Character

Getting Started with Charlotte Mason for Young Children

Getting started with Charlotte Mason for Young children

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The following post is from Shannen at Middle Way Mom

It just me, or do very few homeschooling methods refer to little ones being in the mix of a typical homeschooling day?

One of the things that has drawn me to the Charlotte Mason method, especially in the season of life with three kids 6 and under at home, is how welcoming it is for young children.

Not only is there a focus on letting children have lots of time for free play, exploration, and short lessons, but she even addresses the youngest of children in her book Home Education.

Charlotte Mason for Young children

Using Charlotte Mason as a guide, our homeschool is just in the very beginning stages of formal learning. No formal lessons are to start before age 6, but let’s not confuse this though with the idea that we do not teach a child anything.

Instead, a child learns from their environment. How?

Getting outside

Ms. Mason spent a good deal of time in Home Education explaining what an ideal day looks like, and how one should spend hours out of doors each day, even up to 6 hours a day.

What do you do during that time? She gives a lot of guidance, and adds that we shouldn’t bring a story book to read. Instead, the child should be fully engaged in playing and exploring. It’s not like there isn’t enough for them to do!

Also, the mother should not be giving lots of instructions or information while they are outside, but rather a small nugget of information, or pointing out something interesting in nature from time to time.

Overall, her advice is to let the child’s mind have time to think and process what is around them.

A game she suggests to hone the habit of attention from an early age is this: While the children at a park or nature reserve, ask them to go and look at something, maybe a house or farm, and remember all that they can. The child should come back and retell it to you in the most detail they are able. It’s fun for children if mom takes part in this game from time to time as well!

Honestly, when I first read the advice to get out for 6 hours a day, I thought, “Yeah, maybe if I was the nanny! I have to cook dinner and manage the house!”

6 hours is a lot, and unless I get a meal in the crockpot before I go, that’s not something we can always do. Of course, 3 hours is better than 2 and 2 hours is better than 1.

Do what you can. Especially if you have a small child that needs to nap, don’t beat yourself up over not spending 6 hours a day outside.

 

Charlotte Mason for Young Children

Habits

“The formation of habits is education, and education is the formation of habits.” – Home Education, pg. 97

Ms Mason makes no question about it: habits are the foundation to a strong education and personal life. Without them, we flounder without direction.

I wish I would have been turned on to this idea far sooner in my life, and as such, I have to believe that helping my young children build habits might be one of the best gifts I give them.

Even as young as an infant, she mentions the value of habits. We know that a toddler who is in the habit of using the potty from an early age, whether they successfully use it or not, is more likely to be fully potty trained earlier than a child who is introduced to the potty haphazardly.

For young children in the modern age, it’s not hard to get them started with simple things like emptying a dishwasher, putting their clothes away, and picking up their toys before they go to bed. When it becomes part of the natural rhythm of their days, they don’t fight it as much as a random command when Mom just can’t take the mess anymore.

I could go on an on about habits and young children. If you are wanting to jump right in with working on building strong habits, a good book to start would be one where Deborah Taylor-Hough compiled all that Charlotte Mason said about habits throughout her six volume series into one book: Habits: The Mother’s Secret to Success: Volume 1

Reading and number sense

When my oldest daughter was young, in the early 00’s, there was no pressure on parents for kids to learn to read before Kindergarten. It was generally expected that in Kindergarten kids would learn their letters and numbers formally for the first time.

Now, just 10 years later, the conversation is completely different. Now kids are expected to have a foundation of reading before they reach Kindergarten. So often I read moms in groups sharing their worry and stress about their 3 year old not knowing their letters.

Either the tide is turning again, or it’s just the circles that I’m surrounded in, but the philosophy Charlotte Mason has of waiting until the child is 6 before teaching them to read is catching on.

Waiting to teach children formally does not mean that we don’t teach them anything at all. Naturally, numbers and letters come out in day to day life and there’s nothing wrong with pointing out things like what a road sign says or letters in their name.

What is encouraged though, is to leave the worksheets and easy readers until the child can be successful with them right away. Let learning be a joy for them instead of building the idea that learning is a struggle.

With my own 4 year old, she knows some letters and most of her numbers. While my 6 year old is working on her own lessons, I may give my younger kids wipe clean books and white board markers. The wipe clean books have letters and words in them, and we’ll point out sounds that letters make, but she’s never tested on it later. The information is presented, and if it is worthwhile to her, she’ll try to remember it.

