Charlotte Mason method homeschool posts.
It’s so much fun to see Charlotte Mason’s principles play out right in front of your eyes! Recently I was presenting the workshop “Charlotte Mason & Her Methods” at a homeschool convention. It was late at night after a full day of travel and convention busyness, and some of the parents in the room were beginning to feel weary. One dad, in particular, was really struggling to keep focused.
About halfway through that workshop, as usual, I pulled out the picture cards so we could do a picture study. You should have seen that dad light up! He really seemed to enjoy describing the picture, and after that, it looked as if his attention struggles were past. [Continue reading Keeping Your Balance: Switch Things Around …]
This spring I am learning to treasure a certain Charlotte Mason phrase more deeply than ever. Charlotte talked about recognizing “the familiar face of a friend.” As we travel to various homeschool conventions across the country, it is a joy to meet new people; but there is something about recognizing the familiar face of a friend that warms the heart and refreshes the spirit like nothing else can. And the best part is that the new friends we meet this year will be familiar faces next year!
Charlotte well knew the advantages of forming those relations, of making friends that can be recognized across the room. In fact, she used that terminology to describe true learning. When describing how young readers should learn new words, she explained that they should recognize that new word anywhere, as the familiar face of a friend peeking out of a crowd. [Continue reading The Familiar Face of a Friend …]
A few weeks ago as we backed the truck out of the driveway, I was delighted to see the first blossom on the Carolina Jessamine vine that grows around our mailbox on the curb. I had noticed several buds a couple of days before that, but somehow that first blossom is always a special treat.
A few hours later, as I was helping our youngest child get ready for bed, I walked into her bedroom and witnessed another “growth surprise”: she has definitely outgrown her pajamas! When did that happen? [Continue reading While You’re Waiting …]
Spring. A time of growth. The budding leaves and blooming phlox around my house are beautiful reminders of the truth that children learn in order to grow.
Charlotte Mason believed that. Children learn in order to grow, not just to know. Growth is the goal of true education—mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, socially. We’ve talked a bit before about our role in helping our children grow: provide an atmosphere that welcomes growth, pull the weeds of bad habits, and feed the plant with nourishing ideas. Today, with the reminders that come with spring, let’s look at another aspect of growing. [Continue reading A Displaced Plant …]
We’ve been talking about instilling good habits. Charlotte Mason likened that process to laying down railroad tracks upon which our children’s lives can run smoothly, without a lot of unnecessary bumping and jolting.
Many people have told us that these habit-training concepts along with the practical tips found in the award-winning book, Laying Down the Rails, have changed their families and homes! What a blessing!
I love to present the workshop based on those concepts at homeschool conventions across the country! And it seems like whenever I talk about laying down the rails of good habits, I usually get two questions: [Continue reading Laying Down the Rails for Children …]
Last week we discussed how important repetition is in forming a new habit. Just as hours of practicing a pirouette makes it easier to perform one, so lots of practice at a new skill—like getting out of bed at a certain time in the morning—makes it easier to do it. Practice makes permanent. Repetition makes habitual.
But there is another key to forming a new habit, and this key is just as important, if not more so: we must have sufficient reason for wanting to form the new habit. Something or someone has to motivate me, to cause me to want to start getting out of bed at that time! [Continue reading The Second Key to Good Habits: Motivation …]
A couple of evenings ago, my daughter and I enjoyed watching two ballet dancers, a husband and wife, perform to one of my favorite Beethoven pieces. Their movements were absolutely beautiful! We knew they were stretching and stressing their muscles to the fullest, and yet they made everything look so graceful and even easy.
Afterward, during an interview, we learned that they practice seven or eight hours per day. In a way it’s not surprising. We all expect that repetition of physical movements will make those actions easier to perform. If we didn’t believe that fact, there would be no soccer moms. [Continue reading The First Key to Good Habits: Repetition …]
Ever since we started publishing the Picture Study Portfolios, we’ve had requests for one on Claude Monet and one on Vincent van Gogh. People wanted those two artists not only because the beautiful quality of our art prints would do their works justice, but also because people knew that our artist biographies would be appropriate for the whole family.
We are happy to announce that the Impressionists have arrived! [Continue reading Monet, Van Gogh, and Titian Are Here! …]
It is always interesting to hear the reasons different parents give for deciding to homeschool their children. We’ve heard many explanations and reasons over the years. But one thing we have never heard a parent say: “I’m homeschooling because I want to ruin my child.”
Is that your goal as a parent? Of course not! Most of us have a desire to see our children surpass ourselves, to have a better education and a better foundation upon which to build their lives. That’s what keeps us going through long division and daily peacemaking! We want to give our children something more. [Continue reading Keeping Your Balance: Masterly Inactivity …]
We are gearing up for traveling to homeschool conventions over the next several weeks. And as I check each convention’s website for a schedule, I am reminded how much that goes on at a convention is not on the schedule. So much of the benefit of attending a convention is hidden between the lines of the schedule.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The schedule gives the times and topics of the main sessions and the workshops; those are a huge and important part of each convention! I love to present workshops and watch the mental lightbulbs go on as homeschool parents grab hold of a new idea or find reassurance for their personal situations. The scheduled sessions and events encourage and equip in a way that not much else can! [Continue reading Between the Lines at a Convention …]
The time has come for your child to perform the Act of Knowing. We’ve discussed the first three steps to a successful narration lesson: pick a good living book, look ahead and behind, and read the passage. Those steps are foundational. Your narration lesson will be less than successful if you skimp on any of them.
But now it is time for the heart of the learning process: your child should retell the passage in his or her own words. Charlotte called this process the Act of Knowing, because you don’t really know something until you actively ponder it and form mental connections with it and make it your own possession. In addition, telling someone what you now know cements it in your mind. [Continue reading To Narrate and Discuss …]
We’ve been talking about the 5 steps to a successful narration lesson, and today we want to continue that series. So far we’ve discussed the importance of selecting a good living book. Book selection can make or break your child’s success at narration. We’ve also emphasized looking ahead and behind before you begin reading in order to help your child find his bearings and prepare his mind to absorb what you are about to share.
Unfortunately, in many parents’ minds a narration lesson has only two steps: read and narrate. The end. But to have a successful narration lesson—one in which your child’s mind embraces and enjoys living ideas on which to grow—you need all five steps: [Continue reading Time to Read …]
Probably the best way to illustrate Step 2 is to talk about the importance of framework. I saw an interesting video clip in which some instructions were read that were difficult to remember or to relate with. But once the person gave the viewer one little phrase . . .
Whoa. Stop right there. Take a moment to analyze what your mind is doing. How are you feeling about this post?
Chances are you’re either puzzled and floundering a bit or disengaged and skimming at this point. Why? Because I didn’t help you find your bearings at the beginning. [Continue reading Find Your Bearings …]
Last week we started a new series, 5 Steps to Successful Narration. Do you remember the five steps? Don’t worry, we’ll review them often as we talk our way through them over the coming weeks.
It’s tempting to think that we can just open a book, start reading, ask one of the children to tell us what happened, and be done. But such a process leaves out a couple of key components that can make the difference between just going through the motions and real learning. And, after all, don’t we want our efforts to result in real learning? [Continue reading The Power of a Good Story …]
My husband has been lifting weights for several months now in an effort to get into shape and improve his health. It’s been good. The program he is using challenges him to regularly increase the number of pounds he lifts, and he was happily making progress and attaining new lift records until January rolled around. Then the wheels fell off the wagon.
All of a sudden he couldn’t progress any farther. He couldn’t lift anything heavier. What was wrong? After shooting some video and analyzing it, he discovered the problem: his form was off. He was not following the basic mechanics of how to lift correctly, and it was impeding his progress. [Continue reading 5 Steps to Successful Narration …]
I’ve been thinking a lot about balance since I read the book In Search of Balance by Richard Swenson last fall. (His book Margin is an all-time favorite of mine, by the way.) As much as we hear about being driven by passion and living on the edge these days, we would do well to look around and see how the world God created is beautifully balanced. Veer too far in one direction—get out of balance—and problems occur, whether in the orbits of the planets, in the natural food chains, in our eating habits, or in our day-to-day living. [Continue reading Keeping Your Balance: Your Weekly Schedule …]
It has been such a treat to be able to read history with my children over the past seventeen years of homeschooling. The Charlotte Mason method of using living books has made the various time periods come alive for me, and I have learned so much.
But never have I learned as much as I did when I read the manuscript for our new book, Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors! What a gem! [Continue reading New Book on Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors …]
New arrivals bring excitement! Just this morning the doorbell rang and I found two cardboard boxes with little printed smiles on my front porch. As I waved to the man driving the big brown truck, the questions rang out from onlookers inside the house: “What’s in the box?” “Who is it for?”
It’s so nice when a resource arrives that will help make our lives a little simpler—whether it is something for the kitchen, something for the cleaning shelf, or something for homeschooling. [Continue reading New Arrivals from 2012 …]
Encouragement. We all need it. We all welcome it with open arms when it comes our way.
Sometimes it comes as a heartfelt reassurance: Yes, you can do this!
Sometimes it appears in the form of a practical tip: This would make your life much easier!
Sometimes it walks along beside us, puts an arm around our shoulders, looks us straight in the eye, and tells us what needs to change if we want to be successful: Here’s a caring reminder. [Continue reading Encouragement Coming Your Way …]
Have you ever listened to a debate rage—both sides championing their points in ever-louder voices and ever-longer speeches—and you suddenly realized that they’re both wrong?
It’s not a matter of which of the two sides is correct; it’s a matter of neither is correct. The correct view is something totally different. They both have missed the boat.
That seems to be the case with education. [Continue reading Education Is Too Often Misunderstood …]
If you’ve been in Charlotte Mason homeschooling very long, you know the emphasis Charlotte put on doing things only once. She explained that we cultivate the habit of attention by reading the passage only once before requiring a narration. We encourage obedience by not repeating ourselves when giving a direction to a child. We dictate each phrase only once for a student who is writing her spelling passage.
So when I came across this next “too often” sentence in Charlotte’s writings, I sat up and took notice! [Continue reading It Is Not Possible to Repeat This Too Often …]
We’re happy to be hosting the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival this week. The carnival has been pondering the 20 Principles of a CM Education over the year, and this edition of the carnival centers on #19.
I love Principle 19. It contains so many nuggets of wisdom in just three short sentences.
Children should be taught, as they become mature enough to understand such teaching, that the chief responsibility which rests on them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas. To help them in this choice we give them principles of conduct, and a wide range of the knowledge fitted to them. These principles should save children from some of the loose thinking and heedless action which cause most of us to live at a lower level than we need.
Along about this time of year we homeschoolers usually have a pretty good feel for what is working and what needs to be changed. Whether it is what time we get up in the morning, who does which subject when, or how we have the household chores assigned, we get to the point where we say, “I think this situation can be improved. Here is what I’m going to do; I will . . . .” And we determine to put our plan into practice the next morning.
Now, inevitably, as soon as we make that decision, we run up against a powerful force. This force works either as a supporter of our decisions or as an enemy against our decisions. This force is habit. [Continue reading Too Often Habit Is the Frustrator …]
I still recall the time many years ago when we scraped the bottom of our newlywed bank account to buy a gift for a little boy. We got him a sturdy but simple toy car. No flashing lights, no screeching sounds, no remote control—it had no limits but imagination.
When our little friend opened the present, he got a puzzled look on his face. He turned the car over in his hands, looked at his dad, and asked, “What’s it do?”
You see, this child had been fed a steady diet of toys that required little or no imagination. Each one had entertained the boy’s senses for a while, but none had challenged him to cultivate that oh-so-satisfying work called “imagining.” Because he was used to the feeble, diluted, spoon-fed toys, he couldn’t appreciate the time-tested hearty ones and the satisfying challenge they offer. [Continue reading Twaddle Too Often …]
Not long ago I found a copy of a book from the early 1900s that was used in Charlotte Mason’s schools. Many books like this contain an introduction full of helpful comments, but the introduction to this book was so refreshing that I wanted to share a portion of it with you.
Of course, it stands to reason that the comments would dovetail with Charlotte’s philosophy. But I often find it helpful to read the same sentiments put into different words. [Continue reading Hints to Teachers …]
Seventeen years ago, when I first heard a description of the Charlotte Mason Method, my heart resonated with that brief snippet. If you had asked me then why I was drawn to CM above all the other approaches to homeschooling, I probably would have said that I loved its use of good living books.
But as with any long-lasting relationship, over the years I have grown to appreciate much more about CM than just what first attracted me to it. If you were to ask me now what I love about CM, my list would look something like this. [Continue reading Why I Love CM …]
Every year Practical Homeschooling magazine hosts their much-anticipated Reader Awards for various homeschool resources. The way it works is that the magazine’s readers have an opportunity to nominate their favorite products; then once the ballot is compiled, everyone votes on the products they have used, ranking their satisfaction with those resources.
We are honored to announce that Simply Charlotte Mason received seven PHS Reader Awards this year! [Continue reading SCM Wins Seven PHS Reader Awards! …]
In the past whenever I read Charlotte Mason’s statement about math, “I need not touch upon the subject of Mathematics. It is receiving ample attention, and is rapidly becoming an instrument for living teaching in our schools” (Vol. 3, p. 236), I would mentally interrupt the narrative with, No! No! Touch on math! Touch on math! How is it becoming an instrument for living teaching? How are you teaching it?
To be sure, I had found tidbits and glimpses scattered throughout her writings, but nowhere could I find a step-by-step explanation of what math lessons looked like in the different grades or what math topics were covered in which grades. [Continue reading New Book on Charlotte Mason Math …]
(I am so pleased to welcome a guest writer today as we finish up our Subject-by-Subject series. Richele Baburina has extensively researched Charlotte Mason’s approach to math. In fact, her new book, Mathematics: An Instrument for Living Teaching, is due out next week! See below for more details, and enjoy this insightful summary of math the Charlotte Mason way.)
At the beginning of our series, we saw that Charlotte valued a generous curriculum. Though emphasis on the three R’s alone makes for a meager education, these subjects did have their rightful place of study. Today we will look at several of the methods Charlotte employed in the teaching of mathematics, some of which might surprise you. [Continue reading Teaching Math: Subject by Subject, Part 17 …]
We’re beginning to wrap up our Subject-by-Subject series. Next week we will finish up with a focus on teaching math the Charlotte Mason way. Today, let’s talk about poetry.
Most homeschool moms I talk to get a funny look on their faces when I mention poetry. That’s because their own schooling experience with poetry consisted of dissecting a poem to bits at the teacher’s insistence. Such over-analysis and examination steals all the joy from the beautiful words. Charlotte Mason’s approach is vastly different. [Continue reading Teaching Poetry: Subject by Subject, Part 16 …]
It’s hard to believe we have only three subjects left in our Subject-by-Subject series. I hope you are enjoying this little tour through using Charlotte Mason methods to teach each school subject. And I hope the ideas have infused new life into your homeschool days!
Remember, you don’t have to teach every subject every day, but making sure you include the vast array of subjects that Charlotte included will give your home school a broad curriculum.
Today we will discuss how to teach art; next week will be poetry; and the week after that, to wrap up the series, we will focus on teaching math in a Charlotte Mason way. First, art. [Continue reading Teaching Art: Subject by Subject, Part 15 …]
When my oldest child was a little one, the thought of teaching her how to read hovered in my mind as a huge challenge. I don’t remember waking up at night, wondering if I would be able to teach her to tie her shoes or to drive a car; but I do remember staring at the ceiling in the dark, wondering if I would be able to teach her to read.
It can seem a daunting task, because so much of education depends on reading. The better a child can read, the easier his schooling will be. But let me assure you that most children will pick up reading quite naturally if raised in a language-rich environment where books are treasured. Many people who grow up in such an environment cannot recall exactly how they learned to read, but learn they did.
So relax, pour yourself a cup of your favorite beverage, and soak up Charlotte Mason’s gentle and natural approach to teaching your child to read—today’s addition to our Subject-by-Subject series. [Continue reading Teaching Beginning Reading: Subject by Subject, Part 14 …]
Most of you were probably taught English grammar the same way I was. In first grade we were told, “A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or idea. Circle the nouns in these five sentences.”
Then in second grade we were told, “A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or idea. Circle the nouns in these ten sentences.”
And in third grade we were told, “A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or idea. Circle the nouns in these fifteen sentences.”
Charlotte Mason’s approach to grammar was vastly different. Let’s take a look as we continue our Subject-by-Subject series. [Continue reading Teaching Grammar: Subject by Subject, Part 13 …]
I’ve been cleaning off my bookshelves these past couple of weeks, trying to cull out duplicates. Now, usually duplicate copies of a title are not a problem in a household of readers, but when the shelves are full and you need more space . . . sacrifices must be made.
Most of the duplicates in my collection are literature books that have been added to our home library over the years. And as I pull each book off the shelf, my mind reflects on the characters inside. They are like old friends to me now. I have to keep reminding myself that I do still have a copy; it’s not like I’m getting rid of all those close companions completely! [Continue reading Teaching Literature: Subject by Subject, Part 12 …]
We have covered many school subjects so far in this series, talking about the methods Charlotte Mason used to teach each one. I hope you are feeling a bit more confident with teaching history, geography, spelling, Bible, handicrafts, science, foreign language, and music.
And you remember that you do not have to teach every subject every day. In fact, you should welcome variety; your children will gain much by it.
We have just a few subjects left: art, English grammar, literature, poetry, beginning reading, math, and writing (which we will talk about today). Ready to dive in? Let’s go. [Continue reading Teaching Writing: Subject by Subject, Part 11 …]
Many of you are diligently working on plans for the upcoming months and terms of your home school. As you put together your schedules, please keep in mind an important key principle. This principle is very freeing, plus it can help your school days run much more smoothly. The key principle is this:
You don’t have to do every subject every day.
