A Treasured Corner of the Day

Sometimes, we would love to peek in each other’s windows, just to have a glimpse of what is going on each day, wouldn’t we?  This little peek is for all those of you with little people, and especially for those of you that may be delighting in thoughts of planning your upcoming year with all the happy potential those thoughts bring.  It is especially for those of you that might be considering mountains of boxed curriculum that cost a small fortune and provide rigid systems rather than flexible routines.  And for those that are inhaling all the new homeschool catalogs arriving in your mailbox with visions of planned-out, spelled-out days….all the glorious year through.  For those of you certain that new curriculum tools will be able to direct all the little pockets and corners of your day.  
Here is a corner of my day.  Take a peek.  I didn’t purchase it from a catalog, and I didn’t envision it last summer as I was planning, but I wouldn’t trade these treasured corners of the day for anything.  
This morning I looked over to my 7 year old’s desk.  I saw his lesson plans sitting out, the Baltimore Catechism, Just So Stories.  They await his attention.  
Then, from my desk, I looked out the window, and there he was:
Industrious?  Yes, certainly.  
Planned?  Nope.  
Costly?  Nope.  
Worthy?  My goodness yes – beyond words.  
Delightful?  Oh, yes.  
A treasured corner of the day.

He was enjoying the morning with his little sister.  We’ve been reading about birds and hummingbirds especially, and there they sat on the front porch step drawing birds and the flowers they saw from the front porch.  I could have called him back to his lesson plans.  I could have directed his day more.

But instead, I choose wise and purposeful letting alone.  Not the curriculum.  Not the lesson plans.  Not my pre-conceived ideas full of potential.  Wise and purposeful letting alone.

We ought to do so much for our children, and are able to do so much for them, that we begin to think everything rests with us and that we should never intermit for a moment our conscious action on the young minds and hearts about us.  Our endeavours become fussy and restless.  We are too much with our children, ‘late and soon.’  We try to dominate them too much, even when we fail to govern, and we are unable to perceive that wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education.”  Charlotte Mason, Vol 3, p. 27, 28

The resourcefulness which will enable a family of children to invent their own games and occupations through the length of a summer’s day is worth more in after life than a good deal of knowledge about cubes and hexagons, and this comes, not of continual intervention on the mother’s part, but of much masterly inactivity.”  Charlotte Mason, Vol 1, p. 192 

My friends, allow for plenty of margin in your days, whatever plans you end up with!  Leave enough space in the corners of your day so that children may be found pursuing their interests in purposeful ways.  You don’t have to coordinate every.single.thing.  And isn’t that a relief?  A consolation?  Just provide books and an atmosphere and tools to pursue creativity.

I know you’re all happily planning away, and so am I!  It’s a delicious time of year for building booklists and considering our children anew, with their interests and all the books we might offer to nurture ideas.  I’m eager to share the tidied learning spaces.  (I MUST plan in tidy, freshened learning spaces, with tidy shelves!  Are you like that, too?)  And I’m eager to share my new planning notebooks along with some planning pages to share with you!  And of course, the booklists!  Those dreamy booklists!

Until I carve out time to share those posts, thanks for peeking in!  I’m smiling over my coffee as I enjoy watching the treasures tucked in the corners of the day.

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  1. Wonderful post, Jen :-). And while I will be eagerly awaiting your planning posts, it feels very validating to read that CM quote about “wise and purposeful” letting alone. Needed to read that today!

  2. So true Jen!! Letting alone is such a necessary art for us to learn. It is hard but oh so sweet are the fruits. Every year I realize that my curriculum purchases are nearly none and my booklists just keep growing ; ) Can't wait to take a peek at your treausres.

  3. I did something much like this last week! I looked out the window and saw my 10 year old and 6 year old industriously building a fort out of some lumber scraps and whatnot. They were cooperating beautifully (something those two have not had an easy time of as of late!), problem solving their little hearts out, and creating something they could be proud of. I decided that was far more important than what I had on the schedule.

