CM #27: Jennifer Pepito - The Importance of Play in Home Education
Episode 27- Jennifer Pepito, The Importance of Play in Home Education (Hint: It’s not just for little children)
Are you feeling burnt out in homeschooling? Charlotte Mason says, ““If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play!” In this episode, Julie Ross and Jennifer Pepito, founder of Peaceful Press, discuss the idea of playful creativity and its role in home education. You will be inspired to explore this concept to revitalize your home.
Jennifer Pepito is the mother of seven children, who she has homeschooled from the beginning. Her oldest daughter is a law student studying abroad, and her oldest son is an honors business student at a nearby university.
When she discovered that her second daughter had learning disabilities, Jennifer became an avid student of child development, learning from innovators and researchers such as Carol Stock Kranowitz, Gordon Neufield, John Taylor Gatto, Jane Healy, Maria Montessori, Kim John Payne, and Charlotte Mason. The Peaceful Press resources were born out of these years of research, and Jennifer has a passion to equip families to homeschool in a way that is developmentally appropriate, spiritually nourishing, and based on proven methods of education.
Jennifer is a Simplicity Parenting Coach, Certified Life Coach, and is currently pursuing Early Childhood Development credits in order to ensure that Peaceful Press families are getting the best resources based on current research about learning, while continuing to integrate time honored educational philosophy put forward by Charlotte Mason and Maria Montessori.
She is a regular contributor for the Wild and Free homeschool community, and has been published in several online journals and print articles.
A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
“Freedom to pursue their own interests is the antidote to burnout.” - Jennifer Pepito
“We allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and 'spiritual' life of children, but teach them that the Divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their Continual Helper in all the interests, duties and joys of life.”- Charlotte Mason, Principle 20
Bible Verse: Isaiah 54:13 ESV All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children
CM EP Jennifer Pepito
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 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 to the Charlotte Mason Show. I'm your host, Julie Ross, and I am so excited to be here today with Jennifer Pepito. Hi Jennifer.Jennifer - Hey Julie, how are you?Julie - Good. I am so honored to meet you. I have been a big fan of yours for a while, and I love what you're doing over there at A Peaceful Press. And I'm just so honored and excited that my listeners get to hear from you today. Jennifer - I'm so honored as well. I'm such a fan of yours, Julie, and I love what you're doing with making Charlotte Mason accessible for families.Julie - Oh, well thank you. So, yeah, to get started, can you just give our listeners, if they're not familiar with you already, just a little info about yourself and your family?Jennifer - Yes. I am the mother of seven children. They're ages 26 to11. I'm married to my husband Scott, he works outside the home and I work inside the home. And we've been homeschooling the whole way through. I've graduated four students now.Julie - Woohoo!Jennifer - Now I've got... I'm really only homeschooling full-time two of them. And then I have a high school student who's doing community college classes.Julie - Oh yeah. That's how kinda I am too, yeah. So how did you get started, or how did you learn about Charlotte Mason, let's focus on that.Jennifer -Well, when my oldest, I think, was like three years old, I started researching homeschooling. And my sister had a friend who was gonna do a Charlotte Mason companion book club. So I went to that and I was a little bit out of place of all of these, you know, older moms with older kids. And here I was with a three-year-old going to a homeschool group. But I got so excited about the ideas of nature study and fine art and music in the home and reading great books together. So I've always tried to structure my homeschool around that philosophy.Julie - I love the Charlotte Mason Companion, by Karen Andreola. That's the one you're talking about, with your book club?Jennifer - Yes, that's one of my favorites. I feel like she makes it so accessible.Julie - Oh yes. Yes. And she's... it's just... it feels like... every time I read one of her books, I just feel like it's so comforting in a way. Like, it's not like here's the ten things you need to be doing in your homeschool. And like, I read books like that and I get really stressed out. But I read hers and it's like a cup of tea or something.Jennifer - I agree. Right. I’m pretty much in love with Cindy Rawlins for the same reason.Julie - Yes, we definitely need people like that. And just, they're such a gentle way to kind of get started with that. Now, did you have a good community of other moms... I guess you were in this book club. So as you started homeschooling, you had other moms who were kind of fleshing out this philosophy as well?Jennifer - I did. I was such...I was so privileged... other moms always, who were into reading books out loud. And we started a co-op, so we would go do nature study or you know, pound out acorns and pretend we were Native Americans. Or you know, we were just in a community that also really highlighted