Got it? Read it again.
Charlotte tried to have a variety of subjects scheduled each day of the week, so no two days looked the same. Variety in your daily schedule will help the students pay full attention, as we discussed at the beginning of this series. You may find the posts on A Generous Curriculum and Three Basic CM Principles helpful reminders as you lay down plans for the coming weeks of schooling. [Continue reading Teaching Music: Subject by Subject, Part 10 …]
If you had graduated from one of Charlotte Mason’s schools, you would have studied several different foreign languages: French, German, Italian, and Latin. And not just studied, but used and understood those languages quite well.
In fact, her students were so fluent in French that they could read or listen to a reading in that language and then give their narrations in that language. How did she accomplish that level of expertise? Let’s talk a bit about Charlotte’s approach to foreign language, as we continue this subject-by-subject series. [Continue reading Teaching Foreign Language: Subject by Subject, Part 9 …]
We hope this Subject-by-Subject series is proving helpful to you as you homeschool your children. We’ve already covered several school subjects: history, geography, spelling, Bible, and handicrafts. And we have several more to go as we discuss which methods Charlotte used to teach each one.
And remember, if you don’t want to wait for a particular subject to show up, you can always refer to this handy chart and short explanations to get a quick overview and remind yourself which Charlotte Mason methods to use to teach each subject.
Today let’s talk about teaching science. [Continue reading Teaching Science: Subject by Subject, Part 8 …]
Charlotte emphasized the importance of educating the whole person, and part of that total education involves working with your hands: “Another elemental relationship, which every child should be taught and encouraged to set up, is that of power over material. Every child makes sand castles, mud-pies, paper boats, and he or she should go on to work in clay, wood, brass, iron, leather, dress-stuffs, food-stuffs, furnishing-stuffs. He should be able to make with his hands and should take delight in making” (Vol. 3, p. 80).
As we continue in our Subject by Subject series, let’s take a look at handicrafts and how to teach them. [Continue reading Teaching Handicrafts: Subject by Subject, Part 7 …]
We’re pleased to announce the release of our latest Bible study, written in a Charlotte Mason style that encourages the students to interact directly with Scripture. Come, Lord Jesus: Lessons from Revelation walks your whole family through the book of Revelation episode by episode, pointing them to the verses and asking them to describe or draw the exciting scenes as they read about them.
Your children will learn to go to the Bible and see for themselves what it says, without depending on a human author to add his personal interpretation or time-table speculation. Use any Bible translation you prefer. [Continue reading New Revelation Bible Study …]
When Charlotte Mason talked about the knowledge that is important to give our children, she cited, “First and chiefest is the knowledge of God, to be got at most directly through the Bible” (Vol. 6, p. 254).
So as we continue our series of looking at how each subject is taught in the Charlotte Mason Method, let’s talk today about how to teach Bible. [Continue reading Teaching Bible: Subject by Subject, Part 6 …]
We’re continuing with our Subject by Subject series today. In previous posts we’ve discussed giving our children a wide variety of subjects, which subjects will be included in a broad education, some basic principles for all subjects, how to teach history, and last week, how to teach geography. Today let’s tackle spelling.
I’m a list person. As I sit at my desk and type these words, I’ve lost count of how many items I’ve added to my to-do list already today. Lists can be effective tools for many things. But when it comes to spelling, Charlotte Mason showed us that lists are not the most effective way to learn. [Continue reading Teaching Spelling: Subject by Subject, Part 5 …]
If you had mentioned geography to me 17 years ago, when I started homeschooling, my mind would have immediately visualized dusty maps with puzzling colored shapes and lists of imports, exports, and natural resources. Oh, and currency types. And sometimes a line-up of flags around the border.
But today my concept of geography has changed dramatically. It is now intricately linked to the people and events with whom I’ve formed a relation in my history readings. It is also tied to the present-day people I’ve met through travel books, current event magazines, and missionaries’ videos. [Continue reading Teaching Geography: Subject by Subject, Part 4 …]
When I graduated from “the school of the yellow bus,” I knew next to nothing about history. Yes, I made good grades. Yes, I graduated valedictorian. But very little about history had stuck. There was no reason to retain that list of events and dates past the test day, because I had no personal relation with what had happened. It didn’t matter to me.
But, thankfully, over the past 17 years of homeschooling in a Charlotte Mason way, I have developed an appreciation for history and personal relations with the people involved. How? By using Charlotte’s methods of teaching history, I have learned along with my children and enjoyed doing it! [Continue reading Teaching History: Subject by Subject, Part 3 …]
Last week we started a new series in which we will be going through each school subject and discussing how to teach it in a Charlotte Mason way. We’ve already looked at giving our children a generous curriculum through a wide variety of subjects, not just the three R’s. Today we’ll look at three foundational principles that should be in place no matter what subject you’re teaching.
Whether you are just making the transition to incorporating some Charlotte Mason methods into your home school or are an old pro at CM, these three basic principles are a great place to focus. Get these principles firmly established and your days will go much more smoothly. [Continue reading Three Basic CM Principles: Subject by Subject, Part 2 …]
We’re starting a new series today, one that we hope will be very practical and beneficial to you. We will be going through the school subjects and discussing how to teach each one in a Charlotte Mason way.
The first place to begin is to give you the list of subjects that we will be covering. You see, in a Charlotte Mason-style homeschool the children are given a wide variety of subjects. [Continue reading A Generous Curriculum: Subject By Subject,
Part 1 …]
Over the past three weeks we have pondered some wonderful gems of wisdom from Charlotte Mason.
Wisdom Gem #1: “Always remember that persons matter more than things. Don’t say anything that will leave a sting.”
Wisdom Gem #2: “State your theory and practice, but attack nothing. Be indignant at nothing. When people’s minds are put on the defensive they have no room to receive new ideas.”
Wisdom Gem #3: “It is pleasant to know that, even in mature life, it is possible by a little persistent effort to acquire a desirable habit.” [Continue reading New 2012-13 Calendar Journal: Wisdom for Moms …]
My friend Ruth is 61. She is an exuberant veteran homeschooler who has graduated three and spends her days encouraging other homeschool students and parents. She also recently lost 120 pounds.
When I asked Ruth to tell me her story, she related how she had grown tired of feeling miserable in her overweight body. She knew her health was declining; she knew her blood pressure was high. She also knew more grandchildren were on the way, and she wanted to be around to see them. She wanted to be healthy again. [Continue reading Even in Mature Life …]
Most of us have chosen a “different” path in life. We homeschool. And even more than that, we don’t use a traditional method of homeschooling. We use Charlotte Mason’s approach. Those choices can be unsettling to onlookers.
And if that’s not enough, many of us have chosen to wander away from the crowd in other areas of life too: what we eat, the size of our families, what we wear, our goals for our children. Onlookers sometimes become more than just curious; at times they may share their “concerns” in no uncertain terms. [Continue reading State But Don’t Attack …]
I’ve been reading The Lord of the Rings lately, and one striking illustration has leapt off the pages again and again: whenever the enemy inflicts a wound, a deep sting is embedded that stays and debilitates even after the flesh has healed around it.
What an evocative picture of the power of words! Charlotte told her student-teachers, “Always remember that persons matter more than things. Don’t say anything that will leave a sting” (The Story of Charlotte Mason, p. 62). [Continue reading Persons Matter More Than Things …]
Simply Charlotte Mason is delighted to announce three new resources to help you teach modern history in a living way! The new books cover people and events from 1850 to the present day—both American history and world history.
Over the years I’ve discovered that the modern time period is one of the most difficult to find good living resources for; in particular, a good living spine book that will tell the stories of the time period and provide a continuous thread to which you may add biographies and other great living books. So I’m especially excited about Stories of America, Volume 2, and Stories of the Nations, Volume 2. With these two collections of living stories and the year’s worth of daily lesson plans in Modern Times, Epistles & Revelation, you’ll be well on your way to covering modern history simply and easily in a living CM way. [Continue reading Three New Modern History Books …]
Spring has certainly arrived here in Georgia! All around I see people outside doing yard work (and sneezing from the pollen)—breaking up the soil, pulling weeds, and cultivating their trees and gardens. Such a great reminder of what we’ve been talking about these past few weeks!
Our goal in education is growth. That goal was impressed upon me once again when I read these words of Charlotte Mason recently: “The function of education is not to give technical skill but to develop a person” (Vol. 6, p. 147).
It’s easy to get hung up on the technical skills. After all, that’s what those around us usually ask about and test for. But we mustn’t lose sight of the bigger objective: developing a person. Helping our children grow! [Continue reading Nourish the Plant: A Growing Time, Part 4 …]
Here is the story of two girls. We will call them Jan and Emily. Both are about nine years old. Jan is reading her Social Studies book and trying to answer the questions listed at the end of the paragraph as her mother sits nearby. “What were two money crops early in Virginia’s history?”
Jan dutifully searches the preceding sentences and offers, “Export?”
“Why did you pick export?” asks Mom.
“Because it is highlighted,” Jan replies.
Mom patiently points out another sentence in the paragraph that will give the clues to the right answer, and Jan lists the correct words. She doesn’t know what a money crop is—or even a crop, for that matter—but at least she has filled in the blanks correctly. [Continue reading Past the Outer Court …]
In front of our house is a little perennial garden. I often tell people how much I love perennials because “you just plant them and forget them.” But that’s not quite true. Every morning as we return from walking the dog, we glance over that perennial garden and look for weeds. Usually there are only a couple of little ones, and we can easily pop them out of the ground and be done with garden care for the day.
But sometimes, when we’ve been traveling or when we’ve been busy and neglected the garden, we will see a weed patch with an occasional flower instead of a flower patch with an occasional weed. At times like those, we have to roll up our sleeves and set aside more concentrated time to work in that garden and get rid of those weeds. [Continue reading Pull the Weeds: A Growing Time, Part 3 …]
Last week we started a discussion based on Charlotte Mason’s reminder that the goal of learning is growth: “Children learn, to Grow”; not just to know (Vol. 1, p. 171). And we took a lesson from Frog and Toad that growth is a natural process in the right conditions. Growth will happen if we focus on three essential things.
Today let’s talk a little bit about providing the right atmosphere. What does that mean? And what does it look like in our homes? [Continue reading Provide the Right Atmosphere: A Growing Time, Part 2 …]
Frog and Toad can teach us some good life lessons. Have you read their story about the garden? Toad sees Frog’s beautiful garden and decides he wants one. So Frog gives him some seeds.
Toad plants them and impatiently watches for them to grow. He paces beside the garden; he shouts at the seeds, “Start growing!”
Frog reassures him: “Leave them alone for a few days. Let the sun shine on them, let the rain fall on them. Soon your seeds will start to grow.” [Continue reading Lessons from Frog and Toad: A Growing Time, Part 1 …]
Where does the time go? It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that my friend Karen (the other half of Simply Charlotte Mason) will be graduating her two youngest children this year.
It’s a big commitment to homeschool for the long haul. As I talk with other homeschooling moms, I’m finding that the two main things most of us need are more know-how and more encouragement. Both can be found at your local homeschool convention. [Continue reading 2 Great Reasons to Attend a Homeschool Convention …]
Picture study is such a great way to add a little something to your day that brings a nice change of pace and “freshens your wits,” as Charlotte liked to describe it. You don’t need an art degree to teach art appreciation with Charlotte Mason’s method. It’s simple yet effective.
Choose one artist. Look together at one of his works until you can see it clearly in your mind’s eye. Hide the picture and try to describe it in detail. Look at it again to confirm or clarify what you saw. Display that picture for the rest of the week. Next week do the same thing with a different picture by the same artist. Stay on that artist for several weeks, studying six or so of his pictures. If you can find a living biography about the artist, read it together. [Continue reading Picture Study FAQ and New Portfolios …]
We recently found two gems that are geared for elementary students but that the whole family will enjoy. Those are the best kind of gems!
I love to read a well-written elementary-level living book, for it keeps things focused and I usually walk away having learned something new. (Now, don’t get me wrong; I also love reading Dickens!)
The two books we want to tell you about today are just such works. Best of all they were both written in the “thick of things,” as the events were happening. So they give you a feeling that you were there during those days in history and you can know they were based on first-hand accounts. [Continue reading Two New History Books …]
“You shouldn’t eat white bread; white bread is bad for you. Whole wheat is best.” The little girl looked up at me with sincere and reproving eyes as I prepared lunch. We were taking care of her and her brother for a few days while their mother was sick, and I knew exactly where that opinion had come from. Her mother was very knowledgeable about nutrition and was careful to educate and feed her children on only the most healthful foods.
I didn’t take offense at the comment, for I knew the source of the opinion and had learned to respect my friend’s knowledge. However, I also knew that this little girl needed some additional information to understand a bigger picture. [Continue reading Sharing Our Opinions: Forming Just Opinions, part 4 …]
I was reading a biography on Louis Pasteur recently and came across this wonderful quote: “The greatest danger to the mind is to believe in something because one wishes to do so.”
Charlotte Mason would agree. When it comes to forming opinions, we have to realize that our reasoning naturally leans toward the side of our own inclinations and desires. “We must remember that Reason is each man’s own particular servant, and plays on his side, as it were, and convinces him of that which he is inclined to believe” (Vol. 4, Book 1, p. 61). [Continue reading Of Principles and Fallacies: Forming Just Opinions, Part 3 …]
Last week the children and I watched a nature video. We gazed in wonder as thousands of beautiful snow geese returned from their southern migration to celebrate spring in the far reaches of the north. Part of their celebration was the hatching of their sweet little goslings— bright-eyed little balls of fluff, all peeping and waddling about near mama goose.
Then the music changed as we were alerted to a fox on the prowl. It skulked its way to an outlying nest and pounced, grabbing two fuzzy, squeaking goslings in its teeth. I could feel my indignation rising. If you had asked for my opinion at that point, I would have told you without a moment’s hesitation that the fox was the bad guy in this scenario. [Continue reading Heads and Hearts: Forming Just Opinions, part 2 …]
We just returned from a trip to the store where, I will admit, I grabbed some ready-made food items. Yes, I could probably have made those items from scratch with a little time and effort, but that seems to be the trade-off we face often these days: convenience vs. time and effort.
Now, a few ready-made food items are not a huge deal to me, but I have noticed a trend in grabbing another ready-made item that carries a much greater consequence. It seems that with the growing ease of sharing information across the Internet, there is a proportionate growth of grabbing ready-made opinions. [Continue reading Ready-Made Opinions …]
In The Story of Charlotte Mason it gives Charlotte’s birthday as January 1, 1842. Though we don’t know for certain whether she was born on January 1st or if it was just recorded on that default date because the actual date is unknown, it’s still great to start the year remembering Charlotte and her wonderful ideas and methods.
So it seems fitting that the theme for this first Charlotte Mason blog carnival of 2012 should be favorite moments using her inspiring methods. We at Simply Charlotte Mason are honored to be able to host this collection of blog posts and hope you will enjoy reading them. Join us in celebrating Miss Mason’s life and all she means to our homeschools! [Continue reading Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival: Celebrating Charlotte edition …]
A friend of mine posted a cartoon this week that caught my eye. The first character asks, “What exactly is a New Year’s resolution?” And the second replies, “It’s a to-do list for the first week of January.”
For some of us, that reply is all too true. Why? Because it is hard work making yourself do what you know you should, even when you don’t want to. When you’re snuggled in a warm bed and your alarm goes off to remind you to get up and exercise—again, in the dark, in the cold,—it takes a lot of effort to make yourself throw back those covers and get going. [Continue reading The Way of the Will, Free E-book …]
I think I’ve caught the bug. Not that icky respiratory bug that’s going around. I’m talking about the let’s-get-busy-and-tweak-what-needs-tweaking-so-we-can-enter-2012-ready-to-succeed bug. You know, that persistent urge to clean out closets or reorganize the kitchen cupboards. That itch to evaluate your life and adjust your daily routine. That unquenchable desire to read helpful articles and dig for little gems that will breathe new life into your home school.
While I can’t help with your closets or kitchen cupboards and I wouldn’t dare evaluate your life until mine is all it should be, I am happy to do what I can to supply some quick energy boosts for your Charlotte Mason home school. Here, for your reading pleasure, are our favorite posts from 2011. [Continue reading Favorite Posts from 2011 …]
It seems that more and more homeschoolers are using audiobooks. It makes sense when you think about it, especially for those of us using the Charlotte Mason Method. We read a lot of books, and we keep an ongoing list of more books that we hope to read when we have a little extra time.
Audiobooks are a great way to save time and voice. I talk with moms all the time who play a recording of a selected living book during lunch or while running errands with the kids. Other moms use audiobooks for their own benefit, listening while they exercise. And some set it up so their younger students can listen to a chapter or two while Mom is busy working with the older students. [Continue reading New Audiobook of Outdoor Secrets …]
Note: This article is taken from I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will, our 2012 Charlotte Mason personal calendar journal. See details below.
To this day I don’t remember where, when, or whom; but I do remember the three-letter word and its power to completely change my attitude. Someone suggested that I tack this little word onto the end of any negative statement, such as “I can’t” or “My child is not able to” or “I haven’t gotten around to it.” I took this person’s advice, and it has made a world of difference in how I view my progress. [Continue reading Let Us Not Grow Weary …]
Describing the best material to use for reading lessons, Charlotte said, Short fables, and such graceful, simple prose as we have in Mrs Gatty’s Parables from Nature, and, still better, in Mrs Barbauld’s prose poems, are very suitable. Even for their earliest reading lessons, it is unnecessary to put twaddle into the hands of children (Vol. 1, p. 205).