As for numbers, my Kindergartener knew her numbers, but didn’t have much number sense before we started Right Start Math. Since my preschooler usually sits with us for math lessons, she has picked up on things a little earlier, but again, she’s not tested on any of this at any time.

Your purpose

First and foremost, building strong habits and morals are the core purpose with young children. Ms. Mason did not direct attention to anything more than she did to habits throughout her book Home Education (which focuses on children under 9 years old).

Your purpose as a parent and educator is not to fill their minds with information, but rather to build character traits as best you can in them so they can be effective students when it is time for them to study in a more serious manner.

In regards to education, the purpose of the young years with the children is not about memorizing letter sounds or math facts. The entire purpose of creating an environment where children are exploring (ideally mostly out of doors) is for children to build a love of learning.

Formal lessons should be enjoyable to them when they get to that stage, and something they look forward to when they are young.

Our Muslim Homeschool blog

Shannen is an American Muslim convert, homeschooling mother to 4 daughters and mediocre housewife. She enjoys blogging, knitting, quilting, and avoiding housework. Read more on her blog about their Islamic homeschool, green(ish) living, and the ups and downs of parenting. You can connect with Shannen on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Are Perfectionists Bad Mothers?

As a homeschooling mom, I spend the best part of everyday with my children. They witness and learn from my character and actions every day. But there is one problem, I am a perfectionist. What effect will this have on my children?
I have spent much
time reading and reflecting on perfectionism and parenting, and wanted to
answer the question: Are Perfectionists Bad Mothers?
Parenting as a perfectionists
The short answer to this question is: Yes, they can be bad
mothers IF they don’t do something to control it.
Of course being a perfectionist has its positive points. The
house is usually presentable, there is home-cooked food for every meal, the children
are dressed well; but underlying this outward image is an inner struggle and
discontentment with every action and every effort.
I come from a long line of perfectionists and no doubt at
least one of my children will follow me in this.
New studies have shown that
perfectionism is primarily a genetic trait, and the parenting and the
environment a child is exposed to only play a secondary role. This means that
perfectionist parents not only have to deal with their own drive for
perfection, but also their children’s too!
If a perfectionist mother has such high expectations on
herself, then it only follows that she too will have high expectations for her
children. If she cannot tolerate her own imperfections, she will not tolerate
them in her child. This inevitably leads to the child feeling that her parents
are constantly dissatisfied with her, and feeling inadequate.
Perfectionist parents often confuse their own sense of
self-worth with their child’s, feeling that if the child looks good, then I
look good. However when the child does not behave as the mother feels is
acceptable, then the mother takes that personally as it reflects badly on her.
This internal pressure can often be triggered by competition;
competition with family, friend’s children, school friends or even the children
of complete strangers. This obsession with looking ‘perfect’ in front of others
is at the detriment of the child’s confidence. 
Children learn from the way we
behave and can see when mom is trying extra hard to impress. Despite what we
say, they see the way we behave and act first.
But of course, no one can be perfect. Not mom and not her
child. That child’s inability to live up to expectations, will cause her a
long-term sense of failure, a lowered self-esteem, which may in turn result in
resentment and anger
towards her mom.
Perfectionism can block communication between a mother and
her child. The child knows that she has to fine, so she pretends to be ok, even
when there are problems. She knows that admitting any problem will affect her
mom negatively, so she stays quiet.
Parenting as a pefectionist
Perfectionists spend so much time worrying; time that could
be time spent playing with their children, getting to know them and teaching
them life-long lessons.
These moms will often focus on that child’s ‘status’ or ‘achievements’
and no longer put emphasis on values like kindness, honesty, diligence. Surely
it is more important as parents to equip our children with good character than
with good grades.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
The most beloved of
Allah’s servants to Allah are those with the best manners.”
(Al-Bukhari)
Perfectionists have an increased risk of clinical depression,
eating disorders, suicide, and are more resistant to treatment as they don’t
want look as though they’ve failed.

So to all my fellow perfectionist parents out there….

  • Remove the worry from your heart and find the love.
  • Connect with your children
  • Feel happiness to be with them
  • Be grateful for your children
  • Don’t compare yourself to others
  • Have fun with them and relax
  • Let your children be who they are
  • Let go of expectations
  • Relinquish the power that you feel you have and remember
    Allah.

