Two or Three Witnesses

Two or Three Witnesses

Editor’s Note: The December 1926 issue of The Parents’ Review was subtitled “Of Little Children” and said that “This number has been prepared by special request.”[1] The issue was to contain several articles and poems about children, but the editor also wanted to include first-hand advice from actual mothers who had been trained at the House of Education. Ultimately, eight such mothers submitted brief papers in response to the request for “a page or two of experience from a mother.” Their papers were collected into this article entitled “In the Mouth of Two or Three Witnesses.”

Some of the mothers submitted anonymous pieces, while others gave their names. Seven of the eight included “H.O.E.” in the byline, indicating that they had been educated at Mason’s teacher-training school. The one contributor without the “H.O.E.” tag was Mrs. Hughes Jones. This is most likely Eleanor Hughes-Jones, the author of the delightful article “Decoration of the Nursery” and a notable alumna of the House of Education.

The final piece is by Mrs. Truscott, who shared her six “guiding principles” of parenting. Her fourth principle is “To avoid punishment, especially all forms of corporal punishment.” The fifth piece in the collection contradicts this closing principle and is not included in the audio version of this article. Nevertheless, it includes interesting insights which may be found below.

Taken together, these pieces offer an invaluable perspective on how a mother trained by Charlotte Mason herself would approach the sacred task of motherhood.

In the Mouth of Two or Three Witnesses
The Parents’ Review
, 1926, pp. 788-803

I. Some Thoughts On Authority And Obedience
By Mrs. Hughes Jones

When I was asked for “a page or two of experience from a mother,” immediately there rushed through my mind like a flash—as with the proverbial drowning man—all the things I had failed to do! Still, I comforted myself, experience must needs embrace all the failures as well as any success one may have had, and certainly by one’s failures one learns most. And here let me gratefully acknowledge that wherever there has been success, it has been due to the knowledge of those broad principles of a true education learnt at the feet of one of the greatest educationists of modern times, the founder of the P.N.E.U. However, this paper is not to be “the last thoughts of a drowning woman,” but an attempt to put down a few thoughts, culled from experience along the way of life, that may be useful and helpful to other mothers travelling along the same way.

Looking round on post-war England, one is struck by a certain atmosphere of dislike and impatience of restraint in any form among the youth of this generation—an impatience almost amounting to lawlessness—and unfortunately so often falsely regarded by them as liberty.

Perhaps there is no word in the language that has been so often, and with such fatal results, abused and misunderstood!

We are always hearing, in these days, of nervous break-downs, and coming across discontented aimless lives, and we say sadly, “It is the aftermath of War.”

Granting that we live in very difficult days—full of anxieties and cares, especially for the heads of households—how much greater is the need both for practising self-control and teaching it to our children.

In difficult times, when one feels rather “snowed under” by the cares and anxieties of life, I have found great help in that chapter of one of Donald Hankey’s books—On a Sense of the Dramatic—wherein he talks about “taking the long view,”—and in that saving sense of humour—than which there is no greater help to the attaining of that “merrie heart” that “goes all the way”—the “merrie heart” that is the soul of England.

But revenir a nos moutons! I believe there is not a thinking mother in England who would not agree that true liberty is only attained by self-control, and if we wish our children to grow up understanding “the perfect law of liberty”—without which life will be to them as an uncharted sea, sailing without a compass—we must begin in their earliest days to teach them the meaning of Authority and Obedience. In the threefold aspect of education as an atmosphere, a discipline, a life, I often think the first has as much to do with the right regard for authority as the second.

Go into the nursery of any of your friends’ children for half an hour, and listen to the children at play; you will feel instinctively in a very short time whether the atmosphere is “tuned in” to that “perfect law”—whether at the back of things in those children’s minds—(and they go so far back, further often than we can follow) is the knowledge that there is a law that cannot be broken, an anchor to which, in the far-seeing wisdom of childhood, they can safely anchor their souls.

