Google Calendar Planning

Earlier this year I shared how I use Google calendar for homeschool planning.

Image representing Google Calendar as depicted...

I want to emphatically declare that it was a huge success!

Not only was it quick and simple to plan all the school days, holidays and exam dates, but each child had their own calendar which helped me keep track of their work and their schedules.

My eldest wrote her matric and had a very strict schedule. After 11 years of fairly flexible homeschool scheduling, this was quite an adjustment for both of us. She has her own Gmail account and could get access to her own calendar on the desktop computer. I plotted out when her portfolio assignments had to be couriered to the marking department before the deadline dates. Also I added moderation dates, extra lessons and, most importantly, her exam dates. Because she wrote her exams at an exam centre in town, we had to book accommodation for some weeks. With Google calendar on my smart phone, I could easily confirm our accommodation bookings while in town.

For my youngest child, I did all my detailed planning in the beginning of the year and added details, websites, images, uploaded files and downloads to the description box for each event, sometimes fleshing these plans out a bit more as we went along.

I rescheduled some lessons if we fell behind with a quick click and change of dates. Some lessons I simply deleted (… sigh … we didn’t do it all …), but most the plan worked! Her calendar is now my record of work!  How nifty is that?

My middle child wrote Grade 8 this year. Her curriculum was fully planned and so I used Homeschool Tracker (HST) to record her exam and term marks. The HST program is quite complicated and I can only do the very basics. (I should have stayed with the free Homeschool Tracker Basic download … and buying the full offline HST program is one of my few homeschool purchase regrets …)  Despite my limitations, I typed in her subjects and exam dates for the year and entered her marks when done. It worked very well, and I printed her term reports and sent her mark sheets away with a click of a button.

For those clever moms that can plan and record using HST, my hats off to you! It is a brilliant program … I’m still just not brilliant enough to figure it all out!

Google calendar is a very versatile tool. You can add and change, delete and amend with no training. It is a wonderful platform on all the computers and smart phones.  It keeps the whole family, including dad, in sync. I am definitely going to continue to use it for our homeschooling!

As we enter 2014, I want to thank all my readers for their kindness and compassion and friendship.

May the Lord bless you and your families and fulfil all your hopes, prayers and plans for the New Year!

Blessings,

Fabulous Fine Arts Fridays

Another What Works! post …

Looking back over the 14-odd years of homeschooling from preschool to high school graduation I want to share what was successful in our home …

Fine Arts is rich, rewarding & relaxing!

P1170201

We set aside most our Fridays for Fine Arts - art, music, and poetry, and sometimes some Shakespeare.  The simplest way to do this was to plan the “extras” in our Theme of the Day. It is my kids favourite day of the week!

My older children still ask for art lessons once a week. Despite the textbook-based high school curriculum I used for my eldest daughter, these fine art Fridays were the saving grace of our homeschooling journey. In many ways they are the “soul” days of homeschooling.

My kids considered Fridays as free days because we set aside normal seat work and written assignments.  Despite its seeming “frivolous” nature, where fine arts is often considered an “optional extra”, this aspect of education is the most inspiring and rewarding.  At times our Fridays were the only happy days of our week.  Homeschooling can be tough!  Making time to relax and enjoy fine arts is a relief!

Art started with art appreciation lessons, Charlotte Mason-style.  I sometimes added simple art activities to some of these lessons. We discovered famous artists and their masterpieces, observed different art styles over the centuries recording these on my Art Era Timeline, and we tried a variety of art mediums.  The 3D Seurat model is one of my younger girls’ favourite and unusual art activities!  Sometimes someone wept and left the room due to a “flop” lesson, but mostly we admired and encouraged each other as we gazed at our ‘gallery’ … we were enriched!  Importantly, we each have amazing internal, mental art galleries of famous art that we will carry all our lives!

Sketch Tuesday remains a regular constant art activity, which we continue even when we have stopped our formal schooling for school breaks.  It is such a simple, quick session, often with no discussions, research or planning, but Sketch Tuesday has had an enormous impact on our art!  The simple act of regularly looking and sketching develops ones confidence and approach to other more formal art activities.

