Spaces to Think: No. 3

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This week our “Space to Think” Quote comes from the beginning of Volume 1:

 “Mothers owe a ‘thinking love’ to their Children.––‘The mother is qualified,” says Pestalozzi, “and qualified by the Creator Himself, to become the principal agent in the development of her child; … and what is demanded of her is––a thinking love … God has given to the child all the faculties of our nature, but the grand point remains undecided––how shall this heart, this head, these hands be employed? to whose service shall they be dedicated? A question the answer to which involves a futurity of happiness or misery to a life so dear to thee. Maternal love is the first agent in education.’

We are waking up to our duties and in proportion as mothers become more highly educated and efficient, they will doubtless feel the more strongly that the education of their children during the first six years of life is an undertaking hardly to be entrusted to any hands but their own. And they will take it up as their profession––that is, with the diligence, regularity, and punctuality which [we] bestow on [our] professional labours.

That the mother may know what she is about, may come thoroughly furnished to her work, she should have something more than a hearsay acquaintance with the theory of education, and with those conditions of the child’s nature upon which such theory rests” (p. 2-3).

In your “space to think” consider the following:

  • What area of your family life is most in need of “a thinking love” right now?
  • Is there a time of day that is troublesome for your children?
  • A routine that’s not working? Morning habits, bedtime habits, cleaning up after a meal, returning home from an outing, emptying sports bags, book bags, etc
  • A physical space that creates issues: an overstuffed closet, a pile of toys in a playroom, the lack of a place for mother or children to be alone to think, pray, read?
  • A conflict between siblings? Between parent and child?
  • Are hearts, heads, and hands duly employed each day?
  • How could you deal with this issue with diligence, regularity and punctuality that you would use to tackle a “professional” problem?
  • Are you furnished with the training you would need to handle the issue?
  • What would make your action or resolve “a thinking love” for your child, rather than just a thinking action or just a loving one?

When I had my first baby, I would often call my husband at work, upset about some issue I was having with my little one. I was overwhelmed and tired and lonely and wanted to do it ALL the RIGHT way! I would call and go on and on and on..! And finally one day, he kindly stopped me and said,

“Amy, you are a creative and intelligent woman, I think you can solve this problem.”

I was stunned!

But he was right, I had just left a teaching position where I dealt with over 100 students a day and faced many difficult issues. When a problem would arise, I would tackle it with creativity and intelligence. Why hadn’t I thought to do that with my little one?

Our families don’t need our fretting and complaining–they need our “thinking love”!

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To read more about “Space to Think,” check out the first post in the series:

Spaces to Think No. 2

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Today’s quote comes to us from Charlotte Mason’s Volume 6. I have been pondering it since Kerry Forney shared the quote to a group of us in Philadelphia at our workshop, Learning How to Live!.

But our fault, our exceeding great fault, is that we keep our own minds and the minds of our children shamefully underfed.

The mind is a spiritual octopus, reaching out limbs in every direction to draw in enormous rations of that which under the action of the mind itself becomes knowledge.

Nothing can stale its infinite variety; the heavens and the earth, the past, the present, and future, things great and things minute, nations and men, the universe, all are within the scope of the human intelligence…

Volume 6 p. 310

Questions to consider:

  • Are you keeping your mind underfed?
  • What are you feeding your mind?
  • How is the mind a “spiritual octopus”?
  • Take a moment to ponder the infinite variety of the universe, “things great and things minute”?
  • Is there a new scope of human intelligence that you’d like pursue?
  • Have you had enough “Spaces to Think” this week? This weekend as you plan out your week ahead, can you plan for space to feed your mind?

sawtooth oak

Spaces to Think


On Fridays, we plan to share with you quotes from Charlotte Mason that we’ve been pondering over the past week. For now, we’re calling these posts, “Spaces to Think.” We hope they will give you space in your full day to consider a golden nugget from Mason!


To begin the series, I’ll share with you where we found the idea of “Spaces to Think.”


A few years ago a friend accidentally stumbled across a short, yet lovely piece in the L’Umile Pianta from June 1922, “Education is the Science of Relations,” a summary of a talk given by Miss Parish.

“What Miss Mason’s teaching gives us is really the philosophy of life, the art of living. The realization of our ideal depends upon Proportion. We must have a just sense of proportion, we must have harmony. The old painters new this…We must not think only of developing the body, nor on the other hand of only the mind, but must keep the balance true. We must not overcrowd our lives and live in a perpetual hurry. We want spaces in life to think. Thinking is most important in life.”

I need to hear this again and again. It is too easy to fill our days with busyness, to be pressured to take on more than we should and be left hurrying from one thing to the next. When our schedule is overcrowded, our interior life shrivels.

The analogy to proportion in art and decorating is a helpful one. The summary continues…

“We should not care to have every bit of our walls covered with pictures as beautiful as each might be by itself. Miss Parish told us she had recently slept in a room containing 90 objects! Let us have spaces.”

Yes, let us have spaces!

We have the chance now in the hot, lazy days of August to stop and consider Proportion in our lives.

Do we keep the balance true?

Do we have spaces to think?

When in our day do we stop just to think and do we have a physical space to go to think?

How can we find space in a home of 4 children and a newborn with laundry to be done, meals to be made, spills to be cleaned, emails to return, swim lessons to make and a birthday party to plan?

At a particularly stressful time, I found it helpful to actually create a visual “time budget.” Mystie Winkler writes about it here. Yes, I had a daily schedule for our family, but I so often wondered where did my time go each day? A helpful thing with the time budget was that it also required me to include travel time so that I saw that each event outside our home actually required more time than I had realized.

Why was a “Time Budget” helpful?

I learned that I do accomplish a lot each day! But also in seeing my time laid out, I could see places we needed more space. It helped me to evaluate whether some of our outside activities were really worth so much effort. I also saw blank spaces in my day that I could take better advantage.

The summary from the L’Umile Pianta ends, “…We want a unifying principle to guide us.” Mason shares with us more than an educational plan but an entire “philosophy of life, the art of living” if we make the space to consider it.



Quotes taken from the L’Umile Pianta: For the Children’s Sake. June 1922, p. 23-23. Transcribed from the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection, Redeemer University
The L’Umile Pianta was the magazine published for the alumni of Charlotte Mason’s teaching college in Ambleside, England