Thursday, October 31, 2013


".... the American Academy of Pediatrics, ...says that this is what modern children need - more free time. Good, old-fashioned playtime." THRILLED TO DEATH : Dr Archibald D Hart. p 93-94.
Here is the final post in the series, "SIX AREAS WHERE PARENTS CAN TREAT CHILDREN AS PERSONS".
I have written the following posts advocating that children should be free in their play.
  * WEEK 4 QUOTE 4 - Free play helps a child develop concentration and imagination, gives opportunity for trying out ideas and a sense of control over his world.
  * WHAT IS PLAY? - Seven properties of play.
  * WHO DIRECTS MY CHILD'S PLAY? - Parents getting in the way by directing the play of their children.
You may also be interested in posts on the hijacking effect of technology on play for children.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ spend time watching your children playing. Give some thought to Charlotte Mason's comment of the need for every child to know and experience the power of inventing play for themselves.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


"It is our duty to form opinions carefully, and to hold them tenaciously in so far as the original grounds of our conclusions remain unshaken. But what we have no right to do, is to pass these opinions on to our children. We all know nothing is easier than to make vehement partisans of young people, in any cause heartily adopted by their elders. But a reaction comes, and the swinging of the pendulum is apt to carry them to a point of thought painfully remote from our own. ... Children are far more likely to embrace the views of their parents, when they are ripe to form opinions, if these have not been forced upon them in early youth when their lack of knowledge and experience makes it impossible for them to form opinions at first hand."  SCHOOL EDUCATION : Charlotte Mason p 42-43. 
A child forming their own opinions is another area where parents "would do well to practice a wise 'letting alone'," as presented in the previous 4 posts in this series.
There is a huge, diverse quantity of questions and opinions on innumerable subjects today. It is impossible to keep up with all thoughts and perspectives in a world filled with increasing fields of study every year.
When we freely give our opinions with the intention that our children take on these same opinions, we treat them as though they were empty buckets that need ready-made opinions poured in. If we give them our opinions instead of ideas to feed on, they will not go through the process of weighing things up, thinking issues through and are likely to dump the views and opinions of their parents as they enter adulthood.
As the first sentence in the quote states, opinions take time to be formed. Commonly people firmly and passionately throw around comments which are presented as thought out opinions when they are simply ideas recently picked up. If the conversation continued long enough it would prove that there was no depth of opinion being shared.
The author of the quote gives 3 suggestions.
1. "We must have thought about the subject and know something about it, as a gardener does about the weather." This requires we spend time, personal experience, gather information and make observations ourselves. It is tested thought.
2. "it must be our own opinion, and not caught up as a parrot catches up its phrases;" Our opinions are not to be a copy or regurgitation of others around us.
3. "it must be disinterested, that is, it must not be influenced by our inclinations." It is not wise to hold opinions which are completely influenced by our personal tastes, likes and wants. If we do our wishes will drown our judgement or watered it down, and the opinion that results is not worth having.
Childhood is the time where a variety of knowledge, experience and observation, listening  and considering, take place. The point is that if a child is exposed to diverse material and situations, they are given the opportunity to be trained to think. (I will need to describe what this idea actually means at a later date in another post) Children need to be given opportunities so they see processes of how opinions are formed in the real world. Books and movies that tell stories of true or historical people in struggles or leadership, can be examples which present opinions being formed. Books and movies which are fantasy based do not give such help.
"As a fact, the books that make us think, the poems which we ponder, the lives of men which we consider, are more use to us than volumes of good counsel."
"and it seems to be a law in the things of life and mind that we don't get anything for our own unless we work for it."
I have changed my opinion on various matters in my life. The quote's first sentence indicates changes of opinion do happen. In reading a particular article, watching a certain movie, hearing someone communicate their view, our opinion on a matter can be changed in a moment. 
As Charlotte Mason says, "No wise person, however old, is sure of their opinions. ... The word opinion literally means 'a thinking'; what I think with modesty and hesitation and not what I am certain-sure about."
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ The opportunity is there while children are growing up, to look, think and assess the exciting world they have been born into. Parents should never be afraid or daunted by the huge amount of ideas and views to be heard. Children need access to a large variety of views and time to watch and consider if they 'stand up' in the lives of the people around them.