being in nature and reading out loud. So all through my homeschool career, except for a few years, we've had a really good support system.Julie - Yeah, that's great. That is a huge blessing. One of the things I wanted to talk to you about today, because I love your teaching on the subject, is this concept of play. Specifically, like, what Charlotte Mason has to say about it, but, how do we apply that to education. You know, there's the saying, you know, do your work first, and you can play later. And we can see that as something we do after school. But that it is an actual vital part to education. So, I guess, to start off with, how would you just define play?Jennifer - Well, I love what Abraham Maswell said about play. He said almost all creativity involves purposeful play. And this has been one of my big passions with homeschooling and mentoring homeschoolers, is that, I think we can get so scared about homeschooling right, or doing things right, and whether that is doing Charlotte Mason exactly right, or doing copying the public schools exactly right. We get so wrapped up in that, that we miss out on the chance to play with our children, to be playful, even as adults, because part of homeschooling involves play as adults. Like, we, as the homeschool mom, are learning things we never learned. Like, how many of us got to do some weaving as part of our pioneer studies. Or how many of us, as homeschool moms, got to read picture books to learn about history as opposed to just reading from a textbook. Like, this whole homeschooling business is in a sense, play. And I just feel like, when we can release some of the fear and expectation that we put on ourselves with homeschooling, we end up being so much more creative with our children. And then we empower them to be creative, because it's not, you know, I think that there's a place for following rules and knowing rules. But it's gonna be the people who can think outside the box, who can pull something from scratch, who can, you know, adapt a recipe. It's sort of that flexibility and adaptability that's really needed in our society today.Julie - Wow, that's so good. Like, so there's so much in what you just said... So, I love how you just... that definition of play. Cause, like, I think in our minds, like, our adult minds, we're like, okay, do I have to like, break out the barbie dolls? Like, what are we talking about here? You know?But I love that it's creativity. Almost like, playful. Like an imaginative... I think we were going with that. And I think that's something that we never stop doing. Like, that's a lifetime... that we're instilling that style of learning in ourselves. And then, putting that passion and showing that to our children.So, if a mom was like, you know what, I have fallen into this rut of, we're just going through the motions here, checking off all these little checkboxes. Our homeschool does not feel playful. I don't feel playful, I don't feel creative. Right? What would you recommend she just kind of start with?Jennifer - I'd probably recommend just quitting your program... You know, I mean, even, like, whatever program it is, it is a lot of amazing programs. I love what you're doing. I've been, you know, passionate about what I've been creating. But I feel like, when we see that school has become this chore and we're all pulling out hair trying to get through the day, it's maybe time to just quit for a... you know, and not that you quit on everything. Cause we do morning time, I mean, pretty much year-round. Because I just really want to always have that daily anchor of reading the Bible together and reading poetry together. And even just the opportunity to just sit and talk to each other.But past that, like, with this whole corona virus situation, even, we've... I've been more distracted, so I have been less ‘schooly’, and I've had so many extra people because my college students are home, my husband was home for a while, and so, I really wasn't as great of a homeschooler as I wanted to be.But I've seen my youngest son, who's one of, kind of, my least easy learners. Like, you know how some kids are just like, yes, give me all the worksheets. This one has taken so much creativity, he's been so much more intense of a student. But I've seen him, like, start reading for pleasure and start creating things and trying out little plans. And, you know, just doing so much school-ish activities completely on his own initiative, just because I backed off for a little bit. So I think, the most important, you know, way to, sort of activate play in ourselves and our children, is just giving ourselves some free time.Julie - Yeah. And I think this... yeah, this whole quarantine thing has definitely allowed us to have that. Cause, like, all activities have just kind of ceased. You know? My friend was trying to, like, we were trying to schedule a meeting for next week, and I'm like, well, let me look at my calendar. Oh, I have absolutely nothing. Jennifer - Right. And a lot of those things that were on the calendar were great, you know. The music lessons, but, you know, for depending on your child, some of those great things could just be causing anxiety. And making them less creative. And then in a way, less able to accomplish what they're supposed to do. Because we're not all created to do exactly the same thing. And that's another, you know, kind of, big value of mine, actually, is just customizing our homeschool for our children. I love the readings of Charlotte Mason. I am