"A Charlotte Mason Education"

Book by Catherine Levison

Study outline and notes for the Charlotte Mason Study Loop, Summer '99
By assorted members of the Loop, as indicated.


A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison. Subject by subject, how to implement the CM method. No "Twaddle" here - just quick information on HOW to do it! These lessons and notes are copyrighted to their authors as noted.

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Click Here to go to the CMason home page for current Loop information.


CMason Notes Lynn's CMason Notes pages.


Lessons are included as they are written, or as soon as I get around to it. All lessons appeared on the list.

Introduction pages 1 - 10 / Narration pages 11-14 / Literature pages 15 - 20

Poetry pages 21 - 23 / Composition pages 24 - 25 / Handwriting pages 26 - 27

Spelling pages 28 - 30 / Foreign Language pages 31 - 34 / Grammar pages 35 - 36

Science pages 37 - 45 / Math pages 46 - 49 / Art Appreciation pages 50 - 52

Music Appreciation pages 53 - 55 / Handicrafts pages 56 - 59 / Bible pages 60 - 62

History pages 63 - 68 / Geography pages 69 - 70 / Citizenship and Morals pages 71 - 72

The Formation of Habit pages 73 - 84 / Appendix pages 84 - end


Charlotte Mason...a woman, a message, and a method. She was born in England in 1842, and was primarily home educated. She was orphaned at the age of 16. "Necessity being the mother of invention," she chose the teaching profession - one of few opportunities available for the women of her time.

As Christians, we know that "All things work together for good, to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose." Well, this very sovereignty of God masqueraded in Charlotte's life as necessity. The teaching profession kept the wolf away from her door, most certainly - but education was more than her chosen profession. It was also her passion...her gift. She adored children, and fully respected them as whole persons. That was a novel idea in her day - to respect a child! She remained unmarried her entire life, but in reality begat many "children." She "gave birth" to an ideology...one that is still changing lives today.

If her "offspring" was an educational ideology, her labor and delivery method was the pen! Her writing career began with geography books, but she is best known for her six volume series on Home Education. The 1st in this series, (also called "Home Education") was very well received. This initial book began a chain reaction: a training college for governesses, the establishment of the PNEU, the monthly magazine "The Parent's Review," and five more volumes. Looking back, all those things established Charlotte Mason as a forerunner of modern home education. Truly, although childless, she gave birth.

Charlotte's message enjoyed increasing popularity in her era for many of the same reasons it is experiencing a "revival" of sorts today. Those reasons being that many Victorian-era parents did not want their children in the public schools of their day, could not afford private schools, and so were choosing to home educate in large numbers. CM devoted her life to children and the well being of their whole person - spirit, mind and body. Much to our delight in discovering them, Charlotte had a definite, well-articulated plan for the cultivation of each of those three parts of a whole child. As people created in the image of God, Charlotte believed that we are triune beings; but divided education itself into FOUR parts: physical, mental, moral and religious. She wrote at length on the education of the spirit, mind and body.

This brings us to her methods, which I will attempt to summarize in one sentence...(not possible, but "work with me"...let's have some fun...). The best way to tell you her method/philosophy in one sentence would be to say: "Charlotte Mason passionately pioneered from the ground up a natural, uncontrived home education philosophy; it's foundation being careful character training, and built upon that, short lessons gotten from books - whole books - no textbooks, in a great variety of subjects daily, and narrated back by the child to the teacher/parent." Whew. Well...it sorta was "one sentence"...and can't really begin to paint an accurate picture of the riches to be found in her six volumes.

Charlotte had three mottoes. One motto was for the children, one for the parents, and one that became the motto of the students of Charlotte Mason College in Ambleside, England. The motto of the college students was, "For the Children's Sake". I will not go into the meaning of that motto, as Susan Schaeffer Macaulay did that quite well in her book by the same title. The children's motto was "I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will." "I am," because the child is a child of God, a gift to his parents and society. "I can," because the child can do all things through Christ. "I ought" because children must be brought up with a clear, strong sense of duty. This leads us to "I will." "I will," because a child must be WELL able to discern between "I want to," and "I will." Charlotte taught children how to decide for themselves to DO what is right, and to even DELIGHT in the decision....for the sake of it being *right*...no other reason.

The motto for parents was "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life." Charlotte was very succinct, but this bears elaboration. May *I* elaborate? (Or narrate...whichever you prefer!) Let me for-warn you. This is my opinion...this is what this motto has meant to ME and MY FAMILY in our CM adventure. Education is a pleasant, orderly home atmosphere. The home is the hub of a carefully chosen whirl of activity. NOT "busy-ness." You can't educate using this method if your life is full of frenzied commotion. What I mean is this: the home is ALIVE with good smells, lovely sounds (the music of the masters), GREAT BOOKS, and objects of delight and discovery. Every activity, every carefully chosen, well thought out project, lends itself to the delight and education of the children AND adults within the walls of the home. Do never mistake hustle-bustle for a full well rounded education.

Education is a discipline. Nothing less than the child's full potential, and finest effort is considered acceptable. No slackers here! Nothing less than the mother/teacher's best and brightest hours, and her own ongoing self education is going to work - not with this method.

Education is a life. (My personal favorite!) Please...choose your words wisely. I have ceased calling what we do "school." I say, "Time for your studies." Because I want my words to mean what I say, and say what I mean. Education is a lifestyle...not some prescribed activity that begins and ends at the precise interval of 8-2:30. Education is not a separate compartment labeled "school." Rather, education is a synergistic style of living. A life where good books, life experiences, and good times and bad times and dysfunction and illness and jobs and vacations all work together to give YOUR child custom-fitted tutelage.

I believe a CM education is synonymous with the words "abundant living." Jesus Christ said, "I came to give life, and life more abundant!" Just as a Christian cannot suppress a joy so profound - a life that literally bubbles up and gushes forth from the heart like a river - so you cannot take true education and dice it up and smoosh it into textbooks, and fill-in-the-blank workbooks. True education GUSHES forth...words tumbling across the pages of captivating books, and careening into the hearts of our children. This sort of education changes them forever, and fits them for their unique service in life. It IS abundant life.

Charlotte Mason's philosophy is, in fact, based on scripture. Her prescription for liberal doses of living ideas...for setting a nourishing "mind feast" daily before the children is based on God's word, as found in Philippians 4:8. May I paraphrase?

"Finally, mother-teacher, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - PLACE YOUR CHILDREN SMACK DAB IN FRONT OF IT"...or, "Serve it generously to your children." Verse 9, "You can only give out what you are putting in...so the things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me - in the Word of God, and in this CM method - these do, and the God of peace will be with you!!"

Action Points:

1. Just for today (*wink*) do not look at your child as something needing molding or pruning...look at him/her with "beginner's eyes"...new eyes. Look at your child as already a PERSON...with all the seeds of "being" already there. Respect the intelligence/creativity/sense of humor of YOUR very own child. Respect his thoughts.

2. Read to your child today.

3. Write out for YOURSELF what "I am, I can, I ought, I will" should mean to YOU and your children. Then have your older children memorize this motto. Post it in a prominent place in your home.

3. Make sustained, loving eye contact with him. So often we use this *important* means of communication as a tool of DISCIPLINE (e.g. "THE LOOK"!). Today, use your eyes to communicate unconditional love.

4. Spend a few minutes alone with EACH child this week....giving him your undivided attention during that time.

5. Write out for YOURSELF what "I am, I can, I ought, I will" should mean to YOU and your children. Then have your older children memorize this motto. Post it in a prominent place in your home.

6. Practice your "Mother Culture". Make a list of the things you most desire to pursue/learn. Choose one for now as your "ideal hobby". Ask yourself: What are my goals? What resources will I need? Where can I find a good teacher? How much time can I realistically devote right now? What obstacles must I overcome? Remember: Your children need to see you learning new things too.

From our bookshelf:

Must reads: " For the Children's Sake", by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay "How to REALLY Love Your Child". by Dr. Ross Campbell "Hints on Child Training" by H. Clay Trumbull

"Mom's Quote Jar" (my kids have a quote jar...I think we MOMS should have one of our own- filled with quotes that can inspire us! Write these down in a lovely book of your very own. I will try to have several each week. "Cut and paste" them into a file in your computer. After you have amassed enough, print them out and place them in YOUR quote jar, mom! My jar is a lovely ceramic tea pot shaped like a cottage.)

> "Our children are not treated with sufficient respect as human beings, and yet from the moment they are born they have this right to respect. We keep them children far too long, their world separate from the real world of life." Pearl S. Buck

"No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure." Emma Goldman

"The schools of a country are it's future in miniature." Tehyi Hsieh

"Theories and goals of education don't matter a whit if you don't consider your students to be human beings. " Lou Ann Walker

In Him Who is Able, Sheila


This week, the topic is Narration. We are well on our way into Catherine Levison's book "A Charlotte Mason Education". The narration pages are pp. 11-14.

Before we discuss what narration IS, let's first examine 4 things narration is NOT:

Narration is NOT memorization. Many children do have a photographic memory of sorts when it comes to narration, but word-for-word regurgitation of material is no more the goal than the filling in of blanks in a workbook would be. For most children, perfect recitation of a passage, albeit impressive, is still a mere exercise in short term memory - the lowest level of learning.

Narration is NOT "Twenty Questions". In other words, narration is not meant to be an oral form of a true/false, multiple choice, fill in the blank worksheet!

Narration is NOT "the easy way" out of "real" work. It is not a half-hearted, half brained, over simplified mumbling of the material heard.

Narration is not a "Siskel and Eibert" movie review...("Two thumbs way WAY up!!") The child's mere opinion of a passage (e.g. "I liked it. It was a fun story. The dog was my favorite character.") is not narration. Narration is often colored by the students feelings, and younger ones especially tend to insert their own ideas into their narratives in delightful ways. However, as the child matures in his ability to narrate, he should be encouraged to narrate the MATERIAL - from his own unique perspective, yes. But he should avoid reducing his narration to mere opinion. He is entitled to his opinion, to be sure. He is even entitled to weave it into his narrative just so long as it is clear he understands the difference between his OPINION of the story or passage, and the passage as it stands by itself.

Now let's examine 4 things that define what narration is:

Narration IS foundational to a Charlotte Mason education. In fact, although there is fabulous flexibility in the overall method, it is safe to say that you can't give your child a "CM" education without narration.

Narration IS the child's own mind assimilating information, and telling it back to you in his own words. Charlotte herself said, "Education which demands a conscious mental effort from the scholar, the mental effort of telling again that which has been read or heard. That is how we ALL learn, we tell again, to ourselves if need be, the matter we wish to retain, the sermon, the lecture, the conversation. The method is as old as the mind of man, the distressful fact is that it has been made so little use of in general education."

Narration IS simple. Simple as in uncomplicated...not "easy". Narration requires the child to tell back with clear recollection the major points of a passage, along with as many details as can be remember. And all of this follows only one single reading. Again, I quote CM, "The *simplest* way of dealing with a paragraph or a chapter is to require the child to narrate it's contents after a single attentive reading, ONE reading, however slow, should be made a condition."

Narration IS applicable to all subjects. Having said that, the question must be asked - for the sake of our new ones - "WHAT does the child narrate?" He narrates from living books. (Follow my thread of thought here. In just a moment we'll flip the fabric over, and the "big picture" - the beautiful tapestry - will be revealed.) So yes! We ARE saying that your child can learn science, history, geography, and even grammar and math to a lesser degree, from WHOLE books! Simply read to them, or assign a portion to be read by them. Then ask them to tell it back - to NARRATE to you.

By now you are VERY excited. I know I was about 7 years ago when I first read most of CM's 6 volume series. But take a deep breath with me. Sit back down. The more potent the medicine, the more precise it's directions. You need to know how to do this! You also need to know that it takes time. You may have a reluctant narrator. Not to worry! Cross each bridge as it comes. To begin with, read aloud to the child ONE singe reading, 10-15 minutes for each book. The most important thing to emphasize to your child is that there will be only ONE reading. They must devote their whole attention to it.

An aside - most little ones, and especially boys, will actually retain more and narrate better when allowed to "fidget", or better yet, do something with their hands, example Legos. I know of boys who, if required to sit stock still and listen would only narrate a weak sentence or two. But if allowed to doodle, color or build with blocks will then give delightfully detailed, full-blown narrations. You moms are smart enough to know at what point you've lost their full attention.

10-15 minutes, one passage read one time. Then take a narration. Pick up the next book. 10-15 minutes, one passage read one time. Take a narration from a different child. Next book, 10 minutes or so, and then have all the children illustrate something of what they heard, and tell you about the pictures! See how powerful, yet liberating, fun and flexible this narration is?

Next day: talk just a wee bit about the last "reading" of your particular book. It is permissible to ask a few questions to get the CHILD remembering and talking. Then say a FEW (Did I say a FEW?? Really, only a dozen or so!) words about the upcoming passage. Only enough to whet the appetite, and perhaps give clues as to what to "listen for". Repeat the above paragraph.