Friday, October 18, 2013


"With regard to the choice of friends and companions, again, we should train children so that we should be able to honour them with a generous confidence; and if we give them such confidence we should find that they justify it."  SCHOOL EDUCATION : Charlotte Mason p.40.
This is the 4th post discussing six specific areas where parents can respectfully treat their children as a person. 
The call on parents from this quote, to consider if they treat their children with respect, is a necessity. Parental methods used today, commonly focus either on things being to the convenience of parents or parents having an obsession in idolising their children. Neither could be described as "honouring them (the children) with a generous confidence." Rather, lack of confidence in children is widespread among many parents.
This is why I continue to return to Charlotte Mason's philosophy, both with her principles, such as "honouring (children) with a generous confidence", and also to study her practical methods to fulfil and train these principles in my family.
1.  I'll adopt the phrase from last   1.  Parents give their children little 
week's post - Parents need to give  or no material e.g.s of great friend-
their children "large thoughts" of       ships. Movies and books with 
what friendship is about.                     quality friendship stories are not
Great literature, movies, biograph-   included for their child's viewing.
ys, folk-lore, even comics are a         Anything is acceptable for viewing
huge source of worthwhile                 and reading. The likely influence 
friendships to tap into.                         into the child's life will be self-
Look for elements of friendship         centred.
such kindness, fun and enjoyment, 
trust, forgiveness, perseverance, 
honour and respect, helping at 
cost to oneself, not being selfish.
Look at friendships in different
cultures, philosophies, lifestyles,
historic times and socio-economic
situations where children are given 
descriptions and can see the 
thoughts, practices, habits and 
interests of people in valued 
Charlotte Mason says that by child-
ren listening to, watching and 
personally reading such material, 
it is like adding "grist to their mill" 
- children are given substantial 
material to 'grind up' and apply to 
their own relationships.
One e.g. CS Foster's Hornblower 
book series or the movie series, 
should be watched by all boys 12 
years and up.
2.  With the points above in place,     2.  With the points above in place,
when your child forms a friendship  when your child forms a friendship
with a child you think is not           with a child you think is not suitable
suitable, let them be with it. In     discuss every pathetic quality their 
time they will find out the failings      friend possesses. 
of the friendship.                                   If you do this on a regular basis 
Parents do however, have a part       and make a big deal of it, you will
to play. If the child deeply loves,       dull the child's sensitivity to the 
honours and respects their               "vital points of character which is 
parents, by freedom of their own      the cause of most shipwrecked
choice, they will be keen to know      lives."
and will detect what their parents'    The child has no skills to use, test
opinion is of their new-found            and make decisions about friends.
friend.                                                     The result is clear - disastrous 
                                                                 friendship failure.
3.  Parents freely discussing what   3.  Parents either don't talk about 
they enjoy about their dearest           their friends to their children, or
friends in the company of the             only rave on about all the ways
children.                                                 their friends let them down and 
This is how parents show and            criticise them in their children's
intimate to their children, what         hearing.
they believe is important to look
for in friendship.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Where are YOU? Which side of the page are you on? Can you see effects of disaster or success in your child's friendships?
It is never too late to bring change into your child's life. Here's what you do. Re read this post again and put into place what you find is lacking in your family. 
All the very best.