Classical Music was not always requested. In fact, my older children have an incredible eclectic collection of their own music which plays as we work and do chores, but we streamed or listened to classical music as we did our art. I abandoned planned formal music appreciation lessons as my children grew older, but it somehow has developed naturally into an appreciation and my kids often recognize classical music played in movie soundtracks..

Poetry has been a hit-and-miss affair, where I sometimes do formal poetry lessons with my younger children on our “Tea, Poetry and Shakespeare” afternoons.  We studied some poets through the year and we all found our poetry readings relaxing and inspiring.  My kids never really learnt any poems by heart, but some poems were inspiration for art or illustrations.  Our most exciting poem-inspired activity my girls did when they were younger was The Lady of Shallot with a Lego diorama.

I recently discovered that my junior high daughter is writing her own poems to express her photo collage creations she makes on Polyvore. Her poems are amazing!  When I read them I am utterly stunned with the images and feelings that her words evoke. So, deep down, despite doing poetry informally, poetry struck a special chord in her life.

Our Fine Arts sessions have enriched our relationships.  Somehow, when  we paint or sketch together, or when we lie under the tree talking about a poem, or when we listen to and describe images and feelings that classical music evokes, we share time and experiences that are deep and personal. These are intimate times that make homeschooling special.

My advice to moms who want to “do it right” is to keep it simple and fairly informal.  In my early years of zeal and idealism I came on too hard and my kids almost dreaded the lessons.  I almost lost them to my teacherly-don’t-miss-the-moment approach.  They did my Famous Artist and Famous Composer biography notebook pages, filled in timelines and narrated their observations.  We used my wall charts, but the best lessons were those where we each connected individually and personally to the art.

Now, I am convinced that regular yet informal exposure is better than formal, structured lessons.

Schedule time in your week and just do it!

Don’t worry if you don’t have anything to “show” for your Fine Arts lessons.  It doesn’t have to be recorded or written or filed.  Just talk with your children and listen to their interpretations, encourage their creativity and personal connections.  Look for ways to for them to “make it their own”.

Charlotte Mason’s approach to Fine Arts has been an amazing, rich and rewarding = fabulous Fine Art Fridays!

May you find the approach that works for your family!

Blessings,

Taking Time for Tangents

What Works!

Another “What Works!” post ~ where I share and encourage moms with some of my tried and tested homeschool approaches that worked from pre-school and all the way through high school!  (If you missed the previous posts, please follow the links at the end of the post.) I found that using a literature-based curriculum is the most rich, rewarding and inspiring way to teach.

More importantly, living books open delightful “rabbit-trails” or tangents!  And following these delight-directed paths made all the most important connections and enriched the book in wonderful ways!

Here’s some tips of enriching your literature study ~

  • Follow the spark of interest!
  • Chat, discuss, talk at the dinner table about the new ideas, characters’ choices, moral issues, those “why” and “what if” questions.
  • Read-up or “Google” it!  (I love my smart phone’s wonderful reference apps loaded at my finger tips … but that is a post on its own!)
  • Explore it in other books.  Find supplementary books at the library.
  • Do it! Go and build a real raft, make a Khoi grass mat hut, make a mould of an animal track … bake the cake, make the butter, tie sailor knots, make the corn doll, make Lego models, make paper models.Some of these activities became the cornerstone memories of many of our read alouds!  My kids will never forget them!
  • Make interesting and diverse notebook pages
  • Create puppets and dramatize the story.
  • Add lapbooks, especially for younger and middle school children.
  • Travel to places in the story with your family.  Go on the journey with your story as a family.  We loved our real-life “Footprints on Our Land” journey when we travelled for 18 months looking for our farm.
  • Visit museums, art galleries, historical sites.Girls find garnets in the gravel at Kimberley Big Hole
  • Visit real artisans, craftsmen, professionals, hobby enthusiasts, the elderly or veterans and learn from them.  Let them show your family and make it real!
  • Don’t rush. Keep the pace your family needs.
  • Extend your schedule. You can safely extend any 12 month (1 year) schedule to 18 months without adding any more books.  Just look for those hands-on activities that will enrich your studies.  See your schedule as a guideline!  This is my most important homeschool tip!

