Pardon me, I believe I was in your way again

Today I read this words of Charlotte Mason from the Introduction to Vol. 6:

A child requires knowledge as much as he requires food.

He is furnished with the desire for Knowledge, i.e., Curiosity; with the power to apprehend Knowledge, that is, attention; with powers of mind to deal with Knowledge without aid from without––such as imagination, reflection, judgment; with innate interest in all Knowledge that he needs as a human being; with power to retain and communicate such Knowledge; and to assimilate all that is necessary to him.

He requires that in most cases Knowledge be communicated to him in literary form; and reproduces such Knowledge touched by his own personality; thus his reproduction becomes original.

The natural provision for the appropriation and assimilation of Knowledge is adequate and no stimulus is required; but some moral control is necessary to secure the act of attention; a child receives this in the certainty that he will be required to recount what he has read. Children have a right to the best we possess; therefore their lesson books should be, as far as possible, our best books.

They weary of talk, and questions bore them, so that they should be allowed to use their books for themselves; they will ask for such help as they wish for.

As I look back at our just completed school year and I read these words of Miss Mason, I realize that once again I have inserted myself far too much in the process. What is scary about this for me is that I am not allowing James to fully engage with the stories and thus make them his own and learn and retain what *he* needs to learn and retain. I also fear that I have robbed him of a lot of joy that could come from the wonderfully rich stories that we read this year.

These things I must remember —-

  • James has the power of mind to deal with the Knowledge without aid from without
  • He will reproduce the Knowledge touched by *his own* personality;
  • No stimulus is required
  • He will ask for such help as he wishes for

If there are any of my readers that have any advice to offer (besides putting duct tape on my big mouth), please feel free to comment.

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3 Responses to Pardon me, I believe I was in your way again

  1. Cori says:

    Hi Kay! Good thoughts and good things to remember. My eldest gets very impatient with me if I try to get in his way. LOL My youngest is more open to leading and there lies the temptation. With my eldest I read for a few minutes, maybe 10, and then pause long enough for him to say, “Read!” If he doesn’t want me to keep reading he will suggest something else at that time. Usually he wants me to continue. I haven’t asked for narration very often yet, so I’m not much help there. I just know he doesn’t want me to tell him what words mean, etc. unless he asks me. I also know he is listening when I pronounce a word wrong. He corrects me. He clams up when I ask him to tell me what I just read and he has acted puzzled and asked, “why?” Since he’s so opinionated most of the time, I’m going to start asking him, “what did you think of that?” Maybe he’ll start having a strong opinion about the reading. πŸ™‚ Not sure if this helps, but I can relate… I don’t worry so much when he doesn’t narrate. He remembers nearly everything and will bring it up later someway somehow. πŸ™‚

  2. Kay Pelham says:


    Thanks for your sharing your experience and ideas. It scares me that our “schooling” would end up just being about being able to check off a list of subjects that we did and yet James hasn’t really learned or made a relationship with the subject. What’s the point? I read stories from other families about how their kids play the characters from their school stories all on their own. I don’t see James becoming so attached to The Little Duke or any of the other characters we read about this year and I wonder if I messed up. Maybe it’s because he’s an only child with no other kids who are familiar with the same characters. I have a dream that we’ll make friends with another family that are reading most of the same stories and so their kids can make that connection with James. It’s a dream.

    Our narration did improve this year and for that I’m very grateful. I think it’s still not where it should be and that is my fault. Get out of the way, Mom!!!!! I’ll know we’ve made it when the narrations are flowing AND he is talking about the characters and making connections outside of school time. [I read your post about technology, but I’m still bothered whenever James spontaneously narrates stories about a game or cartoon. If only he was personally connecting with Otto of the Silver Hand as much as Megazord from Power Rangers Samurai]

    I guess my concern is not so much what he narrates in the moment, but what is he talking about later. What is he really making his own.

  3. Megan says:

    My life is chaos. I had to walk outside for a minute, and I have no idea if my 2nd comment got submitted by chubby wayward fingers. The first one got submitted by a run-away umbrella half way through a sentence. Whatever was on my mind was obviously not as important as dealing with the chaos at my house. I just want to say, don’t be so down on yourself. Your little man is obviously benefitting from an exceptional education and he will value the good literature more and more as he gets older and is continuously exposed to it. The reason Power Rangers sell and The Little Duke does not is because Power Rangers are candy and The Little Duke is fresh spinach. We all love candy, but if we’re wise and well-educated we still eat fresh spinach more regularly than candy πŸ™‚

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