“Still better.” That phrase made me curious. So I did a little digging and unearthed a brilliant gem that Charlotte had already seen sparkling: Hymns in Prose for Children. [Continue reading “Still Better,” Hymns in Prose for Children …]
I have a daughter with special needs. We diagnosed her with autism and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder) when she was four years old, and I’ve been trying to use as many Charlotte Mason methods as possible in our homeschooling journey with her over the years. (She’s 13 now.)
I often get asked how the Charlotte Mason approach works with an autistic child. That’s a tough question to answer, because autism covers such a wide spectrum. Some autistic children are completely nonverbal; others talk up a storm. Some are uncooperative and violent; others are mainly passive and compliant (until a meltdown occurs, of course). [Continue reading Charlotte Mason Homeschooling with Special Needs Children …]
Those who tend to stick to the recipe probably like the security of doing what they’re told to do. Someone has already figured this out so I don’t have to can be a comforting thought. (Ask me how I know.)
But sometimes the recipe just doesn’t fit your situation. Maybe the person who created the recipe has a passion for hot and spicy, while your family prefers mildly spicy. Maybe the recipe says to bake at 450° for 15 minutes, but you know that your oven struggles to keep a constant heat at that high of a temperature. [Continue reading Teach the Child …]
I don’t know about you, but for me the two biggest challenges of teaching handicrafts are (1) not knowing how to do the craft myself and (2) coming up with projects. Despite my noticeable lack of “craftyness,” my oldest daughter Rebekah has become quite skilled in several handicrafts and has taught several children (and adults) how to sew and crochet and spin yarn and dye yarn and create props from cardboard and knit . . . .
So I asked Rebekah if she would be willing to share her knowledge and creativity to help make handicrafts a little simpler for Charlotte Mason homeschool moms, and she said yes. The result is the Handicrafts Made Simple DVD series. [Continue reading Handicrafts Made Simple DVD Series …]
Handicrafts and life skills are such a great way to spend cooler afternoons. And as the weather turns cold, they provide a wonderfully productive outlet for energetic minds and fingers indoors.
We like to combine handicrafts with life skills because there is a natural overlap and because Charlotte’s students were expected to do house work and garden work as part of their schooling. In fact, many times the handicrafts are listed under the heading of just plain “Work” on her schedules, along with life skills. [Continue reading Fall Handicrafts Tips and Ideas …]
I remember sitting in our Charlotte Mason homeschool discussion group, explaining how a living book should give our children ideas, not just facts. One dear lady turned a puzzled look my way and asked, “What do you mean ‘ideas’?”
That question made me pause. It’s easy to think of “ideas” as “the opposite of facts” or “whatever makes the story come alive.” But when you get right down to it, how do you define an “idea” in the sense that Charlotte Mason used that word? [Continue reading Facts vs. Ideas …]
It seems that children naturally want to make their mark as they grow. The tinies smear their highchair tray with sauces and puddings to explore what it might look like; the little ones scribble with crayons on any surface in sight; the older ones look for some clean paper on which to draw their imaginative pictures and soon want to add captions to those creations.
This progression is natural, and Charlotte Mason’s approach to teaching handwriting flows right along with that progression, moving at the child’s pace. Here is the process that Charlotte’s method follows. [Continue reading Delightful Handwriting …]
We are honored to have Karen Andreola as a guest writer for today’s post. Her book, A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning, has been a source of inspiration and encouragement for so many of us through the years.
One of our readers, a fellow CM fan, suggested that we contact Mrs. Andreola and get her thoughts on why she considers the Charlotte Mason Method gentle enough to include that word in her book’s title. Below is her gracious and informative reply—a wonderful way to wrap up this discussion on Is Charlotte Mason a Gentle Approach? [Continue reading The Gentle Art of Learning, Part 3 …]
Last week we started a discussion on whether Charlotte Mason’s approach should be described as “gentle.” We hear that description used a lot, but is it accurate?
Much of the answer depends on how you define “gentle.”
In the previous post we looked at reasons her methods would not be considered gentle; she expected a lot from the children. Studying with Charlotte was not a cake walk. But at the same time, it was not a harsh or tedious existence. [Continue reading Is Charlotte Mason a Gentle Approach?, Part 2 …]
I have often heard homeschool moms refer to the Charlotte Mason approach as a “gentle” approach. I’ve even used the term myself, come to think of it, when describing some of her methods. Usually that word comes up when we talk about how her methods fit so well with a child’s natural way of learning, how they mirror so much common sense, and how they focus on quality rather than a mind-numbing quantity of busywork.
But a recent discussion on our SCM Forum nudged me back to Charlotte Mason’s writings to see if she ever referred to her approach as “gentle” or a “gentle art of learning.” [Continue reading Is Charlotte Mason a Gentle Approach?, Part 1 …]
“I just purchased the Picture Study Portfolio featuring the works from Giotto at our homeschool conference today!! WOW!!! These are beautiful, the colors are amazing, absolutely worth every penny. I am so excited to start picture studies with this artwork (we’re new to CM). Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I cannot imagine getting nicer, larger sized prints at a museum shop, even! Thank you so very much for putting these together, your SCM team is the best!!”—MonikaNC [Continue reading 3 New Picture Study Portfolios …]
As every fall rolls around, the time comes to re-evaluate my daily schedule. Yes, I try to organize my children’s daily homeschool schedule, but the evaluating and tweaking go further than that. I like to take a look at how I spend my day’s allotment of time in all areas.
This week, as I was pondering what my day might look like, I remembered that The Story of Charlotte Mason by Essex Cholmondley contained a description of a typical day for Charlotte (pp. 62, 63). This typical day’s schedule reflects the time in her life when she was overseeing the teacher training school as well as the many children’s schools that were using her methods and philosophy. [Continue reading What I Learned from Charlotte’s Schedule …]
This spring and summer have been chock full of homeschool conventions, and I have enjoyed many lovely opportunities to present workshops. It has been a blessing and a privilege to share ideas from my experience as a Charlotte Mason-style homeschool mom and from my heart as a mother of a special needs child.
As much as we would love to meet and encourage all of you, it is impossible for us to visit every homeschool conference, book fair, and convention across the country. So we are happy to be able to make available to you today some of the workshops I presented this year. One of our key goals at Simply Charlotte Mason is to help you keep things simple and to encourage you along the way. We hope these workshops will do just that. [Continue reading 3 New Workshop Recordings to Equip and Encourage Homeschool Moms …]
In the past couple of weeks we have looked at two very important questions for homeschool mothers: Why must the children learn? and What should they learn? Charlotte Mason believed that those questions needed definite and thoughtful answers if we would be in a position to teach our children well.
“She must ask herself seriously, Why must the children learn at all? What should they learn? And, How should they learn it? If she take the trouble to find a definite and thoughtful answer to each of these three queries, she will be in a position to direct her children’s studies” (Vol. 1, p. 171).
It seems like What? is one of the main questions we homeschool mothers ask: What books? What math curriculum? What supplemental courses or classes? What outside activities?
We spend a lot of time pondering the What as we pore over catalogs, ask for reviews from our friends, and research on the Internet into the wee hours of the morning.
It’s easy to focus on the What, because it is tangible. The What we can see what our eyes, hold in our hands, and interact with every day. [Continue reading Three Questions for the Homeschool Mother: What? …]
As we prepare for another year of homeschooling, many of us are asking a lot of questions: What can I buy with the money available? How detailed should my plans be? Am I leaving something out? How can I keep my preschooler occupied? Where will I put all this stuff?
Asking questions is a good exercise, but Charlotte Mason encouraged us mothers to take a step back and make sure we have asked the most important questions first. [Continue reading Three Questions for the Homeschool Mother: Why? …]
When I first heard about a Book of Centuries, I was relieved. Here was the perfect way to contain that wall timeline that was threatening to overtake my house—a timeline in a book! But, as usual, Charlotte Mason’s method was designed to do so much more than just keep things tidy.
With Charlotte’s Book of Centuries, the child creates his own keepsake of his studies, recording those people and events that have caught his interest and piqued his curiosity. And that’s when history really becomes memorable—when it’s personalized. What a great method! [Continue reading My Book of Centuries, A Great Joy …]
A few weeks ago we were on the road in Texas, between conventions, when our battery light came on. My husband is mechanically minded (for which I am often thankful), so he knew what to do. We found the nearest auto supply store that had free diagnostic testing, and they decided that it was either a bad alternator or a loose wire. We hoped for the loose wire, but it ended up being the alternator.
Now, it’s not easy to get at the alternator in our truck. My husband always takes a handy dandy tool kit along on our trips, and it proved its worth that time. But even with all of his tools, it was slow going until the service guy at the auto place loaned us a special tool, specifically built for one part of the process. That one tool couldn’t do the whole job, but it did its part well and contributed greatly to getting us back on the road in good time. [Continue reading A Variety of Tools for Teaching Reading …]
I am at peace. My mind can focus happily as I write this note. It is not wrestling with little nagging thoughts that flit in uninvited and interrupt the flow.
How did I achieve this happy state?, you ask.
Yesterday I took five minutes to make a list of meals for this week. This morning I simply glanced at the list, popped the potatoes into the slow cooker, and went on with my day, at peace. [Continue reading The Wonderful Ease of Having a Plan …]
We hope you’ve enjoyed this series on Charlotte Mason’s motto for students. There is much more to ponder, much more to consider and do to help our children realize the potential in those four powerful phrases: I am, I can, I ought, I will.
So we’re happy to announce that our new Charlotte Mason personal calendar journal is just back from the printer with even more articles on the student motto. Now you can have twelve months of I am, I can, I ought, I will encouragement in a beautiful keepsake, along with spacious calendars, places for prayer requests and gentle reminders, plenty of inspiring quotes, and lots of room to write! [Continue reading I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will Calendar Journal …]
As we wrap up our series on Charlotte Mason’s motto for students, let’s look at how we can help our children strengthen their wills to do hard things—I am, I can, I ought, I will. Remember, Charlotte urged parents to make it a priority to teach their children the difference between “I want” and “I will.” A child with a truly strong will can make the tough decision to do what is right even if he doesn’t want to. But how can we help our children strengthen their wills to get to that point? Read on. [Continue reading Strengthening the Will: I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will, part 5 …]
We hope these little thoughts on Charlotte Mason’s motto for students are encouraging you as you educate the whole persons who live in your house. So far we’ve looked at I am and I can. Today’s let’s talk a little about I ought.
My husband and one of my daughters are becoming tea connoisseurs. They each drink several kinds of tea and enjoy the distinct flavor of a particular kind at certain times of the day. They know their way around local tea stores and can discuss subtle differences of taste with their fellow tea-drinkers. [Continue reading A Cultivated Conscience: I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will, part 4 …]
Last week we looked at the I am part of the motto and the importance of seeing your child as a person. This week let’s talk a little about how you can help your child realize I can.
You’ve probably seen it with your own children. Little sister is naturally tidy. She keeps her toys and books in their places and makes her bed without being told. It’s just her nature.
Big sister, on the other hand, does not find orderliness so easy. [Continue reading For Their Own Good: I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will, part 3 …]
Last week we introduced Charlotte’s motto for students and how it emphasizes helping our children to grow in all areas, not just academics. In this post, let’s look a little deeper at the first phrase: I am.
The other day a friend recounted the time that she was driving on a long trip. The daylight hours were filled with bright sunshine, so she put on her sunglasses. Hours later, as day turned into night, she switched on her headlights. But strangely, they didn’t seem to shed much light. For several miles she fought with those lights, casting about in her mind to discover what might be wrong with them. Finally, she realized that she had forgotten to take off her sunglasses. [Continue reading The Lens of a Label: I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will, part 2 …]
This week we start on a new series, looking at Charlotte Mason’s motto for students: “I am, I can, I ought, I will.” We will take a few weeks to look at each of those phrases, mull over what it means, and ponder some practical ways that we can help our children live that motto.
Today let’s think about the motto as a whole and how it is quite different from “I read, I write, I calculate, I test.” What exactly was Charlotte wanting to emphasize with her unique motto? Here are some thoughts. [Continue reading The Process of Shaping: I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will, part 1 …]
Many years ago when I first started doing picture study, I felt a bit like a fish out of water. I had maybe heard of Monet (I pronounced it “mo-NET.”) but didn’t know anything about him or his pictures. Happily, one day in the discount section of a local bookstore, I found several large books of artists’ works, each book focusing on one artist. I snatched up those “finds” and have been using them ever since. Sadly, those bargain books are few and far between these days. [Continue reading Announcing Picture Study Portfolios: Picture Study, part 4 …]
As we have seen over the past couple of weeks, the Charlotte Mason method of picture study is a simple yet effective way to give our children art appreciation, fill their minds with beautiful ideas, and offer even more opportunities for them to make relations with what they are learning.
Over the years that we’ve been discussing and explaining picture study here at SCM, a few questions have appeared repeatedly. So we would like to mention them here, in case you have the same question. Hopefully these answers will be helpful. [Continue reading Picture Study FAQ: Picture Study, part 3 …]
Last week we discussed some reasons to add picture study to your home school. Picture study is a simple method that reaps great rewards.
This week let’s look at the how-to. Here are the easy steps that Charlotte Mason described for doing picture study.
1. Select one artist and six or so of his pictures to study.
2. When you begin to study a new artist, Charlotte suggested that you read a short story of that artist’s life. [Continue reading How We Do Picture Study: Picture Study, part 2 …]
As we have been on the road this homeschool convention season, we have stayed in many hotels and eaten at many different restaurants. Two truths have been reinforced along the way, and it dawned on me that those truths also apply to Charlotte Mason’s method of picture study. What is the point of looking at old artwork? Why do we do picture study?
1. Little extras make a big difference.
2. You get used to what surrounds you.
Mom took a deep breath and began to read aloud:
I wonder how many of my readers have ever sat upon an ottoman. If you have, you know that it . . .
“What’s an ottoman, Mom?” six-year-old Stacy interrupted.
“If you listen, it will explain . . . ” Mom began.
“It sounds like a super hero: Otto-Man!” eight-year-old Nathan chimed in with a grin. [Continue reading Relating and Rambling …]
As you read this we will be on our way to another homeschool convention, this time in Duluth, Minnesota. Conventions can be great opportunities to recharge your batteries, discover new resources, and connect with kindred spirits.
They can also become overwhelming, tiring, and expensive if you’re not prepared.
So here are some short articles that we hope will help you to enter the convention doors well prepared and to leave well satisfied. [Continue reading Homeschool Convention Tips and Help …]
About a year ago we were scouring the shelves of an antique book store and came across a world history book for “young readers.” We gave it the one-page test and couldn’t put it down.
The author had such a wonderful gift of helping the reader to see the story with the mind’s eye, plus he told the story in such a grandfatherly tone, that we knew we wanted to get this treasure into everyone’s hands. It was fascinating for all ages! [Continue reading New History Resources …]
Usually the question goes something like this: “Nature study is a great idea, but I don’t know the names of the flowers and trees and birds, myself. What should I do?”
I know, I faced the same situation. But SCM Team member, Karen Smith, gave some great advice that helped me get started. And really, once I got started, the rest came along more easily.
I thought you might like to read her advice too. [Continue reading Small Steps: Nature Study Help for Mom …]
The new issue of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is now online and we’re pleased to be the host this time!
As we mentioned last time, a blog carnival is a collection of blog posts about a common topic gathered on one website. Sites take turns being the host to gather and feature the articles of the other participants. Blog carnivals are a great way to discover new blogs and conversations, and recognize the efforts of others with common interests. [Continue reading Of Carnivals and Conventions …]
My heart is full. My mind is revving. My face is smiling.
You see, I just finished reading the posts listed below. What a treat! They are a wonderful mixture of personal encouragement, humble challenges, and practical ideas.
First are the posts on this issue’s theme: Education is a Discipline. But since we are Charlotte Mason educators, we believe in a broad curricula, so several Other Timely Topics are included as well. [Continue reading Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival: Education Is a Discipline, Vol. 1 …]
Charlotte’s ideas and teachings are such a balanced blend between grand goals and common sense, between high ideals and everyday small things.
The third Do Not is a call to keep your perspective amidst the day-to-day. [Continue reading Do Not Lose Sight of Great Ideals: Three Practical Do Not’s, Part 3 …]
Last week we looked at the first of three Do Not tips that Charlotte gave her student teachers: Do not sit up late preparing lessons.
As many of you confirmed in your comments on that post, these practical Do Not’s are designed to give us freedom, not to lay heavy burdens on us.
Today let’s look at the second Do Not. This practical tip will give us freedom to enjoy and encourage our children in their narrations. [Continue reading Do Not Bury Yourself in the Book: Three Practical Do Not’s, Part 2 …]
In reading some advice that Charlotte Mason gave to her student teachers, three little gems stood out to me. Interestingly, they all start with “Do not.”
But don’t let the negative wording intimidate you. These Do Not’s are not designed to impose a hardship on you—quite the opposite, in fact. I think that as you implement Charlotte’s counsel, you will find a great freedom that you may not have experienced in a long time.
Curious? Let’s dive in to the first practical Do Not. [Continue reading Do Not Sit Up Late: Three Practical Do Not’s …]
In the very first pages of her book, Home Education, Charlotte Mason challenged mothers to give their children a “thinking love.”
It’s easy to give our children an indulgent love that caters to their every whim. Or a lazy love that follows the crowd and does what is easiest. But giving them a thinking love requires effort.
