Charlotte Mason Quote

Here is a quote from Charlotte Mason’s first book that we are studying online with the Ambleside Online Year 0 group.


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Out-Of-Door Life For The Children

I.––A Growing Time

Meals out of Doors.––People who live in the country know the value of fresh air very well, and their children live out of doors, with intervals within for sleeping and eating. As to the latter, even country people do not make full use of their opportunities. On fine days when it is warm enough to sit out with wraps, why should not tea and breakfast, everything but a hot dinner, be served out of doors? For we are an overwrought generation, running to nerves as a cabbage runs to seed; and every hour spent in the open is a clear gain, tending to the increase of brain power and bodily vigour, and to the lengthening of life itself. They who know what it is to have fevered skin and throbbing brain deliciously soothed by the cool touch of the air are inclined to make a new rule of life, Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.

Besides, the gain of an hour or two in the open air, there is this to be considered: meals taken al fresco are usually joyous, and there is nothing like gladness for converting meat and drink into healthy

vol 1 pg 43

blood and tissue. All the time, too, the children are storing up memories of a happy childhood. Fifty years hence they will see the shadows of the boughs making patterns on the white tablecloth; and sunshine, children’s laughter, hum of bees, and scent of flowers are being bottled up for after refreshment.

For Dwellers in Towns and Suburbs.––But it is only the people who live, so to speak, in their own gardens who can make a practice of giving their children tea out of doors. For the rest of us, and the most of us, who live in towns or the suburbs of towns, that is included in the larger question––How much time daily in the open air should the children have? And how is it possible to secure this for them? In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mothers first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air. And this, not for the gain in bodily health alone––body and soul, heart and mind, are nourished with food convenient for them when the children are let alone, let to live without friction and without stimulus amongst happy influences which incline them to be good.

Possibilities of a Day in the Open.––I make a point, says a judicious mother, of sending my children out, weather permitting, for an hour in the winter, and two hours a day in the summer months. That is well; but it is not enough. In the first place, do not send them; if it is anyway possible, take them; for, although the children should be left much to themselves, there is a great deal to be done and a great deal to be prevented during these long hours in the open air. And long hours they should be;

vol 1 pg 44

not two, but four, five, or six hours they should have on every tolerably fine day, from April till October. Impossible! Says an overwrought mother who sees her way to no more for her children than a daily hour or so on the pavements of the neighbouring London squares. Let me repeat, that I venture to suggest, not what is practicable in any household, but what seems to me absolutely best for the children; and that, in the faith that mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them. A journey of twenty minutes by rail or omnibus, and a luncheon basket, will make a day in the country possible to most town dwellers; and if one day, why not many, even every suitable day?


More friends over to play this morning.S had a really good t-shirt on that said ” 2 cool 4 school” but T said they are careful where they wear it! Lots of Lego building went on. Again I felt incredibly tired.

Joel slept all afternoon so we got everything ready for Jay’s birthday tea. I also had a phone call from Police Cont
rol saying they had had a 999 call from us but it sounded like a child and did I really need them? Sure enough ,Isaac was on the windowsill with the phones. The lady was very friendly though. I expect she has had a 2 year old too!

Then I had another call from the hospital as they had a spare appointment tomorrow morning and would I like to go and have my wisdom tooth out? Matt thought this would be a good idea as his family will be here and can help him with the children while I retreat to bed to recover! Not looking forward to it but I guess it has to be done.


Today’s activity by Isaac was to empty the Olbas oil out into the sink before I had got up. It has quite a distinctive smell, even when you use the recommended 3 drops!

Friends came over in the morning and stayed for lunch. The boys were very excited at seeing a rainbow. The rest of the day is a bit blurry.Not enough sleep I think!

Mess and Mangles

Boys showing off their artistic talents!

This was what the boys got up to last week. They put their hands up our chimney and then made patterns over our bedroom walls (a picture and another) and their own bedroom walls. So creative! Fortunatley it washed off quite easilly.