Have your 6-10 year olds narrate orally to you. Once a week or so, write down for him his narration of each book you are reading. Keep these in a notebook. You will see narration skills improve considerably over the months ahead. Ten year olds and up can do their own written narrations, but not every book every day. The teaching of grammar and composition DOES begin simultaneously with these written narrations. Your child is not taught these things as separate subjects, per se. It's as easy as beginning the book "Simply Grammar" by Karen Andreola (*wink*) and then to also to "coach" your child's way through composition and grammar AS they write out their narrations. However, do not be unduly concerned with these "skills" to the detriment of content. Again, relax! You will see written narratives improve dramatically over time.

While in this essay we seem to be primarily addressing the younger ages, I think it is important for you to know that narration has it's developing "stages". There will most definitely be a vast difference between a primary grade's narration of a story, and a highschooler's more careful, scrutinizing review of a meaty passage. To quote CM herself (and I am indebted to our Lynn H. for this quote!), there are other ways of using books. I quote, "other (ways to use books) are to enumerate the statements in a given paragraph or chapter; to analyze a chapter, to divide it into paragraphs under proper headings, to tabulate and classify series; to trace cause to consequence and consequence to cause; to discern character and perceive how character and circumstance interact; to get lessons of life and conduct, or the living knowledge which makes for science, out of books; all this is possible for school boys and girls, and until they have begun to use books for themselves in such ways, they can hardly be said to have begun their education."

How to get from "here" to "there"?? Stay tuned...."CM'ing" through highschool is coming your way...keep that dial on "C-Mason"!

Action Points:

1. Read, and take narrations as outlined above TODAY. Summer is a grrrreat time to get your feet wet in this method.

2. Take out a book you have been reading. (You HAVE been reading, haven't you?? *wink*) Read for a few paragraphs, and close the book. Narrate to yourself. Try to leave no major point out, yet, at the same time, pay close attention to what you ARE remembering. Your mind does a magnificent job of sorting, classifying and KEEPING what it most needs, when properly trained to "read to know".

3. If you have CM's series, read pages 231 and 232 of the 1st volume.

4. Brainstorm a list of viable "alternative" narratives. These are best done WITH a simple oral narrative, but are powerful enough to stand on their own in some cases. Example: drawing a picture from a scene in the book....writing a newspaper "article" about the events of the story, pretending the paper might be read by the characters IN the book. A telling of what the passage meant to the student personally. There are *lots* more. What can you think of? Care to share?

Must Reads From Our Shelves:
The 6 volume series on Home Education by Charlotte Mason....NOT an easy read. Take your time.

If you find the 6 volume series "too much" at this time, I *highly* recommend Penny Gardner's book, "Charlotte Mason Study Guide...A Simplified Approach to a Living Education" - it will be to the 6 volume series what Cliff Notes are to Shakespeare. Very handy! Full of additional, inspirational essays.

"Language Arts the Easy Way", by our very own Cindy Rushton
"Simply Grammar" by Karen Andreola. *NOT a "book", not a "curriculum", but it is a course of study for grammar that we use and enjoy. Some children do not like this book. My girls love it. I may end up revising it a bit for my boys.

Mom's Quote Jar:

"Knowledge is not assimilated until it is reproduced." Karen Andreola

"The day a child begins using narration is the day he begins to become an independent learner." Karen Andreola

"There is but one 'right way', that is, children must do the work for themselves." Charlotte Mason.

In Our Home:

I realize all the books say to begin narration at age 6. But - narration is such a part of learning in our home, that my youngest at 4 and 5 years was *demanding* his turn to narrate! I let him. Now, at *just* six, he narrates very well.

An example of how narrations improve over time:

We were studying astronomy just over a year ago. As a form of narration, I told my 3 older kids to draw and name a known constellation, and tell back it's fable/story. Then, I told them to make up a constellation of their own, and create a story for it.

My twin's narrations (they were 10) were complete, and their stories about their pretend constellations delightful and imaginative. I was well pleased. Then I examined my (then 8yo) son's paper. He was able to draw and name a known constellation, but not tell back it's accompanying story very well. His made up constellation was a plain stick figure, a "stick man" made of dots ("stars" of course.) and the following label and story was written:

"the sicke boy.

there wons was a boy who got sicke and then he dide."

Can't you just picture it? Gazing at a brilliant night sky? Teachable moment extraordinaire! "Son, see that constellation? Yes, that one. It is called....'THE SICK BOY.' You see, there once was a boy who got sick. Then he died."

Now granted...another way I could have done this would have been to let him narrate to ME, and me transcribe his narration. I am sure writing his story out was perhaps a daunting task, although at that age, I am not concerned with grammar or composition. It can be horrible, and I would not care. No...for my 8yob, I was only looking for content. Today, he does a better job.

Oh hang in there. Narrations DO improve.

In Him Who is Able, Sheila


How is everyone's summer coming along? I too am in minor "planning" mode (Donna Jean being in MAJOR planning mode!) , as I am also heading to Alabama, also hoping Florence is a real place, and Cindy Rushton a real person. We have been discussing Catherine Levison's book "A Charlotte Mason Education". We are well underway, having come to the point of discussing literature on page 15. I want to include a GRRREAT link here for you:

A HREF="http://www.greenleafpress.com/articles/a_books.htm" This is our own Rob Shearer's "A 'Top 10' List of Influential, Useful, and Entertaining Books"! Those of you with mail programs that can support a "live link" please check this out. We are going to use Rob's idea very shortly. Stay tuned for the "Action Points" at the end of this article. Let's get started....

As in narration, copywork, or the execution of any skill - Charlotte Mason's message is the same. "Only the best." Only the child's best efforts in narration. Only his best line of handwriting. (Perhaps only a line - his best work nonetheless!) But we are supposed to be discussing LITERATURE this week, aren't we? Well, you need only remember 3 words:

Aside from drill studies such as math, a child's entire education can be gotten from whole books. In fact, we "CM'ers" believe whole book learning to be superior! If you are asking the question, "If this is true, then why have the schools not caught on to it?" You have asked an insightful question.

European and American public education developed for the most part without the funds for books. Hence, enter the holy grail of chalk boards and the sacred cow of lectures. Teachers had to take what they had learned through BOOKS and life experiences and somehow communicate that to a room full of students. When there were books, they were of the minced-up, dehydrated textbook variety that Charlotte so disliked. Hmmmmmm - which would you rather digest? Reconstituted potato flakes for your mashed potatoes? Or big chunks of real white potato, boiled to the perfect softness, and mashed with butter and milk and salt and pepper into a hot, fresh, creamy mound? No contest. Which would your children rather digest? Facts - figures - events stripped of the stuff of life? Or true knowledge gleaned from an engaging piece of literature...gotten directly from a truly great mind? No contest.

Charlotte Mason's literature philosophy? Only the best books, with a single reading. Lectures are a waste of time. Don't get between the child and the book. Make the necessary introductions and get out of the way. No dull books, no "cutesy" books, and no twaddley books. What is "Twaddle"? Here is my definition: In a misguided effort to be on a child's level, twaddle is to take an otherwise full, meaty concept - a lofty ideal - or a single truth, and reduce it to something over simplified. Or opposite of that, jazz it up and complicate it. Or make it insipidly sweet. Twaddle complicates the simple, and over simplifies the rightfully profound.

Why is literature so important? Stop and think. We using this CM method are not only saying literature is important, we are saying it IS education itself! Literature is vital because a child can learn so much more than, say, science (Swiss Family Robinson), history (any Henty book), a broad vocabulary (Shakespeare) etc. The most needed thing to be gotten from the best literature is what is called a "moral imagination". Through literature, your child can observe evil "from a safe distance"; in a manner that does not de-sensitize him. He can also (hopefully) see for himself by the end of the book that a man reaps what he sows. Your child also gets to see what moral goodness looks like with it's skin on. Courage - in action. Resourcefulness - in action. Selflessness - in action. And all without a single sermon from you, mom! And - get this - no puppets, no animation, no crossword puzzles with words like "Ethics", "Morals", or "Citizenship". All those things are contrived. Read: "TWADDLE"!

Can I apply this concept of twaddle briefly to our church's children's ministries? As another "aside"? Which is best, I ask you - a cross word puzzle with prayer words, or for you to lay your hands on your child and fervently touch God through prayer? To see puppets "do evangelism" (usually by the "assault a stranger with a tract and the gospel" method)? Or for your child to see his parents "in the world, but not of it"... sharing Christ with a lost person, who was invited over to your home for a BBQ, (GASP!!) ...your child hearing you sharing the gospel in your own backyard? A "Bible lesson" - or to read directly from the Book that is living and powerful? Perhaps the answer to all those questions is NOT "either-or"...it is "both-and".

Back to literature in your homeschool. () It has been said, "Jesus was God who told stories." God could have written His word like a modern textbook. Full of facts, principles, and "stuff" to memorize about Him. ( I am not downplaying the memorization of scripture...read this in CONTEXT, please!) But no. By and large, we draw forth an accurate concept of His character piece by piece through the stories of Adam, Noah, Moses, David, Daniel, Jesus who was God, the disciples, and the exciting stories of the early church in Acts. And do not forget the beloved parables the God-man Jesus told. He knows the way to our hearts for sure. Picture with me two points, with a deep chasm between them. (Oh, where is a cyber "write-and-wipe" when you need one??) The point on the left is the mind of your child. The point on the right is his heart. The question is the same for you and your child: How do we get truth from the mind, across that deep chasm, and into the heart? How many teenagers come to mind that have stumbled horribly - yet "knew" better?

The answer is simple. There needs to be a bridge! Before you panic and call the architects and engineers - relax! God already made one. It's a narrow, one lane bridge, called *imagination*. We move moral absolutes - beauty - truth - from the mind to the heart via the bridge of imagination. I do a teaching on this, and it's so wonderful to see the lightbulbs come on over heads all across the room!

God made us with hearts. He made our emotions. We are created in His image. Therefore, God is emotional! Oh, we can bring him joy, or we can give Him pain! God made us- not as mechanical robots - but as feeling hearts. He knows we need to be gripped in some measure by a passion to be "real". We aren't "wired" for mere mental assent. We are created to be passionate for something. Since we fall in love with what we focus on, it behooves us as parents to ever be shipping across the bridge of our children's imaginations the true, the good, the lovely etc. I also tell my kids that they must stand guard on their "bridge". I say to them, "Do not let just anything pass over your bridge. Wicked imaginings are as powerful as the morally upright ones. When a wicked imagining attempts a crossing, don't let it into your heart. Do not allow it to stir up your feelings one way or the other. And don't send it back to the mind for further consideration. Simply kill it! Throw it right off the bridge!"

Use extreme caution, mom and dad, with the entertainment that you allow access to your child's bridge - whether books, movies, music or computer games. It all goes straight to his heart; it takes the quickest, most direct route. Could be dangerous. Just ask Littleton.

Ah, literature! Think how the Bible itself starts out: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Sounds almost like "Once upon a time, in a far away land..." But this Bible is every word true! Oh wow. So there is your literature lesson. Only the best. Don't sermonize or lecture. Choose carefully, and make sure whatever you read imparts *emotion* with it's truths.

Action points:

1. Once each week, take an inferior, "twaddly" book or two from your children's shelves. Take it to your local used bookstore for a small credit. Then, go pick out a classic. I guarantee you'll find some. They have fallen out of favor in today's milktoast intellectual climate. The cost will be minuscule, if you don't actually come out even!

2. Reduce or eliminate the television. Time, like money, is a "once only" commodity. If I choose to spend it "here", I am choosing to NOT spend it "there". Time spent watching the "Babylonian Idiot Box" is time NOT spent reading! (Or walking, or running, or playing, or even arguing..)

3. Institute family read alouds one night a week, if every night before bed seems like too much to expect right now.

4. READ some of the the better home schooling CATALOGS!! (Elijah Company's comes to mind.) As you read, make a "book wish list". (Mine is loooooooong. Anyone want to know when my birthday is??) Post your list in a prominent place. Pray over it, and watch what God will do! This list serves as a general direction for you. You need to have in mind what you want to be reading "next"!

5. **Here is where we are using Rob's idea...please post a list of YOUR top ten most influential books in YOUR life. Or....or your top 10 favorite reads for various AGE groups, along with a sentence about each book. These lists are marvelously helpful to other moms, both new and veteran, in planning their book "wish lists".

Must Reads From our Shelves:

"The Book of Virtues" by William Bennet
"Children of a Greater God" by Terry Glaspey
"Books Children Love" by Edith Wilson
"The Never Ending Rushton Reading List" by our own Cindy Rushton

Mom's quote Jar;

"If you want a man to keep his head when the crisis comes, you must give him some training before it comes." ~ Seneca

"All truth is God's truth." ~Francis Schaeffer

"If find TV very educational. When it's on, I go into another room and read a book." ~Groucho Marx

"There is no frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry -
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll -
How Frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul." ~Emily Dickinson

In Our Home:

I had just had my fourth child in five years. I needed a nap. Why not kill two birds with one stone; getting a nap, and giving my 5yo twins, and my 2yos a "Bible lesson" at the same time? So I popped in a video featuring a man in pantyhose wearing a big purple book. Don't we NEED these things now-a-days to teach Biblical concepts?? This particular video supposedly was to teach my children the parable about building your house on the rock.

Later that same day....I found my twins skipping about their little yellow room singing, "Balloons come down, as the birds go up! Balloons come down as the birds go up! Balloons come down as the birds go up, so build-build-build-build LOOOOOORD!"

