Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Charlotte Mason Inspiration

I love the theory and approach of Charlotte Mason in regards to
educating children. I have always believed, from the time I first came
across the books about her philosophies, that she was one to something.
Tonight, I had a "Charlotte Mason moment."

I have been thinking of crafts and other activities for the children to
do for the holidays. I am sad to say that most have come under the
heading that Miss Mason would have considered to be "twaddle" and not of
real substance. I am fully to blame. I failed in this. I lowered the
bar for the kids below their ability to the point of being patronizing.
I am not fully against the quick cutesy stuff that children do at public
schools or preschool. It all has it's place. Should that be a part of
homeschooling though? As homeschooling parents, we expect a higher
standard for our children. If we didn't, they would be in public
school. The cutesy crafts can be fun and can be a part of our
children's creative play experience. Having an "art box" with basic
craft supplies that the kids can do on their free time is fine. They
can get the instant gratification and free expression that creativity
brings. But should we leave it at that? I think we should go further.

What ever happened to teaching our children more meaningful skills? A
little girl learning to do embroidery or some other stitchery or a
little boy learning to make things from wood or other craft? Why do we
lower our standards and expect that these things are too difficult for
our children? Do we really believe that or are we simply lazy in our
own thinking? Maybe we don't have the knowledge of those skills
ourselves. Wouldn't it be a teaching moment for our kids if we learn
right along side of them? They would see that the skill is something we
value enough to learn ourselves, not just expecting them to do it.

Miss Mason rightly believed that teaching children the home crafts and
skills were beneficial to children. They learned to take their time and
finish something they started. Children learned a valuable lesson that
not everything comes instantly. Sometimes we have to work at a project
or task for a period of time before it is completed. When finished,
they have pride in the fact that they stuck to it and are proud of the
finished project. It can elevate their self-esteem.

In my Grandmother's generation and early, it was common for children to
learn the home crafts and skills from an early age. Yes, back then it
was more important due to lack of funds to buy new. Does that change
anything for us today? In an "instant gratification" society, are we
not wishing our children would appreciate the work and talent those
skills required? They don't gain that appreciation through osmosis. It
must be taught.

I remember when Little Miss made her first tied doll quilt. I had to
help her sew the quilt together, but she meticulously tied the quilt
with embroidery floss. She was so proud of it. She made it just
shortly after her 4th birthday! For her 6th birthday in March, I am
surprising her with her own little sewing box with a few basic
supplies. I have fabric scraps that she can use to make another doll
blanket, doll clothing, or some other project. I will have traced out
some simple doll clothing patterns that I have available so she can use
them to dress her doll. As a child, I used to make my Barbie doll's
clothing quite often and really enjoyed it. Who knew that making those
doll clothes would be the laying of the foundation for my being able to
make clothing for my family today? Back then, I was just having fun
with my dolls.

I am so grateful to have come to this realization while Little Miss is
still so young. I have time to correct myself in this area of lacking.
The home crafts can easily be included in her workboxes. Either the
project or a picture of the craft would suffice. Only other thing she
would need is gentle guidance and a quiet place to work. Both are
easily done. The Little Keepers program she is doing has excellent
beginner projects that she could start with. For embroidery, just a
sampler of a few stitches would be a good start. I find online quite
often free printable primitive style stitchery patterns & designs. They
are simple drawings in pencil on muslin that you use as a guide for
stitching. We could even take a favorite coloring book picture and
trace it onto the muslin for a design. My mind is spinning with ideas
now. She has been asking to learn to sew. This will be a nice start.
With Christmas approaching, I may draw out a few simple designs for her
to stitch up to be made into a framed picture, ornament, or other gift.
Whatever the project, she will enjoy picking out which picture she wants
to stitch up.