Thursday, September 9, 2010


"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life." --Charlotte Mason

I know I started my last blog post with that quotation, and today I want to offer a reflection on it as it pertains to my own life. Much of what I have learned about Charlotte Mason and home education in general is from the book Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss. (She's really wonderful and I may have a weird obsession with her--don't judge.)

In her book, Elizabeth asks us to look at our atmosphere for home education. For me, this was a great exercise. At this point in our lives, we live in a two bedroom apartment. We have three children and a tight budget. We do have a small yard. We live over an hour from both sets of relatives. We have made many good friends in this city.

In my head, I always had a big separate room for homeschooling, with comfy couches and millions of bookshelves. The shelves would lined with math manipulatives and educational Montessori style toys for the baby. There would be a large space for art projects like painting and sculpting and open ended art. Outside, we'd have a couple acres with some goats and a big garden. I would be a fabulous housekeeper and my children would love learning and each other. In my head, this was the way to "homeschool."

Elizabeth Foss and Charlotte Mason are helping me to learn that my atmosphere of learning is PERFECT because this is our God-given atmosphere.

Our baby is really destructive--she is clearly here to give us all lessons in patience and creativity.

My husband is not often home for supper--forcing me to plan better and be more creative in meals and nutrition. We will learn to appreciate our time with him even more and be grateful for the freedom that home education gives us.

My upstairs neighbors sometimes make "bad choices." God will give us all grace to learn from that and love them and witness to them.

Our tiny yard is no place for goats, but it is a great place to collect bugs and watch the clouds.

There is no need to unnaturally contrive a perfect setting or go into loads of debt trying to MAKE an atmosphere. I have one already.

If my kids have to share their learning space with laundry folding, it's because God knew best for them. And He knows best for me. It's as much my education as it is theirs.

What is YOUR atmosphere?