Introducing Life

Picture books.  The alphabet.  Mud.  Snuggles.  Sticky hands.  Reading aloud.  Crayon-covered walls.  The early years. The learning years.

This post was supposed to contain a detailed analysis of why I don’t “do preschool,” the great importance of play, and why I now avoid academic activities for my youngsters.  But today Zorro piled sand in the basket of clean laundry.  We washed, filled and hung all our bird feeders. Pumpkin had several wakeful hours.  Rosie danced and twirled and fell repeatedly instead of walking placidly about.  Boo shed three different outfits as she followed her brother and sister around the yard, returning for new clothing when she became chilled.  No one wanted to vacuum.  Now it is late at night and I want to get to bed.  *snore*

Once upon a time, I planned to use the “formative” years of my children to give them a strong foundation.  I planned games and researched educational toys.  I carefully taught them their letters and arranged sensory play activities.   I spent quite a bit of time trying to teach them to write their letters in cornmeal, and then cleaning up the ensuing mess.  Then I sent them off to their room to play while I cleaned and cooked and washed, because we were a little tired of each other’s company after our activity filled mornings.

Then Ambleside Online introduced me to Charlotte Mason, and I became convinced that all my well meant activities were not only unnecessary, they were far from ideal.  Charlotte Mason told me that

“Parents and Teachers must sow Opportunities.––The educational error of our day is that we believe too much in mediators. Now, Nature is her own mediator, undertakes, herself, to find work for eyes and ears, taste and touch; she will prick the brain with problems and the heart with feelings; and the part of the mother or teacher in the early years (indeed, all through life) is to sow opportunities, and then to keep in the background, ready with a guiding or restraining hand only when these are badly wanted. Mothers shirk their work and put it, as they would say, into better hands than their own, because they do not recognize that wise letting alone is the chief thing asked of them, seeing that every mother has in Nature an all-sufficient handmaid, who arranges for due work and due rest of mind, muscles, and senses.” Volume 1, page 193

Slowly, I began to see that the best use of the first 6 years of a child’s life was not to rush them through a series of planned activities, but to walk beside them as they discovered life.  My job was to make the introduction, not have the conversation for them.   But once I had decided that this “wise letting alone” was the path I wished to pursue, I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. How does one let go when you have Pinterest of all the carefully laid plans?

I’m still not sure what I’m doing, but I have a better idea now than I did 2 years ago, and I’m starting to hear the voices of other mothers who long for a little guidance, a picture of what this unfamiliar life could look like.  Here is a glimpse of what it looks like for us, in all its ever changing glory.  I hope you glean many ideas for how to implement a “wise letting alone” in your own home.

This series will ramble all over, much like children exploring the world.  Small pictures of our life.  Lots of picture book reviews.  How I am introducing our little ones to God.  Critters of all kinds.  Music.  Storytelling.  Car rides.  Life.



3 thoughts on “Introducing Life

  1. Loved your post. It took me many years to be confident in the letting go. I did it very well, my three children didn’t need my directions in order to play or come up with ideas but I always had this nagging voice telling me I wasn’t doing enough or we weren’t involved in enough activities (Pinterest!). The only time my children made planned construction paper crafts or colored a themed coloring page was at Sunday school… but the imagination they show at home and the innovation they continue to show has proven Ms. Mason right over and over.


  2. I love this idea of sowing opportunities for our young children. What you describe is how our ‘formative years’ were lived and learned. A time now of delightful memories – and those memories now form part of that foundation for learning. You can often here my children say ‘Remember when ……’ in response to an idea or scene from a story.


    • It’s good to know this actually works. 🙂 Sometimes I really believe in it, and sometimes I am not sure if it is really the way to go. But every time I hear from mothers with older children they’re affirming this. Thank you.


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