a... you know, we've done our best throughout the years to follow her philosophy. But, we take it as a philosophy and not a rule book. Because I feel like we can steal so much of the joy of learning when we feel like, you know, we have to be this family who does exactly everything that she outlines in, you know, in The Philosophy of Home Education. Or in one of the books where she's sort of prescribing how a daily school day should go. That's not necessarily for everybody today.And we might have better books available today than the ones she was using honestly. Julie - Oh yeah. I feel that way for sure. Like, there's... we mentioned picture books, right? There's an abundance of excellent picture books that she never had available to her. You know? And rather than, like, ??? them because they're picture books, like, there is the... the illustrations are beautiful but they also just, the wording and vocabulary.Jennifer - Right, right. I think she'd be so excited that we have access to that. Because she did value beautiful words and beautiful art. She valued... you know, and I think that's the important thing, is, in our homeschool, extracting the values instead of looking at as a rule book.Julie - Yes. Yeah, that's a great way to look at it. Yeah, because, you know, when we don't feel playful, right, that changes the atmosphere of our home. And she says that's one of the educational tools we have, is education is an atmosphere, right? But we create that atmosphere in our home. And so, yeah, I agree, so first thing, you know, if you're feeling burnt out, if you're feeling distressed, and the atmosphere of your home is one of anxiety, that maybe you should just take a step back, and allow more time in your day. Take some things out to see where you can have that time for that creativity. And it does take time. And she says that, you know? That we're planting seeds of ideas in our children's minds. Through these great books and through the art and through the music. And that takes time to grow. And if our days are so busy that our children don't have any downtime, there's no time for those ideas to kind of foster.Jennifer - Exactly. Exactly. Wonder, it's interesting because you know, we wanna cultivate wonder in our children and wonder is something that takes time. Like, you have to have time to actually wonder about something in order to cultivate wonder.Julie - Yeah. Right. There's... so this is a parent's review article that I love. It's by E.A. Parrish. It's from 1914 and the title of it is Imagination, A Powerful Factor in a Well-Balanced Education. But it kinda goes with what we're talking about here with this... the need for time in your schedule. It says, for the right use of programs in... they're talking about Charlotte Mason's programs here... two things are necessary. Solitude and independence. Children must these. Nursery children come off fairly well in these respects. They get time they can wander and dream alone in the garden. But this happy state often ends when schoolroom life begins. Lessons, walk, and lessons again. Always in company and always something that must be done now. Ms. Mason devises timetables which cover such reasonable hours as to leave time over for the solitude. But parents are often very comparable in thinking that tango... that cracks me up... or some other new thing must be learned as well. In the much needed time for solitude is used for plans which necessitate hurried journeys, always in the company of responsible person who feels it's their duty to talk in an instructive way, and the thinking time, the growing time, the time in which the mind is defined food, is diminished.Jennifer - Boom. That's so... Julie - But it's so hard to trust that. And not, like, I mean it still cracks me up, you know, it's like, tango lessons. But just substitute like soccer lessons or, like you say, all things that could be good, right? But, we're hurrying and then we're in the car and we feel the need to, like, listen to the capitals of the states songs on the way to soccer. Jennifer - And I think, you know, I think that part of it actually goes back to just not knowing what our own values are. Like, I think, as families, it's, you know... I'd love to have seen... I'm sure that she talked about this, but, you know, if we don't know who we are as families and what we're supposed to be about, we're just gonna be like, you know, the mouse or the cookie. Just kind of distracted by every new thing. And I've really felt that over this little period of being quarantined. Because in my community, everybody does sports. And so we've done sports for the first time ever, and it's been okay. But it's not something that I would normally want to do. It's not something I enjoyed. I'd much rather see my kids like, running around in nature, or playing an instrument. Those are the two things that are really important to our family. And I think it's just so important to actually know your values so that when those distractions come up, or those good things that aren't necessarily good for you, you're gonna be able to say, wait, wait, wait... this is a good thing, but it's not for us. And then keep and preserve and protect that time.Julie - Yeah. For sure. Yeah, so, another quote that I love from Charlotte Mason, and I really hope this isn't the quote that you were gonna pick as your favorite one but... I'm just gonna read it anyway and we'll see...Jennifer - I doubt it because I picked kind of an obscure one.Julie - Okay. Okay, good. Yeah, this