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(We asked Karen Andreola to share some of her thoughts and experiences with Charlotte Mason graduates and how they get on in college and in life. I feel certain you’ll enjoy what she has to say.)
A couple summers ago my daughter and son-in-law were between churches. They moved an hour from where they used to live. Visiting new churches carries with it a certain apprehension.
On one of those visiting-Sundays, Sophia was standing at the back of the sanctuary holding her one-year-old, trying to keep her quiet while listening to the sermon. The baby was fussy. It was normally nap time. But she wouldn’t fall asleep in my daughter’s arms and began to feel very heavy.
Therefore, Sophia walked down the hall to the little nursery. There she chatted with the nursery worker—a grandmother. “I have two boys who are in the sanctuary with my husband,” my daughter said to answer a question. Then she ventured to add that she was home teaching both boys this year.
“I homeschooled my children,” the grandmother said, “using the Charlotte Mason method.”
Sophia couldn’t help herself. She had to say, “My mother wrote a book on the Charlotte Mason method.”
“Oh really? What’s her name?”
“I can’t believe it. You’re her daughter? I heard her and her husband speak at Sandy Cove, Maryland, way back in the nineties. That weekend my husband and I sat with your mother and father at the same dinner table. I have your mother’s Charlotte Mason Companion.” My daughter smiled.
After a few Sundays of visiting another church, Sophia, her husband Andrew, and their three children were invited to supper by a young mother of four little girls. They were cheered by the hospitality. Observing how happily the children of both families played together in the expansive backyard, Sophia was pleased (and relieved) because she has energetic boys.
During the meal the host/husband brought up a wide range of topics. “He has so many interests,” Sophia told me, impressed. Afterward their host showed Andrew around the house. He pointed out his various projects. Apparently both dads are good with a computer and in their free time like building things with their hands.
A family photo, displayed on the dining room buffet, caught Sophia’s eye. “Is this your mother?” she asked the pretty hostess.
But it was the husband who spoke up. He said, “That’s my mother. Do you know her?”
Sophia explained that they met earlier in the summer at a church across town. She said, “Your mother met my mother at a conference. She also told me she brought up her children by the Charlotte Mason method.”
“Yup. That’s me. I guess you can call me a Charlotte Mason Kid.” He laughed. Sophia laughed, too. How often does one meet up with another Charlotte Mason Kid who is in his mid-30s?
“God places people in our path, or places us in the path of people,” I told my daughter when the story was related to me over the telephone. When I hung up the phone I silently thanked God for His Providence.
The Early Years
We grandmothers remember. We had little to go on in those early years of home teaching. Since Dean and I published Charlotte Mason’s original writings (pink volumes), I’ve been in touch with folks—a lot of folks. Those of us who wished instinctively to avoid the “grammar school grind” had many questions. We searched for answers. However awkward Charlotte Mason’s writing style may have seemed at first, her volumes proved to be a treasure trove, a source of guidance, tried-n-true wisdom born out of decades of experience.
We stepped forward in faith in those days. (Young parents are doing this today.) Each nugget of an idea had to be cracked open one by one. Not knowing exactly what we were doing with these nuggets of gold, and not knowing (in person) anyone else who was home teaching this way, we felt like odd balls. Extended family members were concerned for us. Some were more than puzzled at our behavior. They were embarrassed or speechless.
Following our consciences, wanting to bring up children strong in the Christian faith, we kept our eyes on the goal. Feeling a little wobbly in the confidence-department in the beginning, we placed our trust in the main points of Miss Mason’s philosophy. We carried the nuggets of gold around in our apron pockets. We half-understood the details really, until we saw how they worked out in the lives of our children. Little by little we gleaned practical aspects of Miss Mason’s ideas. Day by day we applied them.
Since the early days of my home teaching, during my years of publishing Parents’ Review, and even before I published A Charlotte Mason Companion, I’ve kept in touch with long-distance friends. Our children are mature adults now. Some are married and home teaching their own brood of children like the “Charlotte Mason Kids” above. Through my correspondence I’ve been hearing about a generation of students. What has come to my notice is so encouraging I had to share it with you.
Those who attend college do well. Some live at home and commute to a local university. Others attend a Christian college, away. Still others do distance-learning at home toward a degree. Their competence is no surprise.
In his formative years, the student learned how to deal directly with books and enjoy them. He developed the habits to digest them. As a mature student, when faced with the dry material of a conventional textbook he can pick out key facts and principles. Nurtured by years of narration he became a critical thinker and essayist. His fined-tuned skill of narrating enables him to write an essay, a ten-page paper, give a speech, to be discerning with ideas. If he is going to learn something, he wants to learn it thoroughly and perform it well. Which brings me to another skill in evidence, one that a college professor happily recognizes in his students that were home taught: self-education. What a strength this is!
My children did well attending college nearby, while living at home. Discussion was a regular thing at the dinner table. Our son, Nigel, is Phi Beta Kappa. He was brought up to do his best. Ironically, grades were never the aim. Today he builds and designs websites, illustrates, and composes music for hire. Our daughters Sophia and Yolanda are married. Homemaking is their primary occupation. One plays cello and composes; the other teaches violin and homeschools. (I requested a Christmas gift: that they would play music for me when we get together over the holidays. It’s been so long since we’ve had strings in the house.)
Take a look at this range of studies and vocations—some volunteer, most professional. They are the college majors and/or occupations personally brought to my notice by my grandmother-friends. Should it be surprising, knowing how Charlotte Mason Kids establish relations with a wide variety of “books and things,” that interests and abilities peek in so many directions?
- Business major working for a national construction company
- Children’s program director at church
- Church receptionist/secretary
- Creative writing grad student
- Diesel mechanic
- Farm manager
- Financial planner
- Homeschooling mother
- Horse handler
- Hospital doctor
- La Leche Leader
- Mathematics support
- Medical student
- Musical theater actress
- Musical composer
- Music teacher
- Nature photographer
- Orthopedic doctor
- Owner of a landscaping business
- Pastor’s wife
- Pilates instructor
- Professional blogger
- Restaurant manager
- Speech therapist
- Theater lighting technician
- Veterinary school
- Website designer
I hope Karen’s words have been encouraging and reassuring. A Charlotte Mason education opens many doors and prepares a person well for life after graduation.
We are nearing the end of our series on high school. Next time we will discuss the questions we have received about narration in the upper grade level.