Our new free e-book, A Thinking Love, walks through Charlotte’s wise counsel and practical suggestions for moms who want to consider, contemplate, and intentionally do what is best for their children. [Continue reading A Thinking Love, Free E-book …]
Today was a day of small things. It looked something like this:
- Walk the dog
- Clear off kitchen counter
- Make grocery list at breakfast
- Take a phone message
- Put a load of jeans in the washer
- Teach young one’s schoolwork
- Empty the recycle bin
- Listen to another phone message
- Supervise older one’s schoolwork
- Transfer jeans to dryer; put towels in washer
- Read aloud during lunch of leftovers
- Put potatoes in the slow cooker for supper
- Quiet time
- Put towels in dryer; fold jeans
- Computer time
- Read to young one
- Finish cooking and eat supper
- Put young one to bed
Those of you who have been on our e-mail list for a while know that we don’t normally release products so closely together. We try very hard to keep our posts mostly full of great Charlotte Mason homeschool tips.
But this week we’re making an exception for two reasons.
One, Doug is preparing an extra special free surprise for all of you and it’s not quite ready yet. Two, you will be able to take advantage of the special pricing on both new products for a few days this week.
So, without further ado, we would like to introduce Discipleship Is. [Continue reading Discipleship Workshop Now Available …]
It’s a question that seems to come up regularly: “Is my child learning enough?” Usually it comes from a homeschool mom who has recently discovered the Charlotte Mason Method.
She has eagerly embraced those methods and started using them with her children. She has seen enthusiasm and enjoyment and smiles begin to blossom in her home school. She has realized how much more pleasant this method is than spending hours over tedious textbooks and workbooks. And she starts to second-guess her decision. [Continue reading Is My Child Learning Enough? …]
Several months ago we received a note from a homeschool mom who was teaching her son how to read using Charlotte Mason’s method. (If you’re just joining this discussion, you can read our articles about Charlotte’s method of teaching reading.)
This mom had pulled together some wonderfully rich reading selections and seemed to have a solid grasp of how Charlotte taught reading. We so enjoyed reading through her lesson plans, nodding our heads at her helpful ideas, and smiling at her inventive extra sentences! [Continue reading Delightful Reading: A Charlotte Mason Reading Curriculum …]
As you learned last time, Charlotte Mason’s reading lessons used two approaches: sight words and word-building. To add variety and keep things interesting for the student, Charlotte alternated lessons between the two. Last week we described how to do a sight-word lesson. This week let’s take a look at a word-building lesson.
Word-building lessons are a great tool to help your child learn to break words down into their smaller components. These type of lessons are also a wonderful opportunity to let your child discover that not every word with the same letter combination will be pronounced in the same way. Yet all of this is done in an interesting and gentle way. Here’s how. [Continue reading Word-Building and Phonics: Teaching Reading, part 4 …]
Up to this point in our series on teaching your child to read, we have been talking about informal play activities. Once your child can read several dozen words from those activities, it’s time to start actual reading lessons. Charlotte advocated starting when the child was six years old but acknowledged that each child is unique. The key is not to hurry. Don’t push. Relax. Take your time. Wait until your child is ready. (Does this sound familiar?)
These reading lessons will also work well if you have been using a different reading curriculum and have gotten your child to a point where he can read short words and sentences but is having trouble making the transition to reading in a book. [Continue reading Sight Words and Sentences: Teaching Reading, part 3 …]
Last week we talked about how to introduce the alphabet to your child through fun, informal play activities. Once your child knows his alphabet and the sounds the letters make, you can begin to put those sounds together to make short words. Two things to keep in mind at this stage. First, remember to keep these activities informal, and second, focus on words that mean something to your child.
Think about the way your child learned to understand the spoken word. He saw the ball, for example, and heard the sound-sign that represents it, “ball.” Pretty soon his little brain automatically associated the object with its sound-sign. Use the same strategy for this pre-reading stage. Introduce the word-signs that go with familiar objects and your child will find it easier to learn them. Here’s how. [Continue reading Pre-Reading Activities: Teaching Reading, part 2 …]
I well remember trembling when, as a young homeschooling mom, I realized that it was up to me to teach my child to read. My imaginative mind started racing down the path of worst case scenarios. As if on cue, a little voice message started playing in my head over and over, “If you mess up, she’ll never be able to read.”
Now, fifteen years later, I shake my head at the memory of that panic-stricken thought and gently chide myself for getting uptight over something that doesn’t have to be all that difficult. Yes, all four of my children have learned to read, and in all four cases (even my youngest with autism and developmental delays) I just had to get them started and they did the rest when they were ready. [Continue reading Alphabet Fun: Teaching Reading, part 1 …]
What do you picture in your mind when you read the word “obstacle”? How large of an obstacle do you imagine?
Obstacles can be of various sizes, you know. For example, you might encounter an empty tissue box sitting on the floor right where you intended to sweep. That tissue box is an obstacle, but you can easily pick it up and remove it.
On the other hand, the Rocky Mountains were quite the obstacle for Lewis and Clark to overcome on their trek across America. That size of an obstacle is not as easily removed. [Continue reading Overcoming 3 Obstacles to Enjoying Handicrafts: Handicrafts, part 3 …]
My daughter just showed me a little mouse that she knitted today. It’s the cutest little thing, with a tiny knit hat and pink ears peeking over the top. She found the pattern and decided to knit it just for fun.
While I was making supper tonight my other daughter was busily drawing a geometric pattern on a book cover. She has taught herself to do book-binding and was helping daughter #3 create a customized book. [Continue reading How to Do Homeschool Handicrafts: Handicrafts, part 2 …]
“What’s the point?”
I often ask myself that question, especially when it comes to various demands on my time. If someone tells me I should add a certain activity to my already-full schedule, I want to know why. Tell me what that activity will gain for me.
For many moms, handicrafts fall under the “What’s the point?” heading. Yes, Charlotte Mason included handicrafts in her curriculum. But why? What are the reasons behind it? What will it gain for my child and me? [Continue reading 7 Benefits of Homeschool Handicrafts: Handicrafts, part 1 …]
Our family is preparing for a large family reunion this week. One of the biggest parts of that preparation is planning the menus and gathering the ingredients for our time of feasting.
But even as we walk the grocery store aisles, I’m hopeful that our feasting will be, not just of food, but also of joy and thanksgiving. I’m reminded of Charlotte Mason’s saying: “Gratitude spreads his feast of joy and thanksgiving for gifts that come to him.” [Continue reading A Feast of Joy and Thanksgiving …]
There is one question we see a lot when talking about elementary science lessons:
“But is it enough?”
Charlotte Mason used nature study and living science books with narration to teach science in the younger grades.
We CMers want to believe that those methods will accomplish what is needed during the elementary years, but for some reason it’s easy to keep second-guessing ourselves. Are nature study and living books enough? [Continue reading New Living Science Book: The Outdoor Secrets Companion …]
Why is it that one fault can be so glaring we can’t see past it? It becomes easy to stare fixedly at the bad attitude or the sloppy work or the once-again-forgotten chore or the disorderly room and never look at the person behind it.
Or when we do look at the person, we see him through fault-colored glasses. We begin to equate the person with the fault. We think that the person is the fault. [Continue reading That One Fault …]
On Monday it seemed like most of my friends on Facebook were saying the same thing, “Can you believe it’s November already? Where has the year gone!”
2011 is fast approaching, and our latest calendar journal, The Way of the Will, is ready to walk through it with you.
Each month you will find an article that encourages you to consider your child’s will. Is he strong-willed or weak-willed? Charlotte Mason’s answer might surprise you, but it will also help you. And each month you will consider another aspect of training your child’s will to help him become strong in character. [Continue reading 2011 Calendar Journal: The Way of the Will …]
“You mean I don’t have to teach English grammar all year long in every grade?” Esther was astonished.
“You’re already teaching the correct way to use words every time you have the children read or write or tell or listen. ‘Grammar’ just means the set of rules for speaking and writing a language.” Beth smiled. “Think of it this way: Let’s say you wanted to learn how to play chess. Your household was full of chess players already, so you had ample opportunity to watch them play and try your hand at playing too. Would you learn how to play correctly?” [Continue reading A Charlotte Mason Approach to English Grammar: Language Arts, part 9 …]
If you have been following our Language Arts series from the beginning, you will remember that Charlotte Mason approached language arts in a balanced two-pronged way: first, she integrated many language arts skills into regular school subjects; and second, she taught some skills with specific language arts lessons.
We’re about to wrap up the series. Today we’ll discuss another specific language arts lesson: poetry. (And we’ll throw in Shakespeare too.) Next week we’ll finish up with how Charlotte taught English Grammar. [Continue reading Poetry: Language Arts, part 8 …]
In studying to put together our new book, Hearing and Reading, Telling and Writing: A Charlotte Mason Language Arts Handbook, I was once again amazed at the way Charlotte could take a simple idea and pack it full of benefits.
Take copywork, transcription, and dictation, for examples. Each of those methods is pretty simple to do and has one specific focus; however, each also reinforces several other language skills. [Continue reading Copywork, Transcription, Dictation: Language Arts, part 7 …]
People often ask me what curriculum I used to teach my children to read. I didn’t use one. We just played with letters and their sounds, and eventually, when they were ready, I showed them how to put those sounds together to figure out words.
That method worked well for my first three children, but for my youngest it just wasn’t clicking. There was one component that we were missing; when we added that component, everything fell into place. [Continue reading Teaching Reading: Language Arts, part 6 …]
If I were to ask you to write about your favorite kitchen appliance, your brain would begin working right away. In fact, you’re probably picturing your favorite appliance in your mind’s eye right now.
Your mind would think of all the ways you like to use that appliance and how it makes your life easier and what kinds of things you have produced with it, and maybe you would mentally compare it to other appliances you have tried. [Continue reading Composition the Charlotte Mason Way: Language Arts, part 5 …]
Narration is a cornerstone of Charlotte Mason’s language arts program. She wrote extensively on the subject, giving lots of helpful and practical tips.
In one sense, narration is simple; in another sense, it is an art form. So it’s no surprise that many moms have questions about doing narration.
What better place to get answers than from Charlotte’s own words!
Below are some common questions along with their answers quoted directly from Charlotte’s original writings. (The volume and page numbers refer to the books of her writings published as the Original Home Schooling Series. Printed copies and online copies are readily available.) [Continue reading Charlotte Mason Answers Your Questions about Narration: Language Arts, part 4 …]
If your school experience was anything like mine, you most likely sat through a multitude of vocabulary worksheets and reading comprehension worksheets in every grade. Plus, you probably had a separate class for Literature in junior high or high school.
Charlotte Mason’s approach to those subjects was much simpler and more effective. The three skills were not pulled out and tackled separately. She integrated good literature into other subjects like History, Geography, Science, and more. She believed the children would naturally expand their vocabularies as they read those good books. And she emphasized the necessity of reading carefully for comprehension in all subjects. [Continue reading Literature, Vocabulary, and Comprehension: Language Arts, part 3 …]
As we mentioned last week, Charlotte taught all the language arts skills in just a few power-packed subjects. One of Charlotte’s main strategies was to integrate language arts studies into other subjects, rather than pulling them out as separate skills. So as the students were doing History, for example, they were also practicing listening, reading, speaking, and writing, because Charlotte used the methods of Reading for Instruction and Narration for History.
Then Charlotte coupled that integrated approach with teaching some specific language arts lessons for a few particular subjects. Here’s the breakdown of her language arts program. [Continue reading Charlotte Mason’s Language Arts Program: Language Arts, part 2 …]
In my years of helping other Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, probably the one topic that comes up most often is language arts. I receive questions from “How do you do language arts the Charlotte Mason way?” to “What about composition?” to “How do you teach spelling and vocabulary?” to “Can you recommend a living English grammar book?”
So let’s take some time to look together at language arts. Over the next several weeks we will discuss what is included in language arts and how Charlotte taught all those components in simple yet effective ways. Today, let’s start by defining what “language arts” means. [Continue reading What Exactly Is Language Arts?: Language Arts, part 1 …]
Thanks to everyone who posted comments on last week’s article about the various Bible study resources we offer. We’re pleased to announce that our random drawing awarded these three people each a study of her choice:
Stephanie selected Wisdom for Life
“I love the idea of the Wisdom for Life because we have already begun taking verses from Proverbs and purposing to let it sink into our hearts and change us.”
Charlotte Mason thought that the Bible lesson should be the most important lesson of the day. We think so too.
But as my children grew older, I found it harder to apply Charlotte’s wonderful principles of direct contact with Scripture and forming your own relation with it through forms of narration.
You see, in the younger years, it was easy to simply read aloud the great accounts of the Old Testament and the Life of Christ and have the children narrate the episodes. But once we got into the older years, I wanted my children to learn how to study the entire Bible for themselves, to think about cause and effect, to learn how to analyze and synthesize and categorize in an effort to understand. But almost all the Bible studies I found used fill-in-the-blank, true-and-false, multiple choice, direct questions—all the things Charlotte told us to avoid if we wanted to encourage real learning. [Continue reading Charlotte Mason-style Bible Studies …]
We promised a little surprise this week and here it is: We are pleased to offer you this free book, Getting Started in Homeschooling.
All the information from this Getting Started article series, plus more helpful material, is collected into this one convenient and encouraging book.
Download your free copy of Getting Started in Homeschooling, and feel free to pass it along to your friends. We hope it will be helpful to everyone who is getting ready to embark on this exciting journey of homeschooling! [Continue reading Free Homeschool Book: Getting Started, part 6 …]
When I got married, I knew how to cook exactly two dishes: canned soup over rice and macaroni and cheese from a box. (And once I forgot to drain the macaroni.) Needless to say, those first few meals required a lot of effort and thinking on my part. But the more I cooked, the easier it got. Now I can cook a meal in my sleep.
It’s the same with getting started in homeschooling. The Charlotte Mason methods may be new to you, something you’ve never done before. At first it may require a lot of thinking and effort on your part; but take heart, the more you do it, the easier it will get. [Continue reading Homeschooling One Step at a Time: Getting Started, part 5 …]
When I first heard about the Charlotte Mason Method, I envisioned my children and me sitting on the couch, reading wonderful books together and smiling. Well, we have done a lot of reading—and a lot of smiling—with the wonderful books. But over the years I have learned that there is much more to the Charlotte Mason approach.
Today let’s take a look at some of those great Charlotte Mason activities that you can use to add variety to your days. [Continue reading Hands-On Methods the CM Way: Getting Started, part 4 …]
Don’t you love it when you can take just a couple of basic ideas, combine them with a couple of skills, and use them to accomplish a lot?
Take sewing, for example. The basic ideas to keep in mind for general sewing are (1) allow 5/8″ from the edge of the fabric to the seam, and (2) put the right sides of the fabric together.
Combine those ideas with a couple of skills—like (1) learning how to “steer” the fabric as it feeds into the sewing machine, and (2) running the foot pedal—and you can make a pillowcase pretty quickly, or some curtains, or a bedspread. [Continue reading Basic Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Skills: Getting Started, part 3 …]
Our family has been cooking and serving some meals for large groups lately. That’s a new adventure for us—not the cooking part, the “for large groups” part. So we’ve been scouring the Internet for helpful tips, ideas, and recipes.
Along the way we’ve discovered an important principle: Always know who is giving you advice. If a person posts a tip or a recipe with a hint as to how to make it serve a large group, we check to see if that person has actually served any large groups. [Continue reading Where Do You Get Your Homeschool Advice? Getting Started, part 2 …]
I still remember the puzzled lady at the grocery store trying to wrap her mind around “homeschooling.” I’m afraid she would have been even more puzzled had I told her that I knew of at least five different approaches to homeschooling.
It’s not a one-size-fits-all process, like it is in traditional schools and classrooms. That’s how the lady at the grocery store was thinking of it.
One of the great benefits of homeschooling is that you can select the methods and materials that best fit you and your children. You have choices! [Continue reading Take Your Pick: Getting Started, part 1 …]
Planning season is upon us, and many people are using our free SCM Curriculum Guide to help make those decisions easier. We’ve been getting some questions on how our History, Bible, and Geography modules work, so let’s take a moment to walk through that flexible part of our curriculum guide.
I’m a firm believer in combining the children for as many subjects as possible, so the History, Bible, and Geography modules are set up that way.
The six modules cover six time periods through history. [Continue reading How to Use the SCM History Modules …]
In this final installment of our Way of the Will series, let’s look at how the habit of attention affects your child’s success in strengthening his will to do what is right even when he doesn’t feel like it. The habit of attention is necessary to help him distinguish between “I want” and “I will” and to enable him to change his thoughts as needed. Here’s more on that connection.
One of my daughters recently took a co-op music class. Unfortunately, one of her classmates constantly disrupted class by sharing his thoughts about everything. It seemed no matter what we were doing, it would remind him of something and he had to tell about it. In detail. With examples. [Continue reading Attention, Please – Way of the Will, part 5 …]
As we begin to wrap up this “Way of the Will” 5-part series, let’s look at what Charlotte called “the secret of a happy life.”
If you had been a student in one of Charlotte Mason’s schools, you would have received a badge with the student motto around the edge: “I am, I can, I ought, I will.”
Charlotte recognized that each child is a person who can do many things, and should be taught what he ought to do. But in the end the child has to decide for himself what he will do. [Continue reading Change Your Thoughts – Way of the Will, part 4 …]
We’re happy to announce that our new calendar journal, The Way of the Will, is now available. The articles in this series are taken from that calendar journal. Plus, the journal contains eight more articles on helping our children strengthen their wills to choose what is right.
We will continue our series next week, but we wanted to let you know about this popular resource just as soon as it was ready. [Continue reading The Way of the Will Calendar Journal …]
So far in this series on “The Way of the Will,” we have talked about a child who wants to have his own way and lets you know about it in no uncertain terms. But what about those children who are easy-going? Can we assume their wills are strong? Let’s discuss compliant children today.
Have you ever floated down a lazy river on an inner tube? It’s so relaxing with your hands dangling in the cool water. You can even close your eyes and snooze, because you don’t have to do anything or make any decisions. You can just bob along and enjoy the sunshine. [Continue reading Floating Downstream – Way of the Will, part 3 …]
Last week we discovered that, according to Charlotte Mason, what we often call a strong-willed child is really a child with a weak will. Today let’s talk a little about how to help our children develop strong wills that can choose to do what is right even when they don’t feel like doing it.