In other words ~ make time for those tangents!

Links to previous “What Works!” posts:

Blessings,

 

A Sacred Task

Charlotte Mason’s principles challenges me. When I read her chapter on Sacredness of Personality, these words jumped out ~http://www.classroom-teacher-resources.com/image-files/classroom-discipline-holding-hands.jpg

“Parents look on with a smile and think that all is well; but Bob or Mary is losing that growing time which should make a self-dependent, self-ordered person, and is day by day becoming a parasite who can go only as he is carried, the easy prey of fanatic or demagogue. 

This sort of encroachment upon the love of children offers as a motive, ‘do this for my sake'; wrong is to be avoided lest it grieve the teacher, good is to be done to pleasure him; for this end a boy learns his lessons, behaves properly, shows good will, produces a whole catalogue of schoolboy virtues and yet his character is being undermined.

http://practicalpages.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/handholdingparentchild.jpg?w=166&h=124A due respect for the personality of children and a dread of making them incompetent to conduct their own lives will make us chary of employing a means so dangerous, no matter how good the immediate end.”

No parent sets out to create incompetent, parasitic and weak children who live their lives in shameful helplessness, inadequacy and co-dependency.

Intentional parenting motivates the child to grow into meaningful independence and responsibility.

As our eldest daughter completes her schooling this year, and our second eldest son plans for his marriage towards the end of the September, they want to be equipped and ready.  It is a joy to see them becoming self-determined and responsible.

Our parenting should provide the essential structures and routines, some basic rules and disciplines, and mixed in it all, grace, love and assistance.

Let me go back to when they were young and innocent. I remember giving my toddler choices.  My options, but she could chose in them, and the outcome was the one I wanted e.g.: ~ “We are going to bath, brush teeth (…insert your activities…) and then read a story.  Which story do you want to hear tonight?  This one or this one?  Great!  Quickly now, let’s …”

This approach works well with young homeschoolers too.  Our read aloud time is our “together” time and we usually do all the disciplined studies before morning tea so that we can enjoy our reading and hands-on activities.  When the child is given some choices in these activities, they do not resist and mope when lessons are short and sweet. (Thank you Charlotte Mason, for this lovely principle.)

Homeschooling a high schooler is slightly different.  They want to work independently.  The best tools for them is the year plan/ overview, a calendar and a weekly schedule or timetable.  We work out how many lessons per week, how many hours that requires, and they can tick the plan off as they go.  Both my highschoolers work to try finish and write off a subject by completing the work and the tests/ exams.  They ask me to tutor them. We book our time together and I enjoy the moments working side-by-side.

All too soon, it will pass and my role with them will change.

My parenting will be worthy if my children grow up to ~

  • love the Lord, His Word and His Ways
  • make good choices; in serving others, in excellence,
  • have an ethic that values hard work and diligence
  • form and maintain sincere and sound relationships with others
  • respect themselves and those in authority,  and be worthy of respect
  • persevere and endure even when it gets tough
  • be themselves, unique, creative, sincere
  • be faithful to the Lord’s gifting and purpose for their lives

So this is a “sacred” task.

How do you find your homeschooling and parenting sacred?

Blessings,

Ending and Beginning

My older two daughters have been away enjoying their summer holiday with friends, working hard on a self-sufficiency farm, and having times of fun, intimacy and fellowship!

While my youngest daughter enjoyed her time alone with us on our farm, visiting Grandparents for Christmas and swimming with us at the beach during our brief time away.P1120329

I have spent some quieter days at home closing off the school year and planning for next year.

Ending …

I packed my eldest daughter’s Grade 11 notebooks and study guides into a box and cleared my planning file for her new year.

