Mother Culture is a term made popular by Charlotte Mason, an educator from the 1800's. Once I first heard of the term, I loved it. It sounded so sophisticated and important. The more I dug into it and learned, the more I feel in love with the term but for the right reasons.
Mother Culture: The What, Why & How
I was only midway through our first year of homeschooling, when I first learned about Charlotte Mason. I never expected that when I came across the method of a woman who lived in England during the 1800's that my own education would be tested and changed for ever.
Your own education may never look the same after this…
What is ‘mother culture' exactly?
Let's consider Charlotte Mason's quote, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” to answer this question…
If education is a life, do we ever stop learning? Charlotte Mason would say ‘absolutely not‘, especially for a homeschooling mother.
Most homeschooling mothers would agree that we are learning along side our children because we don't remember these things in our own education. This isn't the ‘education' that Charlotte Mason was speaking about, though.
Nature studies is a perfect example for a place where ‘mother culture' could be taking place. With a true Charlotte Mason education, when a child found something in nature, they would ask the mother what it was and the mother would have an answer for its name and something interesting to share about it.
Today, most mothers are not familiar with the nature around them, so this is where ‘mother culture‘ would come into play, as the mother continues her own education as a lifestyle and starts building her knowledge of the natural world around her as just one aspect of her own culture of education.
With this knowledge, the concept of mother culture is to be learning ahead of your children, not beside. A great concept but often times difficult to do, if you don't have a starting point. (Don't get discourage, Mom! Keep reading…)
I remember when my own son would ask me what things were in nature and I had NO idea. It didn't stop me! I purchased field guides and found the answers when asked.
Staying true to the other philosophies of Charlotte Mason, part of mother culture also includes appreciation of art and music, handicrafts, skills, as well as building the knowledge of people, places, nature, poetry and more.
Why is ‘mother culture' important?
This philosophy of ‘mother culture' is so crucial for a mother of all ages, especially a younger mother with many children, who may feel like her identify is summed up in ‘wife' and ‘mother', as her day is full of only these things if she isn't purposefully seeking opportunities for mother culture in her own life.
It is important to realize that mother culture is important not only for the child's education but also for the mother's education, as a person. Our life improves with knowledge and with that knowledge our life is enriched.
Without thinking long, list 3-10 things that you are interested in ‘learning' but not feeling like you have the time, resources or opportunity to really give attention to doing in your life. DON'T get caught up with the obstacles, just think about your desires for the moment.
How to implement ‘mother culture'.
The ‘how' of mother culture is something that will require focus and determination. I would really recommend getting your husband on board, especially if you are losing joy in your roles as wife and mother. (being real because I was this wife and mother in my early 30's – which is when Charlotte Mason came into our home)
4 ways you can add mother culture to your day with ease:
- Implement book time in the afternoon: Have all children sit quietly with their own books, while younger ones are taking naps and you choose one of the THREE books that Charlotte Mason recommends to be reading at one time, depending on the mood you are in at the time (a biography, a novel and something to learn) and set the timer, while training your children that this is YOUR time for learning and they must be quiet for you. Give them narrations of some of your readings from time to time, as an example of a good narration.
- Listen to music that interest you while you are cleaning or cooking. Decorate your home with art that interest you or start a Pinterest board of your own favorite pieces.
- Plan at least 2-3 field trips a year for your own interest, inviting your family to come along or go with friends.
- Pick one skill you desire to learn and set aside a few minutes a day to learn this. This can easily be done after the children go to bed, but always include them in your growth of the skill, so they are seeing your example of education being for life.
You deserve time in your day to stay connecting with what makes you… YOU!
If you like this post, you may also like 10 Charlotte Mason Books All Homeschool Moms Should Read…