CM 19 - 101 Education is an Atmosphere

CM 19 - 101 Education is an Atmosphere

Show Notes:

Episode 21: Homeschooling in a Crisis

Description: In this podcast, Julie talks with fellow CM homeschooler Shay Kemp about homeschooling in times of crisis, not only with the coronavirus issues our world is facing now, but also in personal times of crisis such as moving, having a new baby, etc. Using the Charlotte Mason motto, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline and a life,” they discuss how each of these areas can be addressed in order to bring peace into the home in a time of upheaval, touching on issues such as routines, intentionality, cultivating habits, exploring the personal interests of your children, mother culture, and how living books can encourage us all during this time!

Meet Julie:

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Bio- Julie H Ross believes that every child needs a feast of living ideas to grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. As a former school teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and Assistant Director of a Homeschool Academy, Julie Ross has worked with hundreds of students and parents over the past 20 years. She has also been homeschooling her own five children for over a decade. Julie Ross developed the Charlotte Mason curriculum, A Gentle Feast, to provide parents with the tools and resources needed to provide a rich and abundant educational feast full of books, beauty, and Biblical truth. Julie lives in South Carolina. When she’s not busy homeschooling, reading children’s books, hiking, or writing curriculum, you can find her taking a nap.

Meet Shay:

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Bio-

Shay is a homeschooling mom of 5 who loves enjoying the learning journey with her children and encouraging others in their paths of faith, parenting, and homeschooling. She believes that the best conversations happen when you are comfortable on the front porch and blogs from there about at passersbywelcome.com.

Resources:

School Education by Charlotte Mason

Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins

Mother Culture by Karen Andreola

The Curiosity Project at PassersbyWelcome blog by Shay Kemp

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Show Transcript:

CM EP Atmosphere

Julie -

Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show. A podcast dedicated to discussing Ms. Mason's philosophy, principles, and methods. It is our hope that each episode will leave you inspired and offer practical wisdom on how to provide this rich, living education in your modern homeschool.

So, pull up a chair, we're glad you're here.

Today's episode of the Charlotte Mason Show is brought to you by Medi-Share. Find out more about this affordable Christian alternative to traditional health insurance at medishare.com.



Hello everyone. Welcome back to the Charlotte Mason Show. This is Julie Ross, and I am here today with my friend Shay Kemp. Hello, Shay.

Shay -

Hello, how are you?

Julie -

I'm good, are you?

Shay -

I'm good, I'm excited.

Julie -

Yeah, me too. It is a great day to sit in my home office and record this podcast, as it is snowing here in South Carolina. Which hasn't really ever happened. So, as we can't go outside because everyone freaks out around here and all the roads shut down. That's a good day to just sit here and talk.

Shay -

Talk about good books.

Julie -

I know, man. So, Shay was back in five, I believe. And she's a dear friend of mine and so I've asked her to come on here every once in a while and chat with me about topics like we love to chat about. And so I think you'll really enjoy our conversation. Today we're going to be addressing the three tools that Charlotte Mason says that are available to us. And that is that education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. And today, we're just going to focus on atmosphere, and then we'll do the other ones later on. But I think it's interesting that she uses that one first in her list. We often think of discipline, of how that's... and we think of living books when we think of Charlotte Mason's philosophy, we go to usually spend a lot of time thinking about atmosphere. So, we're focused on what habits we have in our home and our routines, and what our kids are doing, and we focus a lot on like, the living books, and the methods. But she put it first, I think, for a reason, and that this is neglected. Those other things can greatly be hampered. So, let's start off. Can you read the... her principal about that?

Shay -

Sure. This is principle number six, it says, "When we say that education is an atmosphere, we do not mean that a child should be isolated in what may be called a child environment. Especially adapted and prepared, but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere. Though this regards persons and things, and should let him live freely among his proper conditions. It's ??? a child to bring down his world to the child's level." Lots of good stuff in that one...

Julie -

Oh yeah, that's...

Shay -

I mean, there's so much to think about in that one little section there.

Julie -

So, we're gonna start off with kind of a definition of what atmosphere is. So I'm gonna read... this is a PNEU article, so the magazine that Charlotte Mason edited. The article is entitled, The Atmosphere of Home and it's written by M. F. Gerald. And it says, "There are many important aspects of home life, from first training to highest education. But there is nothing in the way of direct teaching that will ever have so wide and lasting an effect as the atmosphere of home."

Shay -

Hmm. So deep. That is so convicting, isn't it?

Julie -

"And the gravest thought concerning this is that in this instant there is nothing to learn and nothing to teach. The atmosphere emanates from ourselves, literally is ourselves, our children live in it and breathe it, and what we are is thus incorporated into them. There is no pretense here or possibility of evasion. We may deceive ourselves; in the long run, we never deceive our children. The spirit of home lives and what is more home atmosphere is accentuated in them. Atmosphere is much more than teaching and infinitely more than talk."

So, when I first read this, I was extremely convicted, right? Because... and especially when it says, like, ‘we can deceive ourselves but we can't deceive our children’. And so they're breathing in the atmosphere that we're creating. Good or bad. All the time.

Shay -

Yep. And they don't mind telling you most of the time. I mean, if you ask 'em, they'll... they can let you know that it's, you know, yeah. You're not... that's not... you shouldn't do that, you should do that, they're mirrors.

