority. Harold and I were talking last week about his talk at our conference. He said something in his talk that has had my simple little mind chugging! He talked about the need in our society to teach our children about JAIL. Hum? You all must know that one of the primary lessons that HE feels children should learn early is how FAR sin can take them. WHERE you end up if this is your path of choice. I remember Harold taking Matthew to the jail to see it when he was only 2. He would show Matthew those sick at their stomach from too much liquor...he would show Matthew those that were crying like babies who were just so TOUGH the night before. As the children grew older, Harold let the children hear court cases that were deciding the futures of people...even those going to Death Row. His lesson to them was probably one of the most difficult...most hidden in our culture today...but, the most needful!

 Children in our culture are the most babied...the most under-disciplined of all time. They have no concept of HOW their actions affect others NOR WHERE those actions are leading them! Many people think of ALL the authority in their lives like they do their parents...just mush, don't care, or won't REALLY do anything to THEM. Harold says that SOMEONE has to teach authority. Who is it? He also says that if it is HIM, it is not always the EASY WAY!

 This area of life IS truly vital. It serves our children not only through the ugly of life...but also as they go from day to day needing to KNOW that there are things that they are to do JUST BECAUSE YOU SAY SO. They can not possibly see the end result of all that Copywork...or of all those hours spent in Math...or even all those chores! But, they must learn to rest in your judgment. Want REAL education, have REAL authority!

 ...Use Your Tools: Atmosphere, Discipline, and Life!

 Atmosphere...not a "child-environment" but a REAL, natural home atmosphere! The natural home atmosphere IS the best atmosphere for children to learn...to grow...and to develop into the vessels that God can use! However, our homes must be in order! They must have a slow pace...lots of opportunities to learn...freedom and TIME to pursue interests of delight and pleasure. The home is the perfect atmosphere of education as it enlivens and challenges children to REALLY learn!

 Discipline...I read the other day in Charlotte Mason's books that lessons are for two reasons. The first is to establish the disciplines in the home and the second is to provide the "food" necessary for life in the child! Discipline is, in fact, one of the three cornerstones of the CM approach. Many people confuse the CM approach with Unschooling because of its relaxed approach to teaching children without considering that education/child training *can only* be relaxed WHEN things are in order!

 Those early years of childhood ARE incredibly difficult as all the habits are being developed definitely and thoughtfully. Those early years involve a constant survey as we evaluate all things that can shape the child or the child's mind. However, one of the greatest fruits of this approach is that early maturation of the child brought up with such a training. They are able to become self-educated and self-directed earlier...their tastes and preferences are set earlier...and they are given a vision for the best in life! This is true education!

 Life... I touched on this a little in the last point. Yes, children do need LIFE! Their soul craves for REAL LIFE! Just a snack here and there will stunt the growth of the child. How do they get real life?? First, they need PEOPLE! Real People! The best place for that is in the home. The greatest teachers of children ARE the parents who teach WHO THEY ARE! Not every family will be a writing family...or a fix-it family...or a singing family...but, whatever it is that YOU are, that is what your children need to KNOW! There are NO accidents with God!

 Secondly, children need a constant diet of Real, living ideas! Their minds need a continual supply of intellectual, moral, physical, and spiritual ideas! Their little minds are constantly soaking in ideas. See a parched, uninterested child?? Give them a full, generous curriculum of real, living ideas and watch them blossom! What do I mean by Real, Living Idea?? I mean those thoughts passed to us by real people that not only have the facts, but also the informing ideas as well. Those ideas that form relationships! Children will soon forget facts unless they have had time to get to know the persons in a relationship! Want a good example...think back to your high school history text. Remember anybody or any dates?? OK...if you do, you must not be as old as I am! Ü Now, go back to your childhood to one of your favorite books. Who was your favorite character. Tell all you can about that person. You can, huh? That is because you have had IDEAS mixed with the facts of that person's life! Children do not crave facts...they crave relationships! Give them those relationships with what they are learning!

