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Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

Posts Tagged ‘Charlotte Mason Homeschooling’

Christian Homeschoolers: They Rise Up

Heading Down the Homeschool Path

Heading Down the Homeschool Path

They are a rare breed, the person that will give you his coat when he has but one, who will cheerfully fill your stomach when his is empty, who will gladly take the floor so you may have the bed. Rare is the person that will help with no reward for himself. Growing up with my grandparents and mother, all three generous beyond fault, I assumed everyone but me was that way–giving, loving, genuine. Life, as I have mentioned, is a harsh teacher.

In this post-Eden holding tank known unaffectionately as “the real world,” self-promotion is god, king, and idol. For too many people, helping others has its place…when there is an appropriate return–money, acknowledgement, reward. ‘Tis a pessimistic view of mankind, I admit, but I daresay not entirely unwarranted if given honest thought.

The Christian homeschooling community has raised the veil from my depressed view of society. Among this group are the most remarkable people I have enountered en masse. They use their time, efforts, and money to offer assistance and support to complete strangers, many of whom have nothing to give back. They lend a helpful hand to the floundering, the lost, the overwhelmed, and those simply starved for a bit of encouragement on this often lonely path that is homeschooling. True, there are those homeschoolers, yes, even Christian homeschoolers, who are blind to the needs of others, ensnared by pettiness, or struck by the poisonous bite of comparison or superiority. And there are those, like me, who can’t even juggle the laundry and dishes while trying to teach long division to a horse-crazy day-dreaming bookworm, let alone open my arms to the needs of others…without His help, that is, and perhaps my own Martha to handle the housework. As a whole, however, this group has risen up as Christ commanded to help the orphan and the widow. . . and the struggling homeschool mom with nothing to give back. I see it elsewhere, now and again, with a lovely couple here, a terrific family there, a fine single woman willing to sacrifice or a young man passionate for Christ. Occasionally a whole community or church seems to radiate His love. Yes, there are spots of brightness throughout the world. Most remarkable to me, however, is the sacrificial willingness I have witnessed in this quiet corner of joyful, often over-burdened mothers sweetly reading to and instructing their children, giving their non-existent spare time to help others along this path, and scrubbing science experiments off the kitchen walls. It is a beautiful thing, even the goo on the walls.

My Simple Thanks

There are more self-sacrificing homeschoolers out there than I could even begin to mention, some in my own desert community, some across the miles to whom I owe more thanks that I can give.

There is a trio of ladies who have been unknowingly lifting me up for some time. Ann, Rebecca, and Joy are the three homeschooling mothers in my notable blogs sidebar. They bless numerous people with their encouraging, grace-based messages. Many others have encouraged and blessed strangers as well, and in thanking these three, I thank them all. Do visit these remarkable, Godly ladies.

Then there are the groups. Over at least a portion of the past decade of my family’s schooling, three groups stand out for their constant willingness to give of themselves while asking (and receiving) nothing in return. I humbly offer them my thank you across the miles.

Ambleside Online

A group of homeschooling parents set up a Charlotte Mason style curriculum and offer it entirely free, no strings attached. Not even a loose thread. Many of the books you would need to follow this curriculum are available free online, and most of the research in finding these books has been done for you. While we use only a portion of their recommendations, the fact remains that Ambleside Online is simply a gem and a true treasure for many.

Wholesome Childhood

Pick up a free ebook every weekday from Wholesome Childhood. Free! No, really. I’m not kidding you. Follow the link maze to find the free weekly audio pearls as well. This family finds amazing treasures, and they give them away. Did I mention they’re free? I’m speechless, and nod my head in gratitude. (Yes, they have sites where they sell items as well, because their family likes to eat a few square meals.)

Charlotte Mason for Moms of Many

Homeschooling parents of large families who enjoy a Charlotte Mason style of education join together on the CM for Moms of Many list for daily encouragement, advice, and sharing. While this group is not faith-exclusive, they are primarily Christian, always praying for one another, offering support, and answering questions. I have occasionally ventured into other groups out in the big bad world, but am always sent running back to this one. They even helped us find our van, or bus as we call it. I give you fair warning that babies are born frequently on this list, and the baby bug is definitely contagious.

There are too many to name. It is truly wonderful!

Do share your favorite resource or experience in the comments below. Also, if you enjoy the Notable Blogger’s quiet contemplations, please subscribe in the sidebar to the left.

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Homeschooling: What do you teach?

What do you teach your children?

Bible Reading

Bible Reading

If I could translate the state and federal education requirements into layman’s terms, I perhaps could compare them with our plan, but alas, I cannot. Regardless, we follow a better code for training our children: God’s code. We teach in the same manner in which we live, from a perspective of God as Creator and Savior. We do not compartmentalize our faith by placing it in a Bible study category and leaving it there. Every subject is taught with the understanding that we are learning about God’s creation for the purpose of better living for His glory and fulfilling the Great Commission of bringing the Word into all the world.

Science is taught in the context of a Creator-God. History is studied with an awareness that this is the story of God’s hand throughout the existence of the world, from Creation to modern times. Languages are learned with the idea of improving communication skills in a world that needs to hear the Gospel of Christ. Music and art have the potential for great service within and for the Kingdom. Math and logic are mastered for their intrinsic worth in forming good and capable citizens of the world and God’s kingdom and because we have a logical and ordered God who designed the order that we study.