Julie -

That's what they're picking up on more than what we're teaching them. Even though we focus way more often on what things we're teaching than what our atmosphere of our home is like. And it's infinitely more than talk, so you can say, we value this. This is important. This is the way we treat people but are your actions lining up with the words that you're saying? Cause kids can talk all day long, but if your actions... they can see right through that.

Shay -

I have a little story about that. When my children were small, every morning, they had to stay in their rooms until I had my time alone with the Lord, and then I would allow them to come out. And they knew that, you know, I did that every day. And one day, apparently I wasn't being so gentle, so lovely, so kind. I know, can you imagine I would ever be that way? This is one day... it was five minutes... But anyway, and so, they were, you know, really smiling, one of them said, Mommy, you no spend no time with Jesus this morning? And, I mean, I'm like, yeah, maybe I didn't spend enough time. I ... it was so convicting because, you know, obviously, it didn't matter that they knew that I was, you know, trying to take some time and... but I definitely was not cultivating an atmosphere of love and gentleness and peace. They didn't mind telling me. So, yeah. I can say what I want, but it's what they pick up on.

Julie -

Yes. And it's so important that we just consider it. Because it's so subtle and natural sometimes. But we can forget that that's even what's happening. And I think some of it... you know, if we talk a little bit here about kind of what atmosphere is. I think some of it is just the culture of our home. So what things does our family value? What do we think is important? You know, and so that's gonna be different for me than it is for you. You know the things that we're super excited about is things we're super involved in like, that becomes part of your family dynamic. And so, you know, you have yours as well. And I've seen that with my older children that have gone off. But, you know, we kinda all talk similar about things and we get super excited about historical documentaries. Things that like... they're just things that I like that I never was like, oh you must like this. But it just kind of... they picked up on it.

Shay -

Well, it's like the quote says, it says there is nothing to learn and nothing to teach when it comes to atmosphere because it's that cult. It's that cult thing. And to really consider what your atmosphere is, is you have to really be intentional to stop and think about. Because it is so natural. You know, it's easier to pick up on the atmosphere in somebody else's home, I think.

Julie -

Yeah, right?

Shay -

Than it is in your own, because you just live there, and this is what you do. This is just, it's normal for you. So to really be intentional about it, about considering what the atmosphere is, you know, is not something that we normally think of as part of our education of our children. That we would take the time to stop and think, what is the atmosphere? But like she says, we should be starting from that point.

Julie -

Yes. Right. Yeah.

Shay -

And more time is spent on what curriculum do use? What routine? Is this the right book? Is this the right class you should take? Instead of backing up to the very first thing. It influences all that. It doesn't come naturally and it doesn't come easily so, it does have to be, I think, an intentional... I remember reading this the first time I read that years ago, her quote. And it really stopped me in my tracks. Just that principle. Cause I certainly hadn't intentionally ever stopped and considered what the atmosphere was in my home.

Julie -

And when I did read that, and I did consider it, the atmosphere, I felt, at the time, we weren't fully invested in Charlotte Mason's way of teaching everything. The atmosphere very much felt like I was a drill sergeant.

Shay -

Yes.

Julie -

Did you have this done? Why don't you have this done? You only have 30 minutes. You have to get this done because then we gotta go to this thing.

Shay -

Yes. Very much teacher. Teach your student down, you know? Yes. Yes, Top Gun. Yep. Same. I was the same way.

Julie -

And now, I would say the atmosphere in my home is 100% completely different.

Shay -

Mine too. Absolutely.

Julie -

They tie together.

Shay -

They do.

Julie -

You use the way she says to teach that will change the atmosphere over time as well.

Shay -

Well, it's like she says, you live in the atmosphere but you don't live off of the atmosphere. It has to be tied to those other things. You live in it, but you have to also add those other things that she includes. You have to add the discipline. You have to add the life to it. It's the three prongs.

Julie -

Yes.

Shay -

Yeah. Right. But you have to start from that, so. And that's like the... where she uses the word that we... you and I talked about. It stultifies a child. And so, I was teaching in a way that definitely stultified my children. 100% so. Yeah, stultified means to lose enthusiasm and initiative, especially as tedious or restrictive in a routine caused to appear foolish or absurd. And to bore. So, I think that's when I started reading this and really considering Charlotte Mason's methods and principles, that it needed to be something that did not cause my children to lose enthusiasm. Cause they definitely were not enthusiastic about the way we're... Of course, yeah. No... They didn't wanna read that textbook and do the questions at the end. Why would they have a... I don't know. But yeah, so, to consider that, am I boring them? Am I boring myself?

Julie -

Right. Yes. Cause, yeah. Our... we could think that we're fooling them, and we're like, oh yay, let's learn this. But they are totally not deceived. Right. Yeah.

Shay -

And some...

Julie -

So when we're inspired, and we're excited about something, that overflows to them as well.

Shay -

And some of the frustration that I was having with their attention, which if you talk so much about the habit of attention, and there's so much writing about that, that people really, you focus on all these habits of attention. But that all has to go by the atmosphere, because if you're stultifying your child, you're going to have issues with the habit of attention. Because they're... it tedious. It seems foolish. It seems absurd to them that we're doing these things we're doing. There's no hook. There's no catch. There's no interest. And, you know, I can fake that, oh yay, of course you should wanna do this, why aren't you attending to this, but they're stultified. So yeah, no wonder the atmosphere is one of, you know, Mommy as drill sergeant, and why do you only have these two things checked off? You should have these six things done by this, you know, by lunchtime.

