After hearing Catherine speak at the Midwest Homeschooling Conference [April 2010] a light bulb went off in my head. Anna is SO relational. She is happiest when she is reading a good book or talking to me about the good book she is reading. She loves to talk with me about any number of things. I felt I had, after 15 years of homeschooling 6 children, found the key to my youngest child.
We started off after I came home from the conference by discussing my plans for using no textbooks but doing lots and lots of reading. She was thrilled! We had already read many good books this past year and she discovered that books can be wonderful! She is currently reading a grade level book or higher every two days. She’s walking around the house with a book in her hand, reading. She’s reading instead of playing video games with her brother. I can’t keep her in books! Where we used to go the library and I would have to push to get her to bring two books home, she is now bringing home 5-8 books and we’re quickly having to go back to the library for more – often before the week is out!
I took her to the store and bought her a little notebook. I explained what a nature journal was, and how she could use it. She was hesitant to draw anything she saw as she has no confidence in her ability to draw. I explained that there was no right or wrong way to draw – especially in her journal. It was just for her and to be used to help her remember what she saw and experienced. As for writing, I told her to write just as I told her to draw – “write what you see, draw how you see it. There is no right or wrong, it’s just for you.”
With that, she set out into our backyard, to give it a try. She came in with eyes dancing and full of words to tell me about what she saw. She hugged me, thanked me for her Nature Journal and could not wait to finish writing and draw her experience. I was astounded! She wrote paragraphs! Clear, concise, well ordered paragraphs! She drew a very accurate representation of the bug she found. She asked to borrow my Nature Study Handbook in order to identify said bug. We found what she was looking for and she fairly burst with pride at being able to name the bug that she found.
Since then, each day for the past two weeks, what she looks forward to most, is the afternoon when it is time to get her Nature Journal, go outside and explore her world. I’m beyond thrilled to see my daughter loving to learn, to explore, and to communicate what she’s found. We’re both enjoying our homeschooling more than ever before. I know she is learning and that she is learning to love to learn.
She has turned her best friend on to using a Nature Journal as well. I heard her on the phone with “J” today saying, “when you are outside in your yard, or taking your dog for a walk, all you have to do is to start NOTICING things! Look around you, wherever you go, there are things to see EVERYWHERE!”
Thank you for your presentations and your books. They’ve been such a help in being able to get into this homeschooling method fairly easily and quickly. I do think I’ll want to read Charlotte’s work first hand, eventually. For now, however, having your books to get us started and guide us along is working beautifully for us!
A Charlotte Mason Education
This straightforward and easy to read book concentrates on how to implement the Charlotte Mason method in real life and is the best choice for new homeschoolers or those less experienced with this method. The chapters are titled by school subjects as each one is dealt with individually. It is brief and originally written in 1996. This book is written by a busy homeschooling mom to a busy homeschooling mom. My target audience are those who want to know exactly “what” to do on Monday morning and they only have one weekend to learn.
In the early 1990’s an acquaintance of mine introduced me to a functioning Charlotte Mason school (in Washington State) and provided me with out of print “how-to” articles (from the Library of Congress) written by CM and her fellow teachers. After years of reading and trying these techniques with my children I offered my first all-day, how-to workshop. I conducted this free of charge and it turned out to be a very ambitious undertaking. This was the Pre-Google era. There was no Wikipedia, no fast internet searches and there was no other book like it. Had there been I would have purchased it and used it.
As it is, this book has been very successful due to its brevity. I have boxes and boxes of fan mail for this book from grateful mothers who were writing to me before any of us had email. Now I have a full inbox with even more good feedback. It is very quick to read and intended to be reread. I wrote it for myself thinking I would reread it from time to time if I lost my way and slipped into nonproductive homeschooling full of burnout and drudgery. I’m happy that it helped others.
Chapter Titles: Charlotte Mason, The Method in Brief, Narration, Literature, Poetry, Composition, Handwriting, Spelling, Foreign Language, Grammar, Science, Math, Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation, Free-Time/Handicrafts, Bible, History, Geography, Citizenship and Morals, The Formation of Habit, Sample Schedules & Bibliography.