I was horrified. The graphics (balloons and "doves"), the dancing, costuming and general hoopla only served to distract my kids It served to cloud a simple, yet powerful message. TWADDLE! I would have been better off to take 20 minutes and read them the parable straight from the Bible, and then teach the beloved song, "The blessings come down as the prayers go up - so BUILD YOUR HOUSE ON THE LORD!" with it's accompanying sweet hand motions. They would have gotten it in about 20 minutes, and then I could have put in an HOUR long Winnie the Pooh video, and taken a longer nap with a clearer conscience. God forbid that we allow spiritual truths to be obscured - reduced to nothing MORE than mere entertainment.

In Him Who is Able, Sheila



"When mother reads aloud, I long
For noble deeds to do -
To help the right, redress the wrong;
It seems so easy to be strong,
So simple to be true.
Oh, thick and fast the visions crowd
My eyes, when mother read aloud."

Poetry. Is that not a beautiful piece up there? In the younger years, and really for always, poetry is to be enjoyed. Just enjoyed. Do not think of poetry as a separate subject, or another "thing" to be studied. Do not concern yourself whatever with meters, mechanics, or iambic pentameter. Poetry is to be simply savored. Charlotte Mason even said that poetry is best read while children are doing something else! She says they will best be able to recite poetry, and retain their love for it, by hearing poetry in a casual way. Don't make it a tedious memorization assignment. As always, the criteria for poetry is "Only The Best". Select pieces suitable for the ages of your children - and choose poems rich with meaning, and choose poems rich with laughter too! This seems to be one area where SOME "twaddle" is actually an art form! Have you ever read "Daddy Fell Into the Pond"?? It's not "deep", (pun intended! chuckle, snort!) but it is wonderful poetry.

The best way to start is to.....sit down and READ poetry to your child. (And you thought this would be hard!) But only read what you yourself enjoy. Poetry is full of imagery, and some of it takes work and careful thought to understand. However, it should not be considered "extra curricular". Poetry need not be daily, but it should have a regular place in your homeschool.

Children need to hear much poetry before they are ever asked to attempt a single line on their own. Again, it is not recommended that poetry be memorized under compulsion as for a grade. It should be memorized effortlessly. How? Some post a poem on the wall in the school room for a period of time. Some use a poem as handwriting drill or copy work - the same poem for several days in a row. I prefer "mommy tapes". (Or just "lesson tapes" if you have a teen!) I create a cassette tape of 30-45 minutes long with various poems, scriptures, songs, and even geography facts or oral math drills - anything I want the kids to painlessly memorize. They usually have the material "down pat' in a remarkably short time, by listening to these tapes at night as they go to sleep.

Do not be intimidated by poetry. In the early years, it is not an issue of meters, diamantes (forms of poetry), symbols or imagery as points of "study". Poetry - like good literature - is an issue of passion. Select only the best pieces, and make sure they elicit a response from the heart...even if that response is a giggle. Poetry is a subject you never "finish". You'll never be able to close a poetry "textbook" having completed the last lesson your child will ever need. Your goal rather, is to impart enjoyment; leading to a lifetime love of the art.

As for those older highschool years, Lynn H. or anyone with experience here can jump right in anytime, but I still say, "Sure. Have your high-schooler study a bit about meter, imagery, and certain forms of poetry. But don't make these major issues unless your teen wants to become a college English professor." Why? Because poetry is about heart. You will write great poetry by reading great poetry; and by having some profound ache or joy in your heart that demands expression. I write my best poetry when devastated. Sounds morbid, but it is true, and the old hymn writers would bear witness to my testimony.

Action Points:

1. Browse freely through poems, and find 3 to read to your children while they eat a family meal this week....each day this week, reading the same 3 poems. You'll be surprised at what they can remember by Friday.

2. Use a short poem as copy work.

3. Make your own "Mommy tape" of poetry.

4. Write a poem! (Yes, mom...YOU!)

>From Our Shelves, "Must reads" :

"Favorite Poems Old and New" "Now We are Six" by A.A. Milne again, "The Book of Virtues" by William Bennett an old antique hymn book (my favorite!)

Mom's Quote Jar: "Prose - words in their best order; Poetry - the BEST words in their best order." Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"The courage of the poet is to keep ajar the door that leads into madness..." Christopher Morley.

"A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses." Jean Cocteau

"Poets have to dream; and dreaming in America is no cinch." Saul Bellow

In Our Home:

Poetry is a highly subjective thing. My oldest son prefers silly funny poems: "I never saw a purple cow, I never hope to see one..." My daughters both enjoy poems extolling, and inspiring some virtue such as hard work or bravery. I adore poetry about nature, and above all I love the Psalms of the Bible. My husband can get lost for days in our antique hymnbook - chock full of the words of Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts, and Fanny Crosby. A.W. Tozer said a man could get more sound theology from the OLD hymn writers (the OLD ones, mind you!) than he could get from most modern day seminaries! Poetry is a part of our lives - not because it "should be", or because we homeschool; but because we love it. Poetry speaks to our hearts.

The best thing I ever did was to "bite the bullet" and splurge to the tune of about $28 for a beautiful, fat hardcover poetry book. I then splurged about $10 more to get one of those wooden "plate stand" type things to hold the book in an upright display position. This made poetry important and accessible. My kids pick up that book often - just to relish it's contents. My Hannah will spend a moment with the poetry book, and then break out her watercolors to do a beautiful watercolor accompaniment to some certain poem that has caught her fancy. All this with no prompting from me...just merely making beautiful thoughts accessible. (Of course, I find Josiah in a corner somewhere, cackling over "Daddy Fell Into the Pond".)

I have done that for years with many books, all through my home. I choose engaging books, with beautifully done hard covers (they may be library books) and display them on those inexpensive stands. This gives my home this beautiful, "scholarly" air which I LOVE! (Do they make library scented room sprays??) This also tells the world that the Atchleys value the wisdom and the joy to be found in books.

In Him Who is Able, Sheila


In our summer studies/discussion, we are on page 24-25 of Catherine Levison's book, "A Charlotte Mason Education". The topic this week is composition.

The overview of Charlotte Mason's opinions on composition is very simple. During the primary (read: ORAL narration) years of approximately 6-10, composition is NOT an issue! Of course, as home educators, we never forbid writing at any age if the child wishes to write. But a younger CM student is not required to engage in composition per se. If your 6-10 year old wants to write, hope for rich content - like their oral narratives - and do not over consider anything else. Please note: composition is not "handwriting". A child as young as 6 or 7 can be doing small amounts of copy work daily, as well as short periods of handwriting drill.

Children who are 10 and up will have begun written narration. Let me re-phrase that in a more exciting, enlightening fashion: "Children ages 10 and up will at that time begin their more formal training in LANGUAGE ARTS." You see, wrapped up in what we call written narration are the subjects we used to piece meal out to our children separately: grammar, spelling, composition, etc.

The junior high years should find our children happily (well - most days!) writing on subjects of their own choosing, and based on their own reading; and still holding to the simple idea that writing is "talking with some rules".

When the high school years roll around, (10th -12 grades) composition becomes an actual subject to be taught. These years will find our teens writing more serious research papers, writing letters to the editor of a newspaper, or "composing" essays of current events. Harking back to our poetry study of last week, a high schooler should have heard multiplied hundreds of lines of poetry by 10th grade, and so can embark on a formal study of the mechanics of such, and as a result, writing their own lines of verse. I am not saying that NO poetry has been written up to this time...no, no. I am saying that, as a result of formal study, your student can try their hand at conscious use of form and meter and certain types of imagery. Oh, happy day!!

Now, having laid out for you in as few words as possible a "composition philosophy", I still get the feeling that some may have the niggling notion that they still yet don't know what composition....IS. Kinda like the "snipe hunts" your mean older brother took you on as a child. Oh sure - it was well explained to you WHAT you should "DO" : Sit perfectly still. In the dark. With a bag. Then....CATCH that mythical, furry MAMMAL/RODENT of a snipe when your brother (who went home to bed) succeeded in flushing "it" out. "IT" never came, did it?? Most of you have discovered by now that there is no such thing as a "furry"snipe. (Although I do hear there is a bird called a snipe...) But composition is a reality, and you need to know more than "how" to bag it....you need to know what exactly you are hunting for!

First of all, let it be flatly stated that the ability to communicate, in both written and oral forms, with great clarity and skill and persuasiveness should be a pre-eminent goal that you cherish for your children. Finesse in oral and written skills, as well as complete reading fluency is the foundation AND capstone of education - both supporting and adorning all other areas of study. (Please - read that last sentence one more time.) Example: your son may have less "rote" knowledge in a given area. He will still win out over the other young man who knows more of the jots and tittles, but can't write or speak his way out of a wet paper sack!

So what is composition? I think of a Latin word from which we derive the term COMPONENT - a part or piece of a whole. A music composer takes the "parts" - the notes, the stanzas, the timing, all the way to the strings and percussion. He blends these countless components into one whole composition. The writer takes the nouns, the adjectives, the paragraphs, all the way to the ideas and emotions and blends them into a coherent, cohesive whole - a composition. Hopefully that composition will pique your interests or even change your heart. Webster's defines composition as "The act of putting together parts or elements to form a whole." I don't pretend to improve on Webster's , but I would change ONE word of that definition: "The ART of putting together parts or elements to form a whole."

Pragmatically speaking, composition is talking with some rules. So let the child first narrate very well. Then, when your older narrator is asked to write - do be wise. You are asking your student to commit to "hard copy" - where all can scrutinize and examine - what was formerly only on "disk" - within and unseen. Until your young composer develops the thick skin of a true writer, (and make no mistake, you are not a writer if you don't have alligator scales for skin!) use great sensitivity when correcting. DO correct, but do it a bit at a time, taking as long as necessary to re-work only one composition at a time. Focus on only one AREA of the composition at a time. Just for the sake of example: your son does his written narration of a portion of his biography he has been reading. Spend the first day just admiring it. Really! Then correct spelling errors the next day. Then on the third day, explain how the subjects and verbs must all agree, and what a good topic sentence is. Then spend time on the remaining days just getting HIS ideas on how this or that might have been made more clear - or more interesting. How do you get his own ideas? Ask him. Then, days later and last of all, do ONE re-write and leave it at that. Go on then to a fresh written narrative, preferably of a different book he is in. Small disclaimer: the above illustration merely serves to give you a picture of what a composition lesson "looks like". Some children do not like the feeling that the same paper gets "graded" over and over (try to avoid that sense of "grading"....just "talk" about the paper!) ; you are FREE to take that example above and modify, modify, modify until you find what works best for your child. Does that sound simple enough? Be patient. These written narrations (compositions) will improve dramatically over the years.

Action Points:

1. Read pages 245-247 of Charlotte Mason's first book in the six volume series, Home Education. Also, for examples of CM's student's work, see pages 195-209 of volume 6 in the series. We also have our own "Children Write" webpage found at

2. Write this down in your notes: "Narration - Composition - Excellence in communication". That is both the order and intended outcome.

3. Write weekly or monthly essays yourself, mom! And, if they are not TOO TOO off topic, share them with us!

4. For your high schoolers - throw out the textbooks and get some good books on the craft of writing. Pick up some writer's magazines. The best advice I've ever found on my chosen art form (can you guess what it is??) has been found in those places. NOT from the textbooks and workbooks I plowed through to graduate.

5. I know. This is too simple. But really. This week, ask your younger ones to narrate, and have your older ones write out their short narrative. It's summer!! YOUR only task next is to praise and encourage.

Mom's Quote Jar:

"I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork". Peter De Vries

"I like to write when I feel spiteful. It's like having a good sneeze." D.H. Lawrence

"Most people won't realize that writing is a craft. You have to take your apprenticeship in it like anything else." Katherine Anne Porter

"Writing is pretty crummy on the nerves." Paul Theroux

>From Our Shelves:

The "Writesource" series of books - when I made these books *simply available* to my twin daughters, their writing, both in terms of it's skill and sheer volume, took off.

Strunk and White's "Elements of Style" - indispensable, in my opinion

For the writer mom, Madeline L'Engle's "Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art"...I do not agree with absolutely everything she says; however, this book is irreplaceable in terms of sheer inspiration.

"Creating Books With Children" by Valerie Bendt. I highly recommend *everything* Valerie has written. A lovely, soft-spoken, and brilliant lady. This book is a must have for your shelves, and makes for an awesome summer (or anytime) project.

In Our House:

Forgive me for not being more profound here, but when I think of how I have encouraged my kids to write, I think of 2 words: AVAILABILITY and DISPLAY. I have made the tools of writing attractive and abundantly *available* : crisp paper in a rainbow of colors - lined and unlined. Blank journals. Gell pens, scented ink pens, colored pencils, an electric sharpener, and always a fresh pack of no. 2 pencils are...AVAILABLE. Don't ever have to hunt for your tools. Beautiful, worthy thoughts are serendipitous and must be pounced upon, seized and nailed quickly to paper with the appropriate color of ink!

Then I think in terms of DISPLAY. This must one day go beyond a magnet and refrigerator! Graduate to a special bulletin board with border, or a customized notebook filled with page protectors...protecting those precious thoughts. Then, how about comb-binding and laminated covers? Go ahead - go crazy! How many ways can you show off YOUR and your children's hard work? That alone will create ready writers.