Julie -

Right. Yeah. So, let's talk about what the differences then between a atmosphere and environment.

Shay -

Okay. There is a great quote. Do you want me to read that quote? That I have of hers?

Julie -

Yeah. Cause she talks about that in the principle that it's not this child-like environment. It's not artificial environment. And I talk about this in the very first episode, that one of the things that I found so appealing about Charlotte Mason's work was that she advocated for home education. She said the home atmosphere was the best place for children to learn and pick up on all these different ideas and culture and things. Rather than being sent to school in somewhat of a artificial, fake, where they're all with the people the same age as you all day long. Environment, right?

Shay -

And we focus so much on environment that you know, we need to have a beautiful classroom. We need to have a beautiful, you know, the right posters have to be up. We have to have the right setup. We have to have the right thing. And it's not that there's anything wrong with that, until it turns to like, when she says, especially adapted and prepared. And so if we set up this environment that's especially adapted and prepared for children, then we're not letting them live freely among their proper conditions, you know. I mean, she talks about... it makes so much sense. And in such a simple way, but... I taught public school, and so when I came home, to homeschool, I had a little classroom set up in my dining room...

It lasted like two weeks, and I had this beautiful environment. I had...

Julie -

So it was really cute.

Shay -

Oh, it was so super cute. I was dancing. I bought the little school desks and had their names stenciled on them. And it lasted about two weeks, and then I was in tears and they were in tears and I'm like, this homeschool thing's a really bad idea. It's just not gonna work. And then I realized I had really spent a lot of time on the environment. But... and I didn't know about Charlotte Mason at the time. I mean I probably could have told you her name. But I didn't know anything about her. And I spent no time on the atmosphere whatsoever.

Julie -

Do you have that quote? Did you find that one?

Shay -

I'm looking for it. I thought I was so prepared. Let's see. It says, we may use atmosphere as an instrument of education, but there are prohibitions for ourselves rather than for children. This is in Volume 6, page 97, in this book. And, do you want me to read the one about the school? This is so long. I don't know how much of this quote you want me to read. "Perhaps the chief of these is that no artificial element shall be introduced. And no sprinkling with rose water softening with cushions. Children must face life as it is, if their parents are anxious and perturbed, children feel it in the air."

Julie -

Oh yeah. Yeah, and I think I was a very, if we can just camp on that for a little bit, because...

Shay -

I think so too.

Julie -

I mean, I love me some homeschool mamas, but, and I'm fond of this camp too, but man, can we worry about all kinds of things. And it's such a heavyweight that we have to carry, right?

Shay -

Yes.

Julie -

If we are responsible for the education of our children, that is a huge responsibility. and I don't mean to take that lightly at all.

Shay -

Right.

Julie -

Like it is something that we should greatly consider, but I think we can consider too much sometimes.

Shay -

Yes

Julie -

And worry and fret and our kids pick up on that.

Shay -

I agree.

Julie -

Oh my gosh. You don't have your multiplication tables memorized. You're never gonna get into college. ??? And so I definitely picked the wrong math curriculum so I need to go on Google right now and try to ???

Shay -

And ask everybody else what they've used. But yours is why you like this. And then you know, go down and try... yes. Yes. But the concept that she talks about learning alongside your children really kinda set me free from some of that. Because, and the whole idea of mother culture. It really gave me a lot of freedom. Because I really, like we mentioned before that top down teacher down to student and not honoring the student. Honoring the student like Charlotte Mason teaches. It puts so much pressure on you. Like, how am I supposed to ever teach algebra or teach, you know, World War 2, if I don't understand it myself? How do I ever teach it? But, when we consider the fact that we're learning alongside them, and that they understand that as part of our culture of our education, and that it is a self-education for you as a fourth-grader and for me as a mom of five. We are both responsible for our educations. It takes a lot of that pressure off. But, until, really until my son went to college, my oldest son, I can't tell you... I would lay in bed... they're never gonna go to college. They're never gonna get a scholarship. They're never gonna be able to write an essay. They're gonna fail every math class so every way. And it is prevalent. And I think in a homeschool... and like you said, it is a weight. I mean I understand that, but when I was tied down to, like a boxed curriculum, it felt like such a weight. Cause, what if we don't finish the book?

Julie -

Right. Well yeah, they're gonna have these huge gaps, whenever we don't learn the fifty-five million things we were supposed to cover.

Shay -

Right. What if they don't know their states and capitals?

Julie -

Right, right. They're an empty bucket and I'm just learning all this information and if I don't learn everything in the right order then they're not gonna know anything.

Shay -

No, they'll know nothing, and they're gonna fail everything, and they're gonna make a two on their SAT. And it's gonna be so bad. Did we do enough cursive? I mean... yeah, it's a lot... it can be a lot of pressure, so. I think that's...

Julie -

That's a good point about the role that ??? The role of a teacher and the role of a student. That was a huge weight off of me as well. But I'm putting... I'm responsible for preparing the feast. I'm responsible for putting them in touch with these living books. And I'm responsible for putting them in touch with the experts who are going to do the teaching.

Shay -

Yes.

Julie -

Not me.

