334 | My Top Tip for Peaceful Learning (Janice Campbell)
Want to learn one simple thing you can do to lower stress and guard the atmosphere of your home? In this episode, Janice talks about the one thing that was most helpful for her family as they tried to cultivate a comfortable, positive atmosphere for learning. Perhaps you'll find it helpful, too!
Janice Campbell, a lifelong reader and writer, loves to introduce students to great books and beautiful writing. She holds an English degree from Mary Baldwin College, and is the graduated homeschool mom of four sons. You’ll find more about reading, writing, planning, and education from a Charlotte Mason/Classical perspective at her websites, EverydayEducation.com, Excellence-in-Literature.com, and DoingWhatMatters.com.
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Janice Campbell [00:00:05] Hello and welcome to the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Janice Campbell, and I am one of many hosts here on the podcast. Each week we bring you an encouraging conversation from this busy and blessed journey of educating our children at home. While the title of the show is Homeschool Solutions, we do not pretend to have the answer to every question related to homeschooling. It is our hope that this podcast will point you to Jesus Christ that you may seek His counsel as you train your children in the way they should go. We are so glad you have joined us for today's conversation. Before we start the episode, I would like to thank the sponsor of the Homeschool Solutions Show, Medi-Share. Medi-Share is an affordable and Biblical health care alternative. Find out more about their ongoing support of homeschooling families just like ours at MyChristianCare.org. And now on to today's show.
[00:01:09] Hi. I'm Janice Campbell. Happy summer. Today, I'm going to talk about one simple way to lower stress and guard the atmosphere of your home in order to cultivate a comfortable and positive atmosphere for learning. I know there's no way to avoid all stress or distraction. But there is one area you have a power to control. You can help to transform the mood and stress level of your home by eliminating constant media noise from radio, television, and even podcasts. Charlotte Mason wasn't kidding when she said that education is an atmosphere, a discipline and a life. Sound or silence can be one of the elements of a positive learning atmosphere, or it can be a distraction and a liability to learning. If you have children, you will have noise. But editing the external input that enters your home can help you create an oasis of peace and calm.
[00:02:03] Noise all by itself has been proven to dramatically increase stress and reduce the ability to think clearly. There are studies that are linked in the show notes that are going to give you more information about that because noise has a greater effect than we even can imagine. According to the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse at NoNoise.org, children who learn in noisy atmospheres do not read as well. They tend to have lower test scores, more behavior problems. And young students who are still trying to acquire language skills and students who are learning a new language or learning a second language, students that are hearing impaired, students with ADD or ADHD, any student who can't clearly hear the teacher because of noise ends up learning worse. They suffer from not being able to clearly hear and understand, and it's just distracting.
[00:03:01] So if noise increases stress and makes learning difficult and reduces the ability to think clearly, it certainly can't create a positive atmosphere for learning. As a family, as a mom, as a dad, whatever, you'll always have some noise in a household with children, and happy noises are good. However, there is one type of negative noise that you can filter, and that's the news. Any time you have on news in the background, the constant repetition of bad news, rising prices, falling wages, foreclosures, and murders, and all sorts of random crimes and rude politicians, natural disasters, those things leave everyone stressed and on edge, even when you aren't consciously listening. Children especially don't listen to what is said. But they hear the voice. They absorb the stress. Because all those adult voices speaking with anxiety and stress tend to make an atmosphere that is not peaceful.
[00:04:06] But beyond the content of the news, consider the style of the media personalities that enter your listening space. Have you ever had to reprove your children for speaking rudely to a friend or sibling, or wondered where they learned to use ridicule in an effort to make someone else look or feel bad? You might find the answer in the rude rantings of media figures who use ad hominem attacks and ridicule rather than serious, intelligent communication to gain support. If your children hear these "adults" communicating with name-calling, insults, and mocking, you needn't be surprised when they try these tactics at home.
