We’ve been discussing how to make the transition to the Charlotte Mason method in five stages. We’ve already talked about Stage 1: The Basics and Stage 2: things you will do just Once a Week. Today, let’s look at Stage 3, which is two things that I want you to start doing every day.
The first is literature, a family read-aloud book. Choose one of the great classic children’s literature books, such as Black Beauty or The Wind in the Willows or Heidi or the Little House books or the Little Britches books, etc.
Reading together as a family connects your hearts. And that reading doesn’t have to be done during school time. We used to read our family read-aloud at snack time, three o’clock every afternoon. Other families do their read-aloud at bedtime. Make it fit your schedule and family culture, but make a commitment to choose one of those great classic literature books and read a chapter aloud each day, sharing it together as a family.
Our kids can learn a lot of life lessons from those great literature books. Take Winnie-the-Pooh, for example. We learn that it’s good to have a “thoughtful spot”; we learn that some people are “Eeyores,” but we love them anyway; and if you go all the way to the end of that book, you learn that nothing lasts forever on this earth, things change. From Charlotte’s Web we learn about the sacrifice that one friend makes for another; we also learn how to work with cynical people, like Templeton the rat. You can learn so much from classic children’s literature books!
I didn’t usually require my children to narrate these read-alouds. We just enjoyed them together. If you don’t know what books to start with, you might choose from this list of some of our favorite titles for literature read-alouds.
The second thing I want you to do every day is Scripture Memory. Here’s what you do: Choose a verse or a passage or a whole chapter that you want to memorize. Write it on a 3” x 5” card. You could alternately download verse cards from our website; we have hundreds of pre-printed verse cards that you can download for free and use.
Simply read the reference and have everybody say the reference after you. Then read the passage through once; everyone should listen closely. At the end, everyone should say the reference again.
- I read the reference.
- Everyone says the reference.
- I read/recite the passage. As the others hear the passage every day, they’ll start to recognize portions of it, and they can join in on the parts that they know.
- Everyone says the reference again.
As you do this process every day, the others will start joining in more and more, because they will know more of that passage or verse.
It just takes five minutes or less. We used to do it at breakfast all the time. Now I do it during our school time with my youngest. Choose a time of day that works best for you. It doesn’t take long, but those small, constant touches every day, reviewing the verses, is going to give you some great results.
Once everyone has memorized that verse, put it in a system to help you review it often and start a new verse daily that you want to memorize. If you don’t have a system already, take a look at this wonderful Scripture Memory System. It helps you review every verse you’ve ever learned, every month, plus you’re constantly learning new verses. Yet it takes only five minutes a day. It all fits in a little 3” x 5” index-card box, or you can get a beautiful handmade wooden, heirloom-quality box to keep it in. Either way, just make sure you do Scripture Memory each day.
So there you go: Reading aloud your family read-aloud literature book and memorizing Scripture, every day. That’s Stage 2.
Forming Good Habits
I want you to do them every day, because I want you to make those two practices a habit. Charlotte Mason emphasized the importance of good habits. We talked in Stage 1 about keeping lessons short. The reason we do that is because we are trying to establish the habits of paying full attention and giving their best effort. Short lessons help our children attain those habits. And there are many other habits that Charlotte talked about.
You see, education, in a Charlotte Mason approach, is more than just a set of books; it’s a lifestyle. And much of that lifestyle involves instilling good habits in our children. In fact, Charlotte said that one third of our children’s education is the habits that we instill in their lives. We need to be constantly instilling good habits and keeping watch over the ones that have already been formed.
So let me encourage you not to neglect habits in favor of checking off a lesson plan. Pay attention to the habits that your children are developing. Those habits are what will give you smooth and easy days, and they will lay down rails on which your children can run smoothly into their adult lives. We have some resources to help you with habit training if you would like to learn more about that important aspect of educating your children.
So now you know Stage 3: read aloud a chapter from your selected literature book and memorize Scripture every day. Once you get that stage up and running, you’re more than halfway there! I hope that you and your children are enjoying this new way of learning. Next, we’ll do Stage 4.
Ready-to-Go Lesson Plans
Our Enrichment Studies lesson plans already have great books pre-selected and walk you through the subjects in Stages 2 and 3. The Enrichment Studies provide complete book lists and daily plans, so you can spend your time enjoying the learning and not worry about all the planning.