Monday, March 14, 2011

Charlotte Mason

Every now and then, I like to take a "refresher course" on the Charlotte Mason method.  We have always incorporated some CM into our homeschooling ever since 2005.  I feel like I know all there is to know about it, but when we fall into a regular routine, sometimes key things get neglected.  My favorite place to start is right on the Ambleside Online website.  I just pull up the page for beginners and read everything in order, clicking on all the links and reading those pages through as well.  Doing this reminds me why I love Charlotte Mason.  It also gives me new ideas for when we hit different stages of learning.  We do things differently with W now than we did 2 years ago. 

I have been neglecting things like artist study, composer study, nature study, Spanish, timelines, - even copywork sometimes.  The funny thing is that we love those activities, but pushed them to the side, being in such a hurry to get through AO Year 2.  The problem with trying to rush through this curriculum, is that it defeats the purpose of the whole CM method.  I'm promising to now make time for these no matter what. 

Reading Charlotte Mason's Original Home Schooling Series lays out her whole philosophy.  It's a great idea to read this to understand the hows and whys of the method and how she implemented it in her own schoolroom.  She believed that children were so capable.  She believed learning should be very child-led, but also parent-guided.  "Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life" is one of her mottos. This means that,  1.  A child absorbs a lot from his home environment,  2.  It's important for your child to cultivate good habits,  and 3. We should give children living thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts.  The other quote always associated with Charlotte Mason is "I am, I can, I ought, I will".  It seems so wonderfully unschooly to me and is what my kids always innately believed about themselves.  I like this explanation from the Simply Charlotte Mason site:  ["I am" means that we can know ourselves and understand what we're really like. "I ought" means that we have a moral judge inside us. We feel like we're subject to it. It lets us know what our duty is and compels us to do it. "I can" means that we know we have the ability to do what we know we're supposed to. "I will" means that we resolve to use the ability we know we have to do what our inner moral judge has urged us to do.]  

I also love to google "Charlotte Mason" and read various websites and blogs and discussion boards for any new ideas or suggestions.  But mainly I like to be reminded of how much we love homeschooling and living this way.

Some of the other things I'm reminded of are that: 
  • Reading through books slowly over a few months makes them so much more enjoyable.  
  • Good literature and an incredibly gentle entrance into writing and composition are things that W responds so well to. 
  • W went from a first-grade reading level (and having 25 out of 26 symptoms of dyslexia) when he was 8 to now being able to read a book with  "RL 6.2" on the back, silently and quickly with full comprehension (and enjoyment).
  • W doesn't want to part with most of the books we finish
  • There are so many ways to correspond an art project with any reading
  • Having short lessons and afternoons free allows us to do so many classes & field trips and for W to pursue his interests.  And he has lots of interests, lol.
  • Living books are so much cooler than textbooks
  • Narrating after reading shows so much more of what they got from the story than any test could show  - plus it seems to create fuller and lengthier retention of info.
  • Getting outside every day is really needed, no matter the weather
  • I love the word "handicrafts".  :)

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