SCM Answers Your Questions videos

Thousands of you have enjoyed our free video resource, SCM Answers Your Questions. We’re glad those short, informal recordings have been encouraging.

And we thought it might be helpful to add some more videos to the series, answering more of your questions.

So we recently invited you to send in questions about homeschooling with the Charlotte Mason Method and have recorded my thoughts on them. Click on the playlist link in this post or go to YouTube and search for the Simply Charlotte Mason channel. You’ll find the SCM Answers Your Questions playlist and can watch the videos at your leisure.

The eight new videos cover these topics:

  1. Using CM methods with a special needs student.
  2. Comparing Charlotte Mason with modern classical education.
  3. Prioritizing school and life.
  4. Using folk songs and solfege.
  5. How much is enough.
  6. What a Book of Centuries should look like.
  7. Where to start.
  8. Fear of creepy crawlies in nature study.

To give you a taste (or if you prefer reading to listening), we’ve included the transcript from one of the new Q & A videos below.

Q: Two of my children show a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety toward the creepy and crawly critters we come across outdoors. We had a distressing run in with some slugs out in the woods this week and now they don’t want to go back to that location. What, if anything, can I do to help them overcome this? It’s making our nature walks a huge challenge. —Erica

A: That’s a tough situation, because you don’t want them to miss out on the wonders of exploring nature for themselves, but you also know that when a person is in a frightening situation, it’s hard for him to learn anything.

Two thoughts come to mind. First, of course, be careful that your own attitude is not feeding their fear. From your description it doesn’t sound like that is the case here, but it’s always good to remind parents that the children will pick up on their attitudes toward nature. Modeling a curiosity about nature is important.

The second thought I had is what if you were to approach it almost as you would a bad habit. By that I mean, rather than focusing on the thing you want to avoid, try focusing their minds on something good instead. You move toward what you focus on, so we want to focus on good nature experiences as much as possible.

Maybe for a while, at least, have a specific object in mind for your nature walks. Before you go outside, talk about what you’re going to look for, where you might find it, and when. Then go look specifically for that one thing.

In the beginning, try to make it short and sweet, and you might even do a little sleuthing beforehand to make sure that the item you’re looking for is actually there, so the children will experience a feeling of success in their nature outing.

If the children’s anxiety is especially debilitating, you might even start by moving nature study indoors for a bit to reawaken their curiosity and wonder in a place where they feel safe and won’t be distracted by fear.

You might set up some bird feeders outside a large window of your house and spend some time birdwatching through the glass to start with. Keep a field guide and a master bird list by the window, and encourage the children to keep track of which birds they see when. But don’t stop with simply identifying the birds, also encourage the children to spend some time watching them and observing the birds’ habits. You might put a pair of binoculars by the window for that purpose.

Also encourage them to observe birds that may be in the yard but do not come to the feeder. If the children watch robins, for instance, and see one continually fly into a nearby tree, they may be curious enough to go look more closely at that tree to see if they can spot a nest. Now they are moving back outside. They may not yet be ready to go explore at large and deal with anything and everything that they might encounter, but they are taking small steps in that direction.

And as they observe the birds, they may see them eat some insects or worms too. Now some creepy crawlies have come into the study, but they are not the focus. The focus is the birds.

By keeping their minds focused on wonderful nature friends, they will continue to move forward and hopefully won’t get stuck in a mental trap of, “I hate nature; it’s gross.” So try directing their thinking, their attention, toward specific nature objects and get some short and sweet positive experiences under their belts. As they gain more successful outings, they will potentially feel more comfortable staying out longer and longer, and you will be on your way once again.

Once their minds are moving forward again, you might also slowly introduce some age-appropriate books on slugs, worms, and various insects to read to them. Books will allow them to observe the creepy crawly in a controlled context, and to learn something about it that should pique their curiosity to observe it for themselves.

Just a few ideas to try.