Our Educational Atmosphere

Mar 3, 2011

Charlotte Mason said, "Education is an Atmosphere." A homeschool mom shares what this means to her family.

There are so very many things I love about the Charlotte Mason method

The method is based upon a few principles to aide parents in raising a child who loves learning and seeks out knowledge for the sake of gaining knowledge. One of those all-important principles is "Education is an Atmosphere".

"The theory has been,––put a child in the right environment and so subtle is its influence, so permanent its effects that he is to all intents and purposes educated thereby. Schools may add Latin and sums and whatever else their curriculum contains, but the actual education is, as it were, performed upon a child by means of colour schemes, harmonious sounds, beautiful forms, gracious persons. He grows up aesthetically educated into sweet reasonableness and harmony with his surroundings." -Charlotte Mason- Vol. 6 pg 94

Daily Life Provides the best atmosphere for learning.

Many make the mistake, as I have done in the past, of believing we should create a child-friendly sort of atmosphere.

We should decorate in bold, primary colors, and display colorful posters and banners. Right? Classrooms should have bulletin boards and decorations. The truth is - these things create a fake environment. That's not real life. It's also harmful.

These things overstimulate the senses, creating a child who may be distracted, hyperactive and unable to actually learn. These unnatural environments soften kids to the real world.

These environments shelter children from reality. The world we live in is not all primary colors and planned activities. The most suitable learning environment is the one provided to us already: Our world.

Our world and our lives provide the perfect atmosphere for learning. Everyday life provides:

  • The art and music to which we expose the children.  
  • The people with whom they associate.
  • The people within their home from whom they learn many things including socialization skills.
  • Daily activities and errands, providing life skills.
"But a school may be working hard, not for love of knowledge, but for love of marks, our old enemy; and then young faces are not serene and joyous but eager, restless, apt to look anxious and worried. The children do not sleep well and are cross; are sullen or in tears if anything goes wrong, and are, generally, difficult to manage......The fault has been in the atmosphere and not in the work." -Charlotte Mason Vol 6 pg 97

What real-world learning looks like

Our mornings are spent on learning our academic subjects. Our afternoons, however, are spent outdoors. The children play, garden, help with yardwork, ride in a wheel barrow or climb a tree. Perhaps they discover a new insect or flower. Maybe they note that the leaves on the camphor tree are turning red in our Florida springtime.

But there are other things in the neighborhood that offer to strengthen our children. These are the real-life lessons.

It could be that the neighbor lady, while walking her dog, stops by to converse with the children. Maybe that lady is pushing her husband in his wheel chair and they stop to chat for a moment, at which point the husband imparts a bit of knowledge about how to care for a particular tree in our yard.

From this experience:

  • the children learn about those who are older, their pets and their lives.
  • they learn to socialize with someone who isn't in their own age range.
  • they learn compassion for those who have a harder time.
  • they learn, by that lady's example, to help others who are in need.
Every day there are precious moments like these. Every day my child are learning from their world. These are my favorite moments.

Moments like this...

Last night, as we were crossing the street to my daughter's home, Lorelai said, "Mommy, look at the sweet gum tree! It's so beautiful!!! You can see the top swaying!"

"It is beautiful!", I said.

She proclaimed, "It looks like it's touching the sky! It makes the camphor tree look so tiny!"

And this...

My adult son often teaches the girls to play piano or create a painting. "This is how you create light" he may tell them. These are the moments I cherish.

This painting was created by my son, Alexis and Lorelai. 
At the time, Alexis was 12 and Lorelai was 7. 

A painting by my children.

This is our classroom.  
This is our atmosphere.
This is why I do what I do.

Happy Homeschooling!


  1. What lovely moments with your family! And what a great way to learn to love learning. We are with you 100%.

  2. What a wonderful word picture you drew in this entry! Love the atmosphere you describe and the weaving of beauty, wisdom, and compassion. If only that filled the air everywhere...what a wonderful world. :)

    Thanks for sharing this with the CM Carnival.

  3. Brenna: Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. Glad you like!

    Barb: As always.. happy to see you here. I agree... what a wonderful world it would be. So happy that at least my kids live in that world. :-)

  4. Exactly! Thank you for sharing what the atmosphere is like in your home. Your children are being so blessed by it. Loved the painting!

    Ring true,

  5. Thanks, Nancy. This is family is truly blessed in many ways..

  6. Oh how lovely, such a beautiful rhythm to your days:)

  7. Lovely thoughts. Especially what you said about the children learning that they have knowledge and value. Something I've been praying for my own.

  8. What satisfaction to live in an atmosphere of such beauty! :)

    What neat conversation, and fantastic painting! Congratulations, on the unconscious sweet fruit as a result of your labors... you have every right to revel! ;)

    amy in peru

  9. What lovely moments with your family! And what a great way to learn to love learning. We are with you 100%.

  10. Wow, your son is an artist! And how fun to notice nature in your everyday life.

    1. Yes, most of my kids are artist. My son paints, plays piano and violin, composes music, and draws. Alexis, paints, draws, plays piano and composes music, too. Most of the five kids draw. My 26-year-old designs (builds, paints, etc) movie sets.


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