Beginning …

Miss. T18 will do her Matric (our final high school graduation) this year!  I’m stunned!  My last official year with her! Already she looks ahead beyond the final year towards her future and I prayerfully plan and search out options with her.P1120072Beginning … and ending …

Our 13-year-old will officially start her high school course and join her older sister on Impak Education .  She will cover 9 separate subjects which will be a stretch for her!  But she wants to work independently and we’ll try to ease our way to that goal. My role will change from fellow-traveller to tutor.  Somehow I feel sad.  Those delicious days of delight and discovery will fade away to the demands of stricter and fuller schedules, external standards, tests, portfolio assignments and exams.

… and beginning again …

As for my 10-year-old, we simply pick up where we left off and continue the joyous journey of our Footprints on our Land.  In many ways I live out all my Charlotte Mason and homeschooling ideals with her and find my experience homeschooling Miss. L10 utterly fulfilling and inspiring.

I used my nifty binding machine and created 2 huge ring-binders of her year’s work.  She helped me and marvelled with sweet pride at all her notebook pages, lapbooks and art works.

Note to moms with young children – treasure your child’s junior and primary school years and enjoy every age and stage!  It all passes by so fast.

A wise older mom gave this priceless advice to a young mom ~

“Go for the heart in your homeschooling.”

Engage your child’s heart.

Make moments matter.

Create intimate memories.

Focus on relationships and keep hearts open.

So with my bare shelves waiting for the highschool books to arrive, files cleared and prepared, new charts and notebook pages prepared and 2013 calendar laid out, I rest and reflect and thank the Lord.

I wish you every blessing of God’s love, joy and grace for the New Year.

Blessings,

Read Books ~ When All Else Fails

Social Studies (Carla Bley album)

Living Books are the

golden threads” in our learning.

This past week I had an epiphany ~

good books have provided my children the most valuable education!

But, let me go back a little and explain …

Earlier this year my 12-year-old-now-nearly-13-teen floundered in my ‘wonderful’ Charlotte Mason education.  I wrote about our stresses and struggles and how I felt like such a failure.

Your kind comments overwhelmed me.

I simply relieved my daughter from some CM subjects and she focussed purely on her academics. (She no longer actively takes part in many of the Fine Arts lessons, but I’m sure that she absorbs her younger sister’s music and art appreciation lessons, the poetry and the Shakespeare plays.)

Most of her Footprints Into the 21st Century curriculum is literature-based. She spends many hours simply reading good books.

But, still, I worried.  I was still unhappy to see her listlessly “going through the motions” instead of connecting with her subject, let alone savoring it! (And I’m not alone. Jimmie also shared of her daughter’s changed approach.)

Would she be ready for the standards and approaches used in our Delta correspondence high school curriculum next year?

Mathematics

Last week, when she completed her Maths textbook I went to a local academic book store to find a new Grade 8 textbook.

To my dismay, they only supplied textbooks for the current OBE education in the South African government schools.  (This system – Outcomes Based Education – has been an absolute failure … but let me not digress.)
After 20 minutes I chose the one which seemed the best.

When I got home and took my time looking through the book, I was appalled.

It was complete drivel. Total twaddle. Not one single mathematical concept explained. Not a single theory, principle, or equation in the book. Not a single example followed by an exercise.  How does anyone learn maths from this?

I would not keep the book and the store would not refund me.  I had to exchange it for any other book from the same publishers.  Despite their thick catalogue, and much more careful examination of the sample books on the bookstore’s shelves, I could not find anything worth exchanging.

Their Social Studies book dismayed me.

Not a single photograph or accurate map …  instead they had fuzzy pencil sketch copies of photos.

Not a single quote …  just ridiculous, over-simplified explanations of the period in history summed up in 3 paragraphs, followed by 3 questions &/or activities to be done with a friend or in a group OBE-style.

This is when it stuck me!

My children know much more about the historical events, the culture, lifestyle, and important people from their living books!

Even if my junior-high daughter just ticks off her schedule and completes her tasks, simply because she reads excellent books, she will have absorbed 1000 times more than a child who has read a textbook.

And I should have given more credit to the power of reading!

I’ve written that read alouds are the Homeschool Glue.

I have seen the power of reading an excellent book to ignite thoughts, inspire the imagination, develop vocabulary, motivate action, and define character.

At its most basic, if our children read living books, they will grow and learn!

