The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

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

Volume 1, 1890/91, pg. 151

I should like to call the attention of parents to three points, in which they often transgress, often, I believe, from pure thoughtlessness. (1) The habit of criticizing teachers before the children, or, still worse, allowing the children to sit in judgment of them. Love and reverence are the main elements of influence for good, and these can be destroyed in a moment by a few disparaging remarks. Under the present day school system, the home influence is stronger than formerly, for either good or evil. I remember gratefully my own mother's answer to a childish growl of mine, "Miss --- is so cross." "I dare say you are very provoking sometimes." Of course, the child's side has to be considered; but that will be done by quiet observation better than by questioning. For instance, when, after some months at school, it was clear that a master had not won the respect and affection of a little boy whose reports, both in work and conduct, were all that could be desired, I should have liked to remove him, because the want of personal influence was such an infinite loss to the child. (2) Justice. -- In every large family there is sure to be one peculiar or domineering temper; instead of grappling with it, the parents too often make the others submit, preach family peace, "it takes two to make a quarrel," &c., instead of going into the right or wrong of the case. Children have a very strong sense of justice, and the justice in their little world ought to differ from that in the great world only by degree. Present peace is often too dearly purchased; the unchecked tempers often lead to life-long estrangement. (3) The toleration or even encouragement of teasing. -- This is almost the only fault I should deal severely with in a child, because it has in it far more of the devil than many offences deemed more serious; it is the love of giving pain for its own sake; it asks no equivalent. This seems a hard saying, but it is true. Who does the teaser love to tease? Not the brother or sister who does not care or who can give it back, but the weak and sensitive and awkward, the temper and nerves most easily upset; stigmatise it as cruel and cowardly, and we shall soon have an end of it. Perhaps under the head of justice I ought to have mentioned the greater indulgence so often shown to the boys of a family. "Mamma is so much sooner angry with us than with the boys," said two dear little girls to me one evening. "Yes, she is," I answered, "but you see I cannot help it, what can't be cured must be endured. Your brothers will be exposed to more temptation than you, and this does not make it easier for them to keep straight; you must try and help them." I wish we could get the spirit of the noble American lady, a widow, with a large family, who said to me once, "I always told my boys -- 'I will not insult your manhood by allowing you a lower standard of morals or manners than I allow your sisters.'" -- H.E.

Since we began our preparatory school for boys, nearly seven years ago, nothing has impressed us more than (1) The immense power put into our hands by those parents who send us their boys at six years old to train for them; and (2) The utter absence, in most cases, of intelligent home training, especially in religious matters, even among those who wish to educate their children well. Very many difficulties are created for us by little boys being sent to so-called kindergartens -- because it is "convenient" or "so cheap," and "it does not matter where they go while they are so little." -- E.F.

"Mater," in your last issue, may perhaps take comfort in the thought that in these busy days no one gets through all they intend. But a careful planning out of the hours in which her time is in a sense her own -- namely, when her children are with the nurse and her husband at business -- will enable her to get through a great deal. Of course, her duties to her husband and children come first, and a long way after come the music and painting, to which, however, some time might legitimately be spared by taking them on alternate days. It would appear that as yet she does not get much help from her older children; but very young children may be trained to be useful and orderly, thus saving their mother a considerable amount of time. For instance, the boy of seven could help in the dusting, and could well amuse the two next children while the nurse puts the child of one to bed; and I should like to suggest 6:30 as a much better time than 5:30 -- it is quite soon enough, even for a child of one, who will thus sleep later in the morning, and give the nurse more time before breakfast.-- EXPERIENCED MOTHER.

With regard to the question "How is a mother to fulfil her duties?" I would venture to say, first by endeavouring so to discipline and govern her own mind as to be calm and self-controlled, whatever difficulties she may be called upon to encounter in daily life. Let her try to regard it as an absolute privilege both for herself and her children that they are obliged to spend so much time together, and seek to make use of such God-given opportunities for the close observation of the various characters of her children. With much sympathy, MASTER SENIOR.

I expect you will be inundated with answers for your "Mater," it's so particularly interesting to "arrange days," but I should suggest:-- (a) Early rising, i.e., breakfast at 7:30; (b) a time table; (c) pay very short calls; (d) employ some poor needle-woman at 2s. a day, say once a fortnight, to help nurse mend and make, instead of slaving for ever at needlework onself!" -- F.E.

Would Mrs. Steinthal be good enough to say were Donatello's Baby, and the other casts she mentions, are to be had, and at what cost? -- ASPIRATION.

I dress my children in blue serge, year after year; nothing can be better, but we should like a change. Will any reader of the Parents' Review suggest a colour and material as suitable for all weathers, and nearly all occasions? -- SERGIUS.

The Easter holidays are coming, and I want to improve them by reading aloud one book -- a real book -- I mean. Will some reading man suggest something which is not dreadfully dull. We are of all ages, up to eighteen. Of course, we know of books enough, but a hint from an outsider often sets you on new lines. -- A REFORMING FATHER.

The Bath.--Dip in the morning; water between 65 degrees and 80 degrees. Wash in warm water with soap at night. Teach children to use a pair of small washing gloves and wash themselves. -- BAD.

Typed by Kristina, Sept 2015