Friday, July 25, 2008

A method for our madness.

I mentioned before that as we began to become familiar with various homeschool methods, one in particular stood out more than the rest.

And that one would be.... (no drum roll, that would be too dramatic, lol)....
the Charlotte Mason approach.

Instead of me giving you all of the formal definitions and histories of Charlotte Mason (a British educator from the 19th century), I'd rather just tell how we are applying her ideas.

However, if you are interested in reading more about Charlotte Mason and her methods, try looking



In our homeschool, a Charlotte Mason (CM) perspective means:

- Books. Lots of them, and not just any books.
Even before 'discovering' CM, we were big believers in reading to our kids. I think reading exposes them to more than we can imagine, and probably covers a multitude of shortcomings.

CM takes this a step further by encouraging books that are rich in content. One phrase for these types of books is "living" books. Books that are alive with ideas. CM believed that these types of books (and the characters in them) inspire children in many ways, including planting in them a love of learning. (As opposed to what she called "twaddle" - books with thin content.)

As the years go by, books will play an even greater role in our children's education, as they will be a key element in subjects like history and science. Instead of most of their information coming from a textbook, it will come from biographies and first-hand accounts of things. Information that will come to life in their hands, and hopefully, stick with them and inspire (there's that word again) them to learn more and dig deeper. *SIGH* I always knew I loved books. ;)

A light kindergarten year.
CM was a firm believer that children under 6 years old should not be overwhelmed with lots of lessons and academics. I agree. There is plenty of time. Instead, they should be read to as much as possible, and spend a LOT of time playing outside. Dale enjoys math and phonics workbooks and things like that, so we are planning on doing some of that. But there is no pressure on him, AND no pressure on me (on me from me, lol) for him to reach certain milestones by certain times. Do we have goals? Absolutely. But priority #1? Being a kid.

- Nature study
Spending lots of time in and becoming familiar with your outdoor surroundings is another big part of the CM method. To notice and observe plants, animals, birds and insects. Many families have their students keep a notebook of their own drawings and writings about these things. Other than spending lots of time outside and "seeing what we can find", I'm not sure yet in what ways we will incorporate nature study into our homeschool, but I'm looking forward to that journey. :)

- Incorporating the Bible
Of all "living books", the Bible is the most important, and the only one that truly is alive! If we do nothing else but study and memorize God's word, we still will have given our kids the best education they could possibly have.
One of the beauties of learning at home is that we can show our kids how God and His word are the beginning, middle, and end of everything else we study. We will able to look at God's hand in history, the sciences, literature... even how He is reflected in the absolute truth of math!

One of the major ways we are incorporating the Bible right now is through memorization. It is amazing to see how much Dale's mind can hold! And guess what? When he memorizes a passage I didn't know before, I learn it too!

- Habits
CM also taught to instill good habits in your children. Many of these help them have the discipline and know-how to educate themselves as they get older. Others give them the skills they need to function and flourish in a family, a church, or society in general. Others will help them draw closer to God, learn more of Him, and be more like Him.

The possibilities are endless as we begin to train our children in good habits. And maybe, like the scripture memory, some of those can 'rub off' on us as well, and we can all grow together. :)

So... there it is, in a nutshell (a very large nutshell), what I've learned so far about Charlotte Mason's teachings and methods and how we plan to apply that in the years ahead. This post doesn't even begin to touch the depth and beauty of all her ideas. However, I am still reading and learning. I know some of our views and practices will change while we grow stronger in others.

In the meantime, excitement is building around here and we are counting down the days until the first day of Kindergarten!! (9 for those of you keeping score at home) ;)


Linda Jacobs said...

I love your excitement! You sound like you are going to be a great teacher. I've never heard of CM but the thinking behind it makes a lot of sense!

Even though I teach high school, and your boys are a long ways from there, I teach a class called Nature Journaling and the kids love it. They end up learning so much about their environment and, consequently, about their own natures.

This sounds like a really exciting educational journey you'll be on!

Michelle said...

The science journal idea is sooo neat! My students always have them, and I am always amazed at the beauty and insightful-ness of their drawings. You will be awesome, and I am sure the boys will learn so much.

Natalie said...

I am so excited to follow your journey. I am a step behind and would love any insights you have. I haven't made up my mind completly on homeschooling for mine but the idea of complete freedom in their curriculum must be exciting.