Charlotte Mason says that "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
At first thought the word "atmosphere" conjures up pictures of the physical atmosphere of our home: Lots of living books on the shelves, artwork displayed on the walls, room to play and create, paper to draw on, toys for miles (lol!)...
But after reading Charlotte Mason's own words in her book, "Home Education", I realized that she meant much more, or even much different, to that image. Charlotte was talking about the atmosphere of relationships within the home. She was talking about how we as a family relate to eachother. What is the spiritual or emotional atmosphere in the home? Are the fruits of the spirit living and active, or are we harsh and critical of one another? Are our children respected as persons, born in the image of God, or are they treated like annoyances, or interruptions to our own selfish lives? Is the atmosphere one of encouragement, or harsh criticism? Are we patient with our children's childish faults, or do we constantly nag & berate them? Do we give them attention when they ask us a question, or do we give the quickest possible answer and tell them to go away so that we can get on with our "work"? What are we filling their minds with? Are we reading to them from good, living books or are we leaving them to be educated by the t.v. or video games?
There are so many questions that we need to ask ourselves about the atmosphere of our home. We certainly need to work on many of these!
In her book, "For the Family's Sake", Susan Schaeffer Macauley has a chapter called "Taking Time and Care to Create the Home's Atmosphere."
Susan talks about the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 as being the standard for the atmosphere of our home. Of course, none of us can develop these in our own strength. We need to be reading God's Word and praying for wisdom, grace and strength to develop the fruits of the spirit in our own lives. We need to be filling our minds with "good things" -- "whatever is true, whatever is noble, watever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)
Whatever we are surrounding our children with will affect who they are. I want to use those two passages as the standard for the atmosphere in our home -- only by God's grace :-)
All the while, remembering that none of us is perfect, so we also need to make sure that forgiveness plays a big part in our home atmosphere, readily admitting our wrongs and just as readily extending forgiveness to one another.