In Him Who is Able, Sheila

Handwriting & Spelling - pages 26-30


Subject: week 6 - spelling/handwriting

It's time now to move on ahead in our summer studies. For those just signing on, we are going through Catherine Levison's book, "A Charlotte Mason Education". A little bird tells me this title is now available through Rob Shearer's Greenleaf Press should anyone need a copy.

This week we are combining pg. 26-28 into one lesson on handwriting and spelling. For those unfamiliar with CM methods, print this one out. Find a comfy chair and cup of tea - you are in for a treat.

Besides the words I have oft repeated "Only The Best" - there is another two-word phrase I cannot believe I have left out for the past 5 weeks! This phrase is vital and applies to all subjects. Everyone look up here - say with me..... "Short Lessons." Now.....with more emotion please and placing great emphasis on that first word, let's say once more - "SHORT Lessons"! Whew. Thank you. I needed the feedback, and you needed to wake up.

Let's put it all together to form a simple, powerful philosophy: "Only The Best Short Lessons". I don't know about you, but that thrills me. That feels do-able. I want to apply those words to handwriting. For the younger children, Charlotte's method was the perfect execution of a line or two of handwriting, rather than a whole page full of half effort. Why? Because you are not just teaching handwriting - you are habit training. Excellence is indeed a habit. I am saddened to see children as young as 7 and 8 already jaded into academic apathy. They do not care if their "e's" and "j's" are beautifully written. Their sense of excellence is already blunted, and their enthusiasm gone. They've written so much already - too much.

If your student has sloppy handwriting, do not despair. Reduce the volume of handwriting drill to a line or two of perfect execution. The ideal is for them to give their full attention and best effort for a short time, take momentary pride in a job well done, and then quickly move onto the next SHORT lesson!

Younger children will practice the alphabet, learning capital letters before moving onto lowercase. Older children will do their handwriting exercises by copywork. Meaning: they will transcribe a few lines into a journal or notebook each day. Again, only the best. These lines perfectly written, or they are corrected until that goal is attained. This will not take long.

I find it much more difficult to treat spelling with the succinct style I try to write in. Let's face it. Spelling is a wooly booger. A nemesis. A pain in the bohunkus. (Did I spell that right??) And there are as many ways of "going at it" as there are homeschools. But gladly, we are all logged on to learn what Charlotte Mason thought about spelling. So that's all I need to elaborate on. (Whew. I *am* glad...for there are many differing methods...)

Charlotte firmly believed that good spelling was based entirely on the habit of "seeing" - seeing accurately and with full attention a detailed picture of a word. This is where, according to the CM philosophy, phonics becomes a good servant but a wholly unreliable master. Many, many words in the English langwij doo not depend on foniks roolz. Your child must be able to "see", or sense by having properly seen, the correct spelling of any given word. I'll quote Charlotte herself on that one: "Early spelling - Accustom him from the first to shut his eyes and spell the word he has made. This is important. Reading is not spelling, nor is it necessary to spell in order to read well; but the good speller is the child whose eye is quick enough to take in the letters which compose it, in the act of reading off a word; and this is a habit to be acquired from the first; accustom him to see the letters in the word, and he will do so without effort."

Practically speaking, let's illustrate how to do this. Allow me the liberty of transcribing directly from Levison's WONDERFUL book word-for-word: "...write (the word) on a white board (I'd suggest in black marker) and let the child look at it. You could substitute with a black board or paper if necessary. The child looks at the word and shuts their eyes to see if they can still "see" it. If they can't, have them open their eyes, look all they want to, and try again. When they think they have it, erase the word and have them write the word. There will rarely be an error. If there is one, have them erase or use white-out and write the word correctly OVER THE SPACE. (emphasis mine). This works. We want to prevent false spelling as much as possible by not looking at misspelled words. .....In order to do dictation correctly, we prepare the passage together. The child of eight to nine years old prepares a paragraph; the older child, one to three pages. Identify all words that either of you think will need some attention. Write those words on the board and use the above process, erasing studied words one by one. Then dictate the passage, erasing or whiting out errors, if any. Study those words again and write them in correctly. To me this was further use of that concept of finding out what they do know instead of looking for what they don't know. The white-out seems like a tangible act of what you're attempting to do mentally." (pg. 28, 29)

Action Points:

1. Begin habit training in excellence this week. Require smaller amounts of work (in problem areas) done perfectly. This can apply - since it is summer - not only to handwriting, but bed making, dishwashing and dog washing! And car washing, and lawn trimming...and...and....can you tell my kids WORK for their food? Gradually increase the required work load without lowering the standard.

2. Read pg. 240-243 of Vol. 1 "Home Education".

3. Familiarize your children with the concept of "taking a careful mental picture". Use the phrase yourself almost daily. Example: "Oh wait! I *must* get a picture of this." Then stop. Really look. Then close your eyes. Can YOU see it?? Model the concept and verbalize it to your children.

>From Our Shelves:

"The ABC's and All Their Tricks" - will keep you from re-inventing the spelling wheel.
"Teaching Children" - by Diane Lopez. An all around "four star" book.
Full of nuts and bolts. Mine is horribly scribbled up and hi-lighted. I am SUCH an interactive reader. (I have been known to vehemently argue with a dead author by scribbling personal notes and jabs in the margins of his/her book! Or - if I agree wholeheartedly - I scribble out passionate "YES and AMEN's" heh, heh)

Mom's Quote Jar:

"I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it." Carl Sandburg

"Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is it's power." Joan Didion.....(I included this one because spelling is much the same, only it is a form of "seeing" by instinct.)

"Is sloppiness....caused by ignorance or apathy? I don't know and I don't care." William Safire

In our Home:

I console myself that my "poor speller" is in reality highly artistic. I mean, she can think of so many "deeliteful" ways to spell a word! Our spelling-challenged child has learned that failure is not an option, and so she can relax, know she will improve, and even laugh at herself. This is important! I read somewhere that spelling is a mere servant to much higher things. Try this - sit your creative speller in front of your computer with one of those story telling programs -you know - the ones with the computer voice that can "read back" his story. (I think of "Storybook Weaver" and others...) Have him type in a story, and then click that "play" icon. Pop some popcorn and sit down first, because what comes next is nothing short of a rib-splitting, eye wiping, howling HOOT! The man inside your computer will suddenly go berserk and say the strangest things. Ours, when reading a story typed by our creative speller, sounds rather like the Muppet's "Swedish Chef" on steroids...."A HOOPTY WOOPTY LITTLE CHICKY VIT DA MOOTEN - WARTEN - SMAGOOLA!!"

In Him Who is Able, Sheila

Foreign Languagesline

Catherine Levison has given a careful description of teaching foreign languages, taking notes from the original Parent's Reviews (April 1892, April 1890, December 1908) as well as the Series.

In Volume 1 read sections beginning on pages 7, 80, 157, 300-307; Volume 6 read 94, 124, 155, 209-213, 254, 276.

The order for learning the first language (French, in PNEU schools) was to learn words orally, then to read and write in the language, and finally to study grammar. Speaking the language was always the first goal, whether it was French, German, Italian, or Latin. They worked with the ear first, stressing correct pronunciation. Often families would share a French woman coming several times a week for conversation, and the schools would have one come to class about 3 hours a week.

Tips for young children were to begin with simple words for objects around the room, expecting very young children to pick up about 6 per day. Keeping the words in use was important, such as to convert favorite games to French, or to have tea in French. Children between 7-12 would begin to translate from books read to them! You would help them with the passage, they would re-read it in French, and then narrate (preferably in French). This could count as Language, Literature, and Dictation or Copywork. This age would be learning about 40 French phrases in every 60 day school term, phrases in which they could use their vocabulary and make conversation. The children must learn the French verbs, but they learn them in sentences - not as lists. Grammar is examined last, and only lightly.

While the first language began reading and writing, oral work would begin in the second (German)! And, when reading and writing began in the second, oral began in a third!!!! The third was Italian, greatly used by travelers, and happily she didn't seem to intend it to be learned as intensively.

Catherine says that "Between nine to fourteen years old they should speak and understand French and be able to read an easy French book. The same was expected in German only with less progress." (page 32)

This brings us to Latin, at which point I wish us to remember that at that time most children would leave school around age 14. Only the rich or college-bound usually continued to high school. However, by age 14 they were also expected to be reading in Latin, and Latin was the language where they really concentrated on "a thorough study of grammar, syntax, and style." Only the best Latin was used, and the child was to understand that Latin was "a language and not merely grammar."

Ending page 32 she says, "By the time they are fourteen years old they have studied the history and literature of France, Germany, and England, equally. Each essay they wrote was done in the corresponding language."

By studying the sample schedules in the Appendix, which are reproduced on my CMhighschool page , you will see that Latin was essential to the PNEU high school program, where Greece and Rome were studied exhaustively for about two years! These children were assumed to be preparing for college, where one of the standard entrance questions would be "How many books of Virgil have you translated?", and the expected answer was 4! Therefor, the children translated Virgil during Language class! They also read Plutach, and Macaulay, and others in History, Geography, and Literature time. Wendi has collected all (well, she could have missed some, but it's a long list!) of the titles named in Volume 6 of the Series (the High School Volume), and I have put that online at . The child would read, the child would translate, the child would write essays in Latin on what they read using the forms they learn in composition. Happily, illustration, mapwork, and building models were also considered narration.

During high school, Greek would also begin, but it seems to have been minimal. A little vocabulary and the alphabet, studied along with the Mythology, were about all that was required. Greek was generally considered a college subject.

Whew - if that doesn't terrify you nothing will! Now let me make some comments. If you have not begun any language with your children, choose one and begin now. If your child is approaching high school, you had better begin with Latin and plan to later include a couple of years of some other language. Do not attempt to begin 4 languages at once! Whichever you choose, be sure to begin with oral language first, as well as reading aloud. If you don't happen to speak the language chosen, perhaps you can find books on tape? Then follow along in a hard copy, and expect to learn with your child. (This can be very encouraging to the child, to watch their parents learning something new!) There is also little reason to feel bound to the 3 languages Charlotte chose. Depending on the area you live in or your genealogy, Spanish or Portuguese or Russian or Mandarin may be more appropriate! And, for those non-verbal hands-on learners, ASL is an excellent choice! I once met a 13yo missionary child who was quad-lingual. She spoke English, Spanish, English ASL, and Spanish ASL. She did the deaf translating for her parents in all of their meetings.

(And last, the children who need remedial work? There are children for whom any language including their own is difficult. There are children who will never speak., who are deaf or have learning disabilities. For these children I have learned two answers. For the kinesthetic learner, the hands-on kid, ASL may be perfect at any age. This also applies to children with other language problems. You will find some descriptions of this on our CMSpecialNeeds page at, which contains essays written by many of our own listmembers.

And the other solution for older children of reasonably normal abilities, but who have poor English scores? Perhaps your child has a serious learning disability and cannot read or write well, though they are doing well in other areas? I have an expert opinion here from an experienced teacher whose Ph.D. is in Philology (the structure of languages). (OK, it's my own mother, and I'm pretty impressed with her! She's been a lot of help to me!) She says - Latin! Begin them in Latin! Latin will enhance weak vocabulary skills, and Latin grammar will teach everything they need to know.


What languages does your family speak? What languages have you decided to study, and (more interestingly) WHY?

Now where does an average family today find a native speaker in the language you wish to learn? How can you afford lessons? There may be someone in your church? I have found a unique solution - call your local college or University and ask to become a "Host" family for a foreign student in the language you are interested in! You are not expected to have the student live with you. Instead, you are asked to serve as a local resource for them - help them shop, invite them to dinner once a month or so. Many people do much more than that, taking 'their' student to church with them and even having them stay with you over school holidays. This can become a life long relationship even after the student returns to their homeland. Pen pals can develop, and I know of families that have taken trips to visit 'their' student. Your children develop a real interest in Geography when they meet someone from far away! Do not be surprised, however, if when you ask for a French-speaking student you are offered one from Africa or South America instead of France!

I have a dear friend (she was even on this list for a while) who includes 4 such students in their 9 children when they count children. All have gone back to their home countries, and all write and call constantly. She even went to their weddings! Why am I not surprised that this friend and her family are now preparing to become missionaries to Brazil? God leads where God prepares the way, and you may not realize (yet) where you are going!

Lynn H (the language-impaired member of my family)


From: "Harold and Cindy Rushton"

HI! This week's topic in our study of Charlotte Mason Companion is on Grammar. I have decided to have this study include all aspects of Language Arts...SOoooo, this is a free for all! I am not asking questions for this study BECAUSE I know that you all have so many that you would like to ask! This is YOUR time AND it is ON TOPIC! So, if you have those questions about Language Arts, let them fly! I am sure you will find MUCH wisdom from our group!

I am going to share an article that actually became a chapter in our book _Language Arts...The EASY Way!_ Well, ACTUALLY the title of the book came from the original article. Language Arts need not be difficult or frustrating...that is simply not the way that God made all of us to learn! We can ENJOY the process of writing as we learn to write for God's glory in an easy way!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Rushton's. We base our lifestyle of learning/books/teaching on a verse from Matthew 11: 28-30... "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest, [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For my yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne." I pray that this study this week will be such a blessing to you all as you go to Jesus for the way that is...

