My daughter Fin often refers to places of warmth and shelter as her “cozy little nest.” It’s usually in the rook of my arm, sometimes it’s in the nestle of a blanket, but it is always where she finds comfort. Yes, nests are her most sustained interest. She likes to paint them, sculpt them into clay, etc. She has made it her work to find every animal in the home a nesting place.
It’s fitting to follow her nest theme as the framework for our “classroom,” after all, this is child-led learning blog. But it amazes me that a 3 year old can so profoundly influence the essence of our home education life.
This must be confirmation that we ought to listen more–teach less.
“Children are born with all the curiosity they will ever need. It will last a lifetime if they are fed a daily diet of ideas” Charlotte M. Mason
The mind of a child feeds upon ideas and it is our job to merely provide them. Given an array of experiences, literature, art, and materials, a child needs no invitation to examine, imagine, and create. Provided play provocations, abundant materials for art and construction, and heaps of library books, the child seeks his own knowledge and understanding. He raises the questions and seeks out the answers. Information becomes knowledge when he finds meaning in it all his own. He is compiling his own conclusions about the world around him. This is of utmost importance as Charlotte Mason puts it, “Self education is the only education.”
We must trust the process:
- Let the child inquire
- Seek, resolve, and investigate through dramatic play, good literature, replication, construction, art, poetry etc.
- Let the conclusion lead to another inquiry
My object is to show that the chief function of the child–his business in the world during the first six or seven years of his life–is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses…” ― Charlotte M. Mason
“Now, Education as we understand it, deals entirely with individuals; not with children, but with the child.” – Charlotte M. Mason
In the hedge of a nest, a little one can grow at his own pace in knowledge, character, and maturity. He isn’t hurried to achieve or pressured to perform. He safely approaches knowledge with a budding confidence from a supportive caretaker who fosters inquiry. Therefore, the process of learning is relaxed and enjoyable, even delicious; the soul loves the taste of discovery. Discovery happens best when a child is free to inquire at his pace on the subjects that most interest him.
The nest offers a unique juxtaposition of freedom and protection. Freedom to grow at his own rhythm which protects him from developmentally inappropriate material.
(even Bubba needs a nest)
“The child brings with him into the world, not character, but disposition. He has tendencies which may need only to be strengthened, or, again, to be diverted or even repressed.His character — the efflorescence of the man wherein the fruit of his life is a-preparing — is original disposition, modified, directed, expanded by education; by circumstances; later, by self-control and self-culture; above all, by the supreme agency of theHoly Ghost, even where that agency is little suspected, and as little solicited.” ― Charlotte M. Mason, Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series Volume 2 – Parents and Children
In our home character is taught through words we read in Scripture each morning around the breakfast table and then put into practice as we venture the day together. This time together (morning basket) provides a way to nurture our values and traditions that we will carry out daily for the rest of our lives. We have done a disservice if our children have all the knowledge in the world but don’t know who they are, what they value, or the consequences to their actions. Children need a gracious example and tender instruction on how to conduct themselves in the matter of right and wrong. The nest is a safe place for children to make mistakes, work through their emotions, and lean upon the strong shoulder of a caretaker in their weakness. They are in constant need of gentle correction and refinement in the process of molding their little souls.
“The teacher… is at liberty to be their guide, philosopher and friend; and is no longer the mere instrument of forcible intellectual feeding” – Charlotte Mason
If the search for knowledge was a ship, inquiring minds would be the fuel, ideas the propeller, and we the rudder. We guide the vessel through a fluid medium of material, steering the procession smooth and steady.
If the search for knowledge was a dinner party we would be the host offering delicious morsels carefully selecting the best, most beloved, and most nutritious for our guests. We wouldn’t dare shove the meal down our guests’ throats. We would let them select each treat that appeals most to them, delighting in their choices while making notes of what to serve the next time we partake in the good food of life.
What fibers make up your nest? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below!