Our Charlotte Mason Summer

I love summer.  Despite the heat wave and drought we’re enjoying in our corner of the world, the girls and I are having a great time.  I love having them home, and they love being home.

We’re doing summer homeschool Charlotte Mason style, and it’s going very well.

Late in the school year, I ran across the series, Homeschool Made Simple, by Carole Joy Seid.  I didn’t plan to buy it since my husband is dead set against homeschooling.  But after I watched the preview chapter, Children and Reading, I was completely sold.  I bought the series on DVD the same day.

Around the same time A Twaddle Free Education, by Deborah Taylor-Hough, was offered for free on Kindle, so I read it, and was surprised to find that her ideas and methods lined up very closely with those of Carole Seid.  She often refferred to Charlotte Mason’s works in her book.

Who is Charlotte Mason?

Charlotte Mason was an English educator, and ran a school for educators and governesses in the late 1800’s.  She wrote volumes on child-training, habit forming, education, and character development.  She believed in teaching the whole child.  She believed that sit down instruction should be short, to the point, and never dumbed-down.  She believed that alternating intellectual, and painstaking work, and giving children plenty of opportunity for physical exertion would maximize the child’s ability to learn, and remain focused.  While certain aspects of her teaching don’t necessarily translate the the twenty-first century, (one must never assume that the Nanny already knows she should thoroughly air the nursery and the children’s clothing each day 😉  ) her understanding of the nature of children and the force of habit is rock solid.  I first started reading her works, several years ago, but I must admit that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to sift through the heavy and sometimes tedious language, and get to the heart of what she was saying.  Between Homeschool Made Simple, and A Twaddle Free Education, my interest in Charlotte Mason has been renewed, and I am now happily wading through her Home Education lectures, and applying some of her principles to our summer “homeschool”.

So what does it look like in practice?

Well, I’m in the early stages of learning about the teaching style, and only a part timer, really just a summer-bridger, but, so far, our days look like this…

During or shortly after breakfast, Araya reads aloud from The Story For Children, a story book Bible, by Max Lucado, Randy Frazee, and Karen Davis Hill.  We’re reading through it one story per day, and the kiddos narrate it back to me in their own words after we’ve read the story.  We’re also memorizing one verse of scripture per week, using Seeds Family Worship.  I have the girls look up and highlight the verse, and then we listen to the song on Seeds.  They also write the scripture of the week out for penmanship practice.  This section of work lasts about half an hour, and covers reading, history, Bible, and penmanship. When we’ve worked through the Story Book Bible, we’ll continue on to American History, using literature as a starting point, but keep up with our weekly scripture memorization.

Next up is Math.  With Araya I’m working through a third grade math workbook I got at a yard sale.  She has also started working on multiplication and division.  While I do think it’s important for a child to understand what is happening “behind the scenes” when one performs mathematical operations, I still believe rote memorization will be most useful in the long run, so she’s started memorizing her math facts starting with the two’s and working from there.  Most days she spends about 15-20 minutes doing a page from her workbook, modeling concepts, or going over math facts with me.

Montana is still practicing addition and subtraction, pattern recognition, and basic math concepts.  She is also working through a workbook, which takes her about 10 minutes per day.

Montana also still needs extra help with reading practice, so we work on sounding out BOB books, or reading short story books while Araya finishes up her math.

That is the end of our sit-down work, most days.  It generally takes no more than an hour.  After sit down work, it’s chore time, and then they can take their Nature Notebooks, and go out to play.

While I did explain the purpose of the notebooks before their first entries, I don’t give directions, or “correct” their Nature Notebooks.   I also don’t “make” them do an entry every day, rather only when they see something that intrigues them.  I expect there will be entries more days than not.  I do encourage them to share their observations with me, Daddy, and anyone else they want to share with.

After lunch we have an hour of quiet time, during which they can choose to read, sleep, think or pray.  They typically choose to read. When I’m babysitting, generally preschool kids,  I give them  the options to read, cuddle a toy, or daydream.  I don’t feel comfortable telling other people’s kids to pray, and even mentioning the word sleep would be ridiculous.  Of course the preschool kids always choose to cuddle a toy, and they always end up asleep.  This ain’t my first circus!

We try to visit the library at least every couple of weeks, and we generally read “just for fun” books out loud at least a few times a week, with the goal of getting to it every day.

Even doing all this, the majority of their day is free for playing, swimming, and visiting friends.  They are still very much having a summer vacation.

When school starts back up in the fall, we’ll continue with scripture,Nature Notebooks, and read, read, read.   We’ll see how the rest fits in with regular school work.  I’m still praying that my husband will have a change of heart and let me keep them home.

How is your summer shaping up?





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