Friday, November 21, 2008

The Further We Go On Our Homeschool Journey ...

... the more I am convinced that Charlotte Mason was a brilliant woman beyond her years.
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Often I stand in awe of the education that her methods, layed down so many years ago (1800's) for parents and student-teachers, have brought to our children, and to our family. She has enriched our lives beyond measure. God blessed us richly that day, so long ago, when I stumbled upon the book series by Charlotte Mason. Our lives were forever changed ....
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To buy Miss Mason's Original Homeschooling Series, click here:
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To read Miss Mason's Original Homeschooling Series FREE online, click here:
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BEWARE: If you read these books, your life as a parent or as a homeschooling parent will never be the same !
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Our favorite Charlotte Mason style studies concern Nature; specifically our Nature Journals. These "lessons" have provided such a beautiful foundation for our advanced science studies, while also improving our lives in the Natural world around us. We are all Observers, in awe of Our Father in Heaven who created this Masterpiece - our natural world. It is wonderful to go on a walk with the children, listening to them identify flowers, trees, plants, and animals as if they were each old friends. Even while preparing our season's firewood, we heard them naming the trees that the logs originally came from -- by identifying the bark and remnant leaves. They truly adore being outside; it is all play to them. When happening upon a new discovery (bug, leaf, or otherwise), they race inside for our collection of identification guides or the magnifying glass, eager to know what "it" is. And next, they gather the art supplies and their Nature Journals -- all in the name of "fun".
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In addition to a inspiring a genuine love of the outdoors for our family, Miss Mason's methods have added a "feast" to our other studies. By Miss Mason's suggestions, we have yearly endeavored into studies of Shakespeare, Plutarch, Poetry, Artists, and Composers. We have also been blessed to read an incredible variety of Living Books on many diverse subjects (science, natural science, history, art, music, literature, poetry, and so much more).
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Add to this banquet the ever-useful habits of Copywork and Narration; narration creates a "relationship" with the study, thus increasing the lesson's imprint on the memory. Narration feeds the mind, and organizes the thoughts. Copywork also helps with memory, and teaches the student "language arts" such as spelling, grammar, and composition.
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Miss Mason also advocated large amounts of free time in the out-of-doors; every single day. She encouraged free play, when the students could put to good use their studies as well as explore the world around them. After years of this "free time" and a rich education, it is a delight to see our children "acting out" scenes from books, or using their time in nature walks, or begging to explore a museum. Our children have truly benefitted from a lot of unstructured time through the years, although I will admit that I doubted this "suggestion" from Miss Mason long ago. After considerable prayer, I finally heeded God's instruction, deciding to follow her advice whole-heartedly, and so the children's "childhoods" have been full of wonder, awe, and learning. Today our older children are reaping the benefits that Miss Mason promised .... they are bright, intelligent, creative individuals who enjoy good books, can "learn" on their own, and who have devoted their lives to God. And what an adventure it has been !
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I am embarassed to say that when we began Miss Mason's methods, I was doubtful and quite unsure. Her methods are not "ordinary", that's for sure ! I am not doubtful nor unsure today. I am thankful for the blessings that Miss Mason's methods have brought to our lives, and I am thankful to God for focusing my mind on these methods of education despite my timidity.
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Miss Mason's suggestions have indeed enriched our hearts, broadened our educational horizons, and have fed our minds with a wonderful variety of studies; both the students and the parent-teachers have benefited from her methods and suggestions.
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It is funny to see every once in a while, "professionals" from today's world taking notice of the benefits of such studies and practices .... they sometimes publicly state that some of these methods (such as nature study and outside exploration) DO work and DO benefit students in countless ways. I only wish they too would read Miss Mason's book series and instrduce just some of her methods in our public schools .... our schools, the teachers, and the students would never be the same. Look at these articles:
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Please enjoy these (below) quotes from Miss Mason herself, from commonly used Charlotte-Mason-style resources, and also a few quotes from those who use her methods in their homeschools.
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"Nature study does not start out with the classification given in books, but in the end it builds up in the child's mind a classification which is based on fundamental knowledge; it is a classification like that evolved by the first naturalists, because it is built on careful personal observations of both form and life. (Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study, page 6)
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"We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things." (Charlotte Mason)
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“There is no part of a child's education more important than that he should lay - by his own observation - a wide basis of facts towards scientific knowledge in the future." (Charlotte Mason)
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"Let them once get in touch with nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight and habit through life." (Charlotte Mason)
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"Charlotte Mason said that science should increase and feed our wonder and delight in the world around us. It should spark our admiration, both at the wonder of creation and the skill and wisdom of the Creator. It should put us on a first name basis, so to speak, with the natural world, which means we must know the names of the inhabitants and their surroundings, and it should introduce us to the laws that order our universe as well as the methods used to make scientific discoveries.

Charlotte Mason wanted students to have a broad base in topics such as botany, astronomy, and physiology, although her curriculum for the younger grades used mostly books on animals and other natural science, in addition to their own observations and collections. Most importantly, science was to be taught as something wonderful in itself, beginning with a sense of reverence for God's world, rather than starting by tearing things apart. Science should lead to a knowledge of the properties of substances and of the forces in the world around us. This must be first-hand knowledge of the things and forces; not simply knowing about them. It must be obtained by personal experience. Some science teachers today note that their students don't "get" higher-level science concepts because they don't have the childhood experience of being outside doing things like collecting tadpoles, watching butterflies, skipping stones, seeing plants sprout from seeds - they have no sensory experience on which to "hang" those concepts. CM thought that a child's foundation of first-hand experience should naturally lead to scientific methods of thinking, accurate observation, careful comparison of results, and the formulation of general principles. It should introduce children to a world of absorbing interests that will enlist their sympathy or arouse their enthusiasm, a world of mystery that fascinates with promise of discovery and fuller knowledge, a world of wonder and beauty that we cannot explain, but in which we walk reverently with uncovered head." (quoted from Ambleside Online FAQ)
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“As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature diary is a source of delight to a child. Every day's walk gives him something to enter...” (Charlotte Mason)
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"In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mothers first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it for the most part spent out in the fresh air." (Charlotte Mason, Original Homeschooling Series)
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“Let them once get in touch with nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight and habit through life.” (Charlotte Mason, Original Homeschooling Series)
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"The miserable thing about the childish recollections of most persons is that they are blurred, distorted... and the reason is not that the old scenes are forgotten but that they were never fully seen." (Charlotte Mason)
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“To know a plant by its gesture and habitat, its time and its flowering and fruiting; a bird by its flight and song and its time of coming and going; to know when, year after year, you may come upon a redstart and the pied fly-catcher means a good deal of interested observation and at any rate, the material for science. The children keep a dated record of what they see in their nature notebooks, which are left to their own management and are not corrected.” (Charlotte Mason, Original Homeschooling Series)
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When in the open at a botanical garden, field or some other such place, this is Charlotte Mason’s advice: The children must be happy all the time so as not to miss the freedom of being in the open. They must be uninterrupted for as much time possible to "take in what they can of the beauty of the earth and heavens...wherein to wonder and grow."
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The mother is to impart, during these nature study observations, kernels of knowledge or as Charlotte so eloquently puts it: "to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child, which shall germinate, blossom and bear fruit, without further help or knowledge of hers."
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"I venture to suggest what not is practicable in any household, but what's seems to me absolutely best for children...a journey of twenty minutes and a luncheon in a basket will make a day in the country possible to most town dwellers: and if one day why not many and even every suitable day?" (Charlotte Mason)
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“Let [children] once get touch (sic) with nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through his life.” (Charlotte Mason; Home Education, pg. 61)
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“We must assist the child to educate himself on Nature’s lines, and we must take care not to supplant and crowd out Nature and her methods with that which we call education. Object-lessons should be incidental; and this is where the family enjoys a great advantage over the school. The child who finds that wonderful and beautiful object, a “paper” wasp’s nest…has his lesson on the spot from father or mother.” (Charlotte Mason; Parents and Children, pg. 182)
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“… It is unnecessary in the family to give an exhaustive examination to every object…” (Charlotte Mason; Parents and Children, pg. 183)
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“The unobservant person states that an object is light, and considers that he has stated an ultimate fact. The observant person makes the same statement, but has in his mind a relative scale, and his judgment is of more value be- cause he compares, silently, with a series of substances to which this is relatively light.” (Charlotte Mason; Parents and Children, pg. 183)

5 comments:

:: jamie :: said...

Great post. Ms. Mason's ideas & teachings have done so much for our family and our homeschool as well!

A Dusty Frame said...

Yes! the longer we use her methods the more amazed I am at the results.
The things I doubted have melted away and the results have been beyond my expectations!
Lizzie

Cindy said...

You said - "Today our older children are reaping the benefits that Miss Mason promised .... they are bright, intelligent, creative individuals who enjoy good books, can "learn" on their own, and who have devoted their lives to God. And what an adventure it has been !"

I say - AMEN! :o)

Those are the most wonderful parts about CM-style education.

Ritsumei said...

Thank you for your post! You make me want to take my little one outside more. I guess I'll need to find myself some warmer clothes... it's winter up here now!

Keri said...

I can tell that you are passionate about C.M.'s ways...
so am I!
I think she has amazing insight into educating our children.