Today Isaac found the pepper mill. By the time I realised what was going on, we had pepper over the kitchen table, kitchen floor, a chair and the bath was covered in pepper too. And various other bits of house between the kitchen and the bathroom had been peppered.


The cleaners came this afternoon, so we went off to the farm. We found a new bit we hadn’t explored before. Benjamin was very interested in baskets made from willow and horse harnesses. And we found some pigs too, all of them hugely fat. Then some old carts, blacksmith’s tools etc. I think B is beginning to understand something about how life is different now from how it used to be. The boys spent a long time playing in the kitchen of the mill house. It is set up as a roughly wartime kitchen and is full of things up to about the 1950s. They especially loved the mangles and jelly moulds.

The boys enjoying making a cake…
Boys and cake
Benjamin and cakeIsaac and cake


A less adventurous day. We went visiting this morning and spent a lovely morning with a friend and her five year-old girl and twin baby boys. R has chicken pox and I am hoping that perhaps Joel will catch it. Benjamin caught it at this age, but so mildly that when Isaac got it, he got it again.

Pottered at home for the afternoon. A bit ratty with the children. I think we were all very tired from yesterday.


I can’t remember much of this last week, but yesterday I took the children up to London to visit a friend and her three children. The night before had been rough. Isaac didn’t sleep much and neither did I. Isaac was coming down with a cold and travelling to London looked too daunting. Matt decided I was going anyway.

Matt took us down to St. Neots and we caught the train from there. It was all much easier than I had envisaged. The boys were fascinated by the whole train process and Joel just sat on my lap and watched everything.

Having arrived at Kings Cross, we caught a bus to K’s house. Missed our stop because I didn’t know what it would look like. But everyone was very kind and helpful, helping us on and off the bus, pointing us in the right direction, etc.

I’d taken the buggy for Isaac and Joel was in the sling. It was lovely to catch up with K and her three children, all just slightly older than ours. K is very good with them and they are very lovely children. Watching her with them I felt challenged both to work harder at being consistent with our boys and also just to communicate more to them my enjoyment of them.
We took them to a local paddling pool before lunch and then spent the afternoon in their garden. Joel discovered rolling from his tummy to his back (he could already go back to tummy).
K made me a cup of tea after lunch saying “Is it still white and no sugar?” This is after 7 years! “You forget quite how many cups of tea I made at your house!” she explained. I still think that’s an impressive memory- I still can’t get Matt’s teas and coffees right after 5 years!
All too soon it was time for the journey home. Isaac slept from the moment we left K’s house until 10 minutes before St. Neots. All went well until I got the buggy stuck between train and platform with Isaac in it at St. Neots, but again people jumped up to help and eventually we managed to wriggle it out again! So altogether a very successful outing.

Planting Tulips

Pleasant but slow start to the morning. Isaac had slept through the night again. He seems to be sleeping through about half the time now, which is good progress. Matt took Benjamin and Isaac down to the garden centre this morning for some retail therapy. They came back with lots of plants and some bulbs. I meanwhile tackled the laundry mountain upstairs. After rest time the boys helped M put in plants and plant tulip bulbs with the planter. It then started raining so we got out a new game that we had bought- a version of lotto with pictures of animals on the boards and a CD that plays the relevant animal sounds. The boys enjoyed it very much. It was quite challenging in places,-it is surprising how similar a guinea pig and some dolphins can sound!! Chicks and mice are easily muddled too (I – Matt – am sure I should have won if we had got one of these right earlier in the game!).

Jay is house-sitting for friends across the road so he came over for tea. We had risotto with one of Granny’s courgettes from the allotment. Then the boys wanted to play the new game again with Jay. As the boys were getting ready for bed Isaac suddenly got very upset. Matt had taken him out of the bathroom and he was very insistent that he wanted to go back into the bathroom. I let him go back. He locked the door behind him, did a wee in the toilet, unlocked the door and came out again. Perhaps I shan’t need to potty train him? He seems to know what to do.