No matter whether the representative of that authority be mother, daddy or nurse, it is enough to know that it is there.

One sometimes hears a parent say—whose children are wild and disobedient—“Oh, let them have a good time while they are young, they will have plenty to bear when they get older.” Alas, and alas! how much harder is that parent making the burden when they do get older! And are the children having a good time? and will they, by a sudden act of grace, learn the way to bear the burdens of life heroically and cheerfully, with a will set towards the Divine Will, the ultimate Authority of which they have no preconception?

And here perhaps one might say a word about the early religious training of children. Surely, here, we cannot over-estimate the importance of the “atmosphere” in the home. All the teaching you could ever give your child goes for nought—or worse than nought—unless you are honestly striving to realise in your own life those ideals that you put before him. I say advisedly “striving”—knowing how miserably one often falls short—but none are quicker to recognise honest endeavour than the children, as none are keener to detect hypocrisy and unreality. One is often humbled by the far-seeing wisdom of children in matters of faith, and by their realisation of the Unseen Presence.

But this does not mean that definite religious teaching is not needful as they get older. I have a friend who in her “broad-mindedness” will not have her children given any definite religious teaching as she wants them to grow up with an “open mind.” But who would send a mariner to sail an unknown sea without a chart? and how can they have a “mind” about anything, if they have not first learnt some principles on which to found their reasonings and arguments? I have a shrewed suspicion that under the label of broad-mindedness to-day is very often hidden a real apathy both mental and spiritual!

The criticism of the Bible which so staggered the faith of our grandfathers has now, in the light of more modern research, become a further light unto our path, and I know of no more helpful books in the teaching of religion to-day than those of the Rev. J. Paterson Smyth. But from these few suggestions on early religious training, and granting the reasons for teaching our children the meaning of authority, how shall we set about teaching obedience in a practical way?

And here comes in the second aspect of education as defined by Miss Mason in its threefold bearing—as a Discipline—the forming of good habits, and I would give one or two suggestions culled from experience in my own nursery:—

(a) Expect obedience. Give your order with hesitating voice or manner, and you have almost asked for trouble. Parents do not always realise how interesting a game it may be just to see if you dare defy authority!

(b) Do not reason until afterwards with young children. Some children simply love what I once heard delightfully described as “argufying.” By all means let them “argufy” on fruitful and interesting subjects, and so learn to weigh and debate, but not on your orders.

(c) Let your rules and orders be as few as possible, but see that they are kept and carried out. We want our children togrow up with large views of life, with the knowledge of broad principles to guide their conduct, and not with a set of little hard and fast rules.

(d) Always try and find the cause of disobedience, rather than punish the effect, though when that is really necessary, let the punishment be the natural result of conduct wherever possible.

(e) Do not treat all your children en masse, as it were. I speak from experience, as one of a large family in which, when one member had “a pain” all were dosed with castor oil! This treatment may have been beneficial from a physical point of view, but its mental or moral application would be disastrous. Each child differs from the others in those things that go to make up personality, and as Miss Mason has said, “each child is a person and demands respect as such.”

In conclusion, may I make an appeal? I suppose it is only another sign of the restlessness and nervous excitement of this post-war age, that so many mothers are, like the Athenians of old—always running after some new thing!

Are we not losing the power of quiet thought? now at a time when it is so specially needed. Modern circumstances force the rôle of Martha upon so many of us, that I think we are in danger of losing our Maries altogether. It is a modern tendency to decry the Victorian age, and yet I venture to think that we are not producing in our time the fine characters of that wonderful age, for surely Wisdom is the child of Thoughtfulness?

If we, who are the mothers of the rising generation would “study to be quiet,” and with all our getting to get understanding, what a tremendous way we might go towards the lifting the next generation above the ills that we have suffered in this as a result of the most terrible war in history!