This is why I love a Charlotte Mason-inspired-literature-based education.

How have living books taught your children? Any thoughts about textbooks? Share with us in the comments.

Blessings,

This post is part of the upcoming Charlotte Mason Carnival ~  “What we love most about a Charlotte Mason education“.  To join the carnival, visit Amy at Fisher Academy International this Tuesday, September 4.

Why would a school teacher homeschool?

Mary Boyer, the first teacher in Upper Arlingt...

Mary Boyer, the first teacher in Upper Arlington, held class in the basement of King Thompson’s home. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my readers recently wrote and asked me,

“Why would you, a qualified school teacher, homeschool your children?”

Here is some of my  response:

My teaching background and experience:

I am a teacher with 10 years public school teaching experience.  I earned my teaching diploma in Senior Primary Education and later completed my BA degree, majoring in English & Education.  I mostly taught English, History, Art, Bible Education, and Remedial Education.

My first teaching position was in a rural government school, and I served in the school’s boarding hostel as “mommy” to about 65-or-so girls, aged 6-years-old to 14-year-olds.  The social welfare placed many of these children in the boarding school.

My second teaching post was at an elite public school in the capital city.  This school was in the ambassadorial residential area and we had an international and highly educated parent body and an affluent school board.

I was especially inspired to provide key elements in my classes: 

  • differentiation ~ offer different ways for children to approach an activity, to make provision for different learning styles
  • remediation for weaker students
  • and extension for gifted students

My thoughts on public schooling (in no particular order):

  • Students who had involved parents did well and participated in more activities in school.
  • Students with available parents did more comprehensive projects, did the  most consistent homework and scored better in tests.
  • Students with supportive parents coped better with anxiety, pressure and loss in sport and cultural activities.
  • Children with “absent” parents (such as those children living in the boarding hostel, and those with full-time working parents)  struggled more with low self-esteem, anger, emotional immaturity, learning difficulties, failures, frustrations, poor peer relationships, withdrawal, hyper-activity, and discipline issues.
  • Children who needed remediation did best with one-on-one sessions and the school did not offer this.
  • Children with learning problems had low self-esteem issues and “labelled” themselves or were mocked and teased by their peers and they would even resist special lessons or help.
  • Gifted pupils often “slipped through the cracks” because there was little or no opportunity catering for their unique thinking and learning styles, their pace and approach.  They often exhibited similar behavior to learning-disabled students because they did not “fit in”.
  • Children established “cliques” and the shy, isolated child or those that did not “fit in” struggled with terrible self-esteem issues.
  • Teachers favored certain children over others and were sometimes as nasty as the children’s peer groups towards awkward children.
  • Teachers who were passionate about their students inspired them to achieve exceptional standards in scholastic, athletic, in leadership, as well as in their spiritual lives.

    English: Photography of a teacher writing on b...

    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So why did I start homeschooling my first child?

Tess , our eldest daughter , now 17 years old, was born a few weeks premature and at 9 days old became extremely ill with meningitis.  When the spinal tap was taken for lab tests, blood was found in her spinal fluid.  The MIR showed she also had bleeding on her brain.  We were alerted to the need for therapy.

She was diagnosed with right-hemiplegic and cerebral palsy.  We did weekly occupational and physio therapy until she was 11 years old.  By God’s grace she has achieved a full, functional, mainstream life.

Naturally, my plans to return to teaching after a year’s maternity leave were completely abandoned.  I became an “attached” parent; breast-feeding for 2 years, wearing my child in a sling, I was focused and passionate about her needs, interests and development.  Among the sphere of similar parents, I first became aware of homeschooling.

After a few years of kindergartener homeschooling with 2 other families, I placed Tess in a private Christian school for grade 1 to grade 3.

Despite the school’s strict Christian ethos and code and their stringent admissions policy, I was troubled about several issues.  The children were “just children“, prone to all the negative peer influences I had noticed in government public schools.  There was the same type of bullying, cliques, tensions, pride and performances, fears and anxieties, and there was a lack of individual differentiation.