I grew up around horses, and I distinctly remember my father warning me about letting my pony run to the barn at the end of a ride. “It will get into the habit of running to the barn,” he cautioned. “And soon you won’t be able to control it.” [Continue reading Out of Control – Way of the Will, part 2 …]
We are beginning a new series today on “The Way of the Will.” Over the next few weeks we will take a look at some of Charlotte Mason’s thoughts on how our children’s wills shape their characters for life.
If you have ever been on a diet, you are intimately acquainted with what Charlotte Mason called “the way of the will.”
Let’s say your friend invites you out to lunch. As you open the menu, you dutifully look for the salad section and make your selection. But as you set down the menu to wait for the server, your gaze falls on a gorgeous picture of chocolate cake. Moist, three-layer chocolate cake. With raspberry sauce. [Continue reading The Way of the Will, part 1 …]
At the Texas Book Fair last weekend, we were able to help many homeschoolers who were trying to stay within their budgets. And when we would tell them about all the free resources on our Web site, it was fun to watch their eyes light up when they heard the word “free.”
So we thought many of you might like a reminder of all the free books and other resources that are available at SCM to help you homeschool with the Charlotte Mason Method. [Continue reading Free Books and Resources at SCM …]
As we mentioned last week, we are very excited about a newly-completed project. Our Books & Things Seminar is now available on DVD!
Charlotte noted how an education based on books and things can simplify our home schools. Using good living books and the things around us to educate our children is also a very economical style of homeschooling.
Some of you may remember our Books & Things article series last year that gave an overview of these principles. [Continue reading New Books & Things Seminar on DVD …]
We enjoy meeting so many of you at events throughout the year. Here is a peek at upcoming events, both homeschool conventions or book fairs and SCM workshops and seminars. We will have all of our products at our book display at all of these events, including a brand new product that we’re very excited about! (More details on that later.)
We’re busy packing and mapping and tying up loose ends in order to hit the road next week. We’re looking forward to seeing you at one or more of these events so be sure to stop by our booth and say hello. [Continue reading Upcoming SCM Homeschool Events …]
We’ve spent much of this series on high school talking about academics. And it’s easy to focus on the books, the grades, and the transcript, especially in the high school years. But our goal is not just to graduate our children. Our goal is to equip them to be godly young men and women who are prepared to run their own households. So for this final part of the series, let’s shift the focus a bit to another very important aspect of a Charlotte Mason high school: habits. [Continue reading Habit-Training: Homeschooling through High School the CM Way, part 5 …]
Joe has always been gifted at playing the piano. He is currently practicing several hours a day in preparation for a national competition.
Katie loves digital photography. Several of her photos have been featured in wildlife magazines, and she’s hoping to go on an expedition this fall.
Gabe contracted a long-term illness a couple of months ago. On good days he can concentrate and get his school work done quickly. On not-so-good days he struggles just to get out of bed. [Continue reading Individualizing Your High School: Homeschooling through High School the CM Way, part 4 …]
When facing the high school years, one foundational tenet, especially, of the Charlotte Mason Method seems to befuddle parents: no grades. How can our child graduate without a grade point average? we wonder. Don’t colleges look at grades when considering a student for acceptance? Can we issue a diploma without grades or a transcript?
While it is true that students in Charlotte Mason’s school did not receive grades, it is also true that much of the educational system that faces us after the home school years puts a premium on grades. What is a CM mom to do? [Continue reading Grades and Transcripts: Homeschooling through High School the CM Way, part 3 …]
Last week we talked about the methods that remain consistent through high school when approached the Charlotte Mason way: a wide variety of subjects, living books, and narration. This week let’s take a closer look at specific subjects.
It appears from our research that Charlotte outlined the following subjects for the high school years: math, science, English grammar, composition, spelling, personal development/citizenship, foreign language, history, geography, Bible, literature, poetry, nature study, art, music, Shakespeare. [Continue reading Details by Subject: Homeschooling through High School the CM Way, part 2 …]
High School. Maybe it’s the name. Maybe it’s the emphasis our culture seems to place on its importance. Maybe it’s the expectations that we carry from our own past experiences.
Whatever the cause, it seems like many factors can contribute to a sense of intimidation when we think of teaching “high school.”
Then, along with that feeling of foreboding, add the thought of teaching high school in a non-traditional way—using Charlotte Mason methods—and it’s enough to cause even a seasoned homeschooler to take pause. [Continue reading Basic Mainstays: Homeschooling through High School the CM Way, part 1 …]
Charlotte Mason had a knack for keeping school interesting. Not only did she include a variety of subjects, but she taught those subjects with enjoyable (and effective) methods.
Take the subject of spelling, for example. Most of us were taught spelling with lists of words. Charlotte realized that lists have drawbacks: they aren’t interesting and they don’t show the words in context. Spelling is a lot more enjoyable when the student receives his spelling words couched in an interesting idea. [Continue reading Homeschool Spelling the Charlotte Mason Way …]
We have enjoyed some wonderful discussions on the SCM Forum lately. Here are some highlights that are sure to furnish you with ideas, encourage you along your homeschooling path, or give you some helpful tips.
- They Are Asking for Grades—What if your children ask for grades? A great discussion on how Charlotte Mason thought we should motivate our children and what that might look like in our homes.
It’s getting to be about that time again — the season when many of us get the itch to start planning our next school year. Here are five things to keep in mind whether you are in the midst of planning or just trying to finish out this year.
- Include more than just books.
A Charlotte Mason education is one that uses both books and things. It includes hands-on activities like nature study, handicrafts, music, and art. Yet it seems like those activities are the items that most easily get pushed to the side. If you’ve found that “things” have slipped off your schedule, don’t give up. Put them back in your plan with a new resolve to enjoy the change of pace and enrichment they will bring.
Don’t you just love it when you discover a way to make an old favorite even better? Like when my daughter comes up with a change to an old family recipe that makes us all ask for seconds or even thirds.
Here at SCM we’re excited to share with you a new version of an old favorite. Our Genesis through Deuteronomy & Ancient Egypt handbook is now available in an updated and expanded edition.
Those of you who have been waiting for the Second Edition, here it is! [Continue reading 2nd Edition Genesis through Deuteronomy & Ancient Egypt Now Available! …]
We’re finishing up our series on CM Myths today. So far we have talked about these myths:
CM Myth #1: Charlotte Mason was a homeschooling mom.
As we continue our fun series on CM Myths, I hope these posts are serving to encourage and, hopefully, educate you a little too. This week we will take a look at the idea that Charlotte Mason never used any textbooks.
Usually the comments go something like this:
“I like the idea of using living math books, because after all, Charlotte never used a textbook. But I’m not certain that these stories and real-life experiences are giving my child enough practice to master the basic math facts.” [Continue reading CM Myth #3: Charlotte Mason Did Not Use Any Textbooks …]
Full of eager anticipation, we dig into the first chapter with our kids gathered around.
But for some reason that book just doesn’t click with our children. When we ask for a narration, we get blank stares. We begin to notice a certain rolling of the eyes when we pull that book out to read. (You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?) [Continue reading CM Myth #2: Charlotte Mason Never Made a Mistake Selecting Living Books …]
We’re starting a fun new series of posts this week: CM Myths. Over the next few weeks we will be investigating some of the statements we’ve heard people make about Charlotte Mason. We hope this series will help you learn more about Charlotte herself and her methods.
Because so many homeschoolers love her methods, and because she had such keen insight into children, some people think that Charlotte Mason was a homeschooling mom. [Continue reading CM Myth #1: Charlotte Mason Was a Homeschooling Mom …]
Today was one of “those” days. It took a Herculean effort just to make sure we accomplished all that needed to be done: meals, vitamins, exercises, beginning reading, copywork, math, bread-baking, groceries, Bible, Latin, English grammar, literature, Scripture memory. Not to mention conference calls, e-mails, and scheduling.
I’m sure your to-do list looked just as full and loomed just as large.
It’s our pleasure to announce a new free e-book on habits, Smooth and Easy Days with Charlotte Mason.
A new year lies before us. Perhaps you have some new goals and commitments with the turning of the calendar page. No doubt many of those goals, if not all, will depend on forming some new habit or breaking some bad habit.
In this season of renewed focus, it helps to remember Charlotte Mason’s counsel on breaking bad habits: “Introduce some new habit as attractive to the child as is the wrong habit you set yourself to cure” (Vol. 2, p. 175). Concentrate on replacing the old habit with a new good habit. [Continue reading New Free E-book on Habits …]
We’re in the process of cataloging our home library with some new software. It’s turning out to be a great time of renewing old acquaintances. Books that I knew I had read somewhere turn up in the back row of a shelf. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who double stacks rows of books on shelves.)
I’m excited about having a record of all my books in one place for easy reference. It will be so helpful to find what I’m looking for at a glance. [Continue reading Renewing Old Acquaintances …]
This time of year, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus and look toward the unknown future of 2010, we can find comfort and confidence in the truth that Jesus is called Immanuel, God with us.
Charlotte Mason reminded her readers of that truth of an ever-present Savior, Who is with us in the midst of unexpected hardships and trials as well as in the demand of unending everyday needs.
Many school subjects are easy to do all together as a family regardless of the ages of the children. Last week we talked about how to combine the grade levels for subjects that involve books. This week let’s look at subjects that are more hands-on.
When you do picture study the Charlotte Mason way, you are allowing each child to form his own relationship with the picture and artist, so it’s easy to combine all your students. [Continue reading Combining Homeschool Grade Levels, Part 3 …]
You may be thinking, “Combining all my students for certain subjects sounds like a great idea, but what does it look like?” Glad you asked.
Let’s talk first about Family subjects that are taught primarily with living books. In our house those subjects are history, geography, Bible, poetry, science (in the younger grades), and Shakespeare. Here’s what combining the students looks like when we’re using living books. [Continue reading Combining Homeschool Grade Levels, Part 2 …]
Ever since we began homeschooling, I’ve combined all the school-age children for as many subjects as possible. That decision has saved countless hours, both in planning and in teaching. I love to recommend that strategy everywhere we go.
At some recent seminars, several moms have had questions about how to combine the grade levels. So I want to take the next few posts to explain how we’ve done it. We’ll talk about which subjects work well for this strategy, what it actually looks like in practice, how to do narration in a combined group, and a few other tips along the way. [Continue reading Combining Homeschool Grade Levels, Part 1 …]
When we started Simply Charlotte Mason several years ago, we asked the Lord to make our efforts a blessing to the families He would bring our way. But we never realized how much the families He brought our way would bless us in return!
You are an encouragement and a blessing in our lives, and “we give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:2).
Every time you drop us a note, send us an e-mail, or chat with us at a live event, our hearts are filled with gratitude to God for providing a way to meet like-minded friends across the world. [Continue reading We Give Thanks to God Always for You All …]
We’re wrapping up this series on The Early Years with a few ideas specifically for you moms who have both preschoolers and school-age children.
Getting your older children’s school work done with preschoolers in the mix can be challenging. So here is an article from our archives with some tips, Preschoolers in the Mix. We hope the suggestions will be helpful. [Continue reading Tips for Teaching at Home with Preschoolers in the Mix–Early Years Homeschooling, Part 7 …]
If you remember back to our first post in this Early Years series, we talked about a parent’s chief duties. Do you recall what those two duties are?
1. “To form in his child right habits of thinking and behaving,” and
2. “To nourish a child daily with loving, right, and noble ideas” (Vol. 2, p. 228).
Both of those duties come into play as you cultivate your preschooler’s spiritual life. Charlotte Mason’s practical suggestions will help you lay a wonderful foundation for your child’s walk with God. Here are just a few of her ideas. [Continue reading Cultivating Your Preschooler’s Spiritual Life–Early Years Homeschooling, Part 6 …]
My children have always loved a good book. I remember when my first two were preschoolers, we had two reading times set aside each day. They would come running to the couch with their arms full of their book choices—often from their special favorites—and we would read . . . and read . . . and read. Pretty soon I had to start setting the timer for twenty minutes, just so I wouldn’t lose my voice.
(By the way, a stack of books is a great opportunity to introduce the concept of “A-B-C order.” Rather than quarreling over which book should be read first, I would help them arrange the stack in alphabetical order according to title, then set the timer and read as far as we could get before it dinged.) [Continue reading Books & Stories in the Early Years–Early Years Homeschooling, Part 5 …]
A new arrival always brings excitement, and we’re excited about the new arrival at SCM—The Early Years: A Charlotte Mason Preschool Handbook! This book is filled with Charlotte Mason’s ideas for the preschool years, presented in bite-size chunks with modern-day examples, inspiring quotes, and practical tips.
The ideas presented in our series on the Early Years have been taken from the information in this book. Of course, you’ll find much more detail and many more ideas in its 144 pages. Topics include habit training, proper physical care, using the senses, outdoor life, a personal acquaintance with nature, books and stores, art and music, spiritual life, parenting a gifted child, Charlotte’s thoughts on kindergarten, teaching reading, and more. [Continue reading New Early Years Homeschool Book …]
“In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air” (Vol. 1, p. 43).
Did you catch that? Even in Charlotte Mason’s day, a hundred years ago, mothers were feeling the pressure to push their preschool children in academics and social activities. But Charlotte advocated an opposite approach that still holds benefits for you today. [Continue reading Outdoor Life for Preschoolers–Early Years Homeschooling, Part 4 …]
In my daughter’s baby book are two great “early years” photos. One is a picture of her after she tried to eat a chocolate ice cream cone. The front of her shirt is covered, her hands are dripping,—and how she got it in her sandals, I’ll never know.
The other picture is of her standing in our front yard with dark brown smeared all around her mouth. Now, the casual observer would think that was another chocolate ice cream experiment. But it wasn’t. That time she was trying to eat dirt. [Continue reading Learning through the Five Senses–Early Years Homeschooling, Part 3 …]
A few weeks ago I was in the mountains of Colorado and noticed an unusual lamppost. This lamppost was made from a tree. But that wasn’t the unusual part. The unusual part was the complete curly-que that the tree trunk made right beneath the lamp. It looked like one of those silly straws that have a loop in the middle.
Someone had trained that tree to grow in that direction when it was just a sapling. Sure, full-grown trees can be trained to grow in certain ways, but it is so much easier to shape a tree when it is young and pliable. [Continue reading Habit Training in the Early Years–Early Years Homeschooling, Part 2 …]
Pam balanced nine-month-old Timmy on her hip as we chatted. Three-year-old Tommy peered at me from behind the stroller. This particular homeschool convention had offered many opportunities to encourage young parents. Looking at me earnestly, Pam voiced the same question I had heard from so many moms over the summer: “What should I be doing now during the preschool years to prepare my children for homeschooling?”
Usually when parents ask that question, they’re expecting advice about academics. Flashcards, instructional videos, and reading lessons seem paramount in their minds. So the Charlotte Mason priorities that we encourage them to adopt often sound a bit different. (Well, probably more than “a bit.”) [Continue reading A Parent’s Chief Duty–Early Years Homeschooling, Part 1 …]
We have a full line-up of seminars and workshops that Sonya will be presenting this fall during October and November. The SCM Team has fondly dubbed this series of events the “SCM Southern Tour,” and we are eager to meet and encourage many of you during these days of travel. Please don’t feel left out if you don’t live in the southern US. We have an option for you too. [Continue reading SCM Seminars and Workshops This Fall …]
It’s a buzz word among those in Charlotte Mason circles. We smile in recognition when we hear it and probably use the word sometimes ourselves. Yet it seems difficult to define exactly. We might be able to give examples, but we can’t quite wrap our minds around an adequate, succinct definition.
Twaddle. How would you define it? Here are some key thoughts taken from Charlotte’s comments. [Continue reading What Is Twaddle? …]
The past three weeks we have been discussing some ideas for easing into the Charlotte Mason Method in your home school. Remember to take your time and get comfortable with each step and each stage before you move on to the next. This is not a race. It involves many new decisions and new ways of thinking. So don’t get in a hurry or feel like you’re “behind”; you’ll do just fine.
Today we’ll talk about adding in a few more methods to polish off and finish up your transition. Here are some ideas for adding geography, foreign language, Shakespeare, and recitation into your Charlotte Mason education. [Continue reading Transition to CM, Stage 4: Add In …]
We hope the steps outlined in Stages 1 and 2 have been helpful as you make the transition to the Charlotte Mason Method. By the time you are ready to move on, you should be feeling pretty comfortable with the changes you and your children have made. Stage 3 is the time to check your existing Science, Math, Language Arts, and Bible curricula to see if they are CM compatible.
Your science books should use a conversational tone (as if speaking directly to the reader) or a narrative (story) style. If the book reads like an encyclopedia, you may need to make a switch. In science, as in several other subjects, living books and narration work well. Many good living science books are available. Read the sample of Jack’s Insects for a great example of a science book written in narrative style. [Continue reading Transition to CM, Stage 3: Check Up …]
Once you feel comfortable with The Basics described in last week’s post, you can easily add one more CM method per week. Each of the methods listed below can be done once a week—Fine Arts (Picture Study, Music Study, Poetry), Nature Study, Book of Centuries, Dictation.
Simply choose one of them to add to your schedule during the week, and continue incorporating that method once a week for a few weeks until you’re comfortable. Then select another one to add to your schedule during the week, and continue doing it once a week until you’re ready to add another one.
Here is a quick description of how to do each of the various methods in this stage. [Continue reading Transition to CM, Stage 2: Once a Week …]
Making the transition to using the Charlotte Mason Method may seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to if you ease into it in stages. Take your time and linger over each stage until you begin to feel comfortable. Today we’ll discuss Stage 1: The Basics—Short Lessons, Living Books, Narration.
