Charlotte Mason (the renowned educator/founder of Ambleside teacher’s college in England) taught parents and educators that,
“The morning . . . is much the best time for lessons and every sort of mental work; if the whole afternoon cannot be spared for out-of-door recreation, that is the time for mechanical tasks such as [crafts], drawing, practising . . . ” —Home Education, p. 23
While in public school, my children did not have afternoon time to explore the outdoors or to be creative, because they spent their entire evening doing homework!
But in the more natural, organic setting of our home school, all EIGHT subjects are easily completed before lunchtime (because home schools move quickly, due to the lack of crowd control issues), and afterwards, my children are free to explore and create the things that interest them!
Here’s one example–my daughter Prima wants a pony. I told her “no way.” So what did she do? She began to construct one herself, out of old cardboard boxes:
See the pajamas? If I had let her, she would’ve stayed up ALL NIGHT working on this thing. Charlotte Mason was right–afternoon/evening is definitely the time to let children explore their creativity!
I couldn’t believe she was able to design and implement this entire project without any patterns or adult assistance. In school, every project had instructions and a list of requisite supplies. But Prima apparently prefers to create things freehand:
During Prima’s public school days, projects like this were unheard of–she was too busy trying to get all of her homework done before bed.
A few weeks ago, the kids saw me making a pie. This is something they didn’t get to see when they were in public school, because I prefer to bake at midday (while the baby naps). This time, they got to join me:
And while they rolled, cut, and baked, you can bet that I was teaching about the art of pie-making (and its historical roots in the American colonies) which put a tangible (and tasty!) spin on history that led to further discussions of early colonial life. I actually had to get out the history books to answer their questions!
Our discussion became so lively and educational that I found myself wishing I had started inviting the kids to help me out in the kitchen a lot earlier–little Buttercup actually showed more interest in history that day than I ever experienced at her age!
But the best result that day (aside from yummy pies!) was the passion for learning and the feeling of accomplishment that my children experienced that day–proving that education isn’t all about worksheets and standardized tests.
Learning MUST include the feeling of accomplishment that comes from creating something meaningful, while at the same time recognizing one’s place in history!