Despite this, Tess thrived at school, but my heart was troubled.  I felt that the Lord wanted me to nurture and disciple my child’s spiritual life.  I was convicted of  “spiritual duplicity”; of the many hours each day of these “other” influences and pressures on my child.

Homeschooling as a family

At this time my husband bought a farm a few kilometers outside a small rural town.  There were no English schools and so we had to homeschooling our 3 children.

By the end of our 2nd year of homeschooling a group of new homeschool families from our district gathered at our farm each month .

Many parents from this group told me that they withdrew their children from school for the following reasons:

  • Parents made spiritual decisions to bring their child up in the fear of the Lord, according to His Word and principles.
  • Parents wanted to spend more time with their young children and nurture their natural desire to learn.
  • Families had met other homeschool families and wanted to bring about the change in their children’s characters that they so admired: loving, supportive, caring relationships, respect for one another, helpful and capable, responsible, involved in family business etc.
  • Their child could not cope academically in the school system.
  • Their child was unhappy socially, bullied or unaccepted.
  • The school could not provide for their child’s interests or learning style.
  • The school insisted on medication for hyperactivity and the parents did not agree with this approach.
  • Negative (and even unlawful) activities at school were a bad influence on their children.
  • Afrikaans families wanted to teach their children in English, or equip them with an international curriculum.
  • Families were considering emigration and wanted to prepare their children as explained in the reason above.
  • Parents were encouraged to homeschool because the trend had become more socially acceptable and well-represented.

Many times over the past 14 years of homeschooling I have declared that our homeschooling decision is NOT cast in stone.

As we navigated our choices for Tess’ high school and her completion certification, we have offered her alternatives ~ an opportunity to study at boarding school or attend college or follow other correspondence courses.  She has chosen to continue to homeschool to matriculation.

My youngest daughter has loved the nurturing and loving relationship of homeschool and tells others that she homeschools because she can “get the most cuddles this way” and she enjoys eating snacks while she learns.

She has struggled more than the others learning to read and has difficulty with her spelling.  I’m sure that if she were in a normal school she would have been labelled and she may have negatively compared herself with her peers.  However, with homeschooling, she has progressed at her own pace and has finally become an independent reader, despite it being so difficult for her.

We are able to cater for her unique learning style and provide a safe and nurturing environment for her to grow and mature.

As I mature and gain experience in my journey as a homeschool teacher, I have realized that I can relax more.  As Charlotte Mason suggests, I do not need to direct everything.

I believe that information can be learnt at any time and that there will always be ‘gaps’.   As my children learn to research, read and discover, record and express what they have learnt, they develop the most valuable assets.

We are present, connected and attentive to our children in all areas of their lives.

We can consistently nurture, encourage, disciple and discipline our children.

We are living one-life in His life.

We all consider our homeschooling as a privilege.

It is a joy to live and learn and grow together.

What has motivated your decisions to homeschool?  How have you grown and changed in this journey?  Feel free to share with us in the comments.

Blessings,

Fun Ideas for Creative Homeschooling

Welcome to our 3rd SACH Carnival of 2012!

Join South African homeschool moms

as we share our

inspiring

creative

fun activities

in our homeschooling.

Taryn of Hayes Happenings shares a whole host of creative homeschooling activities, many of these shared with their homeschool group called the “Lunch Bunch”.  They have so much fun, don’t you wish you could join them too?

Here at Practical Pages I have written several posts of our fun and creative lessons!  Here are a few of my kid’s favorites:

Trixi from Trixi’s HomeEd Academy has found lapbooks have brought the joy of learning to her homeschooling days.  She shares some her creative posts:View album

Donette of The Journey wrote her post specially for the carnival and shared the fun and creative ideas for her children who are all under 6.

Thanks to all who shared in this carnival!

I’m sure you all have creative, fun activities that stand out as your homeschooling highlights.

Would you care to share them too?  Write a comment and leave a link to your post.

Blessings,

How Gentle are Charlotte Mason’s Ways?

Recently I met a prospective homeschool mom with 2 very young children and I encouraged her to read and find out more about Charlotte Mason.