Shay -

Right. If the writing is living, and if it's beautifully written, well written, that in itself is the teaching in so many ways. And I don't have to. And even if I don't understand that topic, I don't understand that we're in cycle four right now doing World War 2, and I've never studied it. So, I guess in detail as we have now, just through the books that we're reading. And so, I couldn't name any battles, I couldn't' name any generals, I couldn't... but it's... as we've learned this along together, it's just been such a joy. Instead of me thinking, oh gosh, I gotta stay up tonight and read this so that I can teach some lesson on... I just.. yeah. It's artificial pressure that we just don't have to put on ourselves.

Julie -

Can I see that ??? a word that she used in there that I thought was... Oh, that children must face life as it is.

Shay -

Yes.

Julie -

And I think that is really key with home education. Is they get to see that life isn't always perfect and easy and wonderful. And I know a lot of moms that are, I mean, I get this question a lot, like, we're going through a really hard time as a family, or oh I just had a new baby, or oh we just moved.

Shay -

Yes.

Julie -

And I'm so worried.

Shay -

Real life has happened...

Julie -

Because we're behind. Right? I'm like...

Shay -

Yes.

Julie -

Behind what? Behind who? You know? And what lessons are your children learning from life?

Shay -

Right.

Julie -

And seeing you go through difficult times.

Shay -

That are the real things they're going to need later on when they face those things. Right?

Julie -

But sometimes my needs have to come second, because there's a new baby in the house. Like, that's a huge life lesson. The world doesn't revolve around me? What?

Shay -

And too, really think about cultivating in that situation, say a new baby, an atmosphere of care for that child in peace. Rather than mom caring for the child with the stress, plus we have to check off all the books, and all that stuff? But stopping to really think, how, in this situation, on this day, can I myself... cause she talks about breathing out... what we breathe out is what the children breathe in... how can I in this moment cultivate an atmosphere that lets this be a lesson? Rather than an... a distraction? Or something that is frustrating? You know, how can I let this annoyance, inconvenience...

Julie -

Right, this is totally messing up what... our whole plan for the year. Right?

Shay -

Right.

Julie -

Like no, like this is a divine opportunity to teach lessons that don't come from a book.

Shay -

Right. And the truth is, I mean, how many perfect, like, homeschooling days have you had in the years that you've been... that look like everybody gets a... that's what I'm gonna say. Maybe two. You know, and those are the ones we all take a picture of and put on Instagram... oh look... look what our school looks like. It's so beautiful. But the truth is, is there's always an inconvenience. It could be you know, the dishwasher overflows, the refrigerator breaks, am I sick, or you have to go to the orthodontist. It could be anything. So, it's those things... right... so many things. Or just, you know, sometimes, your own emotional health for that day. And it's just, it's a hard day for mom, and so I'm not gonna let this be an inconvenience. I'm gonna think about cultivating an atmosphere in this day where this is part of what you're learning. How do deal with it if you're having this kind of day? And it's still an opportunity for education, so.

Julie-

And I think they also learn those lessons from the living books that you choose.

Shay -

Yes.

Julie -

Because it's not a fake children's environment where all the books are happy and the ??? is wonderful. And they actually read stories where people are sad and people...

Shay -

And there's dad that... right. And devastating.

Julie -

And what Katy did is the most...

Shay -

Ah, my favorite book!

Julie -

Like, this is where she talks about like the school is pain, right, and how sometimes in life, like, in the story, you know, she gets injured and just the lessons she learns as a child about that life isn't always easy. But there's lessons I can learn in this very difficult time... ??? I want my kids to know that, that's great. Right?

Shay -

Under your protection, while you can help them deal with those things. And I think that's why living books do foster this kind of real atmosphere. Not like especially that big environment. Because when you give a child something where, all the... everything's been ironed out in the story. Then they face something, you know, that's a real-life situation, like death or whatever, you know, and you haven't been there to help them process maybe that in a story. Then it's so much more difficult for them. And so, that's one of the reasons that I think, you know, it kind of just all ties together, you know, like the atmosphere and the living books that you're reading. It's just powerful when you use that as a method, you know?

Julie -

Right. Yeah. Exactly. And not just something that you're ticking off, but you are actually talking through those hard things.

Shay -

Yes. And when they pick it up in their narration and they're bringing that up, like I've had my kids say, I hated that story. You know? I'm like, well why did you hate it? Talk to me, you know, narrate to me. Well, he died! Or, you know, well, so, well, okay, now, let's talk about, you know, you can deal with it. Yeah.

Julie -

My daughter came in my room one night at like 9:30 at night, and her eyes were like, barely able to open. She had crying so hard, she had read Where the Red Fern Grows.

Shay -

Oh, yes, that's a killer. Yes. It's tough.

Julie -

Especially for a child who loved animals.

Shay -

Oh!

Julie -

You know? And... spoiler alert, for people that haven't read it. But there's...??? But, it's... she's 19 now and still, I cannot believe you made me read that... anytime, like, a dog dies, like when one of her friend's dogs dies, she's like, oh, let me tell you about the book my mom made me read, like, it was so sad. I'm like, okay, come on, really? Like, that was like ten years ago. But you know, then we are able to have a conversation like that. Like...

Shay -

She processed it.

Julie -

And well to comfort her friends when they got like, that's life. That happens, right? And that's... yeah.