In the study of all subjects, our children are led to think and discern. They are given the tools necessary to analyze new ideas and determine for themselves whether each new thought is in line with a Godly worldview. In a world where emotion, sound bites, and immediate circumstances determine people’s philosophies, our children are being grounded with solid principles and logic abilities to break through the political, religious, and societal muck that blinds most people to the immediate and longterm consequences of their choices. In simple terms, they are learning to think. They are being equipped with a strongly principled foundation against which to judge future decisions. And they are being taught to discern right from wrong, smart from…not-so-smart.

That is the abstract. What about the black and white?

Elisabeth's Almond Pudding Pops

Elisabeth's Almond Pudding Pops

Ask and ye shall receive.

Our children, like most students, study Bible, history, science, math, grammar and writing, public speaking, reading and literature, thinking skills and logic, Spanish, sign language, home economics, physical education, art, and music. The difference between our schooling and the common educational facility is that everything here is taught with the underlying principles outlined above, and much is taught without a lesson plan or curriculum. We do not need a 45 minute home economics course when the children have been working alongside me since they were small, cooking, sewing, making candles, knitting, learning to manage a household by actually doing it. Whereas I made soup in high school and called it home economics, my children make soup and call it lunch. They don’t know they are learning any more than they know that many other children cannot make soup without a little help from Campbells. They do know that they can make a great bowl of soup!

A future post will outline our classes more specifically, for those interested. For those not interested, it would be a great time for a nap…which gives me an idea.

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Homeschooling: Where do you teach?

Duet of Sisters

Duet of Sisters

Where do you teach? Do you have a schoolroom and a blackboard?

While the thought of a room full of old-fashioned school desks, a huge globe, and a big green chalkboard at first appealed to me, the reality is that children learn best in a natural setting, and Mama needs easy kitchen access.  Therefore, school happens wherever it works best.  That generally means that bodies are strewn across sofa cushions and floor pillows during readings, surrounding the kitchen table for experiments, and spread throughout the house for quiet reading time, writing, or other tasks that require focus.  You will often find us exploring and observing outside, dissecting around the kitchen island, researching on the computer, listening to recordings in the van, learning via the (gasp) television, erupting things in the yard…you name it!

Our most memorable lessons are almost always away from home, and almost always under Daddy’s tutelage.  The coffee and sugar plantations in Hawaii led to Hannah’s fabulous report on the state.  Our cross-country travels and national park visits offer unparalleled history and science lessons.  Nature hikes are always a favorite, and far more memorable than reading from a book.  (Mind you, this book addict has nothing against books!)  Everywhere we go we find lessons and teachers. When people find out we are homeschoolers with an interest in learning about their areas of expertise, they are generally more than willing to give us our own personal teaching sessions.  Just last month, while camping in the mountains, we received our own personal lizard lesson (complete with a chuck walla attack on Marissa) from an Americorp volunteer on his day off. Similar experiences have educated us on locks, farm animals, fossils, and more.

Math on a tricycle.

Math on a tricycle.

School is wherever the learning is, and the learning is wherever we are.  We are always learning. Our home is set up as a natural learning environment. Each room has an inviting and comfortable reading corner. Quality books (no Disney, thank you!) line shelves, sit atop night stands and along windowsills, and are mounded on the floor patiently awaiting a stellar deal on some used shelving. Nature guides are in easy reach to help us identify whatever strange creature makes its way into the sight of the curious. Collections of rocks, pine cones, acorns, and other accents of nature are dotted throughout the house, brought in by enthusiastic little hands. Reference books and art supplies are always at the ready. A map for imaginary exploration resides on the breakfast table under a clear table cloth. The kitchen with its limitless possibilities is off limits to nobody, no matter how small the hands. Computer programs are legitimately educational. The piano and guitar are always buzzing, and there is no shortage of quality music for discerning young ears. Books and prints of fine art are readily available for anyone to admire, critique, or discuss. Foreign language materials are available for the curious. Building materials of all sorts occupy the play spaces, waiting for young imaginations to bring them to life. Most importantly, there are enough Bibles for all hands save the smallest who is quite enthusiastic about the sound of ripping paper.

Learning on the go!

Learning on the go!

This is not to say that we do not have regular lessons, assignments, and table work as well as individual and group teaching sessions.  While traditional study methods have their place, true learning and indeed the most effective education is not reserved for the scheduled school hours. Given the right opportunity and guidance, as well as a parent willing to step out of the way at times, a child will learn, and learn well. In fact, wiser homeschoolers than I have noticed this same phenomenon: the children seem to learn better what remains untaught. It is not the teaching that spells success for the homeschooled child; rather it is the learning. Learning, like living, can take place anywhere!

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Vocabulary Lesson: Deflating

<em>My little Elisabeth Grace</em>

My little Elisabeth Grace

One of the simple joys of homeschooling is that my family spends a lot (and I mean a lot) of time together. This constant togetherness provides numerous opportunities for impromptu lessons.  I remember one such lesson in particular, a study in vocabulary.

While driving home from an appointment, my then six-year-old Elisabeth asked for the specific definition of the word “deflating.”  (She likes to confirm the definitions of words she is already using.  Better late than never.) I explained that deflating is when a person’s joy or energy seems to be leaking out or when the air comes out of something.

Pleased with myself for presenting such a simple, yet all-encompassing explanation, I was even more delighted with Elisabeth for her mature intelligence.  A quick glance in the rearview mirror assured me that, indeed, her “gears” were turning.

Confirming in her matter-of-fact way that the definition had, in a sense, sunk in, she said, “Oh, like pooting. You’d better open the window, ‘cuz I’m deflating.”

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