Thursday, August 6, 2009

Resilience and Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason was an amazingly deep thinker. Somehow she was able to really 'see' children. She thought of them as individuals, much to the contrary of many in her time period. These young individuals come with their own set of excellent qualities and challenges. Many children have the challenge of not having much in the way of Resilience, especially children with special needs. Pooh has autism and it is very evident that this is a difficult challenge for him.

Resilience is your typical "bounce back" from troubles quality. Most people when presented with a challenge have some type of copying mechanism that enables them to go on or continue with what they're doing or to overcome the challenge. For instance, you may be driving along and get a flat tire. What do you do? There are several options if you have resilience: change the tire yourself, call your husband, call AAA, slowly drive to a nearby gas station, etc. A person without resilience wouldn't know what to do. They may cry, scream, just sit there for hours until someone comes upon them or be scared out of their mind. Or they may have an idea of what to do but be unable to get themselves to the point of action.

Charlotte Mason wanted us to teach our children resilience. Read Charlotte Mason's Students Motto. Notice the language of the motto. "I am, I can, I ought, I will." What is this language doing? It is teaching resilience. It is giving children a mindset from which they can draw upon during the challenges they face daily.

Now read A Guide to Promoting Resilience. Notice the language there under the section Three Sources of Resilience. "I am, I can, I have." Does it blow your mind or what?!? Same stuff as Charlotte was talking about! This is one of the many reasons that a Charlotte Mason education fits so well for our family. I only wish I had discovered it and understood it's value years ago.

Here is an example of how Charlotte recommends teaching about the 'will':
Habit of Self-management.––Then, as was said before, let him know the secret of willing; let him know that, by an effort of will, he can turn his thoughts to the thing he wants to think of––his lessons, his prayers, his work, and away from the things he should not think of;––that, in fact, he can be such a brave strong little fellow, he can make himself think of what he likes; and let him try little experiments––that if he once get his thoughts right, the rest will take care of itself, he will be sure to do right then; that if he feels cross, naughty thoughts coming upon him, the plan is, to think hard about something else, something nice––his next birthday, what he means to do when he is a man. Not all this at once, of course;
(volume 1, page 328)

If your child has special needs, you could read this and think "That's nuts! How can I make my child think about something else when they're ready to have a meltdown?" I understand. Believe me. It's hard work.

In the world of RDI, you would first work on Guided Participation. Scaffolding is another tool--breaking down a project into parts that allow your child to feel that he/she can accomplish something gives them a basis upon which to feel a sense of self and of what they can accomplish.

You may use other tools as well. Teaching them to count to ten before they explode, that visual of a problem balloon floating away or going to a quiet place and returning when calm. Some parents even find doing sensory related activities to help with resilience in some situations. Recently I've been putting what I like to call 'motivational sentences' on the boys' white boards (they each have one). Sentences such as: I can...control my anger. I am...a good boy. I will...finish what I start. I will...learn to be obedient. My goal is to give them positive thoughts to combat the negative ones that naturally come to mind.

Obviously, I'm still a novice at this. I'm reading and learning right along with you. Maybe even more slowly. LOL The point, though, is to be resilient. Keep trying. Keep going. Keep learning. Keep practicing. It will get better and the challenge can be overcome. (Note to self.)

The above article on A Guide to Promoting Resilience, along with the links I've provided below, should give us all a good amount of things to consider and work on.

Parent Quiz (The proper answers are pretty obvious. However, I found it made me think and reexamine some of my faults as a parent. I'm very much in the "I told you so" camp. Not very helpful for resilience. Sigh.)
10 Tips for Building Resilience
Resilience for Children with Challenges
The Parent Coach (I like his analogy of the 'disappointment ditch'.)
Emotional Resilience (Some parts of this don't quite fit in with CM from my understanding of them. However, there is some good info and tips to glean.)
Teaching Resilience with Photography (a really neat program implemented to help autistic children)
Summarization of Research on Resilience I found this statement very much in line with what RDI does: "To this end, both authors emphasize the conceptualization of resilience as a dynamic developmental process, rather than as a static trait."


The Glasers said...

I never thought about the habit of self-management until you spotlighted it in this context!


(((((HUGS))))) sandi said...

I believe I have taught this since we began our CM journey over six years ago, however I have not been successful. :( This post gives me more food for thought! I have one ds who is not special needs but does not hold a Biblical worldview (rather a negative one), despite what we've taught. I hope to think afresh on this with the information you've shared here~*THANK YOU!* (((((HUGS))))) sandi

Shannon said...

Great post - more food for thought.

Anonymous said...

Your 'word picture' of special needs is very helpful to one who has not experienced it.

sarah in the woods said...

Thanks for this. I haven't read the motto in a while, but it is so good. I'm going to print it off and hang it on my fridge.