This year I’ve decided to take on Charlotte Mason. LOL For those of you unfamiliar with her method of homeschooling I’m sure that statement sounds as if I’m declaring a fight! Don’t worry -I’m not…yet.
My friend, Jennifer, innocently leant me a book about the Charlotte Mason (CM) homeschooling method and now I’m totally hooked. The basic premise, as I understand it, is to teach your children with Living Books not textbooks, narrating those books, spend LOTS of time “out-of-doors” and doing nature studies and having several subjects but in short lessons. To me, it just seems like a wonderfully natural easy way to learn…for the kids (as Jennifer pointed out to me).
I say “for the kids” because I am now spending a LOT of time on the computer looking for “Living Books”. I do enjoy it, though. It’s just time consuming. I get emails from the library informing me that the 50 books I ordered have now come in and ready for pick up. 50 may be an exaggeration but not by much. And then the planning and scheduling all of those short lessons has been a bit stressful, too.
Definitition of Living Books as found on the CM website: Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive.”
Yes, I have gotten myself a little frazzled with research and planning, but I’m slowly beginning to calm down. Homeschooling the CM way CAN be a lot of work, but I can see that the rewards can also be great.
For instance, I love the idea of the children narrating (“telling back in your own words what you just read or heard”). I read aloud to the kids a lot as it is, so that won’t be a big change as we begin CM. We’ve always discussed what we’ve read, but I haven’t gotten them to narrate to me. And it’s harder then it seems! R wants to skip parts and just do it as quickly as possible. J likes to go over all the details, though, so that’s great. I have a hard time, however, not asking them about the stuff they’ve missed, but according to CM you aren’t supposed to. Narrating is the ultimate in self educating because nobody is telling the child what to listen for in the form of fill-in-the-blank questions. They’ll have a better chance at remembering or owning what they learn because it’s what is important to them. I also find they narrate stuff that I wouldn’t have asked them about in the story.
The kids love the nature study part of our curriculum this year. I’m suspecting, though, that it’s more because they get to call running around outside “school”. R has already had an exciting lesson learned. On our first day of “Nature Study” we went outside to draw a tree in our backyard. It would be one that we’ll study through the seasons. Sadly, R had a real aversion to drawing; he informed me that he can’t draw. How sad is that!? I myself suffer from this insecurity but kids usually don’t. By ten years old, however, he’d made this decision. The book, “Keeping a Nature Journal”, has a few lessons on drawing. So, the next time we went out we followed the exercise on drawing trees, and he successfully drew a lovely one. I could see he was very pleased. I also learned when “enough is enough” because seeing his positive reaction I suggested that we learn to draw different kinds of leaves, but he was tired of it by then and wanted to stop. I was about to get annoyed and announce that “this is school time” when I remembered CM’s principle about short lessons.
So, drawing (and patience) is another (short) subject we’re adding to our schedule. He and I will conquer this fear together.
I’m looking forward to our homeschool year. I’m sure there will be a lot of firsts and that I will be learning plenty about what I’m teaching AND my children.