I gave her my delightful blurb on a CM education … you know … the one about “reading living books and narrations“?  Somewhere in my enthusiastic description I mentioned,

“The Gentle Art of Education”

http://www.cheltenham.gov.uk/cbh/images/1148728_daisy_field.jpg

So I had to giggle at Sonya’s post  ~  Is Charlotte Mason a Gentle Education? (at Simply Charlotte Mason)  and her description of ~

“tea parties with lace tablecloths, snuggling on the couch with a sweet little storybook, and setting up an easel in the middle of a field of daisies as your children paint to their hearts’ content!”

http://fineartamerica.com/images-medium/daisy-field-of-innocents-elzire-s.jpg

I do love those CM moments though!

But it challenged my sugary comments and I wondered how I present CM’s ways.

This is what I realized:

Charlotte Mason’s high standards seem always just beyond my reach.  I can always challenge myself and my children to go a little further in our homeschooling.  Every term we extend ourselves in narrations, dictations and habit training. Charlotte Mason’s principles really develop us as we journey in our education and character training.

What do we find that is NOT “gentle” in our Charlotte Mason inspired approach?

  • Children must give 100% attention during readings.
  • Children should write or dictate a full, clear, detailed narration after 1 listening to the reading.  No repeating, no prompting, no clues.
  • The child must express himself correctly, have an opinion, make a judgement, develop a train of thought and use his imagination.
  • Encourage children to form relations with things, ideas, great thoughts, great minds.  I must not get in their way.
  • Each child must develop the habit of perfect executionin all their work.
  • Neat, correct dictationsMove on from mere copywork.
  • Perfect handwritingEvery time.
  • Remember spelling in their minds – visual photograph of the wordEnunciate properly.
  • Recitations of poems, plays, famous speeches and literature excerpts.
  • Read whole chapter, living books with great literature content.
  • Apply arithmetic processes accurately and perfectly.  Easy enough to be able, but challenging enough to stimulate mental effort.
  • Accurate and detailed geographic interestsread, discuss and discover maps, outdoor studies, weather and other geographic phenomena.
  • Read and then narrate in a foreign languageNot mere textbooks and worksheets.
  • ShakespeareStill not in our schedule.
  • Learn and narrate Scriptures and entire Biblical storiesand apply these to our daily walk in the Lord.
  • Develop the habit of reading their own Bibles daily, learn hymns, practice praising the Lord, pray with conviction and faith.
  • Journal and sketch detailed and accurate observations made on nature walks and develop a thorough knowledge of the fauna and flora of their district – identify flowers, insects, trees, animals, noticing changes through the seasons.
  • Appreciate great music and develop the habit of careful listening and personal enjoyment.
  • Develop an appreciation for art by studying famous artist and their most important works.  Each child should make their own detailed mental art galleries.
  • Recognise pictures and identify the famous artist (and even the style or era)  and narrate details after careful observation.
  • I must have incessant watchfulness to form and develop good habits in my children.
  • On character, Charlotte Mason instructs parents to expect prompt, cheerful obedience, courtesy, reverence, sweet temper, truthfulness, self-restraint, self-control, and fortitude without supervision or rewards.

This is a really high calling, but she encourages us to do this in grace.

Is this gentle?  No.  This is tough stuff. Sigh.

Impossible? No. It requires lots of training, perseverance and prayer.

(Pop over to read  Sonya’s post )

As I made up my list, I realized that Charlotte Mason’s standards are set too high for me.  It really brings me to my knees … in prayer.  Her ways make me a needy parent, dependant on the Lord.

This is good.

Without this, I would become independent and proud.

How I need the Lord to instill or encourage any of these principles in my life, let alone in my young children’s.

Only by grace can this be a “living” or “gentle” education.

So, I am still inspired …

Reaching onwards and upwards …

And I thank Charlotte Mason for such a beautiful way …

Which includes …

http://us.cdn1.123rf.com/168nwm/nejron/nejron1006/nejron100600177/7154999-daisy-field.jpg

tea parties with lace tablecloths,

snuggling on the couch with a sweet little storybook,

and setting up an easel in the middle of a field of daisies as my children paint to their hearts’ content!

