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The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
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Notes and Queries.


Volume 1, 1890/91, pg. 635


The queries of "Mater" as to the proper training of little boys intended for Public School life are very interesting to me, as for sixteen years I have been busy with the training of my own sons and the sons of other people. My present business in life is to train little lads of six to thirteen years of age, and fit them for the life of the public schools.

If a little boy is to take a good place in his school at thirteen or fourteen, then at seven I expect him to come to me with the following proficiency:- He should be able to read smoothly and intelligently, write a fair round hand, holding his pen well, and being careful with the ink, write neatly a simple piece of dictation, know the multiplication table, be able to work simple sums in the first four rules of arithmetic; he should know the first outlines of physical geography, the names of the continents, oceans, the principal countries of the world, with their capitals, their chief rivers, seas, mountains; he should be familiar with the stories of the Old Testament, and the leading events of our Lord's life. If besides this he is familiar with his "Little Arthur's History," can repeat carefully and intelligently some good English poetry, likes to draw, and can use his colour-box carefully and tidily, he is an ideal pupil, and fitting him for a stiff pass-examination will be pleasant work.

For the next two or three terms, that is until he is eight, this ideal pupil will work steadily at the "Three Rs" and their relations. We devote about an hour and a-half a day to arithmetic, an hour and a-half to reading and spelling, and an hour to writing and dictation; the rest of the school-time is devoted to geography, map making, Scripture, poetry, English grammar. After two or three terms of this drill, a little lad is ready at eight to begin Latin and French. It is no use attempting a foreign language until the child can read and write English with fair ease and correctness; this is the test I use in my school. Some little boys pass it before they are eight, others not until they are nine or ten. Unless the child has been delicate, it is the fault of home training if he cannot begin Latin and French before he is ten. We always teach the two languages together. We do a little of each every day, working slowly, and making sure not to leave a word unknown behind us. My experience is that the French and Latin lessons are the most attractive ones to the smaller boys.

May I impress upon parents that how a little child is taught is more important than what he is taught. The children who do well at school are those whose home lessons have been punctual, regular, and systematic, where pleasures or visitors have never been allowed to interfere with schoolroom duties. It takes us a term, sometimes two terms, to get into a good ways the child whose lessons have been intermittent, unpunctual, and unsystematic, whereas the children who have been taught good habits during home lessons take their place with ease and rapidity in the "rhythmic drill" of school life.

As the English pronunciation of Latin is now adopted in all public schools, it is of course best that children should learn it from the beginning. We use the "Latin Primer," and the "Elementa Latina," and for French, Chardenal's "First French Course." - ANNIE H. MACDONELL, Gorse Cliffe School, Boscombe, Bournemouth.

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"Mother of a Quartette" would be grateful for rules and hints on essay writing for a young beginner aged ten, who is an ardent reader, and for a list of some elementary works on the subject. The same mother has been much disappointed not to see any replies to the request for a programme of lessons for little boys before going to public school; ditto for girls; with a table of hours and division of work. Also a list of approved lesson books. As an invaluable first French book, "Mother of a Quartette" recommends Charlin's "First Steps," price 3d.



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