is a very common one, but it says, if mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when they are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play. If she would have the courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day or a half a day out in the fields or with a favorite book, or in a picture gallery, looking long and well at just two or three pictures... oh this is my favorite part... or in bed without the children, life would go on for more happily for both children and parents. The mother would then be able to hold herself in wise passiveness and would not fret her children by continual interference of even hand or eye, she would let them be.Jennifer - Oh, that's so interesting, because, you know, part of what I was feeling like would be the next step for moms who are trying to make more time for play, would just be for them to start playing themselves. Because when your children see you reading in a field or watercolor painting at the table, or trying out some new recipe, they're going to be inspired by your light, but when you're constantly standing over their shoulder, feeling fretful about what they're doing and concerned and feeling like the world's falling apart because they're not nature journaling like somebody you saw on Instagram, then you're gonna give... communicate to them the idea that play is scary and apt to result in condemnation or criticism.Julie - Yes. Yeah. Yeah. You have to do it a certain way, yeah. For sure.Jennifer - Right. I mean, obviously, there is a time for feedback, but I think if we have a playful attitude ourselves... cause I think so often as moms, at some point in our lives, we got criticized for our paintings or our singing or whatever, and so we've stopped playing. But we expect our children to be creative and to, you know, put out their best work with their drawings or their singing or their music playing, whatever it might be. And yet we, you know, we're not willing to play ourselves. Julie - Yeah, that's a good point. Yeah, it's some of like the trauma work that I've been doing, one of the things that they've mentioned was, which I just thought was an interesting question, was, when you were a young child, what is it that you loved to do that filled you and brought you with joy. And then, the next question was, and why do you no longer do that.Jennifer - I love that. I'm reading Let Your Life Speak, by Parker Palmer, right now.Julie - Oh, that's so good.Jennifer - Yeah, he asked the exact same question, you know. What did you enjoy doing when you were a kid. What made you excited about life when you were a kid? Julie - And I think, especially during this time when things are super stressful in the world, right? And we're holding that anxiety, and people are losing jobs, and there's financial concerns, and we're all stuck together. Take the time to just sit with that question. Jennifer - Right. And maybe sit with that question to wonder why we're so picky with our kids. You know? I think, so often, we're looking at our children as the manifestation of our own identity. Like, we're not feeling confident, and so we want our children to become all that we weren't. Or all that we wanted to be but couldn't. Whatever it might be. We want them to kind of make us look good. And so then we communicate to them that they're a constant disappointment. I just read Pilgrim Inn, by Elizabeth Goudge. And one of the quotes that really stuck out to me was, Mother was a rather a demanding sort of person. Somehow she always seemed asking of everyone and everything, just a little more than they could give. And I...Julie - Ah, that's heartbreaking.Jennifer - Oh that just hit me in the heart.Julie - Me too!Jennifer - Yes, because, I, you know, I want to help my children do things with excellence, and I want to help them do their best work. But I also don't wanna communicate to them that nothing is good enough. I want to be able to let them be playful.Julie -Yes. Wow. That, yeah, that's very convicting for sure. So, yeah, I love that, that, you know, we need to be the ones sitting that example, but that can be very hard if our expectations of ourselves are extremely high. If we feel like, I should be doing all these other really important things, like dishes. Rather than, oh, go in the backyard, and yeah, read a book.Jennifer - Right.Julie - So how would you help a mom get out of that tyranny of the urgent kind of mindset? And realize the importance of this?Jennifer - Right. Part of it, in my opinion, is looking at chores and things like that, as a group effort. And maybe lowering your standards a little bit for a season. You know, maybe you do use reusable dishes, I mean paper plates, or you know, or maybe you... everybody has to load their own dish, or, you know, in some way, making those chores a little bit simpler. And then lowering your expectations somewhat for school, like, I love Harvey and Lori Bluedorn have a list called Ten Things to do Before Each Ten. I think it's on the TriviumPursuit.org. But it was, you know, if we look at schooling as, what do we want the results to be? We want our children to be good communicators, we want them to have, you know, in my value system, I want them to see that everything is a miracle. You know? I want them to see the earth is crammed with heaven. Every common bush of fire with God. I want them to have cultivated this kind of an attitude, and an expectation of God working in the world. But that might mean that we have a smaller house