03 June 2014

What is the Charlotte Mason Method? - Simply Charlotte Mason

There is so much information in this article that rings true.  I just had to share it.  I hope it blesses your homeschool life as it has mine.

What is the Charlotte Mason Method?

The Charlotte Mason method is based on Charlotte's firm belief that the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three-pronged: in her words, "Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life."

An Atmosphere, A Discipline, A Life

By "Atmosphere," Charlotte meant the surroundings in which the child grows up. A child absorbs a lot from his home environment. Charlotte believed that the ideas that rule your life as the parent make up one-third of your child's education.
By "Discipline," Charlotte meant the discipline of good habits—and specifically habits of character. Cultivating good habits in your child's life make up another third of his education.
The other third of education, "Life," applies to academics. Charlotte believed that we should give children living thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts. So all of her methods for teaching the various school subjects are built around that concept.

Living Methods

For example, Charlotte's students used living books rather than dry textbooks. Living books are usually written in narrative or story form by one author who has a passion for his topic. A living book makes the subject "come alive."
And the students were required to tell back, or narrate in their own words what was read in the living book, in order to secure it in their minds. No fill-in-the-blank or multiple-choice for them; they practiced using rich language as they pointed out the ideas they gleaned from the reading and any mental connections they made between it and other ideas already residing in their growing minds and hearts.
She taught handwriting and s
pelling  by using passages from great books that communicate great ideas rather than using just a list of words.
She encouraged spending time outdoors, interacting with God's creation firsthand and learning the living ways of nature.
She introduced the work of great artists and composers to her students and let them spend time with each, getting to know their works personally.
She spread before her students a feast of ideas from a wide variety of sources—from Shakespeare to knitting to Bible to tramping through field and stream to algebra to singing to foreign languages. And woven throughout it all, she emphasized the habits of full attention, best effort, and learning for the sake of learning.
All designed to help the child grow; for we learn to grow.
It's no wonder that many homeschoolers have adopted her philosophy and methods as they seek to educate the whole child!
Take a look at this chart to see the variety of subjects included in a Charlotte Mason education along with the methods she used to teach each one. (Be sure to click the links for more details.)

Why I Chose the Charlotte Mason Method

In this video, Sonya Shafer explains why she chose to homeschool with the Charlotte Mason method.

Does the Charlotte Mason method sound like the approach you would like to use in your home school? Here's how to get started.

What They Don't Know - Simply Charlotte Mason

What They Don't Know

When More Is Less Calendar JournalI remember pulling some all-nighters during my high school and college years. A test was scheduled for the next day, and there were so many random facts and pieces of information to be recalled for it that every moment counted. Another hour and another memory trick might just secure a few more bits of information until the test. And the more I could stuff into my head, the better my chance at receiving a good grade.
It's funny, but I don't recall a single one of those facts now. Those cramming sessions had one goal in mind: to remember until the test. Once the test was over, my memory no longer needed to entertain those facts, and they were dismissed.
So the good grade, which was supposed to represent how much I knew about the subject, was only a testament to how much I could cram for the short term. I didn't really know.

They Cram But Don't Know

Cramming does not equal knowing.
In fact, the more information we throw at our students, the more they have to resort to cramming methods just to keep up. Once the test or assignment is over, their minds jettison most of those facts to make room for the next batch. How can we call this futile process "education"?
It's no wonder students who go through a perpetual cycle of cramming, testing, emptying, and cramming again lose their natural desire for knowledge. They have been schooled in a shallow counterfeit and develop an aversion to anything remotely like it. Thus, we end up with adults who stop reading; who stop wanting to know; who stop asking questions to satisfy their curiosity about things; indeed, who stop being curious at all; and as a result, who stop growing.
Cramming is not a modern technique. Charlotte Mason recognized its futility and the harm it can do:
"We all want knowledge just as much as we want bread. We know it is possible to cure the latter appetite by giving more stimulating food; and the worst of using other spurs to learning is that a natural love of knowledge which should carry us through eager school-days, and give a spice of adventure to the duller days of mature life, is effectually choked; and boys and girls 'Cram to pass but not to know; they do pass but they don't know.' The divine curiosity which should have been an equipment for life hardly survives early schooldays" (Vol. 6, p. 57).
What if, instead of filling and emptying and filling and emptying our children's minds in a futile endeavor to pass, we gave them less to know but expected them to really know it?
The simple truth is that we can't teach our children all about everything. It's impossible. No brain can hold that much information. As they are trying to keep up with today's information, so much more is being generated that they can't help but continue to fall behind. It's a mathematical fact in this information age.
We must make choices. We must select where our focus will be. If we have the courage, we can give our children a deeply meaningful education—one that esteems how well they know more than how much. And in doing so, we will also preserve for them the love of learning that will guarantee their continuing to learn all throughout their lives.