II. The Lowest Round
By Mrs. Brittlebank (H.O.E.)

In choosing the above title which Miss Mason applies to physiological matters dealt with in the first thirty-seven pages of Home Education, but which are also dealt with directly or indirectly in all her other writings, I should like to urge the extreme danger there is to-day of adopting what she describes as a “rose-water” treatment of children. There are so many health crazes in the air that we lose all sense of proportion. After all, the normal healthy little child is like a young animal and his physical needs fall under three main headings:—

(1) Nourishment (Food, Air, Light); (2) Exercise and Rest; (3) Clothing.

(1) Of course Miss Mason does not set out to give details of feeding tables, but even in the light of present-day discoveries about vitamins there is little to add to what she suggests about food and its variety. What she says about the profit to be gained from gathering round a cheerful family table would do much to cure the present-day detached family life (so called). Further, the necessary methods for securing in children a correct attitude of mind towards food and so avoiding greed, are most helpfully dealt with in Home Education and Ourselves. I remember, too, Miss Mason pointing out to us the extreme folly of offering or withholding special kinds of food as rewards or punishment, as thereby the child forms a false value of the importance of food. Notice, too, that Miss Mason pleads for “unbroken” intervals between meals, and chocolate shared at the meal-table and not thought of again. Our children never raise any objection to fat bacon, or fat meat, or any vegetable, and I have always attributed this to a very restricted allowance of sweets. Possibly the converse is also the case—a well-balanced dietary prevents an undue craving for sweets. There is a special plea in Ourselves for cold water as a thirst quencher, and it always seems to me such a pity to spoil a little child’s love of it by adding lemonade, etc., thereby increasing to-day’s craze for “minerals.”

(2) Exercise and Rest. I am sure mothers of day-school children who go back to school in the afternoon would do well to study the paragraph in Home Education on the necessity for rest after the mid-day meal.

Miss Mason’s idea for exercise for little children was to let them, when possible, race about and shout without any attempt at organised play. A ball can provide quite a lot of useful exercise on a lawn, and a dog-friend to join in is a great joy and help.

Our children are lucky as our garden is old-fashioned with wild bits to play in. They have a sand-hole which imagination uses as everything under the sun! They have a plot of garden which they work in pairs, and the produce of which I buy at market prices, they have a set of medium-sized garden tools between them, a broom apiece which they wield vigorously at this time of the year, and a small barrow and a box on wheels. The gardener is their valued friend and the privilege of helping him highly esteemed, but the work has to be thoroughly done. Then there is the poultry with which they also assist and by giving each child a proprietary right in certain newly-hatched chickens, interest is sustained, even if untimely funerals are necessary!

A swing which can be replaced by a trapeze bar or rings, and can be used also indoors is much valued and gives splendid exercise, and of course hoops, skipping ropes, football and cricket, the latter under daddy’s direction, and with much attention to correct style, provide ample scope. Scooters, I have banned, they seem to me to invite irregular development of a fast-growing little body.

I am afraid, with a garden, that our walking powers do not get exercised more than once a week, but on that once we agree with R.L.S.:

“The world is so full of a number of things,
I am sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

No street or road is dull to the observant eye, even if it is chiefly occupied in identifying different makes of motors, or, as in holiday time spent near a main line railway, in collecting names of engines and classifying them. Exercise indoors depends largely on space—an empty attic will help to get rid of much surplus energy. The Joyous Book of Singing Games is much beloved and serves the same purpose. The never-failing occupation here for a wet day is building, wooden bricks, four-sided and of varying lengths, with arches and pillars, being the variety most favoured. When the children were quite little, I kept all the mechanical toys locked up as they are so easily destroyed, and when time hung heavy, I produced and worked them as great novelties. As the children get older there do not seem to be enough wet days to do all that they plan.

