Considering Childhood

When the Rule of Sixstarted making its way around the blogoshpere, I had a very new baby. I thought it was a meme and I gave little thought to carefully choosing my ideas. I borrowed ideas from here and there and put together my list. Several months later, I had the idea to revisit the list and see where we were. And then I took that list and wrote it again. Then, I realized I couldn't separate what was mine from what was in someone else's voice because it was all a jumble in my head. So, I had the idea to take the list, tweak it yet again, and then go back to Real Learning and describe each item in words I knew were mine. Now, the list looks like this:

  • Live the Liturgy
  • Experience loveliness
  • Breathe deeply: Fresh air and exercise:   
  • Serve others
  • Listen to, contemplate, and exchange ideas. 
  • Develop expressive skills.   
  • Practice logical reasoning. Math.
  • Receive focused attention and affection

Live the Liturgy: Like everything else we teach a child, the atmosphere and the discipline of religious formation is integral to its success. Catholics have rich traditions of the liturgical year upon which to build a foundation of both knowledge and love of God and his Church. It is in living the liturgical year with our children in the heart of our families that we are best able to convey the expression of genuine faith in the beauty of the Catholic Church...Crafts, and reading and writing activities, are seamlessly incorporated into our lesson time, bringing home the point that there is nowhere that religion ends and real life begins. Particular Bible studies, meditations, saints' stories, and the celebration of sacrament anniversaries are planned for teatime. Teatime is my liturgical year tableau. [pages 120 & 122]

Experience Loveliness:It is even simpler to see His hand in art and literature, poetry and music, and the infinite beauty of nature. God is there. He wants us to know Him there, and He wants our children to know Him, too. [page 23] We continue to educate our children at home because of the freedom to choose excellent books which stir children's hearts and inspire their souls. We continue to educate our children at home because here we are able to surround them with fine music and lovely art all day long. And we continue to educate our children at home because here an eleven-year-old boy can cradle a sick baby and learn the lesson of rare and lasting love. [page 229]

Breathe Deeply: Fresh Air and Exercise: Make athletics a family pursuit. Try hiking or biking together. Consider some less commonly pursued sports like water-skiing, dance or racket sports. If you take the lead and find something you enjoy, your children will follow. When athletics become part of the family culture, they are infinitely rewarding.[page 178]

Serve Others:Children who are charged with household responsibilities reap the benefits of learning life skills, time management, and perseverance. If your children are trained in household routines from the time they are old enough to toddle, they will have a firm foundation of right habits upon which to rely. Over the long haul, children derive satisfaction at a job well done which goes far beyond canned warm fuzzies and carries them much farther into the real world than advertising hype ever will.

Listen to, Contemplate, and Exchange Ideas:The atmosphere of the home we are considering is alive with living books and living ideas. There are art books and prints of works by the great masters. There is a garden, however small, where wee hands are invited and encouraged to touch, to feel, and to grow. And every afternoon, at four o'clock there is teatime. Flowers on the table, Mozart on the CD player, and a goodie or two on the table. The children are seated around the table where they are given the undivided attention of their mother and encouraged to talk; to discuss and to relate living ideas; to celebrate the feasts of the liturgical year. That is the atmosphere of education. [page 31]

Develop expressive skills:In a household where narration s a daily habit, children learn to listen carefully the first time. They learn to pay close attention while reading (an art that is all but lost in an age of readily available information). They also learn to express themselves effectively. It is this expression that will be the hallmark of an excellent education. A child's ability to communicate well, both verbally and on paper, is absolutely essential. It does not matter what he knows unless he can convey that knowledge well. The most important thing our children can learn to do, and indeed the call of each and every child, is to go out and make believers of every nation. They cannot do that unless they can tell the Good News clearly and compellingly. [page 65-66]

Practice Logical Reasoning: Math: We cannot shirk our responsibility to help our children learn to think like mathematicians. Ours is an increasingly complex, technological world. There is no ducking math--it's everywhere. Instead, we should encourage them to embrace the precision and the logic. We should provide the tools and present the living ideas. Children can be inspired by stories of mathematicians. They can be inspired to become mathematicians. [page 80]

Receive Focused Attention and Affection: In order to bring this lifestyle of learning into your home. you must look for beauty and new ideas, listen to your children's interests and desires, create memories, look for new habits to develop, and give children the grace of time to savor your life at home. Become involved with your children. Look at their hearts. Let them look at yours. Give them your focused attention. Edith Stein encourages, "The children in school do not need merely what we have but rather what we are." [page 44]

I first selected the passages over a month ago and then I put the project aside in order to attend to Real Life. But my own words rattled around in my head and I found that I believe them more today than when I wrote them. And some of them were written nine years and four babies ago! They've stood the test of time in my home. I own them. They are me. But they are the best of me. They are what I strive to be, not what I always am.

I've resolved to use my list--I call it "A Considered Childhood"-- as an organizing principle as I plan and record our days. So, without further ado, it's time to dust off Faithful over Little Things, and record our days once more.