One of the easiest places to start is with a key Charlotte Mason principle: short lessons. In order to build the habit of attention, keep your lessons short, especially for younger children. Aim for no longer than fifteen or twenty minutes per subject for young children (including their oral narrations), and lengthen the time to thirty or forty minutes for older students. Some subjects, like copywork, might take only five minutes. But five minutes of full attention and best effort can accomplish much. [Continue reading Transition to CM, Stage 1: The Basics …]
We regularly receive e-mails and posts on the SCM Forum from parents asking, “How do I make the transition to using the Charlotte Mason method?” It’s a great question, and we would like to spend the next few weeks giving you some practical ideas and suggestions. [Continue reading Making the Transition to the Charlotte Mason Method …]
Joan wanted a garden. In her mind this garden would provide healthful fresh vegetables for her family. She could picture the crisp green beans, sweet onions, and bright red tomatoes. In fact, she could almost taste the fresh salsa!
But Joan was new to this whole gardening thing. She decided she needed some instructions that she could follow to the letter, something that would guarantee success. So Joan bought a book called 283 Easy Steps to a Healthy Vegetable Garden. [Continue reading A System or a Method? …]
What a great time we’ve had traveling to North Carolina, Iowa, and Ohio the past few weeks and meeting many of you at the homeschool book fairs and conventions! We’re looking forward to one more Expo the end of this month. Any of you who will be attending the CSTHEA curriculum fair on July 24 and 25 near Chattanooga, please stop by our booth and say hello. Sonya will be presenting two workshops, and we would love to meet you there!
One question Karen and I get asked quite often is, “What do you think about (insert name here) math curriculum?”
It’s an interesting question for two reasons: first, Charlotte Mason didn’t specify exactly how she taught all the levels of math, nor did she endorse a specific curriculum; second, we haven’t used all of the math programs out there. [Continue reading Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum …]
We’re finishing up a series today on how the Charlotte Mason Method differs from other homeschool approaches you may have heard of. We’ve already discussed how Charlotte Mason is different from a traditional approach, unit studies, and the classical approach. Now let’s take a look at unschooling.
When we talk about unschooling, we’re referring to a spontaneous approach that is mainly child-directed. There is usually no set curriculum. The parent and child study whatever interests the child at the time. They try to take advantage of learning opportunities as they arise.
So far in our series, we’ve looked at the three key questions that will help us discern the differences between homeschooling methods, and we’ve talked about how the Charlotte Mason method is different from a traditional curriculum and from unit studies. Today let’s look at how Charlotte Mason differs from the classical approach.
[Continue reading Charlotte Mason Method vs. Classical Approach …]
When I started homeschooling more than thirteen years ago, I used a unit study approach because I thought it was my only alternative to a traditional curriculum. At the end of that year I heard about Charlotte Mason and knew that the Charlotte Mason Method was the one I wanted to pursue.
“What’s the difference between the Charlotte Mason Method and the traditional curriculum that I’ve been using?” Last weekend at the North Carolina homeschoolers convention we heard that question several times. It’s a great question.
Have you been trying to decide what homeschooling method or curriculum to use or just how to homeschool? Obviously, we like the Charlotte Mason method around here, but how does that compare to the others? And what is the difference between the many homeschooling approaches you hear about?
Well, I almost have my voice back. Those of you who were at the Georgia homeschool convention (GHEA) this past weekend know what I’m talking about. We had a great time chatting with the hundreds of people who stopped by the Simply Charlotte Mason booth!
Our workshop, Charlotte Mason and Her Methods, ended up standing room only. [Continue reading SCM Spring Update …]
I well remember the first homeschool convention I attended. I was very excited to gain the insights and tips from the workshops I had selected from the brochure’s schedule. I was eager to listen to veteran homeschoolers, get some encouragement, and take lots of notes.
But I was not prepared for the vendor hall.
Last week we highlighted the four schooling methods that Charlotte Mason said to avoid. One of those methods is the practice of giving grades.
We’ve received several inquiries from our readers with great questions about how avoiding grades would look practically. [Continue reading When Grades Are Necessary …]
The past few weeks we’ve been talking about feeding our children’s natural curiosity and desire for knowledge by using living books and natural things. Those Charlotte Mason methods help our children form relations that result in true education.
But did you know that Charlotte also warned against four schooling methods? She cautioned that these four methods can destroy our children’s desire for knowledge, rather than feed it and encourage it.
Here are the four methods Charlotte told us to avoid. [Continue reading Four Methods to Avoid in Charlotte Mason Homeschooling …]
Many people equate living books with the Charlotte Mason method. And that’s well and good. Living books are a big part of her approach, as we’ve discussed during recent posts.
But a Charlotte Mason education is not based just on books; it is also based on “things.” [Continue reading Hands-on Learning in the Charlotte Mason Method …]
Today is grocery day at our house. And you can be sure that after last time’s post, I’m going to be picky in the produce section.
But you know, bringing home that delightful food is just the first step. It’s what you do with it after you get it home that counts.
If I set all that delicious fruit on the countertop, arrange it nicely, and make a point of looking at it every day, it will profit me nothing. In fact, it will turn into a wasteful distraction.
It’s the same with books. Selecting good living books [Continue reading Using Living Books Effectively …]
It’s rather entertaining to watch shoppers in the produce section. Some approach a fruit stand with fear and trepidation. They know they’re supposed to be picky about which mangos they buy, but they haven’t the foggiest idea how to tell if it’s ripe, not yet ripe, or past its prime. [Continue reading Choosing Books Like a Connoisseur …]
Fleece. Dyeing. Carding. Spinning. A year ago I recognized those words and could define them accurately. But in the past several months my oldest daughter has taken up dyeing and spinning as a hobby. Now when I hear someone mention one of those words, I don’t have just a nodding acquaintance with them, I can relate to them. [Continue reading I Can Relate …]
“Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there stood in a large orchard a beautiful Apple-Tree. All through the long winter it had held out bare branches. The March sun whispered to it that spring had come. But the cold March winds were not a bit polite, and would say: ‘No, it hasn’t.’ . . .”
I dare say that many of us feel like that apple tree. Now that March is here, we all wish that spring has come with it. We are getting that itch to go outside, soak in the fresh air, and explore.
What a perfect time to read about nature secrets that may be hiding in your own backyard! [Continue reading Outdoor Secrets Nature Stories …]
After our previous post, many of you contacted us to find out where you might be able to get a copy of the book we mentioned: The Swedish Drill Teacher by M. H. Spalding.
Originally published in 1910, this book gives the most comprehensive explanation of Swedish Drill that we’ve found. Charlotte Mason used Swedish Drill exercises as part of her physical education program for her students. [Continue reading The Swedish Drill Teacher …]
This idea of Swedish drill that Charlotte Mason used in her schools intrigued me, so I went on a hunt for more information. Well, the wonderful inter-library loan lady at my local library found me a gem: The Swedish Drill Teacher by M. H. Spalding, copyright 1910. This little 72-page book (which sold for six shillings in London) details the principles behind and methods of Swedish drill.
Swedish drill was a series of movements the students performed in response to the teacher’s vocal instructions. The movements were performed slowly and gently (for the most part), with an emphasis on [Continue reading Homeschool Physical Education: Swedish Drill …]
It’s the middle of winter and many of us are looking for more ways to give the children exercise indoors during inclement weather. A couple of physical recreation activities that Charlotte Mason used in her schools can come to the rescue if you’re willing to give them a try: folk dancing and Swedish drill.
Charlotte used folk dancing as part of her curriculum from the earliest grades. If you’ve ever watched clogging, Irish step-dancing, or some other type of folk dancing, you know that the activity requires alertness and stamina. The possible combinations of movements are countless, and a person must [Continue reading Homeschool Physical Education: Folk Dancing …]
Like many of you, I enjoy reading the Mitford books by Jan Karon. But you may be surprised to hear which one is my favorite: Patches of Godlight, a journal of quotes and mottoes that the fictional Father Tim has collected over his years of reading good literature.
I was delighted to find that Charlotte Mason [Continue reading A Book of Mottoes …]
Do you ever feel like you’re on the Mommy See-saw?
“I must teach my child to obey, yet I don’t want to be a dictator.”
“I want my child to enjoy his childhood, but I can’t just allow him to run wild and do anything he wants to do.”
Welcome to the Mommy See-saw. Up and down, back and forth we teeter, wishing we knew the secret to keeping a happy balance.
Charlotte Mason called that happy balanced state Masterly Inactivity. [Continue reading Masterly Inactivity Free Charlotte Mason E-Book …]
It’s January — a great time for looking back and looking ahead. We thought a fun way to look back would be to review our most popular posts for 2008. Perhaps you missed one of these topics or will find encouragement in reading them again. Either way, we hope you enjoy them.
We enjoyed getting to travel and meet many of you during 2008! And thanks to my husband John, you can take a look back over the year with us. John hauled his trusty digital camera to several of our All-Day Charlotte Mason seminars and the CM Planning Retreat and captured some of the fun and learning in photos (yes, including Swedish Drill).
We’ve grabbed just a few of those photos to give you a taste of our times together in 2008. [Continue reading 2008 SCM Event Photos …]
That’s right! We are pleased to announce that the All-Day Charlotte Mason Seminar is now available on DVD. We’ve had so many requests to record this seminar and have been working on it for many months. It’s exciting to have it ready for you!
“The seminar is wonderful! I would recommend it to anyone interested in CM.” — Niki M.
The complete seminar is a 4-DVD set recorded live at an All-Day CM Seminar in Georgia. [Continue reading All-Day CM Seminar Now on DVD …]
I enjoy the annual Christmas tree trimming at our house. (Well, aside from climbing up into the attic and hauling down all the boxes.) We put on some Christmas music, light a cinnamon-scented candle, assemble the faithful old artificial tree, and start unpacking the boxes.
We have several boxes full of ornaments that we have collected over the years. There are handmade ornaments, ornaments that remind us of special events, ornaments from around the world, and heirloom ornaments. Each has its own story to tell. Actually, we have so many that we can’t put all the ornaments on the tree at the same time. It’s fun to go through the collection and decide which ones to feature each year.
Yesterday, as I was walking past the tree on the way to the kitchen, the sparkling ornaments reminded me of something I read [Continue reading Another Kind of Ornament …]
Well, we’ve taken down the Thanksgiving decorations and put up the Christmas ones. And along with the Christmas decorations come the Christmas resources that we’ve used in previous years. Want a quick peek? [Continue reading Christmas Ideas …]
“When all Thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view I’m lost,
In wonder, love and praise”
Charlotte Mason took time for her soul to survey God’s mercies, and here is what she found to be thankful for.
How good is life, how joyous it is to go out of doors, even in the streets of a city! Surely a pleasant thing it is to see the sun! How good is health, even the small share of it allotted to the invalid! How good and congenial all the pleasant ways of home life, all family love and neighbourly kindness, and the love of friends! How good it is to belong to a great country and share in all her interests and concerns! How good to belong to the world of men, aware that whatever concerns men, concerns us! How good are books and pictures and music! How delightful is knowledge! How good is the food we eat! How pleasant are the clothes we wear! How sweet is sleep, and how joyful is awaking!
The Soul that surveys these and a thousand other good things of our common life is indeed a ‘rising soul,’ rising to the Father,—who knoweth that we have need of all these things,—with the gratitude and thanksgiving that are forced out of a heart overflowing with love (Vol. 4, Book 2, p. 192).
Take some time to survey God’s mercies this Thanksgiving season.
Last November we launched the Simply Charlotte Mason community forum with the prayer that it would be a place of encouragement, grace, and help for all those using the Charlotte Mason method.
We’re thrilled with the community that has grown over the past year! We’ve discussed topics from habits to narration to math to schedules to gardens, and so many of you have joined in. Those who read, those who only ask questions, and those who post answers are all part of the community that makes the forum what it is.
We especially want to recognize the top ten post-ers on the SCM Forum. [Continue reading SCM Forum Celebrates One-Year Anniversary …]
“Trust me, you’re not going to like it.”
My little girl’s big brown eyes peered solemnly across the table. “But I want to try it.”
“If you try it, you will have to sit there until you drink it all. Do you understand?”
Her eyes lit up. “Yes.”
“All right, you may try it, but you’ll have to drink the whole thing and it won’t taste good.”
My daughter learned two important lessons that day. [Continue reading Natural Consequences …]
“I nag them and I nag them, but it does no good.” Most of us can testify to the truth of that statement. But I never understood why nagging doesn’t work until I started to study Charlotte’s habit-training principles. Now it makes sense.
Let’s say that you’re trying to teach your child to hang up her coat when she takes it off. In order to make that action a habit, she needs to [Continue reading Why Nagging Doesn’t Work …]
I recently got a new printer for my computer, and as I was unpacking it I came upon a huge stack of user documents. My heart sank. The amount of information was a bit overwhelming. It was all helpful, to be sure; but the sheer volume of it all looked intimidating, and I didn’t know where to begin.
Then my gaze fell upon these welcome words: Quick Start. [Continue reading Habits Workshop Now on DVD! …]
Have you ever driven to the grocery store and, after you pulled into a parking place and shut off the car, you realized that you didn’t remember the drive there? It was almost as if you drove on auto-pilot. Whenever that happens to me, my next thought is, “Oh, I hope I didn’t run any red lights!”
I can still picture the textured wall, the shiny smooth top of the spinet piano, and the white kitchen timer with its seemingly unmoving dial. I was supposed to be practicing my piano lesson, but I probably spent half of the allotted time listening to that timer’s ceaseless ticking. I knew I was supposed to practice every day, but I usually waited until my mother told me to.
Then something happened that changed my whole outlook on practicing [Continue reading Her Own Idea …]
Last month we did a little deep cleaning around our house. Well, okay, not a little — a lot. At least it seemed like a lot. Cleaning can be hard work! By the time we had the furniture moved, the closet emptied, the light fixtures disassembled, and the curtain rods dismantled, I was tired. And only one thing that kept me going was that picture in my mind of how nice the room would look when we were done.
We moms will work hard if we know that the goal is worth it. [Continue reading Smooth and Easy Days …]
The past few months have brought about some changes for our SCM books. We think they’re good changes! Here are the details for you. [Continue reading SCM Book News …]
Welcome to this Narration edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival. We’re happy to be hosting the carnival this week.
As you know, narration is a fundamental part of the Charlotte Mason method. We’re sure you will find a lot of encouragement and great ideas as you peruse the posts listed below.
Now, if you want to get a real taste for this art form and experience a little of what we’re requiring from our children when we ask them to narrate, here’s a challenge for you: [Continue reading The Art of Narrating …]
We’re excited about hosting the next CM Blog Carnival on September 16. (A blog carnival is an event where bloggers all write posts about a topic, which are collected and linked to on the hosting blog.) The theme for this carnival will be “narration.”
So many CMers have questions about this basic method, and I’m sure all of you moms out there with experience could shed a lot of light on the subject. If you have a post about narration, either one you’ve written in the past or one you want to write specifically for this carnival, please share it. [Continue reading Next CM Blog Carnival on Narration …]
We know of several groups that are using Laying Down the Rails for their weekly or monthly book discussions this coming year. How exciting! I wish I could be a part of each group and hear all the comments. It is always so helpful to learn what other people are doing and how they are applying Charlotte’s habit-training principles.
If you will be leading one of those discussions, here are a few ideas to help get the comments started. [Continue reading Habits Book Discussion Tips …]
This week’s Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival contains a lot of encouragement and ideas on habit training. Be sure to check it out over at Barb-Harmony Art Mom’s Handbook of Nature Study blog.
Picture a banquet, a feast, lavishly spread on a long table. Now, keep that picture in your mind, for that is how Charlotte Mason described the abundance of ideas that we should make available to our children in their school work.
“We spread an abundant and delicate feast in the programmes and each small guest assimilates what he can” (Vol. 6, p. 183).
So how are you coming in preparing this year’s feast? [Continue reading This Year’s Feast …]
Several years ago I heard about an intriguing living science book that Charlotte Mason had used in her schools. The book was called Jack’s Insects, and I looked everywhere for it. I couldn’t find it anywhere — online or off. So I kept it on my watch list and went on about my schooling. Imagine my excitement when I finally spotted a copy this year from an antique book seller online! [Continue reading Jack’s Insects …]
Be sure to check out the biggest CM Blog Carnival yet! Cindy is hosting the Back to School Planning Bash over at On Our Journey Westward. She has posted more than forty entries from CMers, sharing ideas for Daily Schedules and Curriculum Choices, Schoolroom and Other Organizing Ideas, and Plans for Particular Subjects. Enjoy!
I love doing the All-Day Charlotte Mason Seminars! It’s so much fun to meet other CMers and spend the day discussing how practical and do-able the Charlotte Mason method really is.
So what is an All-Day CM Seminar like? Glad you asked. [Continue reading CM Seminars in Nashville & Charleston …]
Final exams. What memories does that phrase bring to your mind? Too often final exams are approached like evil dragons that students must occasionally slay. And too often a student prepares for the fight much like a foolish knight who frantically stuffs down his throat all the healthful foods that he has neglected for so long, vainly tries to polish his rusty sword, and seeks a friend who might know the best shortcut to conquering the ferocious beast. Only in our case the student probably begs the teacher to tell him what will be on the test and then stays up all night cramming the necessary facts into his short-term memory. Sound familiar? [Continue reading End of Term Exams in the Charlotte Mason Method …]
The past few weeks we’ve been discussing Charlotte Mason methods for assessing what our children remember. Last time we looked briefly at narration.