(3) Clothing. What Miss Mason says about woollen clothing is exactly what is advocated to-day, but there are still too many children wearing unnecessary garments, especially among the poor, thus defeating what Miss Mason so strongly urges, the necessity for free perspiration. In this respect, her suggestion of a small clothes-horse on which night-gowns could hang all day, and day garments all night, is a very sound one. It should not be necessary to-day to point out the importance of a daily bath, but I am often amazed to find it much neglected, even with ample provision. When quite tiny, a child can help in dressing and undressing himself and even in washing himself. All through the Home Education series the necessity for letting a child do as much as he can for himself is insisted on. Small folk of even four are much more capable than we think, and if they have certain regular tasks assigned to them, they feel that they really count in the household, and also learn to appreciate and make plans for their leisure.

Lest it be thought that I write theoretically, I should like to say that I have practised all I have advocated above on our own four children, two of either sex, the eldest nearly eleven, the youngest six. Beyond a very occasional cold they have never had a day’s illness in their lives, and from what I have seen, I am sure four are less trouble to bring up than one solitary child.

III. Freedom Within The Law
By Mrs. Tovey (H.O.E.)

All parents, I feel sure, experience difficulties in bringing up their children, some at one stage of their development, some at another.

Children who are apparently very easy to manage during their early years become difficult in their teens, and frequently the troublesome little child, the terror of the nursery, changes entirely when school age is reached and the energies which produced naughtiness are led into the right channels.

The remedy for these ills lies with the parents, who in many cases are so anxious for their children and fearful of all that may happen to them, morally and physically, that they fence them in with rules and regulations, and all goes well until the children wake up to the fact that they have personalities of their own and break down the barriers.

Some rules are very necessary, and when made must be kept, but a system of “Does” and “Don’ts” does not build up character, and that after all is the aim of all of us.

What I desire for my own children is that they shall grow up self-reliant, considerate for others, able to take the rough with the smooth, with sufficient self-control to choose the right course when difficulties arise.

To attain this it is necessary from very early days to teach a child that he is a responsible being, and able to manage his own little affairs. Every child has a sense of his own power, and, mis-directed, uses that power to bully his nurse and assert himself.

Teach him to use his powers rightly, give him little jobs to do for himself and for you, and he will grow up self-reliant, able to do things and not have them done for him. Children vary so much in this respect that no hard and fast rule can be laid down; some, like my own small son, say, “I do it myself” as soon as they can speak; others, more diffident, have to be taught independence, but they enjoy it nevertheless and the wider outlook it brings with it. It is astonishing how capable children are if we will only trust them.

The happy medium is not easily attained; the independent baby is so apt to run off the rails as he grows older, and think the world a pleasant place to live in if only people would not interfere. He must be made to realise his responsibilities towards others from a very early age, and that he himself as a member of the community must adapt himself to the customs of that community.

There is so much said and written, and wrongly interpreted in these days, about children developing along their own lines that we have to be very careful and guard ourselves against the “go-as-you-please” method, which means that the child grows up without the necessary self-control, undisciplined by others, and therefore, as he grows older, unable to discipline himself.

Children generally are very reasonable beings, unless they have been spoilt or repressed.

My ideas are based on my own experience, and many people may disagree with them, but I feel that, taken as a whole, they do yield the results wished for. It is no small thing in these days of modern girls and difficult daughters, that one hears so much of, to have the confidence of one’s children, and to have them pulling with and not against their parents for the welfare of the family as a whole.

IV. A Nursery Without A Nurse
By M. R. (H.O.E.)

May I give a word of encouragement to young mothers, who are, either from choice or necessity, looking after their children without the help of a nurse?

We have just safely settled our boy, aged fourteen, at his public school (he is already in the Middle School at Haileybury, having finished with the Lower School after only one term) and our girl, aged twelve, at her school, where she has gone into IIIa., and as I have had them in my care from the beginning and never had a nurse, and quite frequently little or no help in the house, I can honestly “speak from experience.”

And first, may I quote what I read many years ago now: “don’t grudge the time that you have to give to your children.” The days, so fully occupied with multifarious duties, pass all too quickly, and babyhood gives way to childhood—childhood to school days, and all too soon you find your babies men and women.