Shay -

And I do feel like that the more that we... now that we've been reading just living books... and there's been a few times where maybe my kids'll check out a book from the library that's just, you know, like a fun reader? And they will say, this book is so dumb. Because, you know, everything's been ironed out in the plot. And so they can tell the difference between a living book that has real ideas, real life, sort of, not child adapted and prepared. And one that they may not use that language, they might say, hey, this is a living ... this is not living. This is ??? But they start to pick up on that. They can tell the difference, so.

Julie -

Yeah, which is great.



Today's episode is brought to you by A Gentle Feast. A Gentle Feast is a complete curriculum for grades one through twelve that is family centered, inspired by Ms. Mason's programs and philosophy, and rooted in books, beauty, and Biblical truth. You can find out smooth and easy days are closer than you think at agentlefeast.com





So let's talk about how do we cultivate an atmosphere of ideas. So, if you say, you know, that the atmosphere is not just environment. It could be that. But it's more of what are the ideas... that's what our minds feed on. So, how do we cultivate those ideas in our home?



Shay -

That's a lifelong question... we will still be answering for the rest of our... for the rest of our...



Julie -

You wanna read that quote?



Shay -

Oh, let's see, which one did we have for Volume 2? The thought environment. So, she says, Charlotte Mason says, in Volume 2, this is page 37 in this edition that "there is no way of escape for parents. They must needs be as inspirers to their children. Because about them hangs, as is atmosphere about a planet, the thought environment of the child, from which he derives those inherent ideas which express themselves as a lifelong ??? towards things sorted or things lovely. Things earthly or divine." That is so beautiful, cause I want so much for my children to be able to delineate between those things that are sorted or lovely. EArthly and divine. And make the choice for the right ones, especially now that I have older ones that... yes. That don't live in my house anymore.



Julie -

And that's, you know... so, I would say, exposing them to beautiful music. Beautiful artwork, right? That those aren't fluffy things that we are adding on to our day.



Shay -

Right, yes.



Julie -

It's cultivating, in them, appetite for music that sounds lovely. So when you hear music that isn't lovely, you're like...



Shay -

You can tell the difference.



Julie -

You can tell the difference. Right.



Shay -

That's just like with the books. This thing that we're talking about, yes. You wrote... you can know what a beautiful book is, not because you had a lesson on it. But because you've been exposed to the beautiful thing. So you know what is not beautiful.



Julie -

This is not beautiful.



Shay -

Right. This is not lovely, this is not... this is earthly, this is not divine. Yep. And I think the thought that it hangs around us, I mean, I've even told my kids when I went to these principles, we talked about atmosphere. And I said, you know, you can walk into a place and feel the atmosphere.



Julie -

Oh yes. Very much so. That is true.



Shay -

You can walk into a place and say, something feels yuck here, or something's not right. I have too... or you're somebody. Like, even when you check out like the cashier through the grocery store, you can sort of get the vibe, like, she needs a smile, or she needs a... you know? And that sort of thing that hangs around us, to cultivate that, you know, means that we have to... I looked up the definition of "cultivate". To break up the soil for growth, and in preparation for planting. So when you cultivate, sometimes you're gonna have to break up... you have to take out some things. Like you may have to intentionally say, gosh, maybe I need to take this out of our routine. Or...



Julie -

Trying to pack too much into your day.



Shay -

Yes. And you're not creating that space for just, you know, unhindered play, or free time, or to discuss ideas and everything is so crammed in with the, check this. I love me a checklist, girl, now. I'm a check... I do, I love those tick boxes. Just tick 'em off, makes me happy. But sometimes they can rule my life and I have to, I have to cultivate and break those up.



Julie -

Right. Yeah. And I think too, like, we're talking about ideas that Charlotte Mason talks about how ideas need time to grow. So, when you're talking about cultivating, you could think of like, the ideas or, these are what we're sowing into our children, right? She said, like, I'm warning where you don't implant a new idea in your children as of learning wasted. You know? So we have this opportunity every morning to put new ideas into them. And that's why I love, like, morning time...



Shay -

I do too.



Julie -

I'm like, okay, we're definitely getting these things.



Shay -

Yes.



Julie -

Even if everything falls apart, like...



Shay -

No matter how bad it all is, we started out with this beautiful opportunity to think some deep thoughts.



Julie -

But we oftentimes don't let those ideas grow, because our days are too busy, right? And we need, kids need time to be by themselves, thinking. She talks about how like, chores give them opportunity in their day, having masterly inactivity. So it's not just inactivity, playing on the video games, or something. It's masterly inactivity. So it's, you're mastering your thoughts and thinking... during that time, and the parent has a watchful eye on what's going on. And you know, the time outdoors is a great time for those ideas to kind of...



Shay -

Well, I think when... and also it's, it can be hard to do that when you don't give yourself permission. Because it feels more productive to cram your day full of things. You know, and then at the end of the day, you can say, oh, we did this, this, this, this... look at all we did. And... but when you stop and think, but what did I... what seeds were those things sowing? You know? What kind of atmosphere did we have as we were doing, you know, just do five more math pages. Or whatever, you know, the thing is. Or, we just gotta get this one more lesson in. Or whatever, you know? And then that leads to an atmosphere of stress that hangs around mom. And you know, then the stress hangs around the kids. And... that was a big hurdle for me to jump over, I have to be honest with you. Because I was used to, you know, we need to be done by two o'clock. But by the time we're done, all this stuff needs to be finished, and if we did not check that off in the curriculum, you know, then I haven't been... life is over. I'm a failure. You guys are all gonna end up in prison. I mean, the thought to say it out loud, it sounds ridiculous. But when you're in the middle of it, it really feels real!



