Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Well-Brought-Up Children

Well-Brought-Up Children  

      A while back I purchased a print by the illustrator Tasha Tudor. It could be reminiscent of Tasha Tudor’s early schooling, although I had read she didn’t like school.

      Whether it is a quaint little schoolroom or a sprawling brick building, at the mention of the word education most of us see a classroom. We see a chalk board, rows of desks with bored or bewildered children sitting in them, red marks on papers, heavy textbooks with long lists of questions to answer, pop quizzes, and report cards.

Tasha Tudor - One-room schoolhouse and children
      Is this what education is all about?

      I was greatly relieved to find that this is not essentially what education is all about. Miss Charlotte Mason had a refreshingly different perspective. She liked to use the phrase bringing up to express her educational ideas.

Tasha Tudor - One-room schoolhouse and children

     It was in researching an old article written by Miss Mason’s biographer, Essex Cholmondeley, a woman who knew Miss Mason personally and was devotedly familiar with her life’s work, that I uncovered a sparkling gem. It is an easy-to-remember triplet. This triplet became a motto for our home learning years. It was one of the most helpful outlooks I’d ever come across. Seeing education as consisting of three easy-to-remember opportunities may help you maneuver through the maze of today’s homeschool world – a world that is more complicated than the simple, grassroots world that it was in the early 1980s.  

     For well-brought-up children aim to give them each day:
Someone-something to love,
Something to do,
Something to think about.

Victorian girl painting portrait of her dolls - Carlton Alfred Smith
Carlton Alfred Smith (1853-1945)

Someone-Something to Love
     The child is a person. He is not enlightened by means of an overabundance of multiple-choice tests but rather by people in his life whom he comes to know, admire, and love. We are educated by our relationships: our family, our friendships, and by our intimacies. Think of how the actions of someone you admire influences your behavior. Similarly, think of how a child’s interest is sparked by a hobby he loves, and to which he devotes his time and trouble. There are opportunities to love and serve in every home. 
    Do you like the character Jane Bennet of Pride and Prejudice? I do. Her patient, generous heart and lady-like character is especially noteworthy in chapter 19.  Here is where I recently encountered a small detail in the story that resembles our familiar triplet. Voila.
“ . . . Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, with their four children, did at length appear at Longbourn. The children, two girls of six and eight years old, and two younger boys, were to be left under the particular care of their cousin Jane, who was the general favorite, and whose steady sense and sweetness of temper exactly adapted her for attending to them in every way – teaching them, playing with them, and loving them.”      

Something to Do 

Little Joe from Bonanza
     Step into the kitchen of a homeschool family at six o’clock in the evening and you will probably find a child clearing the table, doing dishes, or sweeping the floor, while Mother washes Baby’s hands, face and highchair. I chuckled at something Erma Bomback said about children and chores. She believed that if you asked a child why he thought his parents had children he would say it was because they couldn’t do their own dishes.

     Chores build confidence and competence. They can even be a kind of togetherness where many hands make light work.  

     When children complain, “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do,” they may seek first to be amused. But sitting passively for extended periods in front of a screen is not really a worthwhile thing to do. A child can be guided in meaningful tasks of recreation and service. Such things “to do” might be:

  Showing Little Brother how to blow bubbles

  Listening to Little Sister read aloud or teaching her how to “jump in” at jump rope

  Writing a play to put on for family members or giving a puppet show

  Practicing a song on a musical instrument to play at the old folk’s home or church

  Peeling vegetables for soup or salad

  Planning or tending a garden of perennial flowers

  Working with wood or leather

  Sewing doll clothes, quilting, learning to knit a mitten

  Building a model Roman villa, a pyramid, a castle

  Making a kite from a kit and flying it

  Kneading bread dough

     A phrase that had carried with it a satisfying joy to this mother’s heart was, “Mom, look what I made.”

Rainbow Bread
Our Grandson is holding Rainbow Bread

Something to Think About

     Something to think about is one of the most important parts of living the educational life. It is appreciating what other people have to tell us in their books, their thoughts, and their jokes. It is noticing beauty in music, paintings, or buildings. It is observing country seasons, sights and sounds, trees, insects, birds, and flowers.

     Children’s horizons need to be wider than their workbooks.

     People who learn to use their minds are unlikely to get hooked on long hours of passive screen time. Young children’s minds are naturally curious. Minds close, however, when curiosity is “schooled out” by tedium, dry textbooks, or an overemphasis on grades and testing. Be encouraged. Children will regain an open mind when they are presented with ideas that are interesting, ideas that are inspiring. One example of this is giving children heroes in history, science, and religion. As you do, you will be giving your children something worthwhile to think about. Children willingly absorb inspiring ideas into the inner recesses of their personalities. This helps build character. Are the materials in your homeschool—the books, arts, audio CDs, activities, field trips and observations—interesting?

Victorian children reading -  Carlton Alfred Smith
Carlton Alfred Smith (1853-1945)

     Well-brought-up children are those who have gained the practical skills and spiritual power to live the life God has given them – including those given a handicapped life. To gain power to walk in the Spirit  - with power to choose the good and resist the evil - a child is trained by parents in loving, working, and thinking. 