It seems to me that the chief advantage of having no help is that the children learn so easily to be independent and really helpful. At a very early age I remember the joy with which John used to make the toast for breakfast each morning, and what pride he took in not burning it. Very early, too, the two children, eight years old and six, would help me with the washing up, one drying the silver, and the other the cups, and it is surprising how few accidents there have been.

At that time, too, I remember the fun we used to have over the weekly silver cleaning. One putting on the powder, the other rubbing it off, and mother giving the final polish, and what do you think we did to enliven things? Each recited the latest poem we had learnt!

All these household duties are learnt and co-operation in the early running of the home makes them all a joy.

And what a treat have been the cooking mornings, when both children delighted to help (and still do), and at ten years old, either of them could prepare the breakfast entirely alone—porridge, coffee, hot milk, bacon and toast.

Washday, too, was a great delight, and often on Saturdays, Mary and her little next-door neighbour would have a doll’s wash, and the line would be filled with tiny garments neatly pegged out—to be folded and ironed later in the day.

One cannot easily have joys like that where a maid is kept.

Always have we been fond of outdoor interests, and as far back as I can remember picnics have been real treats—first with the pram (near to home), then a scooter appeared and John got on more easily with that, Mary still in the pram. Later, at seven years and five, Mary was promoted to my bicycle carrier, and our radius still further increased. Then after a year or two, Grandpa rejoiced our hearts by the gift of a bicycle, so John now cycled and Mary “scooted.” Needless to say she soon learnt to ride the bicycle and then they took it in turns. After persistent saving, number two “bike” was procured, and we’ve not left many roads unexplored in the neighbourhood now.

Before I leave the subject of picnics, may I just make a suggestion for further enjoyment. We bought a good map of the neighbourhood (when John had turned twelve), and as we explored new ways, each ride was marked in red ink.

It is a good beginning to intelligent map reading in this age of motors and quick transit.

What opportunities these picnics have given us to learn nature in various aspects—the greatest joy is fishing for newts, tadpoles, sticklebacks, and other prizes for the aquarium, but space does not permit me to tell you of all our treasures in that pursuit.

Winter evenings were spent just as happily as summer days. Handicrafts of all sorts were learnt and always a lovely book was read and enjoyed by all.

One thing has always been a hard and fast rule in this house and still is, and that is the half hour’s (or more) rest after dinner. I am convinced it is a real necessity in this bustling age for both children and mothers.

I always feel when mothers say, “Oh, I can’t make Pat (or Betty) rest any more now,” this at the age of three or four, that they have not persevered enough. Till five years old John and Mary were tucked up—blinds down, and left alone—after that a picture book.

It seems to me that there are only two drawbacks to the bringing up of children without a nurse. One is that one must be content to sacrifice practically all social life and all outside work, and the other is that there is little or no time for self-development and further study—but to my mind the close intimacy one has with one’s children far more than outweighs these two disadvantages. It is hard work and on thinking back one often wonders how one did get through the work, but funnily enough it is the joys one remembers and not the worries.

I have written so far and not mentioned Miss Mason’s name—yet I can never be grateful enough for all her help and guidance, assimilated chiefly during my two years at Scale How, in these most important years of the children’s lives. The help one gets from Home Education in the formation of habits and the building up of character is invaluable, and one feels so strongly that all the suggestions are based firmly on bedrock scientific truths.

Also we were able to send both children to P.N.E.U. Schools from the start, so they have really been Miss Mason’s “babes” from the very beginning.

V. The Twins
By Mrs. Waddell (H.O.E.)

It is at all times interesting to watch the development of a child, but it is even more so to study the development and progress of twins, which is my privilege, although at times I say with the small girl of Mabel Lucie Attwell fame, who is trying unsuccessfully to amuse her baby twin sisters, “whoever ‘lowed muvver to order twins?”

I cannot say that my twins, a boy and a girl of four years, are examples of model children, but, like all healthy children, they have great possibilities for good and evil, and are quick to take advantage of any slacking of the reins of discipline.