Language Arts...The Easy Way!
Reprinted from Homeschool Digest 1996…Slightly edited just for you!
By Cindy Rushton

(This article (chapter) comes from the Book Language Arts...The EASY Way. For more information about LAEW, email haroldr@getaway.net Copyright 1998. All rights reserved.)

We took a pretty scary step a few years ago with our home schooling. I guess that it was scary mostly because I was throwing away my crutches to walk for the first time on my own. We decided at that time to try to use a natural approach to Language Arts. In doing this we eliminated all of our textbooks in favor of a few tried and true approaches for creating young writers!

Since we scrapped our textbooks I have had a lot of questions from others about exactly how to do Language Arts. I know that I only have limited space...so I will briefly explain how to teach Language Arts without a formal curriculum! For those of you wanting to do your own thing...this is how! For those of you wanting to stick to your tried and true curriculum, these ideas will be a lot of help for you too!

Read Alouds...

The core of our curriculum comes from the library. We have found that our children learn much faster and remember what they have learned much longer if we read real books on the subject. This does not mean that you have to read EVERY book on the topic. Just a few well-chosen books will do. If there is enough interest, you can turn the children loose and they can pursue the topic deeper.

I find that my children have excelled at reading since we have let them swap in their readers for real books of heroes and heroines...real books by people who are passionate about the subject...real books by people who really know the subject they write on...real books which let the children decide what THEY deem is important to glean! As we switched to using read-alouds for our core curriculum, I saw my children come alive with a voracious appetite for reading for knowledge!

You may say, "How do you choose what they read?" I use many helpful resources with great lists of recommended books. I usually buy at least one resource each year that lists books for each age of my children. Some of my favorites are Books Children Love, All Through the Ages, Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Let the Author's Speak, Honey for the Child's Heart, A Family Program For Reading Aloud, and Great Books of the Christian Tradition. I have found great recommendations for wonderful books in magazines and newsletters. I just jot down the suggestions so that I have ideas when I go to the library. If you really want some great ideas for which books that you do not want to miss, check out home school catalogs. Most of the home school curriculum companies carry only the books that they would read themselves to their own children. You can find great ideas intermingled throughout their catalogs that will help you teach your children with ease! My favorite catalogs are Lifetime, Greenleaf, Elijah Company, and Whole Heart Ministries. Check those out and you are sure to find some great book suggestions! I have found some of my most favorite treasures from recommendations of my librarians. Through the years they have seen us so often that they know what we are looking for! They have been an incredible resource for ideas of great books. They have recommended many wonderful books on the topics of study, many that I would have never normally come across. As I have told them what we were studying, they have even bought the books that I was drooling over! What I love about them is that it really saves me money as well as my valuable time not to mention having another point of view to help me along the way. Do not forget about the incredible resource you have in your friends and relatives! My mother gave me the entire set of Little House Books that we had read as children. What a treasure! Don't forget the resource of your memory. Chances are that you do not remember that 5th grade textbook, but you probably remember that wonderful book your mother read for Christmas that year...that was a real, living book. Great books are all around for you to discover so do not waste your time with substitutes!


Now you may say, "That is great, but how do you do tests...grades???" Well, Narration is the key to being sure that your children are learning from read-alouds. Narration is simply telling back what the book or story is about. In Narrating, the child is able to naturally relate back the information that they deemed as important. No need for tests because you hear them tell back what they learned. You will know that they understand what has been read if they are able to put it into their very own words to tell you.

Some other benefits of Narration are that the children are able to learn to create stories without the toil of making one up because they already have the characters, plot, vocabulary, and story line. All that they must do is articulate the story. What is neat about Narration is that the greatest writers and thinkers are actually tutoring your children! Their writing skills become more advanced quicker because they have had non-threatening experience with composition. Plus, they find writing to be easy, natural, and fun!

Do you remember when they were little how they had that one little book that you had to read over and over? They could look at the pictures and tell it word for word. If you were reading it and you missed one word, they knew it?? Well, guess what? That is Narration in its simplest form. You were reading the book and they learned the story and could retell it! It is amazing how we trade in the natural for the artificial! If you will think back, your children were even learning vocabulary without the dictionary...grammar without a grammar text...how to tell a story without a lesson on how to write...how to love books without a word of instruction by you! Give it a try and really listen to what comes out!

To use Narration in your home school, you just simply read a book to them, let them re-tell the story and that is it! For more formal Narration, you can begin by taking dictation as the child retells the story to you. I usually re-copy the Narration neatly and assign the children to copy the narration into their copybooks. This year, after 3 years of Copywork, I am training my fifth grader (now a Sixth Grader!! I cannot believe it!) to write his own Narrations into his notebook...I will give you ideas on that as they develop!


Copywork is another way that I teach Language Arts. We do Copywork the easy way too. With Copywork, my children simply copy a selection each day into their Copybooks. Their Copybooks are simply 3-ring binders with loose-leaf paper. We found a few years ago that it helped to use plastic sleeves in which you slide paper into from the top to protect the work as soon as it is written. We keep paying Wal-Mart employee salaries with the number that we buy each year but it is worth the cost as our children have created wonderful notebooks full of beautiful Copywork!

When we first began, I chose short selections from Bible verses and poems in which we liked. I would write the selection at the top of a page and let them copy underneath my copy. I still do this for Elisabeth most of the time. Now, my children choose their own Copywork. They choose from narrations of books we read aloud, favorite passages of Scripture, favorite poems and quotes, or neat facts that they run across and just want to keep in their special Copybook. I do want to note that their Copybook is their own collection of treasures.

This in no way eliminates formal instruction although it changes it from how you may be thinking of it. You see, as they are copying the passages, they always ask about punctuation, grammar, and spelling that they have never seen. It is in this natural way that I seize the moment to teach how things should be and why or how to look up the answer. We use Learning Grammar through Writing as a basic text to look up our questions. The only other instruction that we have used from time to time has been just as informal as we have used English for the Thoughtful Child and Simply Grammar to just teach how sentences should be set up.

After they copy their selection for the day, they check for any errors and to make sure that their copy is as neat as possible. If their work is not neat, I make them re-copy. This has been a great encouragement as they have learned to do their nicest work, plus they have the incentive that their copybooks are their very own special treasures to take pride in!

In using Copywork, I have found that we have eliminated much of the busy work as we eliminated dry workbooks, spelling and vocabulary tests, and even the silly assignments that give children a bad taste for writing. This past year when Matthew wrote his first essay, I became convinced that this old method was just as sure and true as it was hundreds of years ago!


Dictation is an area that greatly prepares children for their adult life. I took copious notes by dictation in college and still continue to do so during Church, Bible Study, classes, and seminars. This skill is necessary for all of life and should not be neglected in the home school.

Just begin to use Dictation by allowing your children to become familiar with one or two lines...you may want to use a Bible verse. Let them study over the spelling and punctuation until they feel that they KNOW it! Then, you review the selection pointing out spelling that looks confusing, punctuation marks (explaining why they are there), and noting how it should be set it up on the paper (indented, skip lines...whatever). When they are ready, SLOWLY dictate the selection along with even spelling words that may be difficult after they have had a chance to try to spell it on their own. This will keep from having error instilled in their minds. Give them the copy and let them check it themselves correcting any errors. That is all there is to it!

Teaching our children should be easy. Teaching our children should not cost a fortune. Teaching our children should remain as natural as possible. All of these ideas for implementing Language Arts are an easy, cost-free, natural approach to teaching Language Arts. May it help you as you diligently teach your little treasures!

Have fun and enjoy the discussion!! Love, Cindy


Two more Science essays may be found at:

CMhighschool Page


Science Resource Page

You should be able to identify titles and authors CM chose for the PNEU in Wendi's collection of titles from Volume 6. My own booklists (incomplete) may help you find some modern titles.

I'm going to begin with a very simple timeline of events, then go back and comment.

Charlotte Mason was born on January 1, 1842, in Manchester, England.(1)
1842 the first dinosaur bones found in England
CM was orphaned in 1858; later entered teacher college. (2)
1859 Publication of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection"(11)
1863 CM earned a First Class Teacher's Certificate. (3)
1874 CM became vice principal of Bishop Otter College in Chichester(4)
1878 CM retired, possibly due to ill health, to live with friends in Bradford, Yorkshire.(5)
1880 CM published a series of books on the Geography of England (quite popular)(6)
1882 Darwin dies, is buried in Westminster Abbey (11)
1886 Home Education first published(7)
1890 the PNEU magazine "Parent's Review" began publication with CM as editor(8)
1891 CM moves to Ambleside and purchased "Springfield", a house, to begin a school for governesses(9)
1912 Piltdown Man found in England (14)
1917 - 1921 World War I
1923 CM died January 16, 1923
1953 Piltdown Man exposed as a hoax, author unknown(14)
1960 Essex Cholmondeley publishes the CM biography "The Story of Charlotte Mason"
1996 deceased Museum Curator Hinton exposed as author of Piltdown hoax(15)

>From the Encarta 99 article on Creationism:
"One of Darwin's objectives in writing On the Origin of Species was to replace current theories of separate creations with a theory of natural evolution. Darwin nevertheless left room for an initial act of creation:
"I believe that animals have descended from at most only four or five progenitors, and plants from an equal or lesser number," he wrote at the conclusion of his book. He added that the presence of analogous physical structures across many different species implied "that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed"."(12)

Also from an article in Encarta:
"American fundamentalists did not turn against the threat of evolution in earnest until after World War I ended in 1918. This change in attitude toward evolution resulted partly from the popular belief that German aggression expressed a Darwinian doctrine of survival of the fittest."(12)

This was Charlotte Mason's view, as expressed on page 3 in the Introduction to Volume 6 of her Series, written during the War. She was not an "American fundamentalist", yet she said:
"Darwin's Theories of natural selection, the survival of the fittest, the struggle for existence, struck root in Germany in fitting soil ; and the ideas of the superman, the super state, the right of might - to repudiate treaties, to eliminate feebler powers, to recognize no law but expediency - all this appears to come as naturally out of Darwinism as a chicken comes out of an egg."(13)

(1) "For the Children's Sake : Foundations of Education for Home and School", Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, Crossway Books, 1984, pages 5 & 6
(2) ibid.
(3) ibid.
(4) ibid.
(5) ibid.
(6) Forward to the "Original Home Education Series". Forward by John Thorley, Principal, Charlotte Mason College.
(7) ibid.
(8) ibid.
(9) ibid.
(10) ibid.
(11) Microsoft Encarta 99, Encyclopedia Reference Suite, biography of Charles Darwin.
(12) Microsoft Encarta 99, Encyclopedia Reference Suite, article on Creationism and Darwinism
(13) Charlotte Mason, Introduction to "A Philosophy of Education", page 3
(14) Microsoft Encarta 99, "Uncovering the Piltdown Hoax"
(15) Encarta Yearbook, 1996

Charlotte Mason moved in educated circles. She knew artists and scientists, read and discussed their works. The "Story of Charlotte Mason" tells us many details about visitors and friends of great note. As you can see from my little timeline, she lived during a time that England in particular was a hotbed of discovery and debate. Dinosaurs and fossils, research and hoax, philosophy and application of that philosophy (including war) all mixed together in an incredibly rich tapestry.

One of the major debates in education circles was whether "Science" ought to be taught at all before college. Rather obviously, CM came down an the side that it should (one place where she differed from the Classic schools). What is more, she came down whole-heartedly for Nature Study, for Natural Science, rather than isolated laboratory research.

In "Home Education", CM teaches us to take the children for walks every day - and she really means EVERY day, even in bad weather if at all possible. Catherine Levison says "The objective is to help the child learn to be observant." (p 37) Most of these walks are to be more general, but once a week there is to be a purpose, it is to be a "Nature Walk", perhaps with a field guide in hand - the child takes a sketchbook, they are looking for something in particular. On rare occasions there is to be an effort made to take a "mental photograph", to look so clearly that they can describe the scene with their eyes closed.

Again, Catherine quotes from "School Education" (Vol. 3) that in "science or rather nature study, we attach great importance to recognition." However, the goal is not to know nomenclature - instead, you are to be careful to "teach the thing before the name" (Miss Pennethorne, PR September 1899). Therefor, you teach them the name for pollen when they are looking at it, and so on. Continuing to quote Miss Pennethorne, Catherine also said, we want the children to have "awe, wonder, reverence, and [to see] our own insignificance" and to see the Creator in the created. Another original PR article Catherine quotes is by Edward M. Tuttle, about studying trees in winter.

In Volume 6, "A Philosophy of Education", CM gets really bold - "we should probably be more scientific as a people if we scrapped all the textbooks"(p 218). She was not referring to 'fact books', or guides, but to the school texts. She wanted a literary quality! Volume 6 is the Volume to read to learn more about her thoughts about Science, especially the Introductions. You should be able to identify titles and authors in Wendi's collection of titles from this Volume.

The PNEU schools went through an orderly sequence of Science studies, term by term, including books on natural history, botany, architecture, astronomy among other branches of science. Here are a few titles Catherine collected that the PNEU schools used.