     If you give your children someone/something to love, something to do, and something to think about, every day, you will be doing very very well. This is what education is all about.

     Passages are borrowed from A Charlotte Mason Companion chapter three.
     Photographs of the boys were taken by their mother, Sophia.

A Thank-You Note

     I wish to thank all of you who have shared your fondness for A Charlotte Mason Companion with friends in person or on your blog. I also extend my gratitude to those who have placed a favorable comment or review online of one of my books. I do not travel. I’m unable to meet and minister to my readers in person as I once did. Therefore, I’m always touched in meeting you through your kind notes. 

     Recently I was asked how to go about using Companion for a group study. (Hearing about my purple book being studied in a group setting puts sunshine in my day.) I recommend starting with the above triplet. Then, proceed through the chapters in any order that follows your fancy, leafing through to pick out topics that would address, firstly, those things that seem expedient – those things on the forefront of mothers’ minds, such as how to make application of living books and narration.


Feel free to share a “Something” you like to do.

Until next time,
Karen Andreola


  1. Karen,
    What beautiful bread! I must figure out how to do that....And how nice to see it pictured on my favorite dish pattern! I have (as handed down from my grandmother)a Blue Willow set of dishes. They say she bought them at the gas station back in the day! I bought some of my own pieces of Blue Willow at a grocery store. I've always loved looking at the scene and imagining a story to go with it.
    As always, a beautiful post.

  2. Beautiful bread!

    We like to do lots of things here - read, sew, knit, play instruments, raise chickens, cook, draw, eat, travel. The children also love to play, and dress up, have guests over...

    It is a delight seeing them learning all day long! Thank you for your "purple" book, Karen, and for introducing me to Charlotte Mason.


  3. Dear Karen,
    First, Little Joe from Bonanza is just darling.

    Would you know that for the past three years I've been reading CM original volumes online. This was getting hard to do.

    Imagine my surprise!

    Your post is so timely for me.


    Having a copy of the first volume now for my home library is a treasure for me. And as wonderful as Miss Mason's original writings are....your purple book lays a better foundation...a better outline for a book study.

    I appreciate what you have recommended in this post. I'm taking notes....

    Your list of things to do is simple and good. Yes, no reason for boredom when we busy ourselves and especially when we give our children a "living" education;-)
    Some things we like to do here in the backwoods are:

    learn about and collect edible wild plants and turn them into things.

    pick flowers after we have cleaned a room.

    collect rocks to paint on.

    make cards to send. name a few.

    What a fun post and what a treasure your blog is!

  4. Very touching post. Every time I come in contact with Charlotte Mason's philosophy I feel I need to tread softly, because it is holy ground. Her concept of children brings me closer not only to them, but to God as well.

  5. Dear Karen,

    Thank you for the timely reminder- It's always good to have a refresher on such things, especially during the Dog Days of Summer!



    p.s. The rainbow bread is very pretty, indeed!

  6. Thanks for this post Karen! It was just what I needed as I am struggling to get things organized for fall. Just not finding the motivation! I will be re-reading your book this week...always my August read...and am hoping that it gets my wheels turning! It usually does. Thanks for your commitment to the homeschool community!

  7. Dear Karen,
    Many years ago now, after I met you, I started a CM support group and used your "purple" book as a monthly study. I would host the ladies at my home and we would review the assigned chapter and discuss it. I also used your Parent's Review magazine as a lending library where the ladies could borrow a copy for the month. I am still told today when I bump into one of these ladies that they remember how much they enjoyed this little support group I hosted:-) Your grandchildren are just darling!

  8. When I read about this "triplet" in your purple book, it hit a chord in my heart. Truly, if we give our children these things, they are well educated! I love the simplicity of this...although it does require some effort and some thinking on our part.

    I even think that a healthy adult should incorporate these three things into each day.

  9. Dear Karen,
    This was a beautiful article and I shared it with my readers. Some of the things we've done this week as a family in New England: collecting shells on the seashore, building sandcastles, sitting by the fire watching the stars, attending church, eating out doors, reading and printing quotes beautifully for the fridge for all to enjoy.

  10. What a beautiful post, Karen! Thank you for your encouraging words and reminders. The Lord is faithful. :)

  11. Those three guideposts are such a help to me. I'm "approaching" my fiftieth year, and trying to look ahead and learn from those who have gone/are going before. It seems to me that Miss Mason's advice is good for bringing up children and for daily living as long as we are given to live. When my husband is traveling, I find the triplets to be great motivators for my days. It is hard to feel sorry for myself when I am occupied with noble thoughts, interesting tasks, and loving others.

    When my great-nieces come for a visit, it helps when I remember to be forearmed with ideas for pursuing those helpful triplets!

    Enjoy your day,

  12. What terrific photos of your grandsons you've shared with us, Karen! Such cute little boys. :) That rainbow bread will surely always be a favorite of his -- what a fun memory he'll have!