Now, those of you who have already read it, no peeking. What do you recall about narration? No, you don’t have to remember word-for-word each point that was presented. Just try to draw that memory from last time back out of your mind for a moment. What can you remember? (By the way, I hope you are getting in the habit of mentally narrating what you read.) [Continue reading Pre-reading Reviews …]
Last week we started a new series discussing the Charlotte Mason methods we can use to evaluate, or assess, what our children are learning. If you missed that introduction, you can read it on our SCM Blog.
Today let’s talk about perhaps the most well-known of those assessment methods: narration. In its basic form, narration is retelling in your own words. Such a method may sound easy enough — and in some ways it is a simple and natural method — but it also requires a good grasp of the subject matter. [Continue reading The Charlotte Mason Method of Narration …]
As we wrap up a school year and plan for the next one, the question lurks in the back of our minds: How much does my child remember?
Some assessments are built right in to the subject, like math and spelling. You can tell right away how much your child remembers by watching him solve an equation or spell a dictation exercise.
But what about history, geography, science, and other subjects that we simply read together? How do we find out whether the child is remembering what we’ve read? [Continue reading How Much Does My Child Remember? …]
Maybe you can relate. When my children were younger, we would always run out of time to do hands-on projects. By the time we got out all the materials and cleared a space for the activity, we had about ten minutes to work on it before we had to begin cleaning up. How frustrating! [Continue reading A Project Week Idea …]
Do you feel like a cloud is hanging over your head this summer? I don’t mean a typical rain cloud; I mean a cloud called “Planning.”
Sometimes that planning cloud casts a little shadow over all our activities. We know we have to deal with it sometime, but it’s so easy to push off planning to another day. [Continue reading A CM Planning Getaway …]
We had a great time in Iowa the past two weeks. It was so good to meet all of you Iowa CMers! And while we were there, I was able to finish the next book of daily lesson plans: Joshua through Malachi & Ancient Greece. [Continue reading New Joshua through Malachi & Ancient Greece Book …]
We are in Iowa this week getting ready for the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators’ conference Friday and Saturday, June 6 and 7, in Des Moines. You can find the details on the NICHE site.
Sonya will present a habits workshop, Smooth and Easy Days, based on our book Laying Down the Rails on Saturday at 11:15 AM. (As always, check the schedule at the conference for any last-minute shuffling.) Come learn why habits are so powerful, which habits Charlotte Mason encouraged parents to focus on, and lots of practical ideas for how to cultivate those good habits.
We’ll also have the new Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education book and DVD available for you to get your hands on. Those of you who can’t make the conference can still download a sample of the book from our site.
We’re eager to meet all of you Iowa CMers, so be sure to stop by the SCM booth and say hello to Sonya and her husband John. We would love to see you there!
We hope that you found the planning series helpful. We’re very pleased to announce that our new Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education book and DVD are now available on our Web site. We’ve taken all the goodies from the planning series and added even more practical tips, ideas, and worksheets to help you plan your best year ever. [Continue reading New Planning Book and DVD …]
We’ve all seen those looks: the glazed-over eyes, the dulled expressions, the partly-concealed yawns. Let’s face it, sometimes our children just “check out” during the school day. Are those dull wits an unavoidable part of homeschooling, or is there something we can do in our planning to encourage “fresh wits”? Charlotte Mason had a great suggestion. [Continue reading The Secret to Fresh Wits …]
Certainly one of the biggest challenges facing a homeschool mom is trying to teach with little ones underfoot. You might have laid out the best plans in the world, but those plans might never become a reality if you fail to consider the preschoolers in your home. [Continue reading Preschoolers in the Mix …]
We just wanted to drop you all a quick note to let you know that SCM will be at the Georgia Home Education Association conference this weekend, May 2 and 3, near Atlanta. You can find registration details at GHEA’s site.
Sonya will present a habits workshop, Smooth and Easy Days, based on our book Laying Down the Rails on Friday at 11:00 AM. (As always, check the schedule at the conference for any last-minute shuffling.) Come learn why habits are so powerful, which habits Charlotte Mason encouraged parents to focus on, and lots of practical ideas for how to cultivate those good habits
And be sure to stop by the SCM booth in the exhibit hall to say hello to Sonya and her husband John. We would love to see you there!
“How many days per week should I do science?” “What about history?” “Do you think I need to do math five days a week?”
This step in the 5-step planning process will show you how to answer those questions. If you have already completed steps 1–3 (the Big Picture, Your Year, and Your Term), planning your week will be pretty simple. Here’s how. [Continue reading Your Week …]
One of the most common problems moms have when planning is trying to jump directly from their Year Plan to their Daily Schedule. I’ve found it a lot easier to take smaller steps rather than that one big jump. [Continue reading Your Term …]
We had a wonderful time Saturday at our All-Day Charlotte Mason Seminar! Here are a couple of comments from those who attended:
“Today’s seminar was both informative and empowering! The ‘how-to’ was invaluable, the materials were excellent, and the practice — letting *us* narrate — was eye opening! Thank you all for your hard work in preparing for today; Sonya, thank you so much for leading our diverse group so openly and responsively. I came in a ‘believer’ in CM methods but left knowing I could be a confident ‘doer’ — THANK YOU!”
“I just wanted to openly say THANKS to Sonya for an eye-opening, mind-filling workshop! If you have not already seen her in ‘action’ – get to it next time around, I know I will be there!”
It’s always a treat to get to spend the day with other CMers! And we’re eager to meet more of you as we travel to Charlotte, North Carolina, the end of this month. We will be presenting our all-day seminar at Living Faith Baptist Church on Saturday, April 26, and we would love to see you there!
Here’s where you can find more details and register online
Last week we talked about determining which subjects you plan to teach in each grade. Did you outline them? That information will make the next step much easier: planning your year. [Continue reading Your Year …]
Before you get into the nitty gritty of scheduling particular books, you need to take a step back and look at the big picture. What is it that you want to accomplish by homeschooling? What is your goal for your student?
That may seem like an unrelated philosophical question, but your answer to it will affect your plans. [Continue reading The Big Picture …]
Ah, spring! The time of year when thoughts of planning fill the minds of homeschool moms. What worked well? What isn’t working? What do I want to keep? What do I want to change?
For some moms, the planning process brings a comfortable “now-we’re-accomplishing-something” feeling. For other moms, thoughts of planning bring a sense of floundering and uncertainty.
I must admit that I’m in the first group, the “now we’re getting something done” group. Organizing and planning come naturally to me. And over the years that we have homeschooled, I have refined the process I use to plan and schedule. Now I’d like to share it with you. [Continue reading New Planning Series …]
I have fondly dubbed 2008 as “The Year of A/V.” Yes, due to numerous requests from our readers, SCM is jumping into audio and video this year. [Continue reading Our Foray into Audio and Video …]
We’re pleased to be the host for this 11th edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival! This edition is dedicated to Mother Culture and to all those mothers who need a good mental “airing” during these last weeks of winter.
We’re excited to be hosting the next Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival on February 19! (A blog carnival is an event where bloggers all write posts about a topic, which are collected and linked to on the hosting blog.) Since this is a time of year when all of us could use some encouragement, we’ve decided to center this carnival around the theme of Mother Culture.
“Daniel, I expect you to play nicely with your brother. Yes, Katie, I can change the baby’s diaper now; you go ahead and practice piano. Sarah, I’ll be right there to help you with your math. Hang on just a minute.”
Sound familiar? As we all can testify, parenting and homeschooling are inextricably interwoven. [Continue reading Intentional Parents …]
We hope you have enjoyed the past few weeks as we focused on Masterly Inactivity. The articles we shared with you are taken from our new 2008 personal calendar journal, A Year of Masterly Inactivity with Charlotte Mason.
Several more articles are included in the calendar, along with more than fifty Charlotte Mason quotes on parenting. [Continue reading A Year of Masterly Inactivity …]
“What do you try to control instead of allowing God to control?” the small-group leader posed the question. He gave an example, then someone else mentioned an area that hit home. “I try to control everything for my children,” she said. “My natural instinct is to protect them, but I tend to micromanage. For instance, I tell my teenage daughter to text me when she arrives somewhere, text me when she’s leaving, text me when she arrives at the next place. You get the idea.” [Continue reading Faith …]
You’ve seen them — parents who are hoodwinked by their children time and time again. Suzy is a little terror to the other children, pulling hair and pushing the little ones. But when her mom enters the scene just as a small boy is pushing back, Suzy dramatically falls to the ground and cries. Her uninformed mother runs to rescue her poor victim-daughter and declares the boy to be a bully! [Continue reading Don’t Be Hoodwinked …]
When our first two children were still preschoolers, my husband took them to the park without me. I had some work to finish up, so they went ahead and walked the two blocks before me. About twenty minutes later I was done and hurried to join them. As I rounded the corner, I could see our youngest (at the time) climbing the leg of the swing set. She had almost reached the top bar about ten feet off the ground. [Continue reading A Good Deal of Letting Alone …]
Are you having a happy Christmas, or is that not the word you would choose to describe your attitude this year? It seems that these days it’s getting easier to focus on the problems and stress factors of the Christmas season than to choose to cultivate a truly happy spirit. [Continue reading Happy Christmas …]
Have you ever heard of the game Mother, May I? No, I don’t mean the innocent little game of “baby steps” and “kangaroo hops.” I mean the “game” of pestering and whining, “Mother, may I stay up late tonight? Pleeeeeeze, please, please? All my friends are doing it and . . . .” Perhaps you played this game yourself with your mother. [Continue reading Good Humor …]
A fenced-in backyard can be a wonderful thing when you have small children. Ask any mother who has spent a hot summer day chasing after her adventurous terrier and perpetually active toddler. Fences are good. [Continue reading The Fence of Authority …]
I remember two parties I attended when I was growing up. One was a sleepover at which I saw the parent only once: at breakfast. The rest of the time we girls were left to do anything and everything we pleased. And believe me, we did. [Continue reading Insight and Self-Restraint …]
We love our children. And we have great hopes for them. As Charlotte Mason so aptly put it, “People feel that they can bring up their children to be something more than themselves, that they ought to do so, and that they must” (Vol. 3, p. 26).
That’s why we homeschool. We want to give our children something more.
But because of that desire, we can easily fall into a trap. [Continue reading You Need Both: Masterly Inactivity …]
We, here at SCM, are thankful to God for
- you, our fellow CMers who encourage us as we walk this journey alongside you;
- our children and yours, whose faces confirm that learning can be enjoyable;
- snow up north in Illinois and rain here in drought-ridden Georgia;
- His provision and faithfulness to our families and yours.
We are so much enjoying the photos that have been sent in for the SCM Photo Contest. What fun to peek into your families and “meet” your precious children! We can hardly wait to share them with the rest of the SCM community. [Continue reading Photo Contest Reminder & New Series …]
Fall and winter seem to be good seasons for handicrafts. There’s just something appealing about being in a warm, comfortable room and working with your hands while the wind blows outside. [Continue reading Handicraft Questions (and answers) …]
Our children love to make their own movies and explore the various aspects of filmmaking. They have found that the bonus features on movie DVDs offer many insights about how films are made that they can try to emulate. Those little extras can add a lot!
As we wrap up this series, we wanted to make sure you know about the Bonus Features page we’ve put together for nature study.
On this special page, you’ll find lots of little extras! [Continue reading Nature Study Bonus Features …]
We’ve had a great time doing this nature study series, and we’re excited to announce our new nature study handbook: Hours in the Out-of-Doors: A Charlotte Mason Nature Study Handbook!
Hours in the Out-of-Doors compiles and organizes Charlotte Mason’s comments on nature study. [Continue reading New Nature Study Book …]
We’re excited about the new Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival that has just been started! A blog carnival is like a carnival in that it presents many things in one place. Usually the organizers announce a topic and a host blog, then everyone submits articles they have written on that topic. The host writes a post on her blog gathering it all together and linking to each article. They usually rotate topics and the host blog each time.
Today is the first carnival and the theme is nature study: “The Great Outdoors.” What great timing! So pop on over to Jacci’s blog, An Educational Life, and enjoy all the great encouragement and practical ideas for nature study from fellow CMers.
We’re approaching the end of our series on nature study. We hope you’ve enjoyed the posts and learned a lot from them. As we start wrapping things up this week, we want to share some of Charlotte’s counsel to parents. Here are ten do’s and don’ts that will help you guide your child in nature study. [Continue reading Do’s and Don’ts of Nature Study …]
During the past few weeks we have been sharing that there is more to nature study than just spending time outside. We’ve looked at Charlotte Mason’s ideas about
- why to do nature study,
- when to do nature study,
- what nature study looks like, and
- how to keep a nature notebook.
And most recently we’ve been discussing how Charlotte supplemented nature study with living science books and object lessons in their natural settings. Today let’s look at one more way to supplement nature study: nature projects. [Continue reading 5 Great Nature Projects …]
When I hear the phrase “object lesson,” I think of several little presentations that I watched when I was a child. In those presentations the speaker would perform some kind of attention-grabbing trick with an object and then use that trick as an illustration to teach a moral lesson.
Let’s make it perfectly clear right away: that is not the kind of object lesson that Charlotte Mason advocated! [Continue reading Natural Object Lessons …]
As wonderful as Charlotte Mason-style nature study is, it does have its limits. Charlotte was aware of those limits, and she did not use natural study exclusively. As we researched her comments about nature study, we discovered that she supplemented that foundation with three things: living science books, object lessons, and nature projects. [Continue reading Nature Study, Plus . . . …]
“Where do I find a nature notebook?”
“What does it look like?”
“How do we go about creating a nature notebook? Is there a template somewhere?”
Questions like these cross my desk regularly. So let’s reveal the secret of the mysterious nature notebook. [Continue reading The Secret of the Nature Notebook …]
“OK, I’m convinced that nature study is a great thing! We’re ready to go outside and do nature study! . . . Uh, . . . what do we do when we get out there?” Here are some of Charlotte’s key descriptions of how to do nature study. [Continue reading Nature Study in a Nutshell …]
If you bring up the subject of “when to do nature study,” different moms have different ideas in mind. “Yes, how old should my child be to start nature study, and how long should we spend outside?” one mom asks. While another mom says, “This will be helpful; I’ve always wondered which seasons of the year Charlotte did nature study.” [Continue reading When to Do Nature Study …]
Nature study is one of those aspects of the Charlotte Mason method that is often mentioned but rarely studied in-depth. Just what, exactly, did Charlotte mean by “nature study”? We’ve been combing her writings and compiling her comments, and a beautiful picture is unfolding! Over the next few weeks we will share that beautiful, encompassing picture with you. [Continue reading 8 Reasons To Do Nature Study …]
It’s been great to hear how the CM Organizer is saving time for so many moms! One mom reported saving two hours every week since she switched from a popular software planner. Wow! That’s an eight-hour day that she has gained back each month! [Continue reading New CM Organizer Features & Link to Us Graphics …]
Two highlights have added excitement to our July here at Simply Charlotte Mason!
First, we just published a new book — that is also an old friend. [Continue reading New SCM Book, Upcoming Workshops …]
We’ve had a lot of new sign-ups to the e-mail list lately. Welcome to all of you!
Our regular readers know that we try to keep a good balance between teaching posts and site announcements. Today, we’re excited to let you know about a new book we have available. [Continue reading New Ancient Egypt Study Available! …]
We’ve had a great response to our series on Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life — Charlotte Mason’s three-pronged approach to educating our children! It’s been refreshing to go back to the basics over the past few weeks.
Now here is that little surprise we promised you: [Continue reading Our Little E-Book Surprise …]
Charlotte Mason described her approach to education in three words; she said, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” We’ve already looked at the first two words. Today let’s talk about Education is a Life. [Continue reading Education Is a Life …]
To most of us, the idea of self-discipline comes with a mental picture of a ball and chain. We think of discipline as a taskmaster, forcing us to do what we don’t really want to do. Today let’s change that mental image. Today let’s consider how discipline brings freedom! [Continue reading Discipline Brings Freedom …]
1. Charlotte Mason encouraged us moms to concentrate on forming one habit at a time, keeping watch over those habits already formed. Soon it will become your habit to cultivate good habits in your children. [Continue reading 5 Ways to Cultivate Good Habits …]
We’ve been discussing the three words Charlotte Mason used to describe her approach to education: Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life. The past three posts explored how the ideas that rule your life as a parent affect the atmosphere of your home. If you would like to, you can review that aspect of Education Is . . .
Today let’s talk a little about how Education is a Discipline. [Continue reading Education Is a Discipline …]
My husband John thinks in word pictures, and several years ago he described a word picture that has stuck in my mind ever since. He explained that some people are like thermostats and some are like thermometers. [Continue reading Are You a Thermostat or a Thermometer? …]
Last week we began discussing the three words that lay the foundation to the Charlotte Mason way of homeschooling. These three words can help guide your decisions about curriculum choices, schedules, goals, and more. [Continue reading What Everybody Ought to Know about Choosing Curriculum and Schedules …]
Many of you are making plans, doing research, and trying to get a handle on upcoming subjects even as you finish current ones. Some of you are preparing to enter those huge (often intimidating) vendor halls at homeschooling conventions near you. You might even be experiencing what we call around our house Bad Mommy Syndrome [Continue reading Education Is an Atmosphere …]
1. Forgetting that the child is a person.
One of Charlotte Mason’s chief principles is “The child is a person with all the possibilities and powers included in personality” (Vol. 1, p. 4). Each child is unique. Become a student of your child and work with him or her as an individual. [Continue reading 10 Mistakes CMers Should Avoid …]
As many of you know, we’re working on some major upgrades of the CM Organizer. But we didn’t want to wait to make a few smaller tweaks that you could use right away. So here are some things that we’ve recently enhanced: [Continue reading Updates to the CM Organizer …]
We really enjoyed “meeting” you and talking with you at the Webinars last week! You had lots of great questions and lots of great suggestions. A couple of questions came up frequently, and we would like to answer those for everyone. [Continue reading 5 Reasons the CM Organizer Is an Online Service …]
We’re looking forward to getting together with you through our live CM Organizer Webinars this week! For those of you who may not have heard, the CM Organizer is our new online planner designed specifically for homeschoolers using the Charlotte Mason method. We would love to show you how it works! [Continue reading Webinar Reminder …]
Those of you who have been with us from the beginning know that it’s been our goal all along to develop an online planner and record keeper specifically for CMers. Well, after years of designing and developing, we’re thrilled to announce that the CM Organizer is now officially online! [Continue reading Announcing the CM Organizer! …]
Wow! February has arrived sooner than I expected. Just wanted to let you know that I (Sonya) will be presenting three workshops in Bishop, Georgia, on February 10: [Continue reading SCM Workshops Feb. 10 …]
This week we’ll continue our discussion of Charlotte Mason habits by
looking at moral habits. Moral habits are commonly thought of as character traits. But if you think about it, character is formed by habits. [Continue reading Moral Habits …]
Did you ever have a project that expanded? I started on a little project last year and just completed it last week. In the process it expanded into quite a large project! Here’s the story. [Continue reading Habits Book Now Available …]
Mental habits are different from Decency & Propriety Habits in that they require direct training, not just a good example. Here’s the list of Mental Habits, [Continue reading Mental Habits …]
Last week we explained that the habits Charlotte mentioned can be outlined in basically five broad categories: mental, moral, decency and propriety, physical, and religious.