 ...Remember that Education IS a Science of Relations. This goes along with the last point. Children need a vast number of things to think about. They crave deep thoughts to think! They are no different from we are! Give them a well rounded education! Give them lots of things to develop relations with...physical exercise, nature, handicrafts, science, art, music, books, people! Our job is not to teach ALL about everything...rather, it is put them in contact with as many areas of thought...as many things...as many ideas as you can! Our job is to give them the contact with those areas...skills to learn from those areas of learning...and help to pursue any areas that may become areas of delight!

 ...Teach Self-management. On page 63-64 of FCS, we find that the training of the Way of the Will is brought up again while introducing another area of training, that of the Way of Reasoning. In our society, we have bought the slogan "just say no!" without even considering if that is the answer to the problems at hand. The REAL problem is not the use of drugs, premarital sex, shooting up high schools...the REAL problem is a lack of Self-management. The children really need to be taught about their very REAL flesh/sin nature. We all struggle between what we want and what we will... our flesh and our spirit.

 The Way to training our will is through...
...distinguishing between our our wants/will...flesh/spirit.
...learning to turn our thoughts toward something more pleasant or to do the right thing.
...continuing on until our will catches up and returns with vigor!

 This reminds me of our recent read aloud, The Screwtape Letters. In one chapter, we learned that the battle at hand is not always the big things that we easily determine as sin or set backs. The battle is usually waged in the little things...little worries, little fears, little jobs...these are areas that we blow it! Satan KNOWS that these are areas that set us back. He also knows that as we turn our thoughts or do the things that give us time for reflection (cup of Tea, read a good book, go for a walk) we come back with a greater resolve in our wills! This is what we want for our children as we train their will. We want for them to resolve in their hearts to follow God in ALL things!

 The Way of Reasoning is another way to teach self-management. Perhaps, I see a need for this area more now that my children are getting older than when they were young and just needing to learn to obey without question (you know, that authority issue). "Just saying no!" will never work because it does not take into consideration the need of children to reason. In our society, children are not taught to reason any more because there are no moral or even societal absolutes. "Just say no" UNTIL you become the president..."Just say no" UNTIL you are an adult and can pay your way..."Just say no" UNTIL you are in love..."Just say no" UNTIL YOU decide it is OK! NOT! That is not reasoning. Why not arm the children with absolutes from God's unchanging, infallible, inerrant Word?? Why not teach them how to reason based upon that Word and that Word alone? Teaching these important aspects will prepare the children for true self-management not only for today but for all of their lives. This brings us to the next aspect of Real Education...

 ...Real Education teaches how to accept or reject ideas. Children used to reason and think biblically. They can today too. All that is needed is an education which instills principles of conduct and gives a wide range of knowledge to help them develop discernment. God has given us the riches of our world. It is ours to have dominion over! As we give our children the riches of a REAL education, we find that they are prepared to accept and reject ideas based on a strong Biblical WOrldview! Charlotte Mason says of this, "these principles...should save children from some of the loose thinking and heedless action which cause most of us to live at a lower level than we need." This is the kind of education needed in our culture today. Children still need absolutes and they still need inspiration from the great lives of those gone before us! Yes, children need an education that will inspire them to greatness!

 ...Real Education has no separation between the intellectual and spiritual life.

 Charlotte Mason wrote, "We should allow NO separation to grow up between the intellectual and 'spiritual' life of children; but should teach them that the Divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their continual helper in all the interests, duties, and joys of life."

 The greatest inspiration that I have in my life is that what I do each and every day REALLY COUNTS. All makes sense. All of the "stuff" that we have learned about history helps us to know and understand the power of God throughout history...helps us to see the character of God as He shows His dependability, patience and grace...and helps us to have HOPE in what God promises for tomorrow! All of the time that we spend out of doors getting to know God's creation helps us to see His Word more fully while helping us to see OUR preciousness to Him in a new way. Those moments with the masters who preserved their work on canvas...music...poetry...or literature even show us the difference between lives lived TOTALLY for God vs those lived for selfish ambition or rebellion toward God. Even those skills that we thought would never be used...really are! They are needed as we prepare our children to bring glory to God in their lives. They are needed as we bring glory to God ourselves today!