When More Is Less: New Calendar Journal

The article above was taken from our new calendar journal, When More Is Less. The new calendar was designed to help you discover the richness that simplicity can bring to your schedule, your home, and your children's education.
This handy school-year edition will walk you from July 2014 through June 2015 with encouraging articles like the one above, inspiring Charlotte Mason quotes, and plenty of room to write your personal notes.
The year-at-a-glance calendar, monthly calendars, looking-ahead thumbnail calendars, monthly divider tabs, and two-page spread each week will help you stay organized. Plus, special touches—like areas to jot down gentle reminders, prayer requests, and books you are reading—will combine to help you create a keepsake journal of your year. All with a gentle Charlotte Mason touch.
The When More Is Less calendar journal, 2014-15 School Year Edition, is available at a special introductory price through May 1.
Reduce the stress and enjoy the simplicity that Charlotte Mason's ideas can bring!

19 May 2014

LOVE this protein smoothie!

One cup "milk" (whatever your favorite - hemp, cow, oat, 7 grain, coconut...)
5 T Whey
1 tsp Maca Powder
Fruit, whatever you choose.  My favorite which is pictured had frozen strawberries and 1 organic banana.  I prefer fresh strawberries but I used them this morning so I had to resort to my frozen. Whirl in blender and enjoy!

Just know that this particular brand of whey tastes very good.  It doesn't have a grainy texture to it, funny taste, or any of the negatives that pure whey can have.  I purchase it HERE!  I highly recommend it if you want a delicious and "so good for you" pure and natural whey powder.

If you love yams!

Then you must try this ice cream/pudding dessert.  Whatever you call it it is delicious and so good for you.  When we were at the Whole Foods in Denver earlier this month a company out of Boulder was sharing samples of their new recipe.  Sweet potato ice cream.  Sorry, I didn't catch the name or brand of it but it was excellent so I was determined to try it when I got back to Wisconsin.  I don't remember the exact taste of the one in CO but nevertheless this was still delicious.

I took 3 organic yams and baked them as usual.  I put them in the fridge for a day or so to get plenty cooled.  I then peeled them, mashed them, and added the rest of the ingredients I thought up.
3 yams
1 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped pecans (more or less)
2 T. organic vanilla
2 cups cream 

Mix well and eat this way or freeze.  We did both.  We ate some and the rest we froze.  It was a really good hit with my family!  You should try it.

08 May 2014

Introducing Charlotte Hope Phillips

Introducing Charlotte Hope Phillips.  Born 21 April, 2014.  Our family is blessed for the 7th time to enjoy the gift of a new grand baby!  Robyn and Luke are enjoying their first baby and so are the rest of us!  We had a great trip to Washington to meet Charlotte and enjoyed each and every second with her.  The trip came with perks in that not only did I get to see Robyn and her new baby but her sisters as well.  Juli came from Colorado, (our family's famous photographer) Christie from Idaho, and from home I brought along Kim and Makenzie while the others stayed home with daddy.  We are so thankful everybody is doing well and feel so very blessed.

Love of family...

These photos are precious.  Makenzie was so.....what's the word, happy/overflowing/joyful/emotional/etc. to see her brother!  It's been 11 months since seeing him and I can tell it made her day!  And of course mine!  

11 April 2014

10 April 2014

One Mother's Homeschool Days and so much more

January-March 2014

Where has the time gone.  I cannot believe how little time I have to blog.  I enjoy blogging but only when it's convenient rather than MAKE time for it in the past.  Plus I love looking back and be able to see where we were and how my family has grown and changed over the months and years.  The year 2014 has been full of life and I, along with my family are trying to enjoy each and every moment!

Our academic journey
2014 brings a new year for our homeschool.  This year I am schooling 7 children.  Our son will graduate this year and we have been blessed to add our niece Mauriela to our home, family, and our homeschool.  She fits in perfectly with my 5 girls.  And she is moving along very well with her cousins. And I'm sure that when the school year is over we will be sad to see her go.  However, there is a very big possibility of her return for her next year.  Back to academics.  We are keeping quite busy with 3 of the girls doing Sonlight, and 3 of the girls doing a more eclectic version of learning which includes ambleside online and memoria press! and LOTS of books from the library.  But neither is without our favorite tool for learning - our learning journals or common place books.  Here I am sharing some photos from some of their work.

My younger girls mapped out a route for a 'mock' trip.  We printed a road map of the state of Wisconsin and they located our city, then they chose a city they'd like to 'visit' and mapped out the closest route. They said though that the coolest thing about learning map work is learning that from East to West all major highways are an even number and all major highways from North to South are even numbers.  Fun little tidbits to know!

Here are a few from my older girls.  I love seeing the creativity that comes from each of them through their journals.  They are all so different and yet the same.  Full of fun and interesting learning.

Janai preparing a keyed map of earthquake zones.

I really enjoyed our study of the Netherlands.  The internet and the library are full of wonderful information.  Youtube has an incredible amount of videos on HOW the dikes work and how they are made.  Not to mention how windmills used to be used to divert the water and how they pulled it off. Very cool stuff. 

Here are some examples of my youngest girls' entries into their journals.