Julie -

It's that's black and white thinking, right?



Shay -

Yes.



Julie -

My day was all good or my day was all bad.



Shay -

Yes.



Julie -

And if I didn't do everything on my list, then it was all bad.



Shay -

It was all bad. It was all bad...



Julie -

And that was really something I had to retrain my brain to go, what did we do today that was good?



Shay -

Right.



Julie -

And value those things, even if there were things left undone, there was a lot of ideas that were sown.



Shay -

Right.



Julie -

And that's just what I focus on, like, now, okay. Did I waste the morning or were ideas sown? They were sown! You know? And what takes root in one child is gonna be different than another child and...



Shay -

Yes. And...



Julie -

When you see the fruit of that... might not be that day.



Shay -

Oh, no, it might be years down the road.



Julie -

Usually, it's not that day.



Shay -

Right.



Julie -

Yes. And so it's a faith and trust of my job is to be cultivating. My job is to...



Shay -

Plant.



Julie -

And planting these ideas...



Shay -

Right.



Julie -

It's the Holy Spirit's job to water them and grow them inside my child. But it's very hard when you don't have, like, a worksheet to measure.



Shay -

Yes. You can say see through it, they know their states and capitals, this is... they're smart! Yeah, cause sometimes those don't come up for months. I mean, there have been... or like you said, you may never see what you... the fruit you want to see. You know? I'm like, yes. Cause I'll have my kids narrate and say... I don't say this out loud, but in my heart, in my mind, I'm thinking, how did you miss "x, y, z"? In this story that obviously was super important. You know?



Julie -

I feel it's my duty to tell them... the important thing that they're missing out on because I think it's super important.



Shay -

So hard to keep my mouth shut! Yes, it's so hard to keep my mouth shut. It's really hard.



Julie -

Yeah, it is. Yes, yes.



Shay -

I have had my children though, say, months later, months later, that was like, such and such, that we read, and I really remember thinking they didn't even... how did they even remember that? Because I don't remember it. Or either I felt like they weren't paying attention. Yeah, so the seed got in there, it just took that long to come out, to grow, to break through to the surface, so.



Julie -

Right, yeah. So, I want you to share a story about the Wright Brother's mothers. This is from Mother Culture by Karen ??? and I really like this book. It has, like, short little chapters. I like to read it during my personal teatime. So, after lunch, the kids have to go up in their quiet time so I don't hurt someone.



Shay -

Yes.



Julie -

Because I'm an introvert and I need time to myself. Just a few minutes. It gives me like fifteen minutes to do myself, and this book is perfect for that. But, in here, she talks about the Wright Brothers' mother, and kind of the atmosphere that she created. So, Susan Wright, mother of Wilbur and Orville Wright, looked at children in a similar way as Charlotte Mason. She was a different sort of mother. She liked to play with her children. Their curiosity was a source of joy to her. She respected it. She answered their questions as far as she was able. She liked tinkering with mechanical devices and so did they. Her neighbor said she spoiled her children, while picnicking by a river with her sons and daughter, a large bird swooped down to the water and back up to the sky with a little fish. Her sons, Wilbur and Orville, asked questions about what makes a bird fly. She said it was their wings. But Wilbur noticed that during the swoop, the bird wasn't flapping its wings. Air currents have something to do with it, she told them. The boys wished they had wings so that they could fly through the air. Their mother laughed and said, no one ever did make wings that would allow a boy to fly. I will someday, Wilbur said, and Orville nodded and said, I will too. Well, when you're a little older, maybe you can try, she said. Susan Wright did not treat the thoughts inside the head of an eleven-year-old as silly. Her different mothering created a home atmosphere that welcomed playing with ideas. When Wilbur and Orville Wright were adults, they invented the first successful airplane. And we all know how that...



And then, here's a portion where Orville wrote about his boyhood. "We were lucky enough to grow up in an environment where there as always much encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests. To investigate whatever aroused curiosity. In a different kind of environment, our curiosity might have been nipped long before it could ever have formed fruit.



Shay -

Wow.



Julie -

Wasn't that we were just talking about, right?



Shay -

Yes. Exactly.



Julie -

It takes time for that to bear fruit.



Shay -

And sometimes it's the maturity of the depth of the thoughts that have to be added to each other, you know? That's the...



Julie -

Ideas grow and they connect to other ideas. As the child grows older. Right? And so, I think in here there's several things that I thought that kind of tie in with Charlotte Mason, right? She played with her children. So, Ms. Mason talks about that. Not just sending them out ??? with them. She respects their children... her children... that's that children are born persons. That facts and ideas matter. She liked playing with mechanical things, so the kids were picking up things that she was interested in. Things she thought...



Shay -

Right, always... she was a learner. Alongside them. That is so... such a powerful idea.



Julie -

And, you know, like, they were out in nature. Being observant with the bird, and with the nature studies. Just this fluffy thing, I don't got time for it. Like, what if the Wright Brothers had never seen this bird? Like, they invented... you know, the airplane? The only one that worked, because their wings were fashioned after a bird's wings.



Shay -

Right



Julie -

And the other ones weren't. So yeah, I thought that was a really neat example of how a mother...