"The Sciences" - Edward Singleton Holden (1846 - 1914), republished in 1914 as "Real Things in Nature"
"Life and Her Children" - Arabella Buckley (1840- 1929)
"Madam How and Lady Why" - Charles Kingsley, pub dates 1911 and 1920
"Parables From Nature" - Mrs. Alfred Gatty pub 1914, which is partially online at Parables of Nature
"Picciola" - otherwise unidentified
"Scientific Dialogs" - Joyce

Catherine Levison offers us a few examples of modern titles she likes. I agree with her choices - I have most of these.

"Handbook of Nature Study" - Comstock
"Wild animals I have Known" - Seton
"The Christian Liberty Nature Readers" - Christian Liberty Press
"Birds do the Strangest Things" - Hornblow
"The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" - Edith Holden
"Drawn From New England" - Bethany Tudor
"Miss Hickory" - Bailey
"Louis Pasteur" - Sower Series, Mott Media

To finish, I offer a quote from another modern author who ought to be on your High School reading lists : D.H. Lawrence. This quote is from his 10th book, though it is set in his early life as he became a nature writer. The book is "The North Runner", and is about a great half-wolf sled dog he had, named Yukon. On pages 254-255, from his diary of a trip to the head of the Nash River (in Canada) he says:
"While not hunting, when we just walked, which was something that I made sure we did every day, I learned about the wilderness and its many life forms, reserving a time each evening for sitting by the light of the kerosene lantern, making copious notes of my observations as quickly as possible in order to conserve my supply of precious lamp fuel. It was to take many years to correlate all these observations in a meaningful way and to begin to acquire an effectual understanding of the intricate checks and balances that govern the affairs of the wilder-ness and lead to the shaping of natural life. Indeed, I am still engaged in this task and have added considerably to the lexicon begun during those unforgettable months that Yukon and I spent in the wilderness of northern British Columbia. I consciously learned a great deal every day, expanding my knowledge dramatically by the time that breakup arrived, but with such increased awareness came the realization that the more I learned, the more questions remained unanswered.
From books comes great knowledge, surely enough, but the best teacher of all is life itself when this can be observed in those regions where it remains undisturbed by the inroads of civilized technology. I was not then, and am not now, especially concerned with field dissection so as to observe the inner mechanics of living things, being able to learn these from any good biological source book, but I was enraptured with the study of animal nature and with the relationship that each living thing maintains with its own species and with its environment as a whole. To begin to understand these things, I realized, the entire wilderness had to be studied, all of it: animals and plants and insects, the soils and the and the waterway ~ an impossible task, of course because one lifetime is insufficient to learn all that there is to know. But I keep trying, like a single ant attempting to empty a warehouse full of sugar by taking one grain at a time."

I don't know that Lawrence read Charlotte Mason (he could have), but he certainly lived her thoughts!

Assignments/ Applications/ Questions

1) Give us some booklists! Reviews of particular Science books, by you or your children, are welcome!

2) Turn off your computer, drop some sandwiches in a bag, and take your children on a long Nature walk. When you get back, ask them what they saw. Tell us about it.

3) Bring back ONE specimen - leaf, flower, or fancy grass, and have everyone draw it, including the Latin and/or common names if you can find them. Display it in a vase and set the drawings around it.

Lynn H., July 29, 1999

Math Pages 46-49line

I confess to having become completely confused as to which week we are on. I think, on our original plan, this would have been week 11. However, the topic is surely Mathematics! I notice that several of you have already begun the discussion without me. I already have a page I call "Seashell Math, which I will post here on the list for reference/testimony as to how this mama did it - both right and wrong. Not knowing better, I did it wrong at first, and really didn't know why until I read Catherine Levison's book.

Reading suggestions:

A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison pages 46 - 49
Series Volume 1, Part V, chapters 4-15 for Math
The Charlotte Mason Study Guide" by Penny Gardner Chapter 14 studies Math.

To discuss math, we need to consider both how to, and how NOT to teach math. On page 249 of the "Story of Charlotte Mason" is this interesting tidbit from CM on how NOT to include math in your lessons:
"Another point, the co-ordination of studies is carefully regulated without any reference to the clash of ideas on the threshold or their combination into apperception masses; but solely with reference to the natural and inevitable co-ordination of certain subjects. Thus in readings on the period of the Armada we should not devote the contemporary arithmetic lessons to calculations as to the amount of food necessary to sustain the Spanish fleet, because this is an arbitrary and not an inherent connection; but we should read such history, travels and literature as would make the Spanish Armada live in the mind." (CM)

I have seen several people say that CM did not worry too much about Math, that she thought it was being well handled by the available books. How then do you explain statements like this one:
"Mathematics depend upon the teacher rather than upon the textbook and few subjects are worse taught ; chiefly because teachers have seldom time to give the inspiring ideas ... which should quicken imagination." (CM Vol. 1, p 233)

Notice that Math earned chapters of its own in Volume 1, plus more mention in the chapters on Reason and Logic! This is the foundation book for all CM education. I do not think CM thought Math was being well taught! The actual material and texts she may have had no problem with - but the presentation was something else!

Catherine Levison explains several comments, taken from the 1898 Parent's Review magazine. Included are:
Teach the concrete before the abstract, no matter how old the child.
Daily mental effort, one step at a time, will teach concentration.
Let them learn from experience that math is exact by having them see wrong as wrong. Let their wrong answers remain wrong.... Charlotte wants them to try to get the next one right, to have hope.(CL) Each concept needs to be taught orally, including word problems, then with manipulatives, and finally with a few written examples. Narration may be used for examination.(LBH)

I have a few questions:

After reading that Armada example, I am left wondering about real-life applications. Tell us some you have found for your children. Have they learned bookkeeping with their own business? Do they balance your checkbook?

What specific need has your current math program met? Did you buy it to meet this need, or was it fortuitous?

In my Seashell math post I talked about my son's need to touch, to feel before he understood. I found a way to meet that need - what specific needs do your children have and how have you met them outside of any canned curriculum?

What needs do you see with your own children that are NOT being met by your current program? Tell us your troubles and let us brainstorm for an answer!

What specific need has your current math program met? Did you buy it to meet this need, or was it fortuitous?

What needs do you see with your own children that are NOT being met by your current program? Tell us your troubles and let us brainstorm for an answer!

The question/application I have in mind is Special Needs Children. For example, HOW would you teach math to blind fifth grader? Obviously those manipulative programs would be great - but the ones that use visual overlays and little strips of paper would not. What programs, or parts of specific programs, are the greatest help to your special needs child?

I ought to mention at this point that the popular Math U See was developed for a Downs child.

Tell us about your favorite part of your current math program. Be sure it is CM, that it uses manipulatives and oral and so on - then tell us ONE specific lesson or problem where your child 'saw the light'.

If you feel REALLY brave, tell us how you blew it. If your child can't divide without an apple pie, we understand that you majored in Home Ec that year. How did you correct the error? (Or are you now running a bakery?)

Funny examples preferred, of course, since dear Sheila is away this week we will accept all contenders for her title. I suspect Wendi or Carol or Donna-Jean or Betsy or....YOU, can tell us some good ones!

Lynn H

Art Appreciation 50-52line

Almost late, but here is a tidbit most of you haven't seen yet - Marian Ney's "Charlotte Mason: a pioneer of a sane education"

From Chapter 2, pages 17 & 18, including quotes from CM. I have taken the liberty of indicating the CM quotes, which in the text are inset. All come from Volume 6 of the Series but the page is not indicated. Typos may be blamed on my scanner.


Art is pervasive.

In outlining here the general principles of the PNEU philosophy, we must not neglect the emphasis upon art. Henry James speaks for us when he says that it is art that 'makes' life. Fader urges the introduction of poetry into prison curriculum, because of the, (to him), astonishingly strong reaction of some of the prisoners to it. Art is acknowledged to be a useful tool in remediation, sometimes the only tool which breaks through psychological blocks. In PNEU philosophy, art is pervasive since in all lessons we try to use only those materials which have literary value. Music is as important as any other subject, and so are the visual arts.

"There are few subjects regarded with more respect and less confidence in our schools than this of 'Art'. Of course, we say children should have their artistic powers cultivated, especially those who have such powers, but how is the question." CM

As we would have a child learn to listen before he learns to read, so we would have him learn to see before he learns to paint, sculpt, or draw:

"... we begin now to understand that art is not to be approached by such a macadamized road. It is of the spirit, and in ways of the spirit must we make our attempt. We recognize that the power of what one sees is as universal as intelligence, imagination, nay, speech, the power of producing words,'. But there must be knowledge and, in the first place, not the technical knowledge of how to produce, but some reverent knowledge of what has been produced....There is no talk about schools of painting, little about style ; consideration of these matters comes in later life..As in a worthy book we leave the author to tell his own tale, so we trust a picture to tell its tale through the medium the artist gave it. In the region of art as elsewhere we shut out the middleman." CM

It is the last sentence in the above quotation which is so important: like Paulo Freire, Charlotte Mason gives the students direct contact with the "object by which they are mediated". It is in this way, too, that the PNEU remains 'a life'', because it is always experience at first hand. All curricular experts make room for art, especially as a form of personal expression. It would seem that, as is often the case, Whitehead comes closest to PNEU ideals; "You cannot, without loss, ignore in the life of the spirit so great a factor as art. Our aesthetic emotions provide us with vivid apprehensions of value. If you maim these, you weaken the force of' the whole system of spiritual apprehensions". Philosophy, art and education seem to us to be inseparable.


Lynn H

Music Appreciation 53-55line

don't know anymore what week this is, but we are nearing the end of our summer study of Catherine Levison's book "A Charlotte Mason Education". Our topic this week, found on page 53, is Music Appreciation. This can run the gamut from simply playing Baroque in the background all day long, to an involved study of the musical movements, the composers, and researching all the music methods (e.g. Suzuki, Kodaly, Dalcroze..) in order to choose an instrument and compatible music philosophy.

While choosing an instrument and securing a top notch teacher for lessons COULD be a part of your child's overall musical education, playing an instrument has zero to do with music appreciation. "Education is the science of relations", to quote Miss Mason. Our children must develop relationships beyond nodding acquaintance. They must form these relationships first with great music, next with the composers and their stories, and last of all, with the mechanics. How many of us were introduced to music backwards?

"Hello Mr. Music. Nice to meet you. You and I are going to get to know each other quite well in the area of mechanics. I hear I shall soon be reading notes, practicing long hours, and playing beautifully....you see, my parents want a bang for their buck."

(Later on) "Is this all there is to you, Mr. Music? (sigh) For if so, I quit! What's that you say? Oh really?! There were men who devoted their entire lives to these notes I am growing to so dislike??! Please tell me their stories. I need to be inspired!"

(MUCH later...) "Music, my friend! I think I am finally beginning to understand you. You are so much more than notes on a page - and even more than the ability to play well. You are an expression of the heart of God. You have great powers to heal and restore and even mobilize and encourage. I'm glad you told me the stories of those great ones - the hymn writers and composers - for I began to truly listen to their work. Oh, I began to discover the joy of music for music's sake. My only regret is the wasted years of lost wonder, and the long hours spent mechanically reproducing what I had not first tasted and found to be good! Those long hours could have seemed much shorter had I loved you for what you are FIRST, rather than merely working to play you correctly."

Allow your children direct contact with great music. Do not interpret the music for them, and do not give them a steady diet of pop music - even of the Christian variety. When I say this to some parents, a problem gets uncovered. The parents themselves are addicted to pop music! Please remember, "pop" is simply an abbreviation for "popular" - that which is widely liked and accepted. If you find yourself in that position, (limited musical tastes) get out of it. Pure and simple. Your tastes in music, art, and even clothing should get beyond the high-school "here today and gone tomorrow" of that which is popular. This includes Carmen, Amy Grant, Hosanna Integrity, and Vineyard Worship...("More Lord!") Stretch yourself - for your children's sakes - to acquire a taste for the masters. How arrogant to think your pop music is superior just because you like it better! (And this also applies to contemporary worship versus the old master hymn writers!) "He being dead yet speaketh" - these great composers and hymn writers have volumes to teach you and your little ones about the art of music, and the act of true worship.

There are not alot of rote "how to's" in Charlotte Mason's method as it applies to music. The main thing is to break out of your own musical prejudice and listen to great music! Again, accessibility is the issue. Play Mozart while driving, Brahm's at night, Vivaldi during school, and Beethoven while housecleaning...(or Aretha Franklin if you need EXTRA energy! ) Find quality renditions of the old hymns and listen to them. You could group your studies around time periods, styles, or composers. The most important keys to imparting appreciation are exposure, and the fact that your children see in YOU a growing fondness for enduring, classic music.

Charlotte did teach that careful listening is a habit to be trained, even musically speaking, and that every child could and should be able to clearly sing. She was an advocate of the Sol-fa method. (clear vocalization of each note, with an accompanying hand gesture - each note having it's own "sign".) She was adamant (of course) that all pianos be perfectly tuned. Music was not a frill in her classes, but came to be as much a part of school as science or languages. She would advise all of us, if she could, to search out ARTISTS to teach music to our children when they are at last ready for formal training. She would tell us to avoid those who teach by rote mechanics without imparting the passion of a living musical idea.

Action Points:

1. Read the Bible for breakfast, poetry for lunch, and play great music at dinner. In other words, find ways to begin forming these relationships in your children with the GREAT things of education - the things that truly matter. (More on this in "In Our Home".)