Last week’s photos

This morning D and J came over to visit. D and I (Justine) had a nice time talking. The boys all disappeared upstairs and had a good time playing. We spent the rest of the day at home. Benjamin wanted lots of Alfie and Annie-Rose stories, which I read to him in between chapters of the biography of Shaftesbury that I am reading. That is one of the nice things about having a baby who wants to sit on your lap all day, it gives you snatches of reading time.

Joel’s sleeping schedule was as follows today:
7am wake-up
11:00 15 mins sleep
2:00 10 mins sleep
5:00 10 mins sleep
7:00 back to bed

I don’t think I have ever known a baby sleep so little in the daytime. He does sleep very well at night time to make up for it.

Yesterday we had our first firing of the traction engine…
Looking under

Matt’s friend from University came up to stay and B loved doing puzzles with him. ‘When he comes back we could do…’, was Benjamin’s statement when he left.

Mr. P had an open day in his back garden for Enthusiasts of Model Railways. The boys enjoyed chasing the model trains around the garden, but were actually more interested in staying in the shed playing with a few trucks. I (Matt) went with them and enjoyed being there with them. They played very well and would have done so for the rest of the day. It is amazing what play value you can get from three small railway trucks. After this we went out and there sitting in the sidings about to go out onto the track was ‘Duck’. So they watched ‘Isey’s Duck’ for quite some time. We then had to go, so the boys said very nice thank-yous and waved good-bye to trains and people.
Mr. P's shed Watching Duck

Sacrewell farm

It’s 9 pm and they’ve all finally gone to sleep.

The kitchen floor is covered in hama beads and the Tesco shopping. Breakfast and tea dishes are still waiting on the worktops. The Daily Bread shopping is waiting on the hall floor. Another laundry mountain has grown upstairs and I haven’t put today’s wash on yet. The cleaning needs doing as the cleaner is on holiday. Matt needs a shirt ironing for tomorrow…..

Today I took the children down to the farm. As always they had a lovely time. Some members of a wood turning group were there with their lathes making bowls, fruit, honey spoons etc which was very interesting to watch. One of them suggested I might like to join their group. “Do you have any spare time?” he asked. Perhaps he hadn’t noticed 2 small boys and a baby……

Matt came home and demonstrated the new traction engine to the boys, and then went to help some friends move house. The boys weren’t tired enough for bed as they had slept on the way home, but Isaac was falling apart at everything ,so I sat them infront of Trumpton for an hour until they were tired enough for bed. A whole hour!

Jay brought up some quail eggs last Saturday which were enjoyed for breakfast today. Very pretty shells too.

I’m procrastinating. I really need to go and tackle the kitchen………..

Busy, Busy, Busy

A brief catch up…
Wednesday Carol and her three children came over for the day and we all had a lovely time. Thursday and Friday XLB came to stay and work on some brickwork with Matt. We also had a Muddle-Puddle group on Friday. Saturday my Mother and Jay came to visit. Sunday after Church Chris spent the afternoon with us at the little trains. Yesterday a friend and her one year-old boy came to visit.

Today I felt tired, the chilldren were hard work and I just wanted to spend the day in bed with a book. Ah well. Yesterday Benjamin did his first attempt at writing. He wanted to write a playhouse sign for the playhouse and his name. He wrote the l, o and i, and I did the rest for him. Today Isaac refused to wear a nappy or clothes. At one point B decided to do a wee in the garden and Isaac immediately rushed over and stood beside him and did a wee at the same time, which makes me think that perhaps he is ready for potty training. Although I am not sure I am really feeling quite patient enough to tackle it at the moment.

Matt came home today having taken a detour to pick up a Dampftrackter or Wilesco Steam Traction engine. We tried it out on the patio in the dark. Although it wasn’t quite so dark when the flames were licking up the sides- I think it may need a little practice to get it right. But it chuffed around the patio, and the boys will love it.Photos to follow……