Shay -

Can cultivate the atmosphere of learning and that is so powerful. I love that story.



Julie -

Yeah. Alright, so, in closing here, let's talk about what a mom should consider when evaluating the atmosphere of her home. So, you might be listening to this and you're like, oh, I never even thought about atmosphere before. But now I want to look at it, so how do I even go about thinking about what the atmosphere of my home is like?



Shay -

I think one of the biggest points is that you don't wanna compare yourself to other people. Which is so hard for moms in general, but it is especially for homeschool moms. And we



Julie -

Thank you, Instagram.



Shay -

Yes. That's what... we go on the social media and we see everybody's best part, best five second of their day. You know? And then we think that it looks like that all the time. Which we all know in our brains is not true. But then when we look at our homes, we start to think, oh my home should look like that. My kids should act like that. My lessons should go like that. So, I don't think it's a matter of cultivating to compare. You really have to stop and think, like, what kind of atmosphere is it that I feel like, really that the Lord wants, in my home? And it's gonna different. You know, like, I think about her, she liked to tinker with mechanical things. That's the last thing... I mean...



Julie -

Oh, no no...

Shay -

I mean, the last thing... and I have... my oldest son is very mechanical. And we had a drawer that we kept in a desk full of, like, the bits and pieces of things. Like, not intentionally was it for him, we just kinda throw em in there. Like, well, maybe we'll find what this goes to, you know, eventually. We wouldn't know, like wires and cords and stuff... And he would pull that drawer out and dig through that stuff, tear it apart, and mess with it. And I would never have done that. But, he... that was his interest. So, I think it's those sorts of things, like, you know, really, evaluating your own children. Not looking, say, oh, well, Julie Ross does this. Or you know, so and so who talks about, Charlotte Mason does this, so, that's really important when you're starting to evaluate your own family. Not looking at somebody else's.



Julie -

Every family has to love tea in order to give their children a Charlotte Mason education.



Shay -

Exactly. And you know, a lot of people, when they find out that we use Charlotte Mason methods and principles and use a Gentle Feast, they're like, oh, well, I'm not artsy. And I don't really like art. And I don't really like poetry. And like, that is not the point, you know? But, it can sort of have that idea in their mind, and so people reject it because they don't understand. And so, you don't have to have tea, you don't have to ... you don't even have to be like a huge book lover, I don't think, to love Charlotte Mason, because, I ... I am a huge book lover. But, when you start to think about ideas, you don't have to love to read five million books, just because you are following a Charlotte Mason's methods. You can use those beautiful books, but that doesn't mean that you have to be a book lover, have five million books. Although I do. Yes. I just wanna sit here and... so beautiful, yes.



Julie -

And I think your... for me anyway, as I've incorporated more of the feast that she talks about, my interests have changed.



Shay -

Oh, definitely.



Julie -

The things that I love and the things that... I never thought I would love Shakespeare. Ever, right? I love it, I think it's hilarious, and we enjoy reading them, and so, you know, sometimes, we have to try new things too. And ... so, we can't compare. What else can we...



Shay -

I think being brave enough to really step back and look at what is the actual mood in your home? It's...



Julie -

We're the ??



Shay -

Yes, yes, we're the... are we gonna be thermostats or thermometers? Right? I've read several articles about... yes, yes. ??? With pressure. ????



And the barometers, like, you know, what is our barometer, maybe, but... I think it does take courage and bravery to say I'm intentionally gonna step back and say, you know, like, what is actually the mood in my home? Cause it's so close to us, it's easier for me to walk into your home and say, oh, this is a great mood in here. Or, like we said before, ew, something feels yuck somewhere. But in our own home we're... this is just what we live in. So, to take the courage to just sort of, I'm gonna intentionally sort of recognize what is the atmosphere? Does it feel stressful when we do "x, y, z"? Do I need to take that out? Does it feel like I need to incorporate more space? Does it feel like this room is... when we're talking about the physical part of it, I need to clean this room out. This room feels cluttery, I mean...



Julie -

Are you referring to my office?



Shay -

No, I'm ... But I did that last year. I cleaned out tons of stuff... yes, I did tons of stuff. And it was emotionally difficult. You know, you have to make all these choices. Yes. Everything you touch, you have to make a decision about, and I just did it little by little, little bit, you know, all along. But, my whole... the only thing that has not been done now is my attic. Everything else in my house has been touched. Yes. But I'm not saying that's... well, I live in a townie house. But my house is really small. But, I do think it does, it does take intentionality to just sort of say, I'm gonna look and really see what does it feel like. And maybe even being brave enough to like ask your kids, you know, how do you feel like the mood is in our home, mornings? Or, I've started... I play a record for my children every morning to wake them up. And when I started to do... use to, I was like, it's time to get up. For those smaller ones. The older ones wake themselves up. But that's...



Julie -

It's the opposite at my house. The younger ones wake themselves up. The older ones, it's like, Night of the Living Dead, to try to get them out of bed in the mornings.



Shay -

Yeah, foghorn in their room, yes. Yes, ??? But, that sort of sets like a mood for them that's more positive cause it's not my voice the first thing in the morning. And I tend to screech without realizing that I'm screeching, you know? Like, it's time to get up, first time's ??? second time, say, you know? I mean, we all have our stressful days. It's never gonna be, you know, a perfect atmosphere. But the over-arching feeling of what your day is like, and are you gonna be brave enough to release that, and I can say, mmm, I need to take this out.