 Yes, this could go on! ALL in our lives really matters. Gladys Hunt in "Honey for a Child's Heart" wrote...

 "As Christian parents we are concerned about building whole people—people who are alive emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. The instruction to train up a child in the way he should go encompasses so much more than teaching him the facts of the gospel. It is to train the child's character, to give him high ideals, and to encourage integrity. It is to provide largeness of thought, creative thinking, imaginative wondering—an adequate view of God and His world. He can never really appreciate the finest without personal redemption. But many a redeemed person lives in a small insecure world because he has never walked with God into a larger place which is His domain. We have books and The Book at our disposal to use wisely for God's glory. A young child, a fresh uncluttered mind, a world before him—to what treasures will you lead him? With what will you furnish his spirit?"

 This is the picture that we have of education. A new perspective.

 Questions for discussion...

 1. How does the Christian view children differently than a non-Christian?
What about the difference between the Christian Worldview of Children/Parenting/Education versus the Secular Worldview of Children/Parenting/Education?

 2. Share your thoughts on how to strengthen the will of the child. How does a weak will inhibit true education?

 3. How are struggles lessened within the Homeschool with Real Education Charlotte Mason Style??

 4. What makes the home an "atmosphere" of learning instead of chaos?
What works to encourage your children to learn?

 5. How are you instilling good habits while breaking bad habits??
How does the routine of the home help to establish Discipline?

 6. How do you test for life in your Homeschool??
How do you breathe life into the education you present to your children?

 7. How are relationships established with lessons?
Describe the relationships that you see developing in the lives of your children?

 8. How can you plug the holes? What does a "full education" entail?

 9. How are you encouraging your children to grow in self-management...
Develop their strength of will?
Develop their ability to reason??

 10. Does your education include God as God of all?
What difference has that made in Homeschooling?

 "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Colossian 2: 2-8


This lesson is copyrighted by Rushton Family Ministries and may be used only with permission. Cindy.


Turning our hearts to our children.

Chapter 4 - A New Perspective...Lesson 2 by Lynn

I wish to point out that this chapter may be unique - SSM collected ALL the major points of a CM lifestyle in a single place. You will find all 18 Principles here (OK, I know there are 20 in volume 6, but I don't know which Volume SSM copied these from). You will find the aphorism "Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, and a Life" exegeted. Cathy has begun a separate study of the Principles, but this chapter can be considered at least an outline. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 covered the first 3 Principles, but this one covers the rest.

 "A New Perspective". Do you think of the CM lifestyle, of a CM education, as fitting that description? Think back to your own school days- workbooks, dry textbooks, memorize names and dates. Was anyone else bored to tears reading Dick and Jane and other controlled vocabulary material at school? I was reading real books at home! It was even more so in Charlotte's day. The common educational philosophy believed children's minds were the sum of what was poured into them, and didn't care whether that was interesting. Boring texts with large amounts of pure memorization alternated with dumbed-down vocabulary. School days were long.

 Not too many years ago I had part of a conversation between a good, caring Pastor and a missionary repeated to me. The missionary had 8 children and homeschooled; the Pastor wanted to provide a workbook program as part of the church's support. The missionary turned it down saying "I can do better". Can we? Is it really possible to provide a better education? Charlotte Mason thought so!

 The young Charlotte was enthusiastic, she wanted to make a difference as a teacher. She found, to her great disappointment, that she didn't. SSM quotes from Home Education, pp. 98-100, including; "The children, no doubt, 'got on' - a little; but each of them had the makings in her of a noble character, of a fine mind, and where was the lever to lift each of these little worlds?" Charlotte sought this lever for years. There was no single day when she woke and 'knew' what to do. The first clues she had, the first steps, were in the area of the Will.

