For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School Paperback – June 17, 2009
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About the Author
Susan Schaeffer Macaulay grew up in Switzerland at L'Abri Fellowship, which was founded by her parents, Francis and Edith Schaeffer. She and her husband, Ranald Macaulay, established and led the L’Abri branch in England for several years. She is also the author of For the Family’s Sake and contributed to Books Children Love and When Children Love to Learn.
Founder, England branch of L'Abri Fellowship; author, For the Family’s Sake
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First, this book is NOT a step-by-step, "how to homeschool." It will not provide resources, curriculum options, schedules, etc. For that, you can turn to a book like "The Well-Trained Mind."
Instead, what this book offers is primarily two things: (1) a philosophy of a child-centric education, particularly an ideal elementary education; (2) a summary of Charlotte Mason's philosophy on education. When I say "child-centric," I mean that the author's perspective is that education must be founded on the principle that each child is uniquely created by God and therefore is worthy of respect. Children should be treated as intelligent creatures and fed the best educational experiences possible --- they should be reading the best literature, listening to the best music, viewing the best art, experiencing nature whenever possible. Much of their day should be filled with play, preferably outdoor play, where they can experience for themselves God's creation. The author's philosophy is inspired by Charlotte Mason, and her extensive writing on education. For readers who want an introduction to Charlotte Mason's writings, this book provides numerous excerpts from Mason's volumes.
The book also serves as a reminder of the true purpose of education, as a life and habit. Children should be inspired to become life-long learners.
While the book could use some editing, as it does not naturally flow between and within chapters, it is an essential read for parents, whether homeschooling or not, who are passionate about providing a quality education to their children.
If you were interested in Charlotte Mason methodology, this would be a great starting point. To get the gist of the amazing woman’s approach to education.
If you are an experienced homeschooler who already is familiar with Charlotte Mason and her teachings, this could be a bit dry and, frankly, redundant for you.
Some points I have learned (not all necessarily new but a reminder anyway) are:
-Read the bible to my children everyday. No little sermons or Sunday school fluff, just the bible. And only a couple of verses or within the child's ability to sit still and listen. Sermons are not necessary aside from church when our lives are reflective of our Christianity.
-Read good books to my children that may seem to me above their level. Read quality chapter books to my preschooler and have her retell what she is getting from the story. This should only be for short periods a day, maybe 10 minutes. Just as long as she likes. And have her draw pictures if she likes of what she's getting from the book. She may not take from it what an older child will, but she will take something from it, and it will be her's. We shouldn't underestimate the abilities of our children to comprehend good books.
-Make lots of time for outdoor explorations.
-Treat my children as friends. They are "born persons", and we are equally under the same law of God. Teach that we both answer to God's law, and be an example. We both have things to learn from each other or together.
-Learning is not a race. Have high expectations, but at a level that is "appropriate to the individual who is progressing at his own rate of development".
-Let the child learn things for learning's sake or for "his own sake", not because of the expectations of others or in competition of others' abilities.
-Teach that we must do things that are right by God's law. We do not "merely boss the child about for our own convenience".
-"Law restrain[s] from evil, and love impell[s] toward good"
-Create an atmosphere of friendship, acceptance, security, and creativity where the child is comfortable with who she is and can flourish by sharing in worthwhile studies with people who like her "as a person".
I have already begun following some of the ideas introduced with my 3 year old daughter. The result? My daughter is understanding bible verses above what I ever believed she could. No fluff or coloring sheets, just raw bible. She gets it, and she's repeating the verses to me in appropriate circumstances! I have also begun reading the book "Black Beauty" to her. She likes it, and she understands it. Today when she asked to see a picture of the boy throwing sticks and rocks at the horses, I told her there was not a picture of this. So she decided we should draw our own illustration of this scene. We did so together, and I made a speech bubble for the master, in which she dictated what the master would say in our picture. I wrote in her words, "You're bad. I don't need you here. Go home, and be bad at your house!" Her dictation was a clear correct summary of what the master said in the book, which was, "You're a bad boy to chase the colts! But you won't get the chance to do it anymore. Take your pay and go home. I don't need you here." She clearly understands this classic, which is well above the level of what most 3 year old children are read. The reason we don't usually read these books to children is not because of their limited ability to comprehend but because of our underestimation of our children. I believe any child can prosper and benefit from being respected, challenged, and not having her abilities underestimated and undermined. I feel blessed to have read this book and plan to use the points I've learned in homeschooling my children.
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I highly recommend this book for anyone considering homeschooling or even interested in their child's education outside of public school.