    Once they had reached a good stopping point they were proud to show off their work and come in for a snack and a read aloud. I did a little schedule adjusting and slimming and we still made some progress on our scheduled work. It was a beautiful day all around.

    Oh, and I love those pictures of your children!

  4. Lovely post! What a wonderful moment, it is moments like that, that make me fall in love with hsing all over again. Wise mama to 'get out of the way.'{{}}

  5. Jen, this is one of those moments that you will always cherish. What a gift that you were able to take such a beautiful picture of it and capture the sweet innocence of your little ones. I just love that picture! Encouraging the mothers of young children to allow and cherish such moments of true engagement and learning is so very important. It's never about the curriculum, it's always about the person of the child.

  6. This is called unschooling and is something I will pursue when I have children. I think it's a very valid way to allow a child to learn on his/her own. I did a lot of my learning this way as a child. I remember watching Gone With the Wind with my grandparents and then going to the library to read about the Civil War. I studied maps, looked at old pictures, learned about the battles, and even found a book on reproduction Civil War-era dresses to make for paper dolls. What I learned would not have been taught in my public school classroom. Kudos to you for allowing your kids to just be.

  7. You write so well I love reading your blog posts! Your home always seems so peaceful and organized 🙂

    We have been on 'spring break' since Easter and I think we might just have an early summer break and get started earlier than usual. Its amazing what the kids decide to do on their own free time with good resources and the space to do it. God bless!

  8. I really needed this reminder today to be okay with letting go sometimes of what seems 'always' necessary. I struggle with it daily because I somehow feel I'm failing them by not pushing to 'get it all done.' Even though they clearly enjoy using their own imaginations over a workbook! I needed the inspiration and I just love your blog btw. I'm a recent follower but I came across it last year after just starting my own journey with homeschooling. Your blog is a treasure! Thank you very much for sharing!!

  9. Thank you for your writing and encouragement. I love your blog- the only one, lately, I find that fills me up and doesn't deflate me and my humble efforts!! Your home and life is so beautiful and life-giving. Keep it up!!!


  10. Beautiful post Jennifer! I, too, Love it when we catch our children in these precious moments! Children absolutely have a natural desire to learn!

    I'm passing The Versatile Blogger Award onto you 🙂

    Blessings, Lori

  11. This is a beautiful image through and through. Just last evening I found myself feeling similarly grateful for CM and homeschooling but for the changes wrought in me! I have six kids. The two oldest were 13 and 11 when I brought them home from public school. When they were little, even though I believed in nurturing creativity and independence, I'm sure I interrupted beautiful, rich moments like the one you mention here and like what was happening in my kitchen last evening. As I played Monopoly with the older kids (I detest monopoly, it was someone's birthday) I note noise in the kitchen. On the counter, are empty, sanitized milk jars. Before them, two sweet brothers, ages 6 and 4. My youngest. They are busily, filling cups from the filtered refrigerator water and carrying it to the jars, and dumping. There was a spill. The older scales the cupboards to get a towel in order the help the younger. As I watched, my husband took notice. He asked me, his back to them and not seeing fully, “what are they doing ?” without skipping a beat, I answered : “learning about volume and cooperation”. And my heart swelled with gratitude that I am no longer the Mom who may have shewed them out of this experiment and my clean jars.

  12. “Masterly inactivity,” I love this term so much… I sometimes struggle with this with my 7 year old, because I almost have to push her to go do things (she'd rather talk my ear off, hang around me and try to get me to entertain her)… it's hardest right after she's had a visit from the grandparents, who play with her nonstop the whole time they're here, whatever she wants. My best memories of childhood were the ones in which I came up with creative ideas myself with my little brothers, and the fun things we did in our yard. I so want that for my kids, but my oldest sometimes doesn't know how to go lead her own free time play, and that leaves me baffled. My 4 yr old knows how to play, so I don't know what the difference is… so I'd love to learn more about masterly inactivity. Another phrase I've heard that seems to have similar meaning is “benign neglect.” Thank you for sharing these words from CM and how they are lived out in your home. 🙂

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