 Charlotte had an unusual approach to the child - she respected them as persons! She believed that their personalities mattered. She had the same opinion of women and was prominent in women's rights movements, beginning with education. This was not the common view - women and children were seen as chattels, as blanks fit only to be molded. This molding could take many forms - but Charlotte decided only three instruments of education were valid as respecting the person: Atmosphere, Discipline, and Life. She believed in Ultimate Truth. She believed that a child must learn to do their work, to study, because it is right.

 Let me digress here and list a few of the FALSE ways to teach that she examined: Love, Reward, Fear, suggestion and influence, and play upon natural desire. A child can be led in each of these ways - SSM gives us examples of each, and explains how and why each is wrong. Let me take only one here as an example - Reward.

 SSM said, beginning on page 65, "The Christian view of the child does not allow him to be conditioned as a dog may be conditioned to respond to a bell. We must have due respect for the sacredness of his separate personality. Therefore, we treat him with dignity, allowing for his weakness and need of support at any given stage."

 Is it dignified to ring bells, earn stickers just because Bobby finishes a reader before Suzie does? Is a grade of "A" earned because the child has mastered a certain amount of material or because they score higher than the rest of the class? It is true that grades and tests are facts of life - but what do they reflect? Did the child learn because it was interesting, or because they wanted that "A"? Most of all, did they learn it because it was right to do so? Did they will themselves to learn?

 If there are many wrong ways, what do we look for to find the right instruments? SSM sifts and gives us this synopsis (which I shorten even more):
Look at the material, the schoolbooks. Is the child's interest and imagination stirred, or are they rewarded with artificial lollipops for dreary, dry, artificial and lengthy work?
Look at the time. A child wants to get at real life - do we equate hours with education? Do they learn more because we lecture, or by doing so many pages of workbooks?
Teach the skill for its own sake. Introduce a wide curriculum of living books. Keep the teaching time short.

 Let me look at the big three. Atmosphere - no matter where the child is, are they accepted, loved, valued for themselves? Is there hope, sure expectations, security? Are there real-life situations encouraging consideration of others? Are the 'vibes' good or bad?

 Next is Discipline - and here Charlotte means the child learning to discipline himself! Fear of punishment is equally as bad as learning because it pleases the parent/teacher. Both produce a child who may have ideal grades, yet have no personal discipline. In this case, the point is HABIT, and that is something the parent can help the child develop! Charlotte wrote much upon this topic! The youngest children can be guided, suggested, distracted. Older children must cooperate, the parents working as a team with the child. Charlotte made a list of about 20 habits that she thought the parents must work to instill in the child - preschool, if you like. Is it more important that a child learn to tie their shoes, or to pay attention?

 And finally, there is Life. In Volume 6, page 109, Charlotte clearly verbalized her meaning: "Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child's inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food."

Give them the best, and watch them respond! Give them real books, real conversation, real work, real appreciation for their real efforts. If you cannot afford much, make that little the best that you can. Better to have only a few good books, much loved and enjoyed, than a library full of twaddle! Let them have paper and colors rather than coloring books. Let them learn to sew, and to do useful crafts.

 For your consideration:

 Is the Atmosphere of your home what you want it to be? I'm not talking about Martha Stewart here. I'm wondering if you live in a war zone with your children, and need help? Let's begin with a simple assignment - get a piece of paper. Write a child's name at the top. Now list 10 things you like about that child.

 This can be an eye-opening exercise for the whole family, because the last part is to sign the paper and give it to the child! Have each member of the family do this for every other. We did this a few years ago and my teenage daughter was speechless when she discovered her annoying little brother thought she was pretty.

 Give us all some help here - what are some ways you have improved the atmosphere in your homes? If you are baffled as to how to solve one of your own atmospheric disturbances, tell us about it and let us brainstorm.

 What 20 habits do you think are important for a young child to learn? Write your list out, then compare it to the ones Charlotte chose. Do you agree? Are any differences only a matter of terminology, or did you think of something she didn't include? If so, why do you think your choice belongs on a basic list?

 Do you agree, but not know how to start with a particular habit in your home? Perhaps your child is older, and you need to work on it together? Ask the group for ideas!

 How do you include your children, particularly the small children, in the real life of your homes? Do you have assigned chores? Do your teens do all the cooking? How do you include the small children in the schooling time?