This week, let’s take a look at Habits of Decency and Propriety. How’s that title for sounding intimidating? [Continue reading Habits of Decency and Propriety …]
I’ve made hundreds of decisions already today, and so have you. You just don’t remember them because they were habits. They didn’t require a lot of mental effort and stress. [Continue reading The Power of Good Habits …]
As I’ve been studying Charlotte’s writings these past few months (especially her thoughts on habits — but more about that later), I was delighted to find some specific advice she gave about the Christmas holidays. [Continue reading Charlotte’s Wisdom at Christmas …]
Laws are not exactly the most thrilling topic for reading or discussing — not, that is, until a law affects you personally. Then all of a sudden, that law becomes quite important! You either marvel at the fairness and common sense that went into that law, or you wonder, “Who in his right mind ever thought up this one?” [Continue reading Announcing Jashub’s Journal …]
Schedules. On some days they seem to have a mind of their own. So here are some quick Charlotte Mason-style reminders to help us all keep on track as we use our schedules to navigate through the year. [Continue reading 5 Questions to Ask about Your Schedule …]
“I have a question for you,” says one mother. “The more I read and hear about the Charlotte Mason approach, the more I want to use it with my children. But we’ve been using a different approach for several years. Is it possible to switch now? And if so, how do I make the transition?” [Continue reading Making the Switch to CM …]
A lot of Charlotte Mason book discussions, teas, and support group meetings are starting up in full swing again. We would love to help you get the word out about your events and let other CMers in your area know where they can find you! [Continue reading CM Events …]
Ever been to one of those CM get-togethers where someone recommends a book and immediately everybody begins firing questions: “What was that title again?” “Who’s the author?” “Where can I get it?” We certainly have. Many times. [Continue reading Curriculum Guide Now Linked to Details …]
A Bible study done Charlotte Mason style — that was my (Sonya’s) goal. Most Bible studies I’ve seen are the typical read-a-verse-fill-in-the-blank-then-read-the-author’s-thoughts style. Now, if we’re trying to avoid that type of approach for other subjects, why would we settle for it in this most important subject: Bible? No, there had to be a way to use Charlotte’s method of direct contact with a living book and narration for Bible study too. [Continue reading Wisdom for Life …]
I well remember those years when I (Sonya) had only a two-year-old and a four-year-old to keep me company throughout the day, and I wondered, “What should I be doing with them? Should I be teaching them to read? Should I get a set of flashcards and drill the addition facts?” [Continue reading The Early Years …]
“Does anyone know of a living book about beavers?” “Could someone recommend a book for my eighth grader on Johannes Kepler?” “I’m looking for good biographies of composers that would be written for younger children around first or second grade.” Sound familiar? We’ve all been there, hunting for that certain living book. It can be a time-consuming process. But the process just got a whole lot easier! [Continue reading The CM Bookfinder Is Here! …]
Just a quick note to let you know that Sonya will be presenting two workshops at the MTHEA’s Workshop Weekend on August 11 and 12 in Madison, Tennessee. [Continue reading Workshops in Tennessee …]
We know things have been quiet from us for a while and that’s because we’ve been working really hard behind the scenes. [Continue reading A Brand New Look …]
During a recent interview, I (Sonya) was asked, “If someone wanted to homeschool, how would they begin?” I thought, “Good question! How did I begin those many years ago?” [Continue reading Back to Basics …]
Well, we’ve been holed up in the office for several weeks, but we’re pleased to announce that the dictation books we’ve been talking about and working on are complete! They’re called “Spelling Wisdom.” [Continue reading Spelling Wisdom Now Available …]
Just a quick note to let you know that we’re moving full-steam-ahead on the dictation books. We have five books in the works that cover 12,500 spelling words, including 6,000 of the most-frequently-used words in the English language. [Continue reading Confident Dictation Update …]
We’re pleased to see new people signing up every day to receive these updates! Welcome to all you newer readers. Those of you who have been with us from the beginning have a pretty good idea of the big picture: who we are, what has been accomplished so far, and our goals for future development. But the newbies might like a fast summary in order to get up to speed, so to speak. [Continue reading The Story of Simply Charlotte Mason …]
What does every avid book reader need? (OK, besides more shelf space …) Bookmarks! And of course, what could be better to a CMer than bookmarks with Charlotte Mason sayings on them? [Continue reading Corner Bookmarks …]
In true homeschool fashion, our children have taught themselves a lot about the Internet these past few months. As we have been building our site, they have been building a site of their own. [Continue reading Incredibooks …]
We’re excited as we look to the year ahead! We have many hopes and plans of what we want to add to Simply Charlotte Mason in the upcoming months. Here’s a short list:
- More free downloads
- A suggested curriculum guide for twelve years of CM homeschooling
- The release of five books full of dictation exercises that contain the most frequently used words in the English language
- Public access to our database of more than 1,000 CM resources
- The launch of our scheduling and record-keeping online tool
Thanks to all of you who have helped to encourage us during 2005 as we started this project. We look forward to all that we can do to encourage and help you during 2006.
Merry Christmas from all of us at Simply Charlotte Mason! May this season be filled with joy, peace, and lots of great books!
We love Charlotte’s concept of using prepared dictation to teach spelling, but at the same time it’s hard to let go of the security of those most-frequently-used word lists. So here’s an idea we’re working on: combine the two into a series of dictation exercises that include the most frequently used words in the English language.
Here are some specifics: [Continue reading Confident Dictation …]
If you’re going to be traveling during the holiday season, check out the CM Destinations page for great twaddle-free field trip locations along your route.
We’re excited that the page now features more than 375 CM-friendly, educational destinations! Thanks to all of you who have contributed your favorite historical, science, and fine arts locations.
Feel free to add more CM Destinations for fellow CMers who may be traveling soon. And if you’ve been to one of the destinations listed, go ahead and add your personal review. It helps to hear what a CM mom thought of the place.
Just use the form at the bottom of the page. We look forward to hearing from you, and travel safely.
Hello, all! Just a quick note and a tip today.
First, the note: We’ve added more manuscript copywork. The eight new files offer two more hymns, four more poems (including a delightful Thanksgiving poem), and two more Scripture passages. Help yourself!
Now, the tip: Remember that Charlotte encouraged young children to select a favorite stanza to copy from the poem, or a favorite verse to copy from the psalm. Since we don’t know which stanza will be your child’s favorite, we’ve posted the whole poem or psalm. So feel free to download the file, and then print and use only the portion of it that your child selects.
It’s fall. I (Sonya) just gave my front porch a fresh look with a straw wreath and a bushel basket full of leaves, apples, and a pumpkin. Since it’s fall, it’s also time for a fresh look at our project and on our Web site.
First, a fresh look at our project. We’re getting a great response to all the free downloads and practical information we’ve put on the site. And we’re eager to bring you the main features, but we’re finding that it’s taking extra time to make sure the job is done right. We want to be sure all the features are simple to use. So thanks for your patience and all your encouragement. We’ll keep working and keep you posted.
Second, a fresh look for our Web site. When you visit, you’ll notice a couple of new sections on that first page. We’ve added a Find It Quick section with quick links to some of the most frequently used features of the site. We’ve also added a Work in Progress section that will outline the features we’re still working on. Those of you who have not been with us from the beginning may not be aware of all our plans for the site. In fact, here’s a progress update for all of you: so far we’ve entered more than 1,000 CM-style books into the database! Visit the first page for more details.
It’s happened often — probably to you too. You’re introduced by a mutual friend to another homeschooler, who smiles and asks, “What curriculum do you use?”
“We don’t use a set curriculum really,” we respond. “We use the Charlotte Mason approach.”
At this point, one of two things happens: either the other homeschooler looks at you blankly and says, “Who?” or she looks interested and says, “I’ve heard of that. How is it different from regular homeschooling?” [Continue reading Charlotte Who? …]
Charlotte’s method of copywork for teaching writing is terrific. We especially love her emphasis on copying meaningful content right from the start. None of this “Fill this page with A’s” stuff for our children!
However, we did notice that beginning copywork went a whole lot easier if the student had larger lined paper and handwritten words to copy. It was hard enough for those little ones to concentrate on how each letter was shaped, without having to use one hand to keep a book open to the correct page, keep a finger on the correct sentence on that page, and remember that type-written lower-case a‘s are different from manuscript hand-written a‘s.
So to save you some time and effort, we’ve just added some manuscript copywork documents to our CM Time Savers section. These documents contain selected poetry, Scripture, and hymn lyrics. Feel free to download as many as you like. And check back regularly; we plan to add more.
Recently, we asked more than 250 CMers, “What attracts you to the Charlotte Mason approach?” Many of their responses referred to her emphasis on respect of the child, training in habits, character, and the training of the will.
Their replies included words like “gentle,” “natural,” “loving,” “alive,” “flexible,” “thorough,” “relaxed,” and “nurturing” to describe Charlotte’s approach to education.
Several of the moms also named specific CM methods that they love. Here are the top five methods they mentioned: [Continue reading Charlotte’s Attractive Approach …]
Ever try to post a timeline on your living room wall? It seems like those strips of paper soon spill over onto the hallway wall, and the kitchen, then the dining room, and before you know it, they’re creeping toward the stairway to the bedrooms. Charlotte Mason had a great idea when she used a Book of Centuries with her students. [Continue reading Book of Centuries …]
A key component of Charlotte Mason’s method is narration. In simple terms, narration is telling back in your own words what you just read or heard. It’s a wonderful evaluation tool that requires much thinking and assimilating on the student’s part.
However, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut by asking for the same kind of narration, using the same kind of question in the same kind of voice with the same kind of expression every day. (Just ask our kids.)
To help you get out or steer clear of the rut, we just added a CM Time Saver called Narration Ideas. Of course, this list of suggestions is not comprehensive; it’s just a beginning. But we hope it will restore to your studies the joy and excitement of narration.
Feel free to add your own narration ideas in the Comments for this update.
We frequently hear the question, “What kinds of Charlotte Mason things can I do with my children in the early years — before we start formal schooling?”
First, give them plenty of free-play time outdoors. Let them run, yell, climb, get dirty, and become friends with the various aspects of nature in their community. If they’re curious about the name of a certain flower, tree, or bug, give them that information; otherwise, just let them play.
Second, if you’re already educating older children using Charlotte Mason’s methods, the younger ones can easily join in when you do Picture Study, Music Study, and Nature Study. Invite their participation, but don’t compel them. Simply spread the feast before them and let them partake as desired.
Third, read lots of good books together, avoiding twaddle. Many moms have asked for a list of titles, so we’ve added a page of more than seventy Early Years Books. These books were introduced to our children in their early years (ages 2-5) and have become well-loved friends.
In the Charlotte Mason method of education, lessons should be completed in the mornings. So what do you do with your child during the afternoons?
For one thing, Charlotte advocated the child’s learning handicrafts. In her day, those handicrafts could help to support and enable the child as he or she grew to adulthood. So we have expanded our handicrafts list to include life skills, which are likewise important in teaching children to be industrious and preparing them to manage their own households someday.
You’ll also find Charlotte’s four guidelines for teaching handicrafts (which also apply to life skills). We hope this list will get you started along the enjoyable and educational road that can wind through free afternoons.
About five years ago the Shafers discovered a great little system to help us memorize and review Scripture as a family. By using Charlotte Mason’s wonderful method of recitation and this simple review system, we’ve been able to memorize and remember hundreds of verses in just five to ten minutes a day. (And isn’t “remembering” the key?)
We’ve provided easy step-by-step instructions for you to create this same Scripture Memory System for your own family. Those of you who have read previous updates from us know that this System is one of the Time Savers we mentioned; it’s ready for you now.
We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how simple it is to hide God’s Word in your hearts as a family, and we hope you’ll make it a lifelong habit.
For some time now, we’ve been telling you about the features we’re planning and building for Simply Charlotte Mason. Many of you have responded with encouraging comments, suggestions, and questions. Thank you!
One question we are asked repeatedly is “When will it be ready to use?” [Continue reading Your CM Destinations …]
Over the years we’ve gathered some great information and created some documents that have been helpful in our homeschooling. We want to save you time and effort by making those tools available to you, so we’re planning to have them as free downloads and printable pages on SimplyCharlotteMason. What kind of time-savers? Here’s a short list. [Continue reading Time-Savers …]
One of the highlights of any Charlotte Mason get-together is when a mom tells about a great twaddle-free field trip she discovered. It seems that everybody grabs a pen and starts writing frantically as the Web site addresses fly.
Well, we thought it would be great to compile all those ideas and addresses on Simply Charlotte Mason. [Continue reading CM Destinations …]
Let’s face it, unless you know somebody who knows somebody, you don’t often find out about Charlotte Mason-friendly events — even in your own backyard.
Wouldn’t it be great to have one centralized Charlotte Mason Events calendar? Just think, fellow CMers all over the world could post their coffee shop book studies, tea parties, monthly discussion groups, conference exhibits, workshops, and seminars on one master calendar. Then any of us could find all the events in our geographical location and easily connect face-to-face with other CMers.
We think that such a calendar would be a great idea, and we’re working on making one available on Simply Charlotte Mason. What do you think?
When you get a home library as large as ours are, it’s easy to get confused between what you thought about buying and did; what you thought about buying and decided to get from the library instead; what you want to remember to buy for a future study; what you have on your perpetual wish list; and what you actually need to buy for the next couple of months.
We’re working on an organizational feature in Simply Charlotte Mason to help moms keep track of all the books and other resources they deal with: personal book lists. Right now we’re planning on three options for your personal book lists:
- Later List – for resources you’re interested in but don’t want to schedule right away
- Library List – for resources you want to borrow from the library or someone else
- Shopping List – for resources you want to buy for your home library
So when you select a resource from the database, you can add it to any of these lists and/or schedule it. Any other lists you’d like to suggest?
Hopefully, this feature will help make all our homes a little more organized and all our home libraries a little bit larger! (Now, if we just had more bookshelves . . .)
Karen lives in Illinois with no state-required records. Sonya lives in Georgia, which requires a yearly written evaluation for each student to be kept on file but not turned in. Sonya’s sister-in-law lives in Iowa, which requires the whole year’s plan of curriculum to be turned in at the beginning of each school year, as well as tracking each child’s progress throughout the year. Quite the contrast. [Continue reading Records and Reports …]
We love Charlotte Mason’s emphasis on the child as a person. As a result, we feel uncomfortable with the one-size-fits-all mentality that comes with most “curriculum in a box.” We think the child’s mother-teacher should determine how quickly each child should proceed through a selected book, based on that child as an individual. [Continue reading Set the Pace …]
One thing that has driven us nuts over the years is trying to plan what to do each day and still allowing for changes to that schedule. We’ll create an overview for the next month or more, but write down only one week’s worth of daily plans at a time — and always in pencil! You never know when you’ll need to erase an assignment and pencil it in tomorrow instead. Or when you’ll miss today’s read-aloud chapter and have to erase each chapter number in the rest of the week’s assignments and adjust them all. [Continue reading Daily Plans …]
If you’re like us (and most CM moms), living books are good friends, not just pieces of paper glued together. But good friends — as the saying goes — are hard to find.
And the survey results agree. Next to planning and record keeping issues (the top three), the most difficult aspect of homeschooling the CM way is “finding and choosing books and resources.” [Continue reading Books, Etc. …]
You’ve probably noticed our little slogan: “Guidance for the beginner. Flexibility for the pro.” Here’s a quick overview of how Simply Charlotte Mason will work for both. [Continue reading Guidance and Flexibility …]
Earlier this year we posted a survey and invited homeschoolers who use the Charlotte Mason approach to participate. More than 250 moms responded, many of them new to CM. See . . .
How many years have you been homeschooling with the Charlotte Mason method? [Continue reading The Top Three …]
We’re two homeschooling families with eight children and about twenty years’ Charlotte Mason experience between us. Over the years, whenever we’ve (Karen and Sonya) gotten together we’ve talked Charlotte Mason and books. At the same time, our husbands (Doug and John) have talked computers and the Web.
We’ve been excited in recent months to see a resurgence of interest in Charlotte Mason methods among the homeschool community. More and more moms are coming to us for help in getting started. They love the CM approach and they know that they want to use it, but they can’t figure out the details. We hear the same question over and over: “That’s great, but what do I do tomorrow?” [Continue reading About Us …]