One of Charlotte Mason’s key tenets was that of “letting alone, letting the children be.” Of giving them autonomy and allowing them to do what needs doing on their own initiative and in their own way—without our interference and prodding.
This, she insists, is what grows self-initiative—children who are self-motivated and find new interests to pursue on their own.
Ms. Mason tells us,
“One of the features, the disastrous features, of modern society, is that in our laziness, we depend upon prodders and encourage a vast system of prodding…..What we must guard against in the training of children is the danger of getting into the habit of their being prodded to every duty and every effort.”
The more we are prodded, the lazier we become, and
“…the less capable of the effort of will which should carry us to and nearly carry us through our tasks.” -Charlotte Mason
Even such things as a gold star, a 100% or A+ grade, a prize or reward—anything that causes the child to work not because he ought to work—cripples the child and weakens his will to learn.
He works not because he is dutiful and diligent, not because he enjoys expressing his knowledge through his work, not because he loves learning.
But because he wants a prize.
Tests, grades and rewards hijack a child’s purpose for learning.
The child is no longer learning for the sake of knowing—but for the prize.
And without a prize, the child sees no point in completing his work.
Have you ever noticed how much your children enjoy doing things they thought of doing on their own? No one told them to do it. They decided to do it. And they did it with joy—without any prodding.
Our children can have this same fervor toward their schoolwork if we are careful to let them alone.
But how do we do this?
One way is, after you have completed reading a narrative on science or history, ask your children if they’d like to draw what they learned or do a notebooking assignment. Suggest they write a small paragraph or engage with some other activity to express their learning.
Then give them the autonomy to choose what they’d like to do. If your children choose nothing, they may need to be broken of the habit of needing prods.
This is where cultivating the art of letting alone comes in. There should be no disappointed look or words on our part. We should move on happily and allow the Holy Spirit room to work.
God is very active in guiding our children’s conscious and heart, and the less we interfere with our clumsy efforts and chastising words, the more room the Holy Spirit has to train our children.
Charlotte Mason tells us,
“We prod them continually and do not let them stand or fall by their own efforts. …It would be better for boys and girls to suffer the consequences of not doing their work, now and then, than to do it because they are so urged and prodded on all hands that they have no volition in the matter.”
LETTING GOD DO HIS JOB
I learned long ago that God could do a better job of moving my husband’s heart and attitude than my many words could. And I realize now that this is true, maybe even more true, for my children.
They are all grown and gone now. And they sometimes adopt the philosophies of the world. But I have found that the less I say, the less I argue, the less I try to prove them wrong, the easier it is for God to work.
He loves our children far more than we ever could and His plan for them is amazing.
It’s in the works and they’ll get there faster if we step out of the way and trust that God is continually working in their hearts.
Silence is golden. Because in that silence, God speaks.
For more Charlotte Mason insight read here.