Friday, October 11, 2013


"... the spending of pocket-money is another opportunity for initiative on the children's part and for self-restraint on that of the parents. No doubt the...(parent) who doles out the weekly pocket-money and has never given...(their) children any large thoughts about money - as to how the smallest of income is divisible into the share that we give, and the share that we keep, and the share that we save for some object worth possessing,... can not expect...(their) children to think of money in any light but as means to self-indulgence... By degrees pocket-money should include the cost of gloves, handkerchiefs, etc., until, finally, the girl who is well on in her teens should be fit to be trusted with her own allowance for dress and personal expenses. The parents who do not trust their young people in this matter, after having trained them, are hardly qualifying them to take their place in a world in which the wise, just, and generous spending of money is a great test of character."   SCHOOL EDUCATION : Charlotte Mason. p 41.
This post, which is the third in this series, is part of a philosophy that is explained throughout the entire series. So please read each post so you can gain the full thought of how to treat children as persons.
Many years ago when I first read these particular sentences in the quote above, we already had a different plan with our children in regards to money. From the start we didn't have any spare money to think about giving the children pocket-money. My husband and I had no such money to allocate to ourselves on a weekly basis or spend as we wished. And so as a family we took the approach that money was something you earn and with it came certain responsibilities.
But our children were given  opportunities where they earned some money for themselves. A dollar or two that an aunt gave if they massaged her shoulders and brushed her hair. One child offered to do helpful jobs at home above and beyond their normal family chores. Some of the kids made saleable items for the community such as baking. One son as a young boy 'went to work' to help friends who built houses and landscaped and there earned a little money along with many other skills and life attitudes.
However when I found and read the section above, I welcomed the thought that money was another opportunity for my children to develop their personal initiative and for me to stand back. 
I was also encouraged that the writer saw an automatic responsibility that parents had when giving their children pocket-money. To simultaneously give them "large thoughts about money". 
This is not handing out instructions on how to use and spend the pocket-money. Instead "large thoughts.." are preferably presented to a child during normal life conversations, through reading books, watching movies and observations of people around us, where the child sees for themselves the consequences that come from the choices and ways people use their money. This gives a child material to think on, a basis from which they then choose how to spend their own money.
Our children knew that any money that came their way was not theirs to totally spend on themselves. Making them aware of the needs of people we knew both directly and indirectly and being part of giving assistance, even financially, established a backdrop for them to understand that if you have money, then with it you also carry a responsibility to help others. So Charlotte Mason's idea that "the smallest income is divisible into the share that we give", seemed very sound advice, especially in her placement of this being the first thought one is to have with their money. 
There are many ways a child can be part of giving their money away. It is important that it be their choice to give to this need, and best if they can be part of it and see in action the effect of the giving of such money.
The remaining part of the child's money, after the share that is given away, is divided into "the share that we keep" and "the share that we save".
How much the amount is that is kept or given or saved, is not suggested in the quote. Each person is to work that out. But from this portion, as well as a child buying what they please, "By degrees" a child is also to take ownership to support themselves. 
It could start with paying for their own ice creams on holidays, paying the extra money required to buy a particular bag or pair of sports shoes they would like, paying their own bus fare or for the petrol when borrowing mum's car to go and see friends, paying for their own mobile phone and its maintenance. It must be by degrees and reasonable when you consider the amount of money they have. It must also be through real situations so they are trained by failure when money is ill-spent and brought up to a point where they are "fit to be trusted" with the use of money, well prepared for their life ahead.
One of our daughters before she was a teenager was completely hooked on a series of books and so chose over a year to buy the lot from the publisher in America - a lot of money. Once read they sat on the bookshelf and a few years later when she attempted to sell them, received a tiny amount of money in comparison to what she had paid. But a lesson was learnt, to her cost. 
This concept is so rarely thought about or actioned today. Even banks with their lending policies seem to discourage saving while encouraging us to spend. To the contrary, here parents are advised to train children to "save for some object worth possessing". The experience of waiting and saving over time, of thinking carefully about the choice of what to save for is suggested to start its practice from childhood. The repeated experience and pleasure found as each worthy possession that is saved for is finally bought, builds a great quality in a developing person. It also builds a healthy understanding of adult life, where most people have to save and wait to own a house and many other things.
The recurring idea in this quote is that pocket-money is a training ground for children. What are you training into your children? What attitude are you giving them to do with their use of money? Is it encouraging their development to become persons who are "wise, just, and generous" in their use of money, persons of character?
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ don't get side-tracked and just think about if to start giving pocket-money to your children, or how much money you should give. Get to the real point and begin to equip your kids to deal with their money by giving them "large thoughts about money". This is the only way to equip them well financially for their futures.