Julie -

Well, I think I like that you used the word "brave". I think it does take courage to be honest with ourselves. And, you know, for me, looking at the atmosphere of the home, like, I realize that I really needed to change some things in myself. And I needed to deal with some of my emotional health and those kinds of things, because I did not want those things being passed on to my kids in the air that they were breathing. But I didn't know that they were doing it, but they're getting it anyway, sort of thing.



Shay -

Yes, exactly.



Julie -

I needed to actually take care of myself. And put my own oxygen mask on. Invest in mother culture and invest in my growth so that I could, you know, show them this is how a person should respond. And this is how we should act. And...

Shay -

Right. And it does take a lot of, I mean, sometimes it takes, just, that decision, like, okay, I have to do this even though it may not feel natural, because it's gonna be what's best for the culture of our home. So the atmosphere of the home.



Julie -

Well, that's hard, because... to put ourselves first sometimes.



Shay -

Yes, so hard. It is the hardest thing. It's much easier just to say no, I, you know, let me slide to the background.



Julie -

You know, I can be stressed and resentful and...



Shay -

Right. Frustrated. And, you know, jump at the, just in a second, jump on my kids and not have a lot of patience and stuff, you know. But for me to say, okay, Shay, you really have got to step back and, what is this that's making you stressed out?



Julie -

Right. yeah. To deal with some of those things in life that we don't wanna deal with. That ??



Shay -

And then, we don't normally think of that as part of education.



Julie -

I feel like I'm sounding like Bernie Brown right now.



Shay -

You really are! You sound.... ???



Julie -

But really, I mean, it really doesn't change the atmosphere. And you don't think of that when you're thinking of...



Shay -

You don't.



Julie -

Kind of like, buy all these books and I gotta get this curriculum and... you don't think, oh I could actually take care of myself. That's going to change my children and that's what they're breathing in all the time.



Shay -

It's talked about so little, but I think that's one reason Charlotte Mason was so brilliant, because she understood this whole... the whole picture. And really knowing that, we can pack as many facts and figures as we want to our children, but that doesn't look at them, consider them as people. As a person. You know? And so, we have to consider ourselves as persons too. Like, Shay is a person. I'm not just a homeschool mom. You know? I am a person, and what is that is making the person of Shay frustrated, stressed out? Bringing about, breathing out this negative atmosphere? What is that? And it is brave to take that moment and stop and... or a day off. And say...



Julie -

Hey, what's that?



Shay -

It's this foreign concept, where like you don't do anything with your kids.



Julie -

Other people, on their jobs...



Shay -

Get a day off. Yeah.



Julie -

They do?



Shay -

I've heard that. Like, it's a rumor.



Julie -

But I can't take one. Yeah, no.



Shay -

Right. One of the best things my husband did for me last year was, he said... cause I love to go to art museums. And he said, guess what? Tomorrow, you're not doing school. And this is like back in September. And I was just really stressed out about school and a lot of things going on... and I said, I have to do school tomorrow. It was on a Friday. ??? No, you're not doing school tomorrow. You are going to Greenville, and you are going to the art museum. You're getting out, you're leaving. Here's some money. I don't wanna see you until at least four o'clock. Leave. And so, it was really hard for me to do. It was so much harder than I thought it would be to do. So, but, I was a much different Mama when I came home that night. My head was much clearer.



Julie -

I think we all need to wisely think through those things. Is there anything else that you can think of that we haven't talked about with atmosphere?



Shay -

We've covered a lot of stuff.



Julie -

A lot of deep work and a lot of expressions and a lot of hard things to think through. But, you know, again, for me it was, what do I value? What are, what's important to me? And are those things being communicated in my homeschool or not?



Shay -

Beyond just talking about them.



Julie -

Right. Right.



Shay -

With actually what are we...



Julie -

And, you know, if, which, I read about the Wright Brother's mother. You know, and, you touched on this when you talk about, that we're persons, right? But she respected their kid, her kid's ideas. And I've seen that change the atmosphere of my home through incorporating her teachings is because of the practice of narration. My kids realize that I respect what they're thinking and what they have to say about something and what they've read. And so my kids come up to me all the time now, like, mom, I was watching this documentary about ???? Mom, I read such and such devotionals. Or I was talking to so and so about... Like and we have that relationship because they've realized I respect and care about what they have to say.



Shay -

Right. They're not waiting on you to tell them what they need to learn. But what they're brain grasped is as important as something you find that they need to learn. More important, because it's self-education. It belongs to them. Right? And those things last so much longer than me trying to tell them, this is what you should have gotten from that. But when they get it, it's... they never lose it, because it belongs to them. So. Yeah. It's powerful.



Julie -

Well thanks for coming and chatting with me, girl.



Shay -

Always fun! Always fun. We can talk for hours.



Julie -

Alright! Thanks, everyone, for listening. Bye.





Thank you for joining us today on the Charlotte Mason show. I’m your host, Julie Ross, and I would love to meet you in 2020. I will be at all seven Great Homeschool Conventions, speaking as part of their Charlotte Mason track. Go to greathomeschoolconventions.com to find one near you. If you want more information on what was shared in today’s podcast, go to homeschooling.mom for the show notes. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or Google Play so you never miss an episode. Until next time.

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