More Charlotte Mason Education
This sequel to A Charlotte Mason Education is just what the title implies, more. The content does not repeat information given in the first book; instead it goes into further detail while still concentrating on how to implement this valuable method. You’ll find it concise, practical and realistic. It is much larger than the first book at196 pages. The writing style is better, if that matters to you, but it is not off topic at any point. Like the first book my audience is still the busy mom who wants to know “how” to use CM techniques quickly. I wrote it because I had a lot “more” to say and had been doing so in my own quarterly magazine and via articles for other publications. Plus, I had more experience with the CM method both in my home and with homeschooling convention work. Being on the road meant I homeschooled Monday through Thursday and often caught a plane on Fridays. I would give all-day, how-to CM workshops or I would be a keynote speaker or workshop presenter at a homeschool conference. I’d fly back on Sunday and start all over again. These experiences taught me what further questions homeschoolers had that my first book did not cover in-depth. This is my favorite of the two and is best suited for someone who has either been homeschooling for some amount of time or perhaps they’ve already read some information on the CM method and they are ready for more.
Chapter Titles: Charlotte Mason the Person, An Overview of the Charlotte Mason Method, What are the Liberal Arts, How Short Lessons are Applied, Segment Planning, Keeping a Century Book, A Sample Term, Curriculum Choosing, High School, Coping Strategies, Book Selection, Charlotte Mason Method in the Classroom, Questions and Answers, Learning Styles, Transitioning, Frugal Home Schooling, Avoiding Twaddle, Drilling, Math, Poetry, Charlotte Mason Support Groups, For Further Study, Sample Schedules, Suggested Supplies, Recommended Book and Resource List & Bibliography.
A Literary Education
This is subtitled An Annotated Book List and it’s designed to stand alone or as a follow-up to my first two books in which I concentrated on “how” to teach children. Here I’m providing an answer to “what” interesting books to use because that became THE question. Mothers were learning how to use CM techniques at my workshops or through my other books and now they wanted to know “what” materials to get.
I wrote this in an easy & quick to use format which includes book descriptions, ISBN’s, publisher and copyright date & suggested reading ability levels. The entries are categorized by subject & they were selected to help create “well-read” students. Scope and sequence according to grade level is also included.
In the Charlotte Mason method we read aloud to our children a lot!!! We choose the best books we can locate and we don’t use babyish books. We read adult level books to our students so that they can be exposed to a larger vocabulary and because the plots are much better than many books written “down” to a child’s level. Keep this in mind when using, “A Literary Education” because most of the books there are intended to be read aloud and I helped by providing the reason these are good selections and at what age a child might want to hear the book read. I created an IRL, meaning an “independent reading level” for only one purpose. That would be for the times when a child read the book themselves and you were not reading it to them. A few have not understood what the IRL’s purpose was. It’s simply an added feature so that you’ll know if any of your children might be capable of reading that book unaided. Again, if you are reading it to them then feel free to use any book suggested in there (unless I’ve specified not to for certain reasons that are provided) regardless of what age your child is currently. That is how we “stretch” the mind, as Mason would say. We help to advance their minds with adult level reading. They may not be old enough to read it themselves but they are old enough to understand the content when read to them.
No One Ever Asked Me That
This is a departure from my other books because this is not about homeschooling. I know this book will be enjoyed by homeschooling families and perhaps even used as part of the homeschooling plan but the audience for this book is much wider as anyone will enjoy reading it.
The idea for this book was sparked by interesting conversations. Those often rare times where thoughts are exchanged in a few moments but the concepts stay with you for years. I learned how to draw people into deeper topics by using questions that made them comfortable and yet led them into the types of topics we seldom discuss.
In order to write an interesting book I had to find diverse people. I did not interview everyone I met. Instead, I patiently waited and looked for those who were from many different countries and held to vastly different beliefs. While it was a tremendous amount of work that took nearly twelve years it was also highly enjoyable. I was able to sit down and partake in these conversations, savor the accents, observe the reactions of each person included.
I am pleased with how this book reads. I find it to be fun and entertaining even though the topics are among some of life's most important issues. Some very serious ground is covered and yet the book is not foreboding in any sense. I'm confident that readers will enjoy the opportunity to really get into someone else's mind. I sincerely hope this book will spark many conversations for all who read it.
When I Awake
This book is even more a departure from my usual writing as it is a novel. It’s based on a family with a busy mother who is working so hard to be a good mother that she is not. With all of her efforts to be efficient she does not realize that she lost her way in life when she falls into a coma. In that unconscious state she dreams endlessly about visits with her grandmother at a time when life was lived at a different pace. Her son misses her desperately and finds means to communicate with his mother even as she slips deeper into sleep. This book is in the publisher’s hands and may have a title change. I will notify you when it’s available.
I have begun work on a 6th book. It is a nonfiction work on a serious topic and may take over a year to complete.