A little bit about how we home school....

We take a Charlotte Mason approach to our learning here at our house....we not extremely rigid about this...we also have several kids of various ages and we need to do what works in our family and not just follow a formula for school.  We have found, though, that every time we seem to get "off track" or worn out in our homeschool, it is because we have tried to go the "easier" route and have really compromised on our desires to homeschool in a more Charlotte Mason approach.  Then we take a deep breath, and get back to the "good stuff" again and it all works out!  I have a link on the top left side of the blog that explains a bit about what a Charlotte Mason education is.  Basically,  if I were to give some of the most important aspects I would say:

LOTS of amazing books...real books, not dry, written by a textbook writer books but what we would call "living books" written completely by one person who was passionate about that subject.  Lots of variety....fiction, non-fiction, books on lots of different subjects.

Narration...the kids narrate orally to me what we have read.  Its basically a re-telling to me of what they took from the reading.  Think about it this way...if you went to a lecture and you had a friend that couldn't come and you knew you were going to have to re-tell the lecture to that friend- you have to REALLY learn your stuff because your going to need to be able to re-tell it in your own words.  The kids actually learn a lot more this way...we don't really do paper tests- we narrate.  These narrations will graduate into written narrations of our subjects once they reach the right age for written narrations.  

Short lessons...learn a concept and move on...allow their brain to ruminate on that idea.  No work for work sake.

A feast of ideas...lots of different subjects, poetry, literature, the great artists, the great composers, the study of nature, History, instruments....and the highest quality of these things that you can find.  Kids don't need to listen to Barney...they need to listen to Tchaikovsky!  Feed them great things that are worthy of their time.

Varying your subjects to keep things interesting....a sit down, writing subject, then piano or reading, then another sit down subject or writing.  Trying to vary their subjects and keep their mind fresh.

Fine Arts...a big difference between a Charlotte Mason education and other ways of doing school is that we really value the fine arts- we value learning about composers and artists and they are just as important in our curriculum as our other subjects.

Nature Study and handicrafts...these are concepts that pretty distinctively Charlotte Mason.  Charlotte Mason really thought people should be aware of their surroundings, know the lay of the land, the rivers, streams and hills that make up their town, city, state etc.  She also valued being aware of the birds, flowers, wildlife etc. that make up the natural world around us...all these things point us to our Awesome Creator and they should be known and appreciated.  We love nature study at our house and the kids love keeping record of our nature adventures in their nature journals.  ALL of us, Dan and I included, have learned so much from our nature studies.  And it has made our kids incredibly attentive the the world around them and helped to feed their interest in learning new things.

A Charlotte Mason education also involves learning truly useful skills...called handicrafts- it can be sewing, knitting, woodworking, whittling, gardening, painting whatever meaningful skills/craft you'd like your kids to develop.  We hope to do more of this....the boys have pocket knives that they've done whittling with, we've done some artwork with them- painting and sketching...I'm hoping as Lilly gets older to work on sewing and other useful skills with her.  The boys did learn the basics of knitting with me  but we just haven't had time yet to do more with that.  Yes, they DID like knitting....all kids are drawn to useful handicrafts and skills!

I'm so glad I wrote this all down...every time I get a chance to explain how we do school or what we want our homeschool to be about,  I realize in what ways we've gotten off base and need to get back on track!  So....I'm sure I'll change or tweak this discription, but for now, this will at least give you an idea of what we like and what we try to focus on.  We don't everything this way...we try, but it doesn't always work out.  This is what we're aiming towards.  The hardest thing for me is all the varying ages of my children.  If I was just home with Gabriel and Elijah, this would all be simple.  But I have two preschoolers at different ability levels as well and I'm really trying to juggle 4 different kids' abilities so we do the best we can.   Now I'm off to pick some poems and figure out our next artist study because we've been letting it slide!

Overall, we just want the education of our children to be quality, meaningful, and of value.

Phi. 4:8 sums it up for us...

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

Quality books, the best of artwork and music, the amazing world of nature....all of these are things worth thinking about.


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