Thursday, January 11, 2007

Masterly Inactivity

This is a term of Charlotte Mason's that encompasses an entire complex theory on child rearing- but this is what she has to say about play:

Organised Games are not Play––But organised games are not play in the sense we have in view. Boys and girls must have time to invent episodes, carry on adventures, live heroic lives, lay sieges and carry forts, even if the fortress be an old armchair; and in these affairs the elders must neither meddle nor make. They must be content to know that they do not understand, and, what is more, that they carry with them a chill breath of reality which sweeps away illusions. Think what it must mean to a general in command of his forces to be told by some intruder into the play-world to tie his shoe-strings! There is an idea afloat that children require to be taught to play––to play at being little fishes and lambs and butterflies. No doubt they enjoy these games which are made for them, but there is a serious danger. In this matter the child who goes too much on crutches never learns to walk; he who is most played with by his elders has little power of inventing plays for himself; and so he misses that education which comes to him when allowed to go his own way and act,"As if his whole vocation Were endless imitation." - from Home Education, Volume 3

She recommended that young children (until late elementary or so) had most of the afternoon hours to PLAY! To use their own ideas, to come up with plans, reenact history, take off with all ideas that were their own! I try to give the boys as much of this time as possible. I really step back and let them at their plans. Sometimes they wind up REALLY dirty! Oh, well! I have a washing machine that does all the work. Sometimes I have to redirect them a bit- for instance when little Bean was going to break open rocks on my kitchen table, well, (!) ahem...that would be great to break open the rock....but not INSIDE! So, no it's not a free for all!!! I don't let them just do anything...but I *do* strive to give them situations where they can experiment doing all kinds of things without interference. It really is amazing to watch them!!! Yesterday little Bean and Echo collected rocks, painted them, and put them on display in their *museum* and then decided that they also needed to take measurements for the display and therefore went on a measuring spree! So precious!

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