and we have less expectation on what our clothes look like. Or we have less of an expectation on how perfectly decorated and Instagram worthy it is, or whatever. So that we can have more time to go run around in a field.Julie - Yeah. Yeah, that's good, yeah. I do think it comes down to thinking through what your values are. Then also, allowing, giving yourself the permission to play.Jennifer - Yeah. It's so important. And you know what? I think that we're... you know, what the real bottom line is, the real, like if you just go right down deep to what is that's motivating us to put pressure on our children where we, if we get right down to the bottom of that, I think so much of that is that we don't know we are loved. You know when we can accept the truth that we are loved by God, that we are the beloved, that He would have come to earth if we were just a mess and our dishes were dirty, and our children were complaining and whining, and their nature journaling was crappy. If we get right down to the fact that we are loved by God in... without any consideration of our work, then we can start to act like the beloved and do our best work because we're excited. You know what I mean? it's just, the perspective changes when we're working because we know we're loved, than it comes from a place of play. But when we're working to gain approval or gain identity, then it becomes a chore.Julie - Well, not just for moms, but for our kids. Is that what we're telling them?Jennifer - Absolutely. You know, then, and that was kind of that Pilgrim's Inn quote, is that child, no matter what he did, it was never quite good enough. You know, he could never quite please that mother who, at the essence, didn't believe that she was loved.Julie -Yeah, right. Yeah. And to have that kind of... I don't know why this word just comes in my head when I think through this concept, is whimsy. Jennifer - Right! I love that word.Julie - Yeah, just, to have that kind of delight. And I think we can definitely lose that, you know, when we become so focused on tasks. And we lose the wonder of what we're studying. Cause we're like, oh, well, we're supposed to listen to this today. Alright, everyone, here we go. Whereas, like, actually taking the time to delight in the classical music piece we're listening to, rather than just checking out the box, and be like, okay, we did composer study. Okay what's next?Jennifer - Right. Which is why I'm, you know, a big believer in following the Charlotte Mason philosophy as a philosophy instead of as a rule book. Because when we follow it as, kind of a guideline, like, here are things that you can do to cultivate this concept that education's an atmosphere and a discipline and a life. You know, here are the things that we can do to spread the feast before our children. Here are the things that we can do to help them understand that, you know, there should be no separation between the divine. But when we, you know, make it all about this big rule book, like, we're gonna be rejected or we're gonna be found out as a fake Charlotte Mason homeschool if we don't do exactly right, you know, totally changes the perspective.Julie - Right. Yeah. For sure. 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 how smooth and easy days are closer than you think at AGentleFeast.com.Alright, so you have some really great points just to kind of help mom with the mindset there and of, you know, what to do if she feels like she needs more whimsy, I'm just gonna use that word from now on, in her homeschool day. But what about for the children themselves? Is there anything that you would recommend to kind of guide them in this?Jennifer - I think children are generally so good at whimsey.Julie - Yeah, that's true.Jennifer - They know that they're loved. I think that it's not something that's... if we give them a couple hours and we have the, you know, I think it's important to have the media kind of inaccessible because that is.... that will destroy whimsy faster than anything. I mean, obviously, as a tool for finding out how to do something, it's great. But I think that it's just so hard. We as adults know how hard it is to avoid comparison when we're online. So, in my opinion, technology in many ways kills whimsy. But you know, I think for children, it's sort of natural. Like, you know, go, take a nature hike out by a creek and just sit there. What happens? They're... you know, a healthy child is not going to say, I'm bored. A healthy child will start building a little city out of the rocks, or they'll start skipping rocks, or they'll look for a bug, or they'll try to get in the water, or they'll make a mud pie. You know what I mean? A child who's sort of use to having some creative time will start being creative with it. And if your child isn't used to it yet, then just start. And you know what I think the, you know, the best way to activate a child who has not been expressing whimsy, would be to read a good whimsical book, you know? You start reading Miss Rumfias or Rocks of Oxen orJulie - Oh yeah, I just read those the other day on my little story time thing on Instagram. Those are two of my favorites.Jennifer - Right, right. You know, you start reading books like that, or Little House on the Prairie or Farmer Boy, or any of these books, and your children are gonna get the ideas that they need to be whimsical, to be creative. Julie - Yes. And... I mean, that's definitely what she was saying, you know? In Home Education, she talks about playing at