 And, most of all, how do you arrange for your children to have large chunks of free time, that essential ingredient to imagination, the expression of living ideas?

 Lynn H

Go To The Charlotte Mason Study Loop Homepage.

This lesson is copyrighted by Lynn Hocraffer and may be used only with permission. Lynn.


Turning our hearts to our children.

Chapter Five...Education. A Science of Relationships

From page 91 to page 147 is a single long chapter, the longest in this book. I would have made it several! I will deal with it in sections.

 On page 91 SSM says: "It is a balanced understanding of education as the provision of possibilities for a person to build relationships with a vast number of things and thoughts. We must take steps to provide a diet which opens doors for each child to build a relationship with God, other persons, and the universe." She then proceeds to list a few of the many places such relationships can be fostered. Since each child's experience will be different, we are urged to extend our concept of a rich curriculum outside of, as well as in, school. It is the balance that matters.

 CM said in Vol. 6, pg. 158; "Of the three sorts of knowledge proper to a child, the knowledge of God, of man, and of the universe, - the knowledge of God ranks first in importance, is indispensable and most happy-making."

 SSM goes on to encourage us to converse with our children, including them naturally. We should not pose ourselves as the source material- we are to lead the child to the real source, God.

CM said, "The expressed knowledge attainable by us has its source in the Bible, and perhaps we cannot do a greater indignity to children than to substitute our own or some other benevolent person's rendering for the fine English, poetic diction, and lucid statement of the Bible." ibid, 160.

 She did not used prepared Bible Study materials. She did not use storybooks or paraphrases. She used the Word, daily Scripture read to the child. New names and places might be introduced with a map or a fine painting, a new custom might be explained. Then the selected Scripture was read - always a short passage, a narrative where real people met a real God. After the passage was read, someone would narrate it back. And that was all - no discussion, no moral drawn by the teacher, no application to our own lives. The child was left alone to mentally draw out an idea, to internalize. We are not to exhaust the child, nag them to be good. It is possible to so surround a child with Christian-this and Christian-that, that they are exhausted by the idea. Instead should be a simple acceptance of truth.

 We are to continue this practice in every area. What practice? The practice of always using the best, always giving them the truth. To teach them math, we should use the very best math materials that may be found even if the author is not a Christian. Instead, math should be learned for its own sake, because it is a way of looking at truth, and all truth is of God.

 In this fashion, we should not attempt to protect our children from the ideas of the world. We should discuss freely what is right and wrong in the news and books. Younger children will need a little cushioning, a little editing, but older children (certainly by the teen years) need to examine all in the light of Truth. We need not fear that they will fall to emotional appeal - IF - they have been given a proper grounding in good mind food, deep consideration of questions, ideas, and answers. Believe in their minds - feed them. Do not foster a division between secular and religious. Charlotte Mason loved a particular Italian fresco (image linked in our Garden). In it we see all inspiration to all great minds coming from God. She truly believed this. Do not be afraid of a poet or a painter who lived a less than 'perfect' life. The younger children do not need to know details of the artist's life that might prevent them seeing God in the work, but the teens should be able to understand that even fallen man can still be used of God. All - science, mathematics, arts, history, literature - should be studied for their own sakes.

 CM did not try to limit Truth. She accepted it. SSM quotes her father, Francis Schaeffer. The long passage includes "Christianity is not just a series of truths but TRUTH - Truth about all of reality." Math and other studies do not need to be studied from Christian materials. For example, measurement does not need to be learned from measuring out the Ark. Measurement needs to be learned for its own sake, because it is true; the Christian-ness of it lies within itself. We do not have to apply every day life as a sort of on-going Sunday School lesson.

 Children need to learn the idea of Truth, to be able to know rather than to feel. Can they pick up a magazine and discuss what is right or wrong about the cover story?

