When I first read about Charlotte Mason's "Masterly Inactivity" philosophy, I loved the idea but had no idea how to go about encouraging that in our home. I knew I shouldn't be "planning" it, per say, and I had a hard time figuring out how to encourage this without planning it. I still don't really have this figured out. I copied Carrie's post here, because I think it illustrates beautifully what "Masterly Inactivity" can look like in our homes.Carrie wrote:Mom2Monkeys,
...Our programs are kept purposefully short in the younger years to give your kiddos time to focus on the 3 R's. In addition, kiddos are able to have their afternoons free for what CM called "masterly inactivity" on the parent's part. ). This means that kiddos have free time to pursue their own interests in the afternoons.
To give you an example of what this looked like at our house this past week... my 6 year old used his free time to color and create kites of his various stuffed animals. His clown fish kite was my favorite. My 9 year old recorded Tales from the Ark for my 6 year, complete with sound effects and various voices. My boys have also done this with WInd in the Willows and Tales from Dust River Gulch.
My 12 year old has been latch hooking and has also been outside daily practicing target shooting with his bow and arrow in our yard. My 2 year old has just walked around gathering things! All of the boys have worked together to build an entire geotrax set-up which covers the entire living room. The design of it is amazing, and they pick up and drop off to army men who are set up nearby. The 2 year old has been stepping gingerly around this! My husband and I also have been treated to a magic show, which my middle sons have been practicing this week.
Now, on any one given week, my boys activities will look totally different, but my boys have learned how to occupy their own time with things that interest each of them. If they don't have their free-time they are sad. If we do errands, they'll often say, "Mom, when will be home? I was planning on working on or doing.... this afternoon."
So, I'd encourage you to enjoy Beyond, enjoy your free-time, and allow your kiddo to cultivate that masterly inactivity. You'll be amazed at what children who have long periods of time to think can come up with!
I would love to hear what masterly inactivity looks like in your homes!!! Just to get more ideas of how that can look. I think I'm doing some "masterly inactivity" in our home - this is what it looks like:
My almost 9 yo collected locusts' moltings and counted them, looked at them under a magnifying glass, and saved them for his cousin who loves bugs (that would be Shaw, Carrie's second ds ) My 5 yo set up his play deer, antelope, bears, and wild hogs at various heights (on blocks, behind play trees, etc.) to practice shooting with his nerf gun and bullets (my dh is an avid outdoorsman). They are both into latch-hooking, and are loving that. My 5yo is also into perler beads and made his own cars for me to iron.
My almost 9 yo has set up what he calls "The Leaf Factory" outside. I'm not sure what this is exactly, but they do it lots of afternoons. O.k., I asked him and here is "The Leaf Factory" in his own words:
"We put blankets down, set up camp with crates and snacks, start raking, stuff the leaves in buckets, use bungy straps to sling the buckets over their shoulders, and hall them to a trailer."
This sounds pretty much like raking leaves to me, but I have never asked them to do that - so would this be "masterly inactivity"?
My 5 yo has an "art closet" he chooses to do things from each day. He has made playdough creations from made up animals to play food. He also has painted all sorts of things too.
Both boys love to ride their 3-wheelers around the yard and may do this whenever they want to in their free time - which is about every day. I play a made-up game of baseball with them about every other day whenever they ask (modified rules for 3 players ).
So, are these "masterful inactivity" type things, or not? How do you encourage masterful inactivity in your home, and what does it look like? I'd love to hear your ideas.
P.S. I had a similar experience with activities that Carrie describes (since we have the same parents, of course ), and I share her above opinion about that. My dh, on the other hand, seemed to naturally choose "masterful inactivity" things like trapping, fishing, hunting, fixing dirtbikes, mowers - anything with an engine - raising hogs (which his dad never did), and a whole bunch of other things he came up with on his own (or with his brothers), did them totally on his own, and still enjoys doing a lot of them today. Now, other than having a lot of undirected free time, I am not sure how that happened. Wish I could figure out how to encourage that more in our home!