Mary's earthquake zones map.  We found a really neat printable online and they choose the colors of their choice to key in geographical areas.

Goals and or Ideas...With the addition of our niece coming in our home we have enjoyed redoing the girls' room.  We found really cool bunk beds online and they work perfectly for all 6 of the girls.  We ended up purchasing a full on full and one twin over twin.  The girls love them and are always switching up their sleeping areas with each other.  One would think having 6 girls in one room would be crazy but with ALL clothing downstairs in the laundry room and a walk in closet for all their "junk" it only leaves the beds and a table in their room with plenty of space left over.

I really enjoyed…Our small taste of spring.  Next week we are expecting cold weather again.  It's been a reeeeeally long winter.

Activities...I wrote a while ago that we were hoping to join the YMCA.  Well we did and we are really enjoying our visits there.  It's about 20 miles away so our days there are limited to only two or three times a week!  With such a long winter this year the swimming pool has been a huge hit to give the kids something to do.

What mother is wondering/thinking about...

 My favorite "Kids Talk Moment" When my daughter asked me if her puppy Saphira will go to heaven and will she see her ever again!  I love the sweet faith of a child.

What's cooking...Bread!!!  Every single night I begin soaking my whole grain flour in apple cider vinegar, butter, and milk and the next morning I add the remaining ingredients.  It's not unusual for me to make our own bread but these days I have an "extra fun" toy to make it even more enjoyable.  Last month I was very blessed to be able to purchase a Nutrimill grinder.  It is fabulous.  So much quieter and more efficient than my older one.  It's definitely one of the best ones on the market.

The simple life…Fresh whole grain flour, reading, writing, & arithmetic! I love the basics! Quite often, less simply is more.

Living with gratitude...As the photos clearly show we will be adding two babies into our family this year.  We are so very excited for Robyn and Luke, and Christie and Jeff as they each bring their first babies into the world.  Such huge blessings to say the least.

Robyn and Luke are expecting a girl in April

Jeff and Christie are expecting a boy in July

Favorite "Life with Kids Moment"

Walking through the room to go to the kitchen I said to Kaydee, "Good job Kaydee, you are really flexible."  Upon entering the kitchen I saw Kaydee stirring the oatmeal on the stove!  I stopped in my tracks, turned around and said, "Oh, Emma that was you.  Great job on your flexibility."  I love having TWINS!!!

What Mother is reading
Here is a short description from amazon.  Click on the link below to read more.  It really is an enjoyable read and very informative.

Free Range Learning presents eye-opening data about the meaning and importance of natural learning. This data-from neurologists, child development specialists, anthropologists, educators, historians and business innovators-turns many current assumptions about school-based education upside down. The book's factual approach is balanced by quotes and stories from over 100...to read more about Free Range Learning go HERE

Some photos to share.  I've said it a million times.  I love looking at their faces and seeing the interest they show while reading a good book or having an interesting conservation.  They engage themselves fully and it makes me feel like I'm doing my job.  The job I've assigned to myself years ago -  to give them the gift of loving to learn.  Not just 'doing something' because they have to but because they want to.  And of course it helps a ton when the work they are required to do is interesting and not boring and dry.

Some random pics from our "school days"

Tips or advice.  My kids love the library.  We always have.  But what I love is watching my kids choose what interests them.  Of course they have their "required" assignments of reading and study but seeing them in their element is what brings my joy.  Joy in knowing they are pursuing their loves and interests.  Not just with books.  But life in general.  Then I try to feed that passion if I can.  

While I'm speaking of books!  I love using whole, living books to learn from.  The stories are enjoyed while at the same time facts are learned.  And having them journal their reading and learning is the icing on the cake.  Truly brings home a lesson.

Pictured below are a pile of books belonging to my 13 year old daughter.  She is really, really interested in midwifery!  That's what makes being a parent fun.  Is watching their children grow into themselves through their loves and passions.  And a plus is that through homeschooling they also have the benefit of time on their side.  It's so great that they finish their assignments in good time because then they have the time to pursue their own interests and passions and don't have to worry about keeping up with dead lines and assignments from outside sources. 

Praying for...My kids as they work through our loss.  How do I even express the sorrow and sadness of our last weekend.  Our sweet puppy was caught in a trap near our home.  We were hoping that it was one of those things where the vet would clean her up and send her home but we were sadly mistaken.  The end result was we had to put her down.  My heart was broken for our puppy and especially so for my kids.  They were so attached to Saphira and our weekend was full of more tears, hugs, and cuddles than we've ever had before.

A couple kids got up early the next morning and this photo pretty much shows how our weekend was spent.  The girls especially just wanted/needed to be held.  It's Tuesday and and we are just now starting to see things turn around with them.  It was a very difficult time!  Saphira will be extremely missed.  She was basically our first dog so she was much loved.

We snapped a photo of Saphira on the way to the vet.  She was so calm.  Poor little thing.

Seeing Aaron off on his mission

Seeing Aaron off on his mission
We all love and miss you Aaron. We pray you will have a great and accomplished mission. You have chosen well.