The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."

Volume 1, 1890/91, pg. 78

"Handling" is a word used, in a sense which only the initiated understand, by artists, by good riders, by the expert in various crafts; but does it find its way into the vocabulary of mothers as freely as it deserves? They use it about babies, and so do the nurses. "I cannot get nurse to give me the baby," said a timid mother. "Take it, then," was my reply, but I thought nurse had her reasons. Very early in my married life I was impressed by the way in which Mrs. Amos Barton's hands are spoken of in that exquisite picture of ideal motherhood. And, truly, that of "handling" is a "most excellent gift" in a mother.
It is not of the babies I was thinking. They can be "handled" by those only who are born with the gift. I have seen a little girl of six rocking "heel and toe" with her little one up to her shoulder. What, I think, we mothers forget sometimes, is to carry on our magic "handling" into the older lives of the children. The little feet that will kick the table when father is writing, the little wilful shoulders that shake with impatience, the eager interruption when elders are talking, the forehead that will pucker up in the eagerness of "adding," the tired over-grown back, whose "waist" will double up on its "second deck," all these are, to my mind, far better controlled and soothes by "handling" than by the speaking of even a single word. Little hands have, with nervous eagerness, drawn mine tight over them, and fitted themselves under, as if seeking strength for control; and little kisses have been silently printed on my hands, when my face could not be reached, at moments of supreme excitement.
But most perfect of all is the answer to this influence of touch as I had it revealed once in a Bible lesson by a child of four. "What do you love me with, Baby?" "I love you with my arms!"

I am no republican, but a very absolute governor; so much so, that I believe I have hardly a single law--no law to the breaking of which an outward penalty is attached; not that I do not feel the offender deserves punishment, but because a punishment which would be mild for one child would be crushing to another. Therefore, I reserve to myself the power of acting in each case as the occasion warrants. Some children I hardly ever blame, because they have but too little self-respect, and to condemn them would be to make them lose all hope; there are others whom I joke with about small things; some with whom I am constantly grave; all depends upon the disposition of the child.

I purposely abstain from laying down theories, rules, or from making any generalizations; my experience is, that all children have such individuality of character, such difference of circumstances, that it is next to impossible to reach the noblest part of them in masses. I get to know the real thing the children care for, that which calls out their best selves. Then, and not till then, can I meet them in numbers. Indeed, just so far as any one comes under my influence, in however small a degree, it is important to me to discover their character, to be judged of by their actions, expressions, words, and whatever else may have been given us as a means of understanding one another.
Octavia Hill.
(From a letter dated February 17th, 1855.)

A little boy of six years old who bit his nails was told by his aunt that if he would cure himself she would give him a gun, and he was to have it when the nails were well grown. A short time after his mother pointed out to him how God had first loved us, and had given us blessings and privileges to which we had to respond by a life of obedience. After thinking for a few minutes the child replied, "Yes, I understand, and mother, don't you think Aunt H. would like to be good like God, and give me the gun first, and then I will try and let my nails grow." He added emphatically, "It must be right to do as God does."
Contributions "By-the-Way" are invited. They should take the form mainly, of absolutely faithful records or child-thought, and child-feeling.

One design is to collect matter of supreme value towards the further formulations of the Science of Education; for this purpose, the parrot-like utterances of precocious children are valueless, and some discrimination must be exercised to select the grain of the child's original thought from the chaff of endless parody of his elders in which every bright child indulges. Careful notes of the physical manifestations of obstinacy, attention, receptiveness, &c. are of especial value. Hints from experienced parents (or thoughtful lookers-on) formed on their own observation or practice, will be thankfully received, if they be such as should make for the health and happiness of "children" of whatever age. Such recollections, too, of the vivid impressions and acute feelings of childhood as remain through advancing life should be of great use in helping us to decipher that open secret--a little child.

To Secretaries of Branches-- Almost any subject may be treated from an educational point of view, and be made to form the subject of a profitable address or debate; but an address which takes a general survey of the ground is to be avoided. It is often assisting to a speaker to have a subject or choice of subjects proposed to him when invited to address a meeting.
For example:
"The Skin, its Functions and Conditions of Health."
"Hans Andersen as a Moral Teacher."
"The Art of Breathing."
"How to Make a Child Obey."
"Language." ("Outline of the Laws of Thought." Archbishop Thomson.)
"Children's Picture Books."
"The Care and Training of the Eyes."
"Mother and Sons."
"The Cultivation of the Speaking Voice."
"The Care and use of the Truth."
"The Children's First Poet."
"Hymns for Children."
"First Idea of the Fatherhood of God."

Communications for the Editor must reach the Publishers by the 9th of the month. The Editor does not undertake to return MSS.


Typed August 2015