 SSM finishes this section with the thought that we do not become Christians because we feel - we become Christians because we are drawn to a God who is there. She applies this thought to three ideas each of us is familiar with - the curriculum outline CM gave us - "Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, and a Life". I will quote this page (105) rather than attempt to summarize it:

 The Atmosphere
Our children need to experience not intellectual assent to creeds only, but a day-by-day reality of those living life in relationship to a living King. The atmosphere of love, truth, humility, forgiveness. The atmosphere of truly accepting the individual, including his limitations. Accepting the gifts. The atmosphere of "hoping all things". The atmosphere of being open to the thoughts of our age. The atmosphere that everything matters, nothing is outside the reach of the light of God's truth.

 The Discipline
Basically, we plan for the contact between child and truth; it is not left up to the chance moment. The Bible is read, we pray together regularly, simply, and with purpose. God hears, loves us, understands, acts. We worship our King with other believers. We accept the responsibility (the routine) of serving each other. The acknowledgment of God's truth makes a practical difference in my schedule and priorities.

 The Life
We let the child, from the first, have the objective source material: the Bible. We let him share with us as we worship. We do not exclude him from worries, questions, failures or joys. We openly and honestly act like fellow human beings who are walking along the same road. Indeed, the child is, in many ways, to be our example. HE is not to become like the grown-up church member. WE are to become like the little child in our life with God. The reality of God's truth changes everything. It makes a difference to myself and to my relationship with everything that adds up to life.(SSM) (Mark 10:14)

 This section basically dealt with developing a relationship to God, the first of the three areas a child is to be put in touch with. The second of the three areas SSM deals with in this chapter as appropriate areas for our children to study, is the Study of Man. This includes many (not all) of our favorite school subjects - History, Literature, Morals and Citizenship, Composition, Languages, Art and Music. We have in the past spent weeks on each and any of these subjects, so I will not attempt to cover any of them thoroughly.

 I was struck by a short story SSM tells, on page 106, of a child who read a true war tale of a German pilot, shot down, who escaped from the British and returned home. The narration concluded with "I think this man was like a hero. He acted bravely. But he wasn't on the good side." No one told the child that there had been a good side to be on. This was their own conclusion - "You can act with bravery and have real sincerity, and yet be on the wrong side."(SSM) Many grown people today don't seem to have understood that point! SSM says "We err when we translate the past into our own terms. We should struggle for the truth."

 To reduce History to a list of names and dates; to reduce Literature to forms and patterns; to reduce Arts to schools - these are to rob our children of the Truth.

 In Volume 1, "Home Education" (for ages up to 9) CM says on page 288; "We can, at any rate, avoid giving children cut-and-dried opinions upon the course of history while they are still young. What they want is graphic details concerning events and persons upon which the imagination goes to work; and opinions tend to form themselves by slow degrees as knowledge grows."

 SSM continues the thought- "The curriculum should be planned as a consecutive whole, so that as the child moves along, he gains a sense of the broad sweep of his own country's history and it's place in the cultural history of the world."..."We don't require a parrot-memorization of what he reads. Each time, Charlotte Mason would have us listen to the child..."

 At this point SSM goes into the making and use of the item called a "Century Book", a timeline in a note book. This is a true PNUE invention. Every child should have one of these, constructed by themselves and added to steadily over the years of education. As the entries fill in the dates, as the drawings, illustrations, and quotations fill the lines, the child is stimulated to form natural associations - Relationships.

 Literature is a major part of this plan. To fill out the History, Literature from the same time period is chosen, including both biographies and novels. While older children must read some themselves, some needs to be read aloud. Good literature is meant to be read aloud, with expression, with interest! (Perhaps that is why I have never 'gotten into' the Brontes?) By the age of 9-11 children are ready to enjoy Shakespeare's plays, read aloud.

Discussion Questions

 How do you improve the atmosphere of your home to help put the child in touch with God? Are we to exclusively decorate with Christian materials, Bible verses and angels on every surface? You and I can both think of homes that do exactly that! In those homes there may not be a real sense of the God who is REAL, while in homes that have been less inspired by Martha Stewart God may be found evidenced in the conversation, caring, accepting of each other. Nothing is the matter with decorations - but how may we improve the Atmosphere, the reality of Christ in our lives? How do we serve others? Do our children have opportunity to serve? How does God appear in your life outside of lesson-time? Give us some real-life applications of Atmosphere, Discipline, and Life!

This lesson is copyrighted by Lynn Hocraffer and may be used only with permission. Lynn.


Turning our hearts to our children.

Chapter Six..."The Way of the Will, Reason, and the Unity of the Whole"

Despite that whopper of a title, this chapter is only 10 pages long. It is Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's summing up, her applications. She covers Principles 15, 16, 17, 18, and 20; the Children's Motto, and some thoughts on applications.

 Let me begin by copying principles 15-18, as seen in the Preface to Volume 4 of the CM Series.
15) *The Way of the Will*. - Children should be taught -
(a) To distinguish between 'I want" and 'I will'.
(b) that the way to will effectively is to turn our thoughts from that which we desire but do not will.
(c) That the best way to turn our thoughts is to think of or do some quite different thing, entertaining or interesting.
(d) That, after a little rest in this way, the will returns to it's work with new vigour. (This adjunct of the will is familiar to us as *diversion*, whose office it is to ease us for a time from will effort, that we may 'will' again with added power. The use of suggestion, even self-suggestion - as an aid to the will, is to be depreciated, as tending to stultify and stereotype character. It would seem spontaneity is a condition of development, and that human nature needs the discipline of failure as well as success.)
16) *The Way of the Reason* - We should teach children, too, not to 'lean' (too confidently) 'unto their own understanding,' because the function of reason is, to give logical demonstration
(a) of mathematical truth ; and
(b) of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case reason is, perhaps, an infallible guide, but in the second it is not always a safe one ; for whether that initial idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs.
17) Therefor children should be taught, as they become mature enough to understand such teaching, that the chief responsibility which rests upon them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of initial ideas. To help them in this choice we should give them principles of conduct and a wide range of the knowledge fitted for them. These three principles (15, 16, & 17) should save children from some of the loose thinking and heedless action which cause most of us to live at a lower level than we need.
18) We should allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and 'spiritual' life of children ; but should teach them that the divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their continual helper in all the interests, duties, and joys of life.

The children's motto - the aphorism the children use, comes from these Principles. Do you use it in your home or lessons? SSM gives about a page on each of the 4 points - I will choose only a line or two to copy here.

 "I AM" - "The person should know about his worth, his unique place as a creature made to have a relationship with God."

 "I CAN" - "Yes, I believe in myself in a balanced, realistic way. I tackle appropriate goals with confidence."

 "I OUGHT" - "We live in the century of 'I want". Many actually believe that 'anything goes'. Study the Bible to see what are the 'oughts'. Gently apply this framework. It is the only one to teach children." SSM includes a quote from "Towards a Philosophy of Education", pages 134 and 135, beginning "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve".

 "I WILL" - "Having clarified what is right, we realize that we are able to choose what is right." In this, SSM quotes again from Volume 6, but on page xxxi - saying "We should allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and 'spiritual' life of children; but should teach them that the divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their continual helper in all the interests, duties, and joys of life."

 [That quote is CM's Principle #20, not found in the other 5 Volumes! I am excited by this evidence that CM continued to develop her Philosophy right up until her death - this Volume was finished just before she died. It contains her high school program as well as more notes for earlier ages, names books, and includes more essays on Science and Society. If you are only going to read, or own, ONE Volume - make it this one. It has a simply wonderful title- "An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Education"! "An Essay Towards.." - a beginning, a starting place, NOT a completely crystallized program. CM gave starter thoughts, guided in broad outlines, and left the parents and teachers to actually apply what they find possible. This is why CM is called a "Method", rather than a "Program". She gave us a beginning.]