Only He can change your state and only He can ‘fix’ that which you
worry about. 
Instead of filling your mind with stress and discontentment, focus
on filling your heart with gratitude and submission to the Will of the Divine.
You will never find perfection in this world. Perfection is
with God
.
For truly, it is in the Remembrance of God that the heart
finds Peace.
Quran (13:28)
Please remember us in your duaas.
Peace and Love.
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Picture Books To Encourage GOOD CHARACTER In Muslim Children

The books we read to our children affect them. The words
and the images linger in their minds, especially before they fall asleep. The stories resonate in their hearts and  can leave a lasting impression. Such books have the power to teach a child life-long lessons, in particular, good
character.

Muslim Children's Books for good character

Below are a list of some of my family’s favourite picture
books that encourage upright character and good morals. 
These books do NOT contain the stories of the Prophets (pbut) but are works of fiction. Truly the best of characters was that of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and the other Prophets of Allah (pbut), and to them we should look for the best example. A list of my favourite Islamic children’s books will be published soon insh’Allah.  

This is NOT a sponsored post. These are genuine recommendations and are books that I read to my own children.

Whilst all the books listed are suitable for any child, those
marked with a (M) are specifically targeted at Muslim children.


Montmorency’s Book Of Rhymes by T.J. Winter (M)

T.J. Winter (Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad) has written this charming collection of rhymes. With it’s fantastic characters and beautiful illustrations, rich language, and subtle moral undertones, it is a timeless classic that should be a part of every Muslim child’s collection.

‘The Masjid Mouse he has a house
Inside a minaret,
Because his roof is high and dry
Above the rainclouds of the sky,
His home is never wet.’
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Williams and Mohammed

A heart-warming story of two girls and their friendship in a refugee camp in Pakistan. 

‘In the morning Lina went to do the washing, wearing
beautiful sandal. She picked her way to the stream, careful to keep her sandal
out of the filth. Her old shoes has been ruined on the many miles of walking
from Afghanistan to Peshawar, the refugee camp in Pakistan. She had carried her
brother, Najiib, no bigger than a water jug then, but just as heavy.’


The Librarian Of Basra by Jeanette Winter

Based on a real story, this is the tale of a librarian’s struggle to protect the city’s books during the war in Iraq. One cannot help but be moved by her love of knowledge and literature.

‘All through the night, Alia, Anis, his brothers, and
shopkeepers and neighbours take the books from the library shelves, pass them
over the seven-foot wall, and hide them in Anis’s restaurant.’


Wangari’s Trees Of Peace by Jeanette Winter

Based on a real story, a woman’s fight to save the trees of Kenya, and restore the natural order in her homeland.

‘…Wangari returns to her Kenya home and sees a change. What
has happened? She wonders. Where are the trees?’
The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson

A fun and silly book, for those fun and silly moments! George wishes he wasn’t the scruffiest giant in town, so he buys himself a new outfit..a new outfit that will help a lot of other animals in ways you wouldn’t expect!

‘As he hopped, he sang to himself,
“My tie is a scarf for a cold giraffe,
My shirt’s on a boat as a sail for a goat,
My shoes is a house for a little white mouse,
But look me up and down –
I’m the smartest giant in town.”’

Hilmy The Hippo Series by Rae Norridge (M)
This series follows Hilmy the hippo as goes on adventures, learning from his mistakes a he goes.

‘“Hilmy,” said the large hippo. “There has been no rain for
a very long time. Our waterhole has dried up. You must be kind to us and allow
us to share this beautiful waterhole.”
’ (Hilmy Learns To Share)

The Perfect Gift by J. Samia Mair (M)

A story about appreciating nature and living in submission to Allah.

‘Sarah thought that the woods had never looked more
beautiful. Sarah took her special path to the right that only she knew about. The
path led to a stream that meandered silently through the woods.

Thank You O Allah! By Ayesha bint Mahmood (M)

This book is aimed at children under 6. It encourages gratitude to Allah for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us.

‘So dear younger Muslims,
Indeed we must say,
“Thank you O Allah!”
Each night and each day.
For beautiful blessings,
That Allah does give,
Let’s keep thanking Him
As long as we live!’

What books would you add to this list? I would love to know. Please leave me your recommendations in the comments below.

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Thank you for visiting our blog!

Please remember us in your duaas.
Peace and Love.

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