    What we do has changed over the years as our children have grown, and now that our youngest two are 13 (almost) & 15, they are so much more independent in their hobbies and work around the house and homestead. I especially appreciate this line from your post:

    "When children complain, “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do,” they may seek first to be amused. But sitting passively for extended periods in front of a screen is not really a worthwhile thing to do. A child can be guided in meaningful tasks of recreation and service."

    We did not do such a good job of this with our older three as we have sought to do with our youngest two. Of course we didn't live in the country back then... There is *always* something to do now, be it tending to animals, chopping and stacking wood, or sitting on the porch listening to nothing but the wind through the trees. :)

    Thanks for the inspiration, dear Karen! Even though you are unable to physically travel, your ministry to the homeschooling community and parents across the country continues through your books, Rainbow Resources, and this, your blog. Many blessings to you!

    Lisa :)

  13. This is a wonderful description of teaching children. It reminds me of life at home in the old "Little House on the Prairie" books.

    It is also perfect timing, as many mothers are planning the upcoming year of homeschooling.

    Your grandchildren must be a joy to your heart! They are beautiful!

    Mrs. White

  14. Reading today's post is pure joy. I'm coming to the end of our homeschooling journey and looking back is a great feeling. Going against the norm by homechooling was hard and a lot of folks gave us their opinion. But now we are getting lots of wonderful comment of how great the kids have turned out. To think it was your book that helped us find homeschooling in the very beginning. It is a book I am keeping.
    With much love, appreciation and THANKS for the help along the homeschooling journey.

    Love Leanne NZ

  15. I never seemed to have the 'I'm bored dilemmas in my home. From the start, my husband and I, set time limits on watching TV, so our children always seemed to use their imagination more and more. Legos, crayons, paper, and silly putty were always in abundance at our house.

    Now, my oldest is ready for college, my middle son is on his second year of high school, they are still focused on reading and creating than being bored! :)

    Thank you so much for your insight Karen. CM has been part of my schooling years almost from the beginning. Blessings,

  16. Just this week I discovered "Something" I like to do!

    Recently, our eldest daughter asked me to sew a picnic quilt/blanket for her family out of her scrap fabric pieces. This type of sewing project is completely new to me and I was hesitant to begin.

    The other day I took a baby step forward and was swept away into my own little world of creativity!
    It was such a welcome surprise finding myself ~ using only what I already have on hand ~ happily measuring, cutting, planning the layout, stitching the pieces, pressing, etc..

    I think for me, there is a "sparkling gem" in the simple process of piecing fabrics together. :-)

    Thank you for all you share ~

  17. Your grandchildren are precious! And I love that beautiful bread.

    Charlotte's original volumes were the very first books I ever bought for homeschooling inspiration, 15 years ago. My husband found them at a church garage sale at a good price, and we snatched them up. Your book was easier for me to grasp, however, and I bought that at my first homeschool convention about 12 years ago.

    Our children are very much enjoying teaching themselves how to play instruments. My oldest daughter plays guitar, and my younger one is learning mandolin. It's wonderful to have homemade music and time to sing together.

    We are also very much enjoying our two pet rabbits, Fluffy and Buttercream.

    I always enjoy your posts, Karen!

  18. I just was reading bits of A Charlotte Mason Companion this morning at the park, Karen! I was so encourage by it! I want you to know how many times I used that very "triplet" to help guide my decisions and life with my children. Thank you!

  19. Karen, I have read 'Companion' multiple times over the years. It has been a great encouragement during those times of doubt that invariably arise during homeschooling. I just stumbled upon your blog several weeks ago and spent several evenings "catching up" by reading them all from the beginning. I look forward to your next entry.
    I have been interested in reading the Parent's Review but am having trouble locating them. Is it still possible to purchase those? I would appreciate any info on that.
    Thank you in advance,
    Lydia Griffin

  20. Welcome Ladies,

    Business before pleasure:

    We keep the six years (1991-96) of my Parents' Review issues in print. All issues are b&w illustrated and advertisement-free. At an email inquiry I send an attachment of a brief description of each issue and its price - the price is unchanged since 1991. In 91 to 93 the issues were cut & paste. The 94-96 issues are a bit larger and were laid-out on a Mac by a friend. Some of the articles I incorporated into "Companion." I must warn you they are indeed "homespun."

    It is a delight to hear that you are reading the purple book.

    Yes, after years of "bringing up" there is no greater joy than seeing a child walk with the Lord.

    Rainbow bread is on You Tube so my daughter says. She, Sophia, is the photographer of the family, too.

    Thank you for sharing your "somethings." What a good idea to pick flowers for a room - a treat after tidying it up. And music making, outdoor chores, and needlework sound invigorating, as well. The triplet will enrich the life of toddler to senior.

    Blue willow in some form or another has been in the family since the days of Dean's grandmother. One antique platter is on my cupboard. My daughter had some my everyday-wear displayed on a yellow wall.

    I like our chats,
    Karen A.

  21. Karen,
    Loved this post.By the way I still love those homespun parent reviews.I will pull them out and read the ones for a season.The ideas they contain are timeless.Of course your Companion expands on many of these ideas.You were and continue to be an inspiration to many homeschool moms thank-you !Kathy S.