I always find that if I am cross and irritable myself, it reacts on them, so I have come to the conclusion that mothers should try at all times to preserve an equable temper.

The twins are in many ways quite different in temperament, the girl active and rather excitable, the boy composed and easy-going. The girl sometimes goes into almost a panic when anything upsets her, and while a smart smack on the hand[*] brings the boy to his senses when all else fails, I find that scolding only makes matters worse for the girl, and that the best cure is to take her on my knee and draw her attention away from the cause of the trouble. If it is best not referred to again, I leave well alone, but if one has been annoying the other, I take the offender to task and reason with him or her, and children are very sensible beings who can see reason much better than some grown-ups can, so thus, a quarrel always ends with kisses and apologies, and a better sense of comradeship for the remainder of the day. It is well to bring children up on the “do to others, as you would they should do to you” principle, and surely no child will grow up selfish or unsympathetic who is early taught to consider other people.

The twins, too, make friends with everyone, and children are very discriminating. A very decent-looking man came to the door the other day, seeking help. I gave him a few coppers and something to eat and went indoors. The twins had been playing on the drive, and when I went out to see where they were about three minutes later, I discovered that they had accompanied the tramp to the front gate, on which he was giving them swings to their huge delight, and his. I withdrew discreetly into the shrubs, and soon the man bade them farewell and waved to them until he was out of sight. Of course, I quite realise it is not advisable for them to accompany all and sundry, but surely that poor man would be cheered on his way, and it is good to teach children to be kind to everyone, and especially to those less fortunate than themselves.

I have always encouraged them to be helpful to each other, and to do little tasks about the house thoroughly and well, but I have found that while they should get some encouragement, one should not be too lavish with one’s praises. My little girl can wash, dry and put away the tea dishes now without any assistance except that of a high stool, but when she whispered to me the other day when some ladies called, “Tell them how I can wash the dishes, mummy,” I made a mental resolution not to make so much fuss about any clever little things they do in future. Of course, one must never relate before them any of their smart sayings or deeds, because their praise will mean more to them than the actual joy of doing anything for the benefit of others.

Teach them early to appreciate the joys and beauties of the world around them, and always answer their little questions as intelligently as you can. I have not worried to teach them to attempt to read or write—these will all come through time. I believe, I, as a child, could read parts of the newspaper at their age, but I would have been much more grateful now if I had been taught earlier to distinguish the different birds and flowers, and sights and sounds of Nature. There is nothing petty and mean about it, and religious teaching goes hand in hand with it, and I try to impress on the children’s minds how God provides for everything—and how thankful we should be.

In conclusion, I can only add that the best help I can offer to young mothers who have not been fortunate enough to spend two delightful years at Ambleside is to advise them to read her book, Parents and Children, which deals so sensibly and successfully with every aspect of home-training. Common-sense, a sense of humour, and a deep sense of our responsibility to the nation of which every family is a unit, should provide us with means for such a great end as the bringing up of little children.

VIa. Child-Training: Habits
By A Mother (H.O.E.)

The one aspect of home training of children which has seemed of most importance to me is that of habit-training. All a child’s future character rests on this foundation of sound training in good habits. Give a child obedience, promptness, tidiness and application, training him in each of these separately, and you have him working along with you, assisting in the correct growth of his own character. After that all things are possible.

At the present time there is a tendency among modern mothers to allow their children’s happiness, wishes, or health to occupy first place, to the detriment of later character. “If he is happy, what does it matter? he is just as good as so-and-so, and I’m not always nagging at him”—was said about a small boy who was being allowed to leave ends of food upon his plate. Another child, a mere toddler, was walking too much (doing what he wanted), consequently making his legs bend outwards. When I remonstrated, saying it would result in lasting harm, his mother said, “But if he wants to do it, why shouldn’t he?” Think of the change the mother could make were she to tackle this wilfulness firmly and gently, helping the child to turn his will to an unselfish end. These two examples show the necessity of counteracting bad habits, by training in an opposite good habit. Children take an interest in such things and make quite a game of it. “Mummy, I saw S’s temper running away, didn’t you?”