 SSM continues : "The motto, 'I am, I can, I ought, I will' makes a circle, a perimeter, inside of which my human life may be lived with joy and fullness. There is a song, lightness, spontaneity. There is the possibility of attaining height proper to one's self. True fullness of life cannot come without godly perimeters. The fish in the sea, the bird in the air, the child in the garden with his friends. We may all soar, sing, live when we stay within our proper framework." (FTCS, page 153)

 >From 155-156 I will quote again, from SSM's "Abundant Life" applications; "Is all of this a kind of fairy tale? Do we have to accept instead the 'real life' of fear, failure, boredom, suppression, conformity, selfishness, laziness, pride, materialism? Do we say that it is 'more real' that children should be subjected to garbage, trivia, horror, false thinking and wrong living? Does neglect toughen up a child for adulthood? Do we give in to peer pressure which expects the false, wrong, and empty behavior which is the 'done thing'? Or do we slap the children's hands with a sharp 'No, no!" and then give them the emptiness of law without abundant life - no heart, song, or joy? Someone will react, 'But this sort of education, atmosphere, discipline and life is impossible.' Why? 'Oh, parents/homes/teachers/schools aren't like that. Children aren't like that.' Well, I disagree - and I agree. No parent/home/child/teacher/school has an all-around 100 percent wholeness. We all have limitations and problems. But I must never think that it is everything or nothing."

 That last quote is probably a perfect answer to those who ask who the 'real' Charlotte Mason is, based on comments from SSM's second book on home and family. Give the children what you can, in the situation you are in. Do not confine your efforts to your own children, in only your own home. Reach out as you are able - to neighbor children, to church bus children, to public schools.

 SSM finishes her chapter, and her book, with a poem. No author is named, so I assume it is her own. Knowing how email can re-arrange poetry, I have indicated indented lines with a "*".

 Come, child.
I respect you, you are a person.
Come with me.
You belong on this planet
You are to inherit,
You are to understand.
* Look. Look and you will see.
* Enjoy this day: the sun, the grass, your friends.
Listen - we will read God's word.
We are His sheep, he is our Shepherd.
Grow! Flourish! Be master!
Let us do what we ought.
Let us choose the right!
* Let us be brothers and sisters, together.
The bored wake up.
The failures find a new spring,
The sinful start again.
* Come, little child.
* I will listen, I will learn, too -
Let us enjoy abundant LIFE!

 ---------------------------------------------------- Questions and discussion,

 Answer any of the questions SSM herself put to us, especially those in her Abundant Life applications.

 Have you used the children's motto? Do you think it came from these Principles, and do they apply?

 We all have limitations and problems - I find that SO freeing! I don't need to do everything according to some perfect plan - I need only do what I can. What can YOU do ? - How have you reached out to your own children, to those around you, to the poor and those in public schools (even your own, if you have a child in public school)? Do you use CM picture study to teach Sunday School?

 A while back, Wendi collected the book titles from Volume 6. Her list, including links for many online, is available on our CMason website. Be sure to read her disclaimer at the end! I'm sorry that the page is still not easy to read. You will probably find it easier to copy if you use your mouse, right-click, and choose to 'view source'. That's for I.E. users, Netscape will find that in their drop-down options menu. I don't know where Mac users find it.

 Have you used any of the actual books CM used? How did they work for you? Catherine Levison's NEW book, which our own Cathy will be leading us in a study of after Swap Week, contains a chapter where Catherine did exactly this - she managed to find ALL the books for one semester. You might look at her chapter for her comments on how the experiment worked out.

 What about the Joys of Life? SSM mentions this thought several times. Where is the Joy in your home? Is it evident in your children's education? In your own life?

This lesson is copyrighted by Lynn Hocraffer and may be used only with permission. Lynn.


Turning our hearts to our children.

Session Seven...My Conclusions

This lesson is copyrighted by Lynn Hocraffer and may be used only with permission. Lynn.


Turning our hearts to our children.

Go To The Charlotte Mason Study Loop Homepage.

Click Here to Return To the Popcorn & Peanuts Charlotte Mason pages.

OR Click to go forward to Lynn's Very Un-Official Booklists

Let Cindy and Lynn know what you think: E-Mail Us!


<script type="text/javascript"
src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/s/noscript?tag=lynnbhocraffe" alt=""