[00:04:45] I've discovered that our home is more serene and happy when the only news source is the newspaper. I realize this is old fashioned, but a newspaper is quiet, it's portable, and it doesn't assault us with excessive drama and repetition. We can read it at our leisure, put it down when someone more important—such as one of our dear children or our spouse—comes to talk to us. We don't have to shush them in order to not miss anything. Quite frankly, I've heard very few things in the news that would be worth ignoring for my family to hear, and it seems a bit Orwellian to give a disembodied media voice a higher priority than people I love.
[00:05:24] But whatever I talk about this, someone usually asks, "What if we miss out on something important?" Really? It's highly unlikely. By the time the second plane struck the World Trade Center on 9/11, I had already heard about what was happening, and we didn't even own a television. News has gotten even faster and more invasive ever since. We get text notifications, we get texts from friends and many more ways of news reaching us. And of course, there's still the phone. But even if you're not in on the breaking news, anything of importance shows up in the newspaper. And by the time it shows up there, it's likely to have the virtue of being edited and placed in a historic context. You don't have to waste time listening to news people talking to one another, predicting what someone's opinion might be. How can people stand to listen to that anyway? They repeat the same facts and figures over and over while waiting for something new to happen and just continue to speculate on what someone else might say. It demonstrates that the more airtime people have, the less value they provide per word.
[00:06:33] If you do happen to be watching the news during a breaking news crisis, it's often best to listen to the news at the top of the hour, then turn it off for at least another hour. There's nothing to be gained by staying glued to disaster news unless you're waiting for an evacuation notice. And too much exposure to the frantic sounding adults can deeply affect children, and it can deeply affect you. It's difficult to have peace of soul when disaster is happening somewhere. And when it's far, far from you, there isn't anything you can do about it other than perhaps pray for the people involved. But having it on all day does not help you or your family.
[00:07:19] Consider having sounds of truth, goodness, and beauty in your home. If you've been in the habit of having some kind of noise on all day, I suggest reading about the harmful effects of constant noise in the articles linked in the show notes and reconsidering the habit altogether. However, if you must have something, try to choose something that is calm and positive without words such as recorded nature sounds like water sounds or particularly soothing and thought-friendly or gentle classical music. You might even want to plant bird friendly shrubs and trees in your yard to encourage some live nature music.
[00:07:55] The only exception to the without word suggestion would be something that I've used for many years—probably since college—for studying. And that would be Gregorian chant or similar music by Thomas Tallis or Palestrina or William Byrd or others. I work best in silence, but sometimes I need something to drown out mental chatter and aid in concentration. The beautiful Spem in Alium album from the Tallis Scholars and the Psalms set to music have been helping me focus for many, many years. The truth, goodness and beauty in this type of music creates a focused, meditative, and positive atmosphere that breathes serenity and peace.
[00:08:38] Children absorb what they hear, and what goes in is what comes out. So let's make it good. And I want to close with a verse: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever, things are true. Whatever things are honest, whatever things are, just whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, and whatever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. And the God of peace shall be with you." Philippians 4:8.
[00:09:08] You can connect with me, Janice Campbell, and see the new and improved editions of my Excellence in Literature Curriculum and other books at EverydayEducation.com. And if you'd like to read more about reading, writing, and homeschooling, my blog Doing What Matters has quite a few years worth of posts. And finally, the ExcellenceinLiterature.com website is filled with articles and resources for people who are learning and loving great literature because reading well can change your life. Thank you for listening and goodbye for now.
[00:09:49] Thank you for joining us this week on The Homeschool Solutions Show. You can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at Homeschooling.Mom. If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast, and while you are there, leave us a review. Tell us what you love about the show. This will help other homeschooling parents like you to connect with our community. And finally, tag us on Instagram @HomeschoolingDotMom to let us know what you thought of today's episode. Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? The Great Homeschool Conventions are the homeschooling events of the year, offering outstanding speakers, hundreds of workshops covering today's top parenting and homeschooling topics, and the largest homeschool curriculum exhibit halls in the U.S. Find out more at GreatHomeschoolConventions.com. I hope to see you there.