My own experience has taught me to take action at once upon the appearance of a fault, not allowing it to show itself more than twice, lest it become a habit. Let me give an example. My little boy, at the beginning of winter time, refused to sleep without my presence in his bedroom, necessitating my sitting an hour perhaps. Reasoning had no effect, so the only thing to be done was to punish him each time he got out of bed to seek me and to insist on obedience. After eight nights of fighting this, I won, and A. now sleeps at once on going to bed. This wilfulness recurs in other forms, e.g., refusing to partake of certain foods; often a change of thought is sufficient to make A. forget his purpose, but sometimes he is quietly put outside the room till he is reasonable. Miss Mason has told us to avoid friction, and use gentle means.

But before a mother can train her child she must first remove the mote from her own eye. Her own unconscious habits, of voice, manner, bearing, are a most lasting example to her children. This I have found to my cost: the very faults I would correct in my child are those to which I am most prone. It needs continual prayer and watching for my own short-comings and is excellent training in keeping my temper and voice gentle. “That’s not your pretty voice,” a small boy told his mother, when she was upbraiding him for a fault. One must therefore keep a high ideal before one—read good books, attend church regularly, and consult Miss Mason’s books when at a loss to know how to treat a refractory child. One gets a fresh incentive to try again, a sympathetic outlook towards the child’s point of view, which one often forgets in the heat of the moment. This rest and recreation are most necessary if the mother is much with her children, so that she can gain patience and a better temper with which to return to her task.

My summary of Miss Mason’s teaching upon this subject is as follows:—

  1. Attack a bad habit at once, and each time till it is overcome.
  2. Try by gentle means, avoiding friction, but insist on obedience.
  3. Praise the child to encourage him, but only for real effort.
  4. See that your own behaviour is a good example for the child to follow.

VIb. A Note On Habit
By Another Mother (H.O.E.)

I would like to pay a tribute to the great help I have found in early training of the use of the power of Habit.

How well I remember the heading of the chapter, “Habit is ten Natures,” in Miss Mason’s book, and wondering if it could be true! But habits formed early (it is never too early to start forming them I find) certainly become a tower of strength. Even in little everyday things such as tidiness, order, punctuality—children very soon do these things quite automatically, and this saves so much telling on mother’s part.

Also I have found the forming of an opposite good habit to take the place of the bad one is better than trying to correct the bad one.

Change of thought, too, I find a great help in many ways in dealing with the little ones, and I was rather struck by a remark my small son made the other day, proving that he too has gained this power. We were at lunch, and I was not taking much owing to a bad headache. He asked why, and on being told the reason, he said, “Poor Mummie, let me tell you a lovely story, as I always find if you think of something else you forget about the pain.” As he has had a considerable amount of bad health I thought that quite a good tribute.

VII. Principles
By Mrs. Truscott (H.O.E.)

On looking back on my children’s early years, I think my guiding principles were:—

(1) To keep the children out of doors as much as possible; to avoid excitement; to avoid friction.

(2) Never to deceive them or tell them an untruth, whatever the question.

(3) To instil as early as possible, from birds and animals around, the facts of reproduction, so that they should never remember learning where young creatures “come from.”

(4) To avoid punishment, especially all forms of corporal punishment.

(5) Always to treat children reasonably as self-respecting persons, not as inferiors.

(6) Never to “amuse” them, but to let them share in occupations indoors and out, and let them occupy themselves.

[*] The views expressed by this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charlotte Mason Poetry team. We advise seeking pastoral and legal counsel before applying corporal punishment in the home.

Editor’s Note: The formatting of the above article was optimized for online viewing. To access a version which is formatted more similarly to the original, and which includes the original page numbers, please click here.

Endnotes for the Editor’s Note

[1] The Parents’ Review, vol. 37, p. 775.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *