Charlotte Mason lifestyle of learning

These past few weeks I have done much thinking about our homeschool in practice and in relation to my philosophies and goals. My thoughts drove me to a long-time favorite book
A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, and towards a new purchase of mine;
Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss.

I often find myself just trying to "do" school, trying to make sure we cover important learning matters, trying to plod through the workbooks I purchased during fits of panic that I might be missing something or feeling like I am not doing enough or not doing what I should be doing. My philosophy and desire of what homeschooling should be does not fit into this thing our homeschool has become. Time to get back to the basics of my convictions, I finally decided.

This week has been a nice one. Not a major over-hall of direction or course of study...just a subtle, gentle adding in of what I believe is essential, what I believe truly does work best if I would just commit myself fully and consistently to the practice of.

I added in regular narration-for all 3 students, and introduced written narration to my two oldest students. We have done narration off and on in a casual, once in a while-way. Since we have not been in the habit of regular narrations, I choose a book with short stories. Fifty Famous Stories retold by James Baldwin. It is in the Ambleside Online curriculum list. The stories are short and a gentle way to introduce narration or in our case, stepping up narration. The stories are of legendary tales of well-known heroes or histories of people that are the subjects of frequent allusions in poetry and prose. Stories and references that I feel a well-educated person should know. Brianna finds writing laborious and I have been guilty of not requiring much of her in this department. She surprised me by happily working on the narration, giving me a page and a half of written narration and an illustration. I was shocked at how pleased she was to work on it.

The next subject I added in that had fallen by the wayside was regular poetry reading. We do read poetry, but not regularly every week. I tied poetry to lunch time, reading out loud to the children while they ate their lunch outside on the front porch. We really had a lovely time. Our poem for today was "All the world's a stage" by Shakespeare from the play As you like it. This was the first piece in the book I am using, but I had skipped it thinking it would be over the kid's heads. Reading it really caught my imagination, and while I don't think the kids actually 'got it', I think the exposure and the rhythm were beneficial to them. It was a good discussion starter for the older girls, and gave them something to think about.

We have done much bird watching lately, after spying an exciting newcomer to our birdfeeder. I am going to add our nature journaling back into our routine. A practice we used to keep, but one that has fallen away the past few years.

I found a Charlotte Mason discussion group in my area, and was able to attend a meeting last night. I had such a wonderful time, and was so inspired by these knowledgeable but very real homeschool moms. I am so pleased to be working back towards a lifestyle of learning environment.

"It was Miss Mason's belief that children are educated by their intimacies...The goal of such an education is to surround the child with noble people and books and other things with which to form relationships. For a {Christian} parent, the first intimacy we want for our children is a true and personal friendship with the Lord. All our educating is directed to that end.
We also recognize that the child living in a home that is also his "school" will form very close relationships with his parents and siblings. It is these relationships that we pray about unceasingly. We endeavor to be good examples and mentors. We want strong, loving bonds between siblings...
The child will also have intimacies with literature and nature and music and art. With an eye toward the ultimate goal, only the finest of these are set before the child. Children need the time and space to meet fine ideas and to make them their own. The atmosphere of the home and, indeed, of the child's entire environment can be ordered toward the purpose of presenting living ideas." Elizabeth Foss, Real Learning: education in the heart of the home

"We, as persons, are not enlightened by means of multiple-choice tests or grades, but rather by the other people in our lives that we come to know, admire, and love. We are educated by our friendships and by our intimacies...Whether it be gardening, keeping house, or governing a state, love of work-like love of people-teaches things that no school, no system, can. Children are inspired by relationships, and this helps form their personalities. And so, throughout their educational life, we put them in touch with persons, places, and things." Karen Andreola-A Charlotte Mason Companion pg. 23

I really can't believe how adding these little things has made this week such a good one.