The Library

For the Children’s Sake

For the Children's Sake

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay is a book that may change the way you think about education. Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, daughter of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, draws from the works of Charlotte Mason to describe education from the foundations up emphasizing a “joyous adventure and celebration of life, as well as a solid preparation for living.”

This warm and enthusiastic book encourages respecting each child’s individuality, providing a rich learning environment for our children, serving our children, providing for their growth, expecting excellence, developing good habits, and creating an atmosphere of acceptance; in short, “nurturing the minds and spirits” of our children.

To this end, the author lays out specific ways this type of education can be provided to our children. Living books are recommended as the best way to “let the children at the best of life.” This allows them to develop relationships within the areas we commonly think of as subjects. For example, a historical narrative is read, literary biographies are included to further bring alive an era, the flow of history is maintained through a timeline, and none of it is “told in isolation.” Composition involves copywork, narration, and dictation. In the areas of art and music the student is allowed to feast on the works of the great.

When I first read this book well over a decade ago, it had an enormous impact on our home. I suddenly realized that the workbooks, and textbooks, and scopes, and sequences, and quizzes, and tests — no matter how important or good — were not the point. Opening up a child’s head and dumping things in was not an education. Education was life and life was education.

Those of us who choose to develop our own styles will find this book particularly helpful in providing a rich learning environment that respects the individuality of each child.

Charlotte Mason taught that the Christian world view, properly applied, produces an atmosphere in which the child is accepted just as he is. He does not have to prove himself, pass a test, or show particular talent. He is valuable and unique. He is loved by God, valued and respected by Him. His mind is not looked down upon; he flourishes in the invigorating atmosphere of sharing truly worth-while interests with people who like him as a person. His own ideas and choices count. There is an atmosphere of hope and sure expectations…. The atmosphere is stimulating because there is a common bond, too, in the area of enjoying knowledge…. I would rather my child had a limited curriculum and access to limited educational resources, and yet learned by basking in the atmosphere of someone who had true pleasure in the books that were pursued, than that he should go to some well-equipped and soulless situation where, theoretically, he could ‘learn’ at optimum speed.

For the Children’s Sake is an important read for every homeschool mom, but particularly DIY homeschool moms whose efforts are aimed at something bigger than a generic education for their children.