history. And she says children have other ways of expressing the conceptions that fill them when they are duly fed. They play at their history lessons, dress up, make believe, act scenes or they have a stage and their dolls act while they paint the scenery and speak the speeches. There is no end to the modes of expression children find when there's anything in them to express. The mistake we make is to suppose that imagination is fed by nature or that it works on insipid diet of children's storybooks. Let a child have the meat he requires in his history readings and then the literature which naturally gathers round this history and imagination will bestir itself without any help of ours. The child will live out in detail a thousand scenes of which he only gets the nearest hint.Jennifer - I love that. Absolutely. I think that you know, putting story in our children is such an important way to activate their own imaginations.Julie - Right. Without that, without those seeds, right? You're not gonna grow that plant. And you have to have that meat. But we often think, oh, well they can, you know, this might be too mature for them, or they can't handle this yet, or, you know? I see that with my own kids, just things that I thought maybe were kinda over their heads. Like, Pilgrim's Progress or Shakespeare or something like that. They play like that and their little British accents come out.Jennifer -I love it. I love it. And you see, you know, I think that's one of the joys of having an age-span, is you can't necessarily always censor the reading for the youngest child. So they are hearing these amazing stories. I remember, you know, one of my kids was probably five years old and he was making a poem about Beowulf. And I never even heard of ??? until I was in my 30s and reading that to them, I would never have heard of it, you know.Julie - Yeah, right. That's so funny. Well, so, in terms of, like you talk about this different age spread, is this something that, you know, we always feel like, okay, well, play is for little children. And we've talked a little bit how it's for mom's too. But just in terms of, like, let's just start with the younger people. Let's sit for the moms who just have younger ones. What would you recommend to kind of encourage this in their children or the development? You talked about going out and spending time outdoors in nature and those kinds of things.Jennifer - Yeah, and also, aside from having great books to read to them to sort of activate their imagination, I think it's really important to not have too many toys. I think when we have too many... yeah, too many toys can sort of shut down our imagination, where it's almost confusing. So, if you have too many toys, pack some up and then make sure that the ones you have are a little bit more open-ended. I love Waldorf's philosophy in this area. They really focus on natural and kind of building toys. So, blocks or capes or, you know, toy kitchen things. And even getting the little ones into actual real work, that can lead to play. You know, giving them a little broom or giving them flour and some water and letting them mix up some dough, that kind of thing, where it gets them moving and thinking and experiencing in a sensory way and I think that that can be the sort of seed for better play and more imaginative play.Julie - Yes, for sure. Yeah, I think I totally agree with you on the toys. Especially one that makes loud noises.Jennifer - Oh gosh. Julie -Yeah. I don't know what happened to this toy, it doesn't work anymore. I just take the batteries out. Jennifer - Right? Even the tin whistles.Julie - Oh yes. I made the mistake of buying my daughter a recorder for Easter. I don't know what I was thinking. But, you know, live and learn. And so, what about for the like, let's just do, like, the older elementary preteen-ish age.Jennifer - I think that the most important thing in that age is just making sure that technology is diminished because that's what, you know, I've seen it in my own kids, if they get a phone or iPad or any kind of technology access too early, it just shuts down the creativity. They can be so creative, and then all of a sudden, they've, you know, been hanging around friends who are into whatever's online. And it shuts it down. And so, you know, obviously, we have to grow up in some ways, but I think that preserving childhood for as long as possible can only lead to more creativity. It's, you know, I think that what inhibits, because, you know, what Abraham Maswell was saying about play being the seed of creativity, it's, that's for the people who make a difference in the world. You know, and if we want to be just consumers of culture, then whatever, get online as much as you want. But if we wanna be the people who are actually shaping culture, who are actually producing the beautiful movies and stories and maybe even beautiful games, but if we wanna be the people who are producing culture, then we have to be the people who are taking in beauty, which is, the stories, you know, maybe the beautiful movies. Beautiful music. Whatever. But we're not the people who are just constantly being dumbed down by the culture.Julie - Wow. Yeah, that's a really, really, really good point. Yeah. We... yeah... we can just become consumers and that will ??? like nothing else, right.Jennifer - Absolutely.Julie - It's a passive kind of learning, but, I mean, if it ??? of Charlotte Mason's philosophy is that the students are responsible for their own education. And...Jennifer - Right.Julie - ...takes ownership of that. Alright, and then, we got our lovely, wonderful teenagers who, I know that technology still is a ??? at my house. I feel like it's an uphill... you go to the store to get one set back battle of managing that. Jennifer - Yeah. And you know, I think that at that point, there has to be some more autonomy. You know, there has to be some opportunity for them to learn to manage it. But, I think that what we've put in will bear fruit. And I think that also, as a family, having, you know, some tech-free time or days or whatever that is, and even you know, depending... I think that it does matter whether they're boys or girls, honestly. Because I think sometimes, for boys, they just need, they almost need an adrenaline rush, if they can't go play a sport, or go you know, climb the mountain, or whatever it is, they're gonna gravitate towards a video game because that is a way to get an outlet that they need.So, you know, being aware of their developmental needs all through the stages, and if there's a way to meet that without, you know, I think that teenagers especially need some excitement and challenge. And honestly, ??? book ??? has a lot of great things to say about that, the element of risk in education, how important it is. And so, I think that as, you know, Americans often, our lives are almost a little bit too safe for our teenagers. And there might be a case for helping them find a volunteer opportunity at a camp, or letting them go on a mission trip, or whatever it might be, where they get out of their normal routine a little bit and have to sort of develop some self-reliance and some grit. It's gonna be one of the best ways to keep developing a playful spirit. But also, the self-reliance that they need and the ingenuity they need to actually create something from the play. ‘Cause play isn't just, and you know, it's important, it shows that we're alive, but it's also productive. That's the kind of dichotomy about it, is that play is productive. Julie - Yes. Yeah. I, and I think for teenagers too, giving them the opportunities for playing and being creative and not necessarily, like you said, worrying about the product as much as just, hey, I think I might be interested in this, and you know, unfortunately, or fortunately, as they get to be older, those cost... opportunities cost a little bit more. But allowing them, like you said, there is times to go on those trips or do those activities. For my 19-year-old, it was, I wanna learn how to take pictures. And so, buy her a DSL camera and getting her a photoshop class or just letting her go, has taken off, for her. But you know, she wouldn't be there if I hadn't given her those materials, right? To play with, if that makes sense.Jennifer - Right, absolutely. Julie - But they're expensive. And, but I think, you know, that's one of the benefits too, of homeschooling through high school. It does allow them time in their schedule to be creative where they wouldn't have that if they were in school all day and then doing homework or an activity, all night, as well.Jennifer - Absolutely. It's so much more time, I'm such a big believer in homeschooling for high school because it just gives them so much more freedom to pursue their own interests, which is the antidote to burnout.Julie - Oh, wow. Yeah. Right. Say that one more time, cause I'm gonna write that down...Jennifer - Yeah, the freedom to pursue their own interests is an antidote burnout. You see so many kids graduate from high school, and they have no idea what they want to do in life. And they end up dropping out of college because they've just been so burned out in high school. When those were some of the best years for learning, you know, some of the best years for exploring and getting skills and getting excited about life. Making plans, even. And yet, we pile on the school work in order to get a good SAT score or get them into a good college, whatever it is, and they graduate just burnt out.Julie - Yeah, that's so good. Yeah, my daughter's like a mission essay. I forget what the question was. Like, about, how will you be academically successful here, or something like. And she's like, well I don't know really know like, what to put. Like, it's not like I had like a 1600 on my SAT or like a 4.0, or you know. And I was like, well I think you're gonna be academically successful because you know how to teach yourself. And you have a lot of interests in a lot of different things and that's really what makes someone successful, not a test score. But it's so hard to get out of that mindset in our country.Jennifer - Yeah. And honestly, with, you know, with my children, I've been, you know, very Charlotte Mason, but also laid back, because I have seven kids and we've always lived on property so we've... you know, and honest, I love the Colfax, I don't know if you ever read the, it's Dave and Mickey Colfax. And I can't remember the title of the book right now. But, they homeschool kind of out in the woods and it was very, almost unschooling, but they just studied for fun, cause they were so tired of working on their property, they're like, doing self-sufficiency up in the foothills somewhere. And so, anyhow, my kids had this very unconventional high school in some ways, even, and they were... the two who have gone through college were both honor students in college. You know the one who graduated already was Suma Cum Laude, and she's at law school. And I know exactly how I homeschooled her, which was, we read a lot of books, she wrote a few essays, you know, she did a couple college classes in her high school career cause we were missionaries for part of that. So it wasn't like this major load. But she did know how to work, and she'd read so many books. And it's those books that actually contribute to a good SAT score because you know how to use words. Julie - Yes. You don't have to study flashcards if you're reading great books that have those words in them.Jennifer - Exactly! Julie - It's an amazing concept, yes.Jennifer - Yes. Julie - Well, this has been so fun and I hope that it has encouraged moms, just, and I think a lot of people during this time are just kind of reevaluating, you know, what their schedules wanna be like, what kind of... what do they want their home atmosphere to be like? What are the values of their family? What kind of things do they wanna pour into? And hopefully, this has encouraged them to kind of explore this idea of allowing time for play and creativity. The blossom.Now, I just ask one less question, because, for me, I think, one of the barriers for allowing creative exploration, especially when my children were younger, is I don't like messes. I'm just gonna be honest, thinking messes here. So, what would you say, do you have any advice, for someone like me?Jennifer - Yeah, I mean, maybe have a schoolroom in your garage. I don't know. But I think that messes are such an important part of creativity and without creativity, we don't have ingenuity. You know, we don't have invention without creativity. And so, you know, messes are such kind of... I believe in order, I love order. But I think that the freedom to be able to make a mess and do something creative is such an important part of a... you know, and now it all comes down to our family values too, because, your family value might be more that, you want your children to really, you know, live a more structured life and be super orderly and complete their work and put it away. Every family is different and that's important to understand that that's okay. And that the world needs all these different people. So, if you're not somebody who wants to be making Play-Doh with your kids, and you know, bringing all kinds of nature stuff in for a big collage or naturescape or whatever, that's fine. There's lots of kinds of people in the world and it's okay to be your own kind of person. But, you know, if play is important to you, then at least you need a yard area that can...Julie - Right. We could go to a nature spot and they could messy there.Jennifer - Exactly. Julie - Yeah. I mean, that's encouraging, right? Like, you don't have to... it's just so cute, what you just said, like, your personality, you have to take that into account too. Jennifer - Absolutely. And it's important for, you know, from a life skills standpoint, for everyone to know how to clean up after themselves, so...Julie - Oh, for sure!Jennifer - It's because... it doesn't mean it's a perpetual mess, it just means you make time for that and then you make time for cleanup.Julie - Right. Yeah, that's a good point. But I do think back, you know, I think, like, that's just, you know, we've always had these things where we look back and, aw, I wish I would have done that, maybe, a little different. And I think I would have allowed a little bit more messes than I did. If you could go back to the beginning, is there something you would tell yourself?Jennifer - I would tell myself, you know, as a younger mom, I definitely was homeschooling for my own identity in so many ways. And putting pressure on my children, and I feel really sad that I didn't just enjoy them more and play more with them at that point. I've always just loved and adored being a mom, but I think that this perfectionism and this pressure to try and do everything right, stole a lot of the joy. So, you know, it's partly why I'm so, you know, passionate about it at this point, is just the importance that there is in cultivating a sense that it's okay to make mistakes and it's okay to experiment and try things.Julie - Wow, yeah that's really powerful. I know that's gonna help a lot of people. So as we wrap up here, I always ask people if they have a favorite Charlotte Mason quote that they would like to share. Do you have one?Jennifer - Yes, let me read that to you. I mean, obviously, I have a ton. But, we know so many of them. So, the one that I pulled out was, we should allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and spiritual life of children. But teach them the divine spirit has constant access to their spirits and is their continual helper in all of the interests, duties, and joys of life. And that comes back, kind of, to my homeschool model that, earth is crammed with heaven and every common bush of fire with God, but only He who sees takes off his shoes. And my motto is to help my children see, you know, to help them know that God is with them in everything. And really, to put the priority in our own homeschool on just being aware of the good God that loves them so much.Julie - Wow, that's great. That... wow... yeah. That is a great mission and a great purpose for sure. So, thank you so much for talking with me today. This has been so helpful and I know it's gonna really inspire a lot of people. So...Jennifer - Oh, it's been such a joy. Thank you for the opportunity to chat with you today, Julie.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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