2. Give yourself a rare treat: take a half hour to deeply enjoy a piece of music without any distractions. Focus your full attention to one piece - say, Beethoven's 9th - from start to finish. Then listen again.

3. Learn the major movements of Western music: Medieval - Renaissance - Baroque - Classical - Romantic - 20th Century.

Must Reads from our shelves:

1. " The Spiritual LIves of Great Composers", by Patrick Kavannaugh - ideal for narration.

2. "Music Education in the Christian Home" - not real "inspirational", but GREAT as a resource. Has a musical "scope and sequence" of sorts, lots of lists of good info.

3. "Color the Classics" - our #1 pick for music appreciation for younger ages..(my 12 year old daughters remind me they both STILL love it!) Children learn an astounding amount about composers by coloring a picture of the composer WHILE listening to his music, WHILE mom reads to them about the composer and his time period. Comes with a reproducible coloring book, script of stories, and tape.

Mom's Quote Jar:

"Strange how potent cheap music is..." Noel Coward

"My heart is steadfast, Oh God. I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul. Awake, harp and lyre: I will awaken the dawn..." precious king David in Psalms 108

"When a piece gets difficult, make faces." Vladimir Horowitz

In Our Home:

My children very much need to form relationships with nature, ideas, authors, books, music, the Bible, God, and poetry. They need that generous serving of ideas, and they need it daily. This seemed a daunting, overwhelming task to me until I hit on the idea of linking routine to relationship. It STILL is overwhelming at times, but I have found a key, when I choose to use it. Every needed task falls roughly in one of these two categories, "routine" or "relationship". To sweep the floor is routine. To pray is relationship. Skills are routine. (addition, subtraction, geometry, grammar) Nature and music demand a relationship. Often we neglect relationships in favor of "routine" tasks. Some call this the "tyranny of the urgent". There is a better way. Simply take what is routine in your day and link relationship to it. One easy way is to play Mozart during math - or Grieg during grammar (another ). Read only ONE poem to the children while they eat lunch - but do it every day. Kiss your husband after brushing your teeth - every day. (Even if you have to hunt him down to do it.) Pray while you walk or jog. Play scripture tapes in the car. WALK THE DOG WITH YOUR HUSBAND WHILE HOLDING HANDS AND WHISPERING SWEET NOTHINGS.....(BIG wicked grin!!) FIND YOUR OWN WAYS to link relationship with routine.

In Him Who is Able, Sheila

Handicrafts 56-59line

Hey all. With Robin's post and others, I hear a line from some long forgotten movie in my head that says, "NOW would be a good time...." The topic was SUPPOSED to be handicrafts. I have already let dear Lynn list mom know that I am way behind and could not get to it last week. My dh was gone all week, and I was *it* as far as my daycare, homeschool, (seven kids all total), life in general, and even a horrible issue that came up - TWO HOURS after my dh left. I had to handle it ALL alone. But that is still no excuse, right? One more thing in my defense....I did not *promise* I would even get to "handicrafts" in the first place. I said I'd TRY! (Help me out here, Lynn! :-/ ) However, in the interests of NO ONE leaving this lovely list, I am going to THROW out an article on handicrafts. I am going to do something far and away out of character for me....I am going to "just do it". No rough draft. No re-writes. No re-writes of the re-writes. You will get the raw stuff here. I'll spit it right off the top of my head. (Now THERE'S a nauseating mix of metaphors!) I do this in the light of the fact that there are many on this list with MORE to say, and BETTER things to say, and more SKILLED in saying it....all they need is guidance as to the TOPIC!! ("What's the TOPIC here, dadgummit??") Now. I am also sick as a dog. really. So this will be bad. Count on it. but there are so many talented ladies here, I know the RESPONSES will be grrrrrrreat, and we will be BACK ON TRACK! Excuse me whilst I blow my nose.... I'm back. Turn to pg. 56 in your book (I've always wanted to say that...so "teacherly"!) "A Charlotte Mason Education" by Catherine Levison, and you will see the chapter entitled "Free Time Handicrafts". This CM method is earmarked by short lessons, and plenty of time left in the day for play for the children. Much of that "free time" is not structured by the teacher/mom....but we are cautioned against "too much" free time. Charlotte felt that a child should be "continually and wholesomely occupied." Enter our topic: Handicrafts. I myself have noticed my children grow peevish and discontent with "too much" free time. Too much time to argue. So much time they figure out ways to harass one another. I find that a proper balance between *free* free time, and slightly directed free time is the best thing for them. When I give them some project to do, the house actually gets QUIET, and they are totally absorbed in whatever..... building a "cabin" out of popsicle sticks, doing one of the projects in their paper airplane book, making a corn shuck doll (for my girls) or sending my boys to the shed - not for a spanking, but to hammer away at the scrap wood my dh keeps stocked there JUST for them. The work must not be futile (hence, I myself deplore anything done with fuzzy pipe cleaners!) and sloppiness is not allowed either. :- / Hard one, I know. Just when you thought school was OVER..."no dear. Remove those nails and hammer again please!" The thing we are imparting here is a sense of excellence, and of PATIENCE. Don't always give them things they can finish in a day, or an hour. Give them *projects*. Teach them that excellence cannot be rushed. Next, we have lots of suggestions as to WHAT to do. Levison recommends "The American Boy's Handy Book", and "The American Girl's Handy Book". She even lists a 1-800 number if anyone wants it. Charlotte herself writes that children under nine can be doing chair caning, basket work, rug making, and knitting. I'm sorry, but that CRACKS me up. Children are different these days. But it would behoove us to find SOMETHING lasting and constructive for them to put their hands to. Other suggestions are gardening, painting, clay modeling, and wood carving. Houseplants could be another. Maybe instead of "handicrafts", the word "hobbies" would be better, and make the meaning more clear. Action Points: 1. Share hobby or handicraft resources. ALL moms are on the lookout for stuff like this! Share things geared to the different age groups. DETAIL some of your favorite handicrafts for us, so we don't have to buy a book!! 2. Choose one thing for each child, or group the children and choose something for 2 or more to do. Make it something that gets accomplished over TIME. Make sure the end product is of a lasting quality. They need to be able to take pride in the finish of it. Of course, make the project age appropriate. >From our Shelves: (let me go see....cough,wheeze, sneeze...) I don't know if this is still in print. I got it at our used bookstore. It is called "838 Ways to Amuse a CHild" by June Johnson. It is chock full of literally 838 different handicraft type things. This has been a great resource for us. I have SEVERAL gardening books with some wonderful ideas. I am sure you do too. One that stands out in my mind is the child's book entitled "Container Gardening for Kids". This book is too cute, and full of every plant container imaginable. One project details step for step how to create a "garden" (houseplant) in a child's old dump truck, and another in an old boot, for outdoors. Yet another, in a hollowed out pumpkin, since pumpkins will be in season very soon. Mom's Quote Jar: my husband came home from Detroit, Mich. just Tuesday. He had a stack of his cassette tapes, from when he ministered there. I put them on the windowsill, since HIS place of preference was the DINNER TABLE. He got all shocked and dismayed and said to me, "Don't put these here! The sun will DAMAGE them!!" I looked at him in frustration and fairly shouted, "Then YOU stick them where the sun DOESN'T shine!!!!!!" We both froze in place looking quizzically at one another. Then we ROLLED in the floor laughing. You see? I am funny even when I do not TRY to be. That has nothing to do with handicrafts. I just wanted a way to share it, and not get spooned. I told you this would be bad.... In Our Home, ...we hate handicrafts. KIDDING KIDDING! This is not an area we are...ahem....*developed* in. I told Lynn long ago that I do not like sharing beyond where I have been. I'd rather have TONS of personal experience to draw from when I write, else I feel much like I am standing nude in a crowd.....*very* insecure feeling for me. (There I go with the NUDITY again...) In this area I confess to little experience. In fact, none beyond my son's wood shop (they make birdhouses), my daughters' sewing (which I had a FRIEND teach them...) they do some clay work, a smattering of drawing and watercoloring, and some gardening. Oh. And *my* collages. I make one entitled "An Atmosphere, A Discipline, A Life". Anybodywantone??!! I can send you a price quote. OOPS!!! Not supposed to do that. Nevermind. I don't have the time anyway. Unless it's your birthday...(sly grin). Inside my mind (which is a scarey place, I concede) I was picuring handing my son a bunch of long grass and telling him, "WE are going to make a basket!" The look on his face would be worth money on one of those home video game shows. I console myself that this boy can repair bikes, paint a beautiful rose (really!) draw a mean army tank, and loves to work with wood for hours on end. I think MANY children represented in this loop can and DO do lasting, beautiful work. I just think the NATURE of the crafts may vary from what was popular then. What about cooking? Small engine repair? Building a fishpond? (*my* boy could do that, given the proper tools and oversight.) stripping and re-finishing furniture, instead of throwing it out..(something my daughters have helped ME with...) Just because CM did not *do* things like engine repair, or basic computer programming does not make them any less a CRAFT or hobby. Let's not get stuck in a time warp here. If anyone wants to take up basket weaving, call me. I am a basket FREAK. I think that's great. But do not feel your child's chosen hobby has to be 19th century. That's it. PLEASE someone...redeem this topic with YOUR expertise. In Him Who is Able, Sheila

Bible 60-62line

Hey all! With 7 children running amuck, I do not "have" time to do this, but in the light of how off topic we have become, I am "making" time to write about CM and the study of the Bible. Bible. Again, I will have to spit this RIGHT off the top of my head (that nauseating mix of metaphors again!) and depend on all of YOUR wisdom to contribute so much more than I can ever say. (**Donna Jean**, can you dig up a post you contributed awhile back about " reading" scripture, and reading it with expression and feeling? THAT was good!) This chapter on Bible is found on page 60 of Catherine Levison's *highly* recommended book "A Charlotte Mason Education." Does anyone remember our "watch words", or "watch phrases"? Here they are..."Direct Contact - with Only the Best - in Small Doses." (short lessons) This especially holds true with the study of the Bible. The Charlotte Mason method is more than "literature based". We who espouse this method are actually saying that we believe great literature IS education. Why? Because Charlotte said, and we all agree, that "Education is the science of relations". We all believe in putting our children in direct contact , in RELATIONSHIP if you please, with great minds, by means of what those great minds have written - their books. I have a scripture or two for your consideration : "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness..." and this one: "for the Word of God is quick (living) and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword - it pierces to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." There is no more living book than the Bible. If the ideas of mere men are "living", how much more the ideas and communication of a God who is not silent? A God who still speaks to us today through His living book, the Bible? So...are you using a workbook to teach Bible, videos to teach Biblical concepts, or are you using the Bible to teach Bible? No offense, and no condemnation, but have you considered the fact that we are not to "get between" the child and the author of whatever book the child happens to be reading? To me, this applies to the Bible more than any other book. I WANT my children to come into direct contact with the living God, through the reading of HIStory ("His story") as told in the Scriptures, and the reading of His precious thoughts. Charlotte wanted the minds of children to be FULL of images and hero-admiration, and truth and mercy...I quote: "(children) will see that the world is a stage whereon the goodness of God is continually striving with the willfulness of man; that some heroic men take sides with God; and that others, foolish and headstrong, oppose themselves to Him." Charlotte felt a child's Bible lessons to be his most important learning. Parents were strongly urged to communicate to their children that the Bible is not just another piece of literature, but that the Bible is vastly different from other books. How can I best word this? (Remember, I am expectorating from the upper portion of my cerebral functions...) Charlotte discouraged the stilted, over moralizing, artificial teaching of the Bible. For this reason, because I happen to agree with Charlotte, (I am treading dangerous ground here I know! )I have refused to use "certain" curricula that, while good for others and compatible with their philosophy, I find in the LONG run for me it actually trivializes the awesome word of God. What I mean is, curricula where the Bible is constantly quoted, used in every single subject of study - every day, all day long, and memorized without regard to the *heart* of the child - just stuff his mind with it, and he will "get it". True only to a point. The Bible is communication, and communication is about relationship. We in this country of America are most in danger of knowing far more than we apply. We know so much, with hearts that are far from Him. I do not want to harden the heart of my child by the forced, artificial "study" of the Bible - stuffing my child's brain with a head knowledge that has a tragic result: it is human nature to think that because we "know of" God, that we "KNOW God". I strive with all that's in me to teach my sons and daughters that when they come to the Bible, they are coming to a relationship, nothing else. There are things I have "memorized" about my husband Tim....not because Tim has made that a requirement for the relationship, but because I have *gotten to know him* over the years. I can tell you "verbatim" what he would say on just about any subject. We would make a killing if we could get on TV, on that old "Newlywed Game" show. We know that much in relationship about one another. PLEASE don't take me to be saying I am anti Bible memorization. I am PRO the hiding of His word in our hearts, that we might not sin against Him - so that the relationship stays open at all times. But - NOT as some exercise in academia, or (heaven forbid) a busy work assignment. Charlotte taught that we SHOULD, however, have children memorize by simple rote memorization the books of the Bible, and do lots of those fun "Bible drills". She told us to use narration with Bible judiciously - even illustrating Bible narrations, and to pray before each reading of the Scripture. Charlotte suggested a sequence for Bible study which is as follows: age 6-8, read both from OT and NT, concentrating on the Gospels and Acts age 9, the child reads to himself simple OT passages, and two of the gospels. by 12, they should have covered ALL the OT and have concentrated on the Epistles and Revelation. (whew!) 12-15, they should have read to themselves all the OT. 15-18, begin study of commentaries. Action Points: 1. Feedback - tell us what YOU think of Charlotte's "sequence" for Bible study. 2. Read to your children straight from the Bible. Often, most find doing this first thing before anything else works best. Read, and then ask the child to narrate back. Look for both content and personal application in the narration... 3. Read for yourself what Charlotte said about "religion" and the child in her 6 vol. series - share your favorite quotes. >From Our Shelves (must reads) 1. The Bible (how simple does it get?) 2. Honey for MOM'S heart, "Christianity is Jewish" by Edith Schaeffer. I have read this book multiple times, and LONG to be able to communicate the gospel, and the "bird's eye view of the Bible" like this lady did! Mom's Quote Jar: "Let mother never contemplate any kind of instruction for her child, except under the sense of divine cooperation." Charlotte Mason "The indwelling of Christ is a thought particularly fit for the children, because their large faith does not stumble at the mystery, their imagination leaps readily to the marvel, that the King Himself should inhabit a little child's heart." again, Charlotte Mason In Our Home: I am short on time, so I am going to shamelessly crib from previous articles, posted to this very loop....(sorry, but some are new, and have not read this!) " I appeal to you. I appeal to myself! The first step in rescuing this generation from an abysmal swamp of mediocrity is to begin treating children like they are as brilliant as most of them truly ARE! By treating them as whole persons, we automatically expect more from them...and they NEED for us to expect more. By treating them as persons, we get in there WITH them in this struggle called life. I *and* my children...we all are sinners in need of a Savior. My kids, like Samuel, are CAPABLE of hearing God! They just need for me to tell them..."You know, when that feeling comes over you, go get alone and ask God to speak to you through His word! Say, 'Speak Lord, your servant is listening!' Then do what He says." Instead, we trivialize spiritual things almost daily....with an overdose of puppets, videos and other twaddle." " Which is best, I ask you - a cross word puzzle with prayer words, or for you to lay your hands on your child and fervently touch God through prayer? To see puppets "do evangelism" (usually by the "assault a stranger with a tract and the gospel" method)? Or for your child to see his parents "in the world, but not of it"... sharing Christ with a lost person, who was invited over to your home for a BBQ, (GASP!!) ...your child hearing you sharing the gospel in your own backyard? A "Bible lesson" - or to read directly from the Book that is living and powerful? Perhaps the answer to all those questions is NOT "either-or"...it is "both-and". " personal story: I had just had my fourth child in five years. I needed a nap. Why not kill two birds with one stone; getting a nap, and giving my 5yo twins, and my 2yos a "Bible lesson" at the same time? So I popped in a video featuring a man in pantyhose wearing a big purple book. Don't we NEED these things now-a-days to teach Biblical concepts?? This particular video supposedly was to teach my children the parable about building your house on the rock. Later that same day....I found my twins skipping about their little yellow room singing, "Balloons come down, as the birds go up! Balloons come down as the birds go up! Balloons come down as the birds go up, so build-build-build-build LOOOOOORD!" I was horrified. The graphics (balloons and "doves"), the dancing, costuming and general hoopla only served to distract my kids It served to cloud a simple, yet powerful message. TWADDLE! I would have been better off to take 20 minutes and read them the parable straight from the Bible, and then teach the beloved song, "The blessings come down as the prayers go up - so BUILD YOUR HOUSE ON THE LORD!" with it's accompanying sweet hand motions. They would have gotten it in about 20 minutes, and then I could have put in an HOUR long Winnie the Pooh video, and taken a longer nap with a clearer conscience. God forbid that we allow spiritual truths to be obscured - reduced to nothing MORE than mere entertainment. In Him Who is Able, Sheila

