Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Enjoying Charlotte Mason

As I've been studying up on
Charlotte Mason and her philosophies of education, I'm constantly astounded. I'm astounded at how raw she asks teachers to be. I'm astounded at how her "old" philosophies surpass our "new" ways to education and how much more through and better they truly are. In modern education, we're constantly trying to find the next best thing. In our schools (both public and private, I might add) we're constantly trying to make up for what modern families aren't doing with their children at home because we're just that busy (both parents working, so many after school activities/practices, etc.) Not only are teachers responsible for the academic portion of a student's mind, but the educator is also responsible for the physical well-being of the child as well as the mental well-being. Even if the parents are involved at home, the teacher still has influence and may sway opinions of students in a way you as the parent might not appreciate.

Charlotte's philosophies are exactly opposite of that. From what I have read and researched, she takes a nurturing approach to guiding and training little ones (the mother being the best teacher), but then (oh, then!) as these little ones grow, they become independent, researching on their own (by the way, computers didn't exist in her time...books and articles were used for research).

{Here is the nature book I've been using. It's written by Karen Smith and Sonya Shafer and these two intelligent women took "the meat" from Mason's books and outlined it into one nature study book. Fabulous, especially if you don't have time to read Mason's entire book series.)

The kids and I took our first nature walk today and although it took some planning ahead and organization (because I have a 6, 4, 2-year-old and infant), we had an absolute blast! I put Norah and Isaac in our double jogging stroller and the older two walked. We carried our colored pencils, nature journals and National Audubon Society Field Guides (we chose the trees and flowers books for this walk) and we kept our eyes and ears open as we walked around our neighborhood. We threw rocks in the nearby creek, identified certain flowers and trees and jotted them down in our journals. It was fun sitting on the bridge over the stream drawing as we basked in the sun and took in its rays. Lincoln drew a Venus Flytrap in his journal and Avonlea saw an orange tree and drew that. I found (my favorite) Elderberry bushes and drew those. They labeled their pictures and we looked them up in their books to get valid descriptions. Avonlea still has more to write in her journal, but she'll finish that after her quiet time today.

Even little Norah had her own journal and scribbled down pictures of "water" and such. It was such a sweet time.

It's funny. People often assume our family is caught up in technology just as they are with i-phones, i-pads, i-touches and whatever other "i" things there are out right now. Nope. We have a family computer and printer and Rob and I both have cell phones (that do not contain the Internet, by our choosing), but that's it. I guess you could count our Canon digital camera as well as our cordless home phone. Know what? We're okay with that. We've never played Wii. We've never read anything on a Kindle and it doesn't bother us. We enjoy spending time outdoors and observing all that God has created. We enjoy reading physical books, looking at the pictures and annotating them as they are our own.

There are some blogs that I enjoy following that take the Charlotte Mason approach to education. Earth Is Crammed With Heaven is one of them. Then, there's always Reformation Acres that I love reading.

A dear friend told me about this great find today. If you're a Charlotte Mason lover as I've come to be, you'll love this book. It's one she bases her Science on. Anyway, some moms got together and actually typed the entire book out (wowsers!) to share with those that might want to read the book, but have had trouble finding it (it's hard to find). Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading it. I've only just begun and love it. Happy reading!

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