Friday, October 4, 2013


".... we do not let children alone enough in their work. We prod them continually and do not let them stand or fall by their own efforts. One of the...disastrous features of modern society, is that in our laziness we depend upon prodders and encourage a vast system of prodding...If we pay a subscription to a charity, we expect the secretary to prod us when it becomes due. If we attend a meeting, do we often do so of our own spontaneous will, or because somebody asks us to go and reminds us half a dozen times of the day and the hour?...What we must guard against in the training of children is the danger of their getting into the habit of being prodded to every duty and every effort. Our whole system of school policy is largely a system of prods. Marks, prizes, exhibitions, are all prods; and a system of prodding is apt to obscure the meaning of must   and ought for the boy and girls who gets into the habit of mental and moral lolling up against his prods." SCHOOL EDUCATION:Charlotte Mason p. 38.
This is the second post in this series.
The language of the quote above shows that it was written over 100 years ago, but the content is as contemporary as tomorrow.
  *  I like that from the start the writer directs the responsibility for the pathetic condition of "lolling" children, back to parents.
"Lolling" - what a word! 
Its popular use today as an acronym "Laugh Out Loud Literally" or "I'm laughing with you", may seem completely removed from its use in this quote. But its traditional meaning from the dictionary, of hanging, dangling, leaning in a loose idle and relaxed manner against something, with an end result of becoming like a spoilt child, is a relevant description of today's lolling child.
  *  A second point the author makes that I like, is that this habit of lolling, "obscures the meaning of must and ought' for children. When things are automatically dealt with and done by others, a child looses any idea of self responsibility. There is no development of an intuition of what they ought to be or do. It is killed off or obscured.
We see this point played out on a regular basis in our house. We have lots  of people for meals but even though everyone eats the food and sees the dirty dishes, still some people have no sense of what Charlotte Mason calls ought, no awareness of the idea to lend a hand in tidying up.
  *  The third point is a powerful one, the danger in "getting (children) into the habit of being prodded to every duty and every effort." This alarming practice is the norm in many households. It is an explanation of why we have so many bored, ambition-less children who lack any volition. Life is taken care of for these children, they don't experience the consequences of a choice they make. It is all tidily dealt with and they move on unaware of the natural, real impact life decisions have on a person. How will such lolling children ever work well or live well in a world which cushions no one?
Some answers and solutions ~ 
  #  It must start with parents "letting children alone", as Charlotte Mason says, letting the natural course run so they find out the consequences for themselves. 
~ After telling the toddler a number of times not to open and close the sliding door or kitchen drawers, let them discover for themselves that there is pain when their tiny finger is squashed.
~ Let the child who never puts their dirty clothes in the washing machine, discover for themselves that clean clothes soon run out.
~ Let the child who won't get out of bed on time, discover that they will miss the school bus, and inherit the job to explain themselves to the teacher at school.
They must learn this for themselves, with no prods. They must "stand or fall by their own efforts."
  #  Parents must simultaneously work on growing an honourable "dutiful impulse" in their children. This is NOT done by prodding, but rather through a parent's example of a happy and generous work ethic. It is also developed by parents genuinely loving their kids by listening to them, spending time being with them, sharing life with them and trusting them to know what they ought to do. All of this creates a love and respect from children for their parents and generates a healthy and mature attitude of what they "must and ought" to be and do in life.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ As you read this post, especially the last point, you may think it far fetched and not possible for your children to ever learn to grow up to know what to do without you prodding them. Can I appeal to you to think again. I have 7 children, the 5 eldest in their twenties now, and they have been brought up with these principles to become exactly what I have described above. They honour and respect their parents, they have a clear sense of what they ought and must do and are extremely responsible adults and all enjoy the benefits of being sort after in their various work situations because of these qualities. 
So this week start on this new method in your family.