Most of us in the CM virtual world have heard or read this quote by Mrs. Kelly. As usual, I am a little late to the party since the topic of schedules and finding peace was so late 2014. Yet, here I am, in April 2015 still pondering and ruminating about schedules, peace, and atmosphere.
You see, we were struggling and school was beginning to be a chore even for mom. It became a humongous list of things to check with no time to check them. I only have two children but both of them have special needs, one of them being autistic, that require doctor’s appointments and therapies twice a month. To add an extra layer of fun, I care for my mother and that has required us to accompany her (and interpret) to an average of one doctor appointment a WEEK in the past 4 months.
“Education is a discipline- that is, the discipline of the good habits in which the child is trained. Education is a life, nourished upon ideas; and education is an atmosphere- that is, the child breaths the atmosphere emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives.” –Charlotte Mason in Parents and Children pg 248
For months I kept complaining about all the external things that were “keeping us” from having a perfect school week: therapy appointments, grandma’s appointments, laundry, ballet, piano, life! I have forgotten that when Charlotte Mason tells us that education is a discipline, a life, and an atmosphere, there has to be a balance among all three. I was enforcing the discipline part but sucking the life and the atmosphere out of our home. No wonder the kids were rebelling! Then it hit me while reading Volume 5 with the Forum ladies. The root of the problem was me, not my kids. Ouch! “…The child breaths the atmosphere emanating from their parents…”
It was time for a change. After all, like I had told Silvia in a jokingly manner: “¡Quiero ser feliz!” (I want to be happy!). I started making a conscious effort in staying calm and peaceful with the kids. They were in charge of their education, not me.
Here are a few things we have changed in our home to make our days more peaceful and that have allowed us to enjoy life, atmosphere and not just discipline:
*I started timing our math. He knows that if he puts all his attention for 15 minutes it will be over before he knows it. It doesn’t feel like an endless torture anymore.
*I took two weeks off to rest and went outside. We enjoyed the nice weather and the sun. Even better, we bought a picnic table with benches and now eat outside whenever the weather permits. There have been days when we are out pretty much all day. Just having that table out there with their water and snacks keeps them outside playing much longer. And we all know that children who play outside behave better…unless they are fighting over the one swing…ok..we will work on that little detail.
*We moved our Circle Time to the afternoon after our Quiet Time. Learning about how the students in Charlotte Mason’s schools worked in the afternoon on things like handicrafts and nature study helped me made the switch. We didn’t have to finish EVERYTHING by lunch time. We could focus on our books and math and copywork and then enjoy the afternoons singing, making, observing.
*I made accommodations for our special needs. Even though I love, love, love AO as it is and intend to do it that way with my daughter, it was becoming clearer that my Year 3 son was choking with the amount of reading we were doing each week. He needs time (even more than your neurotypical student) to ruminate on what he is learning. He was ready for the material (the feast) but his digestion time was longer and needed less to be able to do it properly. So we moved things around like Parables of Nature, which were moved to Sunday readings as a family after we finish Pilgrim’s Progress (our current Sunday Family read). We took out The Jungle Book and started listening to it just for fun. Taking out TJB allowed us to spread Children of the New Forest more.
*I took time apart to plan our Term 3 week by week so now I don’t have to sit down every week for an hour or so preparing for next week’s classes. Now, I only check what is that we need to do and get the books and materials ready. Easy peasy!
*One important change was during narration. I stopped making eye contact when I wait for narration and allow him to take a longer time to think and get his thoughts together. I just stop reading and wait. I may prompt him sometimes to get him started, but right now I am working on not being intrusive and making feel safe to take his time.
It wasn’t until the Tuesday after the changes were made that I realized how peaceful things were going. We were actually enjoying our readings, our songs, and our time together. “So”- I thought – “this is what Charlotte Mason means when she talks about atmosphere…I like it.” It was right there and then when I made a personal vow: I would work hard to keep the balance of the big three (discipline, life, and atmosphere). I would not do things that would compromise our atmosphere of learning. It will take a lot of conscious effort but it is worth it.
If you want to do the same, please ask me.
And if you want to do this again, anytime, Karla, I love reading your words and I bet I’m not the only one.