Blessings,

Education is a Life

This post was submitted for the Charlotte Mason Carnival hosted by at Barefoot Voyage on the 5th April.

vol 6 pg 110

Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another, whether by word of mouth, written page, Scripture word, musical symphony; but we must sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as we sustain his body with food.

As always, Charlotte Mason’s writings inspire me. I thought of all the sources of ideas ~

Hymn Book

Image by JohnnyCashsAshes via Flickr

  • the Word of God
  • Written words
  • Great literature
  • Musical symphonies
  • Masterpieces and great Art
  • Inspiring Speeches

Just as I plan, purchase, prepare and offer nutritious meals for my family, so I must source and present such life-giving ideas for my children’s education.  And we are certainly living in times of abundance! For most of us, it is not hard to find the richest and finest inner-life food for our children, but the difficulty is often what to select and what to leave out!

This takes time.

Research.

Enquiry.

Prayer.

Faith.

And then courage to begin.

Probably he will reject nine-tenths of the ideas we offer, as he makes use of only a small proportion of his bodily food, rejecting the rest. He is an eclectic; he may choose this or that; our business is to supply him with due abundance and variety and his to take what he needs.

Fruit platter

Image by Raoul Pop via Flickr

Now, as I read her second paragraph, I am reminded that my child cannot, could not and never will be able to take everything in.  I must present life and ideas, skills and methods when my child is ready.  Just like potty-training, it is always easier to train and teach a child when they are physically, emotionally and spiritually ready.

In my 12-odd years of homeschooling, I KNOW that each child is different.  The same curriculum, books and projects produce different responses from each child.  I have changed, too.  In the beginning, I trusted the professional schedule.  I ticked off the boxes.  I stressed about falling behind.  But now, I linger where there is a sparkle of interest.  We take detours to places of discovery and exploration.  Take tangents.  We slow down, and then catch up again.

Isn’t Charlotte Mason’s advice great?  Give them variety.  Abundance. Allow them to be eclectic.  Let them chose.

How does my teaching approach allow for this?  Do I believe that my child will choose and become educated?

My passion as a teacher is motivation and enthusiasm!  I love children whose eyes sparkle and who laugh, who enjoy learning, who want more!  When my schooling days lose this, then I know we will all lose out.  Now, not all can be accomplished in this way.  We need balance.  Discipline.  Some work must be done whether we love it or not.  Again, it is about balance.

narration corner bookmark

Image by jimmiehomeschoolmom via Flickr

In my opinion, narrations make this enthusiasm possible.  When I ask my children to present their narrations, they always reveal what they understood, what facts and details they remembered.  And if they can chose how they want to present their narrations; whether orally, writing notebooking pages, dictating their thoughts, making models, creating projects, then they can express these ideas best.

Look at Miss. Mason’s clear warning ~

Urgency on our part annoys him. He resists forcible feeding and loathes predigested food.

Wow.

Stop fretting.

Stop comparing.

Stop forcing.

Stop prompting,

correcting,

instructing,

insisting,

moaning,

stop worrying.

What suits him best is pabulum presented in the indirect literary form which Our Lord adopts in those wonderful parables whose quality is that they cannot be forgotten though, while every detail of the story is remembered, its application may pass and leave no trace.

We, too, must take this risk.

When I recently read this quote I was filled with gratitude.

Although Miss. Mason advocates lofty ideals and sets such high standards for a child’s education, she know there are …

risks.

I must present these wonderful ideas and gently help develop my children’s learning skills.

Then, encourage them to do their very best.

What then, is the risk?

Despite the best curriculums, the risk is that it may not be the “right fit”.  Can we adapt it?  Do we start again with something different?  Many, many moms have had this crisis.  But I believe Miss. Mason encourages us to think beyond the package, and check our expectation of how our children learn.  Education is filled with myriads and millions of ideas which we present and make available.  The risk is ~ the faith to believe they will be open, chose and learn and grow and have enough.

Do our children eat good food and live?  ~ Yes!

Will they learn and grow if we open up to them the wonders of great ideas and life?   ~ Absolutely YES!

Are you encouraged?

Be blessed,