History 63-68 and Geography 69-70line

Geography and History

On page 249 of the "Story of Charlotte Mason" is this interesting tidbit from CM on how NOT to plan your lessons. This passage is also in the Series, Volume 3, page 231: "Another point, the co-ordination of studies is carefully regulated without any reference to the clash of ideas on the threshold or their combination into apperception masses; but solely with reference to the natural and inevitable co-ordination of certain subjects. Thus in readings on the period of the Armada we should not devote the contemporary arithmetic lessons to calculations as to the amount of food necessary to sustain the Spanish fleet, because this is an arbitrary and not an inherent connection; but we should read such history, travels and literature as would make the Spanish Armada live in the mind." CM Note on that "Apperception mass" stuff - that's Herbartian educational philosophy, which CM deals with further in Volume 3. He was, and is today, a very influential "Educational Philosopher". She didn't agree with him at all! Now, if this is an example of how CM did not want History taught, did she tell us how to do it? Fortunately, yes, she dealt with History extensively, and this is one of the most useful sections of Catherine Levison's books (IMHO). Charlotte Mason did not think enough History was being taught in the schools in her day (quoting CL). In Volume 6, p 171, she gives us a tip on "getting through a surprising amount of history in a thorough way." You use (surprise) narration. CM laid out history for her schools in a chronological fashion. They used literature, plays, novels, essays, biographies, poetry, architecture - and paintings. She always used the best books available, and changed them frequently. Some changes were made as different books became available, others to avoid the teachers becoming too familiar with the material. There has also been some discussion that the books she mentions in Volume 1 may have been considered more suitable for family use than the ones she gives as examples in Volume 6. In all cases, remember the books named are only examples. Not only were regular changes made in the schools, individual exceptions were made in PUS homes, as mentioned in the Parent's Review magazine. In her new book, Catherine Levison has a chapter describing her satisfaction with a sample program. She managed to locate all of the named books from a single PUS term, and thus was able to examine in practice (using her own laboratory of children) how well the choices worked together. So, what do CM children study? Catherine says : 6 year olds were to read about 40 pages per 60 day term from a well written, well-illustrated book, not specifically written down to the child's level, though many were written in language simple enough for beginning readers. (my own note - this age was studying the History and Geography of their OWN country. The 40 pages was what was read to them for narration- see quote below - until they could read for themselves, though more might be read by the parent/teacher from another book.) Some specific examples are named in Volume 1, p 282-295. This section also give many descriptions and tips for both History and Geography. I give a few quotes below, but you will want to read the whole section! They did not use books with many little summaries, but would supplement the main reading with short biographies of people involved in the time period under study. She also wanted children to visit monuments (field trips!), and if that was not possible they were to look at pictures. Part of the goal of this was that it "built a sane and serviceable patriotism". (citation not given) Children of this age might, as narration, act out scenes with their dolls. Older children, or young ones with help, might make scenery and act it out themselves. From 9-12 (this would be volume 3) the children illustrated their history lessons, dealing with the social life of a periods, and there was a specific direction - CM wanted these children to study the history of countries other than their own in order to avoid an "arrogant habit of mind", being careful to compare various cultures. From 12-14 her children, who lived in Europe, were to study India. By this age they were expected to know English and French history. They also cover Greek and Roman history by using biographies. North's translation of "Plutarch's Lives" was very highly thought of and these children were expected to master 12-15 of the "Lives" during the 3 years, but she did expect the teachers to choose the reading selection and even edit many sections. (You won't have any trouble deciding which ones. Plutarch was an awful gossip, and loved scandal!) These children would, in their other studies, be studying Grammar and Composition (and applying those skills in required written narration in all work), be moving from general Nature Studies into examining one area at a time, such as Botany or Astronomy, and beginning Latin. By 14 they were expected to be able to read and write at least simple stories in French, German, and Latin. At about 14 English children either left school or were assumed to be in preparation for University. Many of the older boys would have been sent to preparatory boarding schools, many of the girls to "finishing schools". There are places in Volume 6 where Charlotte refers to the older girls in her schools, leaving you wondering where the boys were. Charlotte descried the schools that focused on pure mathematics, Logic/Debate and Latin at this point, but realized that this was the way life was. She commented on her belief that there was a better way, a more liberal way. From 15 to 18 years of age children in CM's schools (most of whom were assumed to be preparing for University) read literature, and concentrated on Greek and Roman History. For example, they might illustrate scenes from "Plutarch's Lives" or Macaulay's "Lays of Ancient Rome". (Illustration is a form of narration.) This would go along with intensive study of Latin - it was expected that the children would have translated 4 books of Virgil. Geography always accompanied History studies, with mapwork. (I can see the teenage boys illustrating battles with glee.) Charlotte Mason wrote her own 5 volume Geography series, which were very popular. These were later re-issued by the PNEU and used for many years. There is more about Geography in Vol. 6, p 340. Catherine also continues to deal with History in her NEW book, "More Charlotte Mason Education", which deals more specifically with high school. In chapter 6 she focuses on the Century Book - for 14 pages! The Century book was an original PNEU invention. A Century Book is a timeline in a notebook. It began as a "Museum Notebook", with space allocated to each era to sketch whatever was available - broken pots, mummies. Addition of lined pages gave room for VERY brief notes. The name "Century Book" came from the final form including one page of 20 lines for notes per century, perhaps only giving a man's name, or an invention, and one facing page for drawings or photographs. Ideally, children would begin one of these at age 6 and maintain the same one through all their school years. Thus, the years would fill in, and Relationships would form. You can also see the child develop - handwriting, drawing skills improving. You can see some problems with this - how do young children choose what to put in? What if the young child's scrawl left no room on a line for a later choice? Catherine constructed a model according to the detailed directions in the Parent's Review, but says her children have never used it. There is also a commercially produced edition. Instead, Catherine uses a loose-leaf binder which allows the insertion of extra pages as desired. I had a timeline - OK, several parallel timelines tracing events and people - running around our study wall for many years. This was very convenient for us. We could refer to it instantly when we had a question. Later I switched us to a binder version and focused on the part of History we were working on. For example, Egypt, Greece, and Rome are all in one binder, and on the same pages. I dated the time line across the top of yellow tabbed dividers (100 years per, although I 'fudged' on very early times and used one divider per 1000. I figured we could always add more later), drew two horizontal lines equally dividing the pages into three sections. The top one is Egypt, the middle one is Greece, and the bottom is Rome. Main events from each country go on the yellow tabbed sheets, reports and illustrations go in between. This allows instant comparison of what is happening in each area during any period. We were able to copy a great many photographs and historical maps from the Internet. How does your family do your timelines? Do your children all use the same notebook? Do they maintain individual ones? What do you include- essays, booklists, illustrations, photographs of monuments, pictures and maps? Tell us what has worked well for you. ~~~~ History Quotes from Volume 1: ~~~~~~~ pg 280 "The fatal mistake is the notion that he must learn 'outlines' or a baby edition of the *whole* history of England, or of Rome...let him on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of ...a short period..." pg 281 "Eschew nearly all history books written expressly written for children...all compendiums, outlines, abstracts whatsoever...the children of educated parents...are not attracted by the twaddle of reading-made-easy little history books" pg 283 "Mr. Freeman has provided interesting early English history for children; but is it not better to take them straight to the fountainhead, where possible?" page 287: "children are quite able to take in intelligent ideas in intelligent language, and should by no means be excluded from the best that is written on the period they are about." ~~~ From volume 6 ~~~ p. 172 " The child of 6 in IB has, not stories from English history, but a definite quantity of consecutive reading, say forty pages in a term, from a well-written, well considered, large volume which is also well-illustrated. Children cannot of course themselves read a book which is by no means written down to the 'child's level' so the teacher reads and the children 'tell' paragraph by paragraph, passage by passage." p. 174 "Children of 7 are promoted to Form IA in which they remain for a couple of years. They read from the same capital book, Mrs. Marshall's 'Our Island Story,'. . .while the readings in IB are confined to the first third of the book embodying the simpler and more direct histories, those in 1A go on to the end of the volume and children learn at any rate to love English history. . . In IA the history is amplified and illustrated by short biographies of persons connected with the period studied. . . help the children immensely in individualizing their heroes. . . Form II (ages 9 to 12) have a more considerable history programme. . .They use a more difficult book than in IA, and interesting and well-written history of England of which they read some fifty pages or so a term. . ." p.175 (also form II)". . . added to the value of these studies by producing a "Book of the Centuries" in which children draw such illustrations as they come across objects of domestic use, of art, etc. connected with the century they are reading about." p.176 "In form III children continue the same history of England as in II, the same French history and the same British Museum Book, going on with their Book of Centuries." p. 178 "It is a great thing to possess a pageant of history in the background of one's thoughts. We may not be able to recall this or that circumstance, but 'the imagination is warmed;' we know that there is a great deal to be said on both sides of every question and are saved from crudities in opinion and rashness in action. The present becomes enriched for us with the wealth of all that has gone before. Perhaps the gravest defect in school curricula is that they fail to give a comprehensive, intelligent, and interesting introduction to history. To leave off or even to begin with the history of our own country is fatal. We cannot live sanely unless we know that other peoples are as we are with a difference, that they too have been represented by their poets and their artists, that they too have their literature and their national life." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Catherine lists many books, sorted by ages, in both of her books. She has been able to obtain many that CM suggested. However, she emphasizes that many excellent books have been written since Charlotte's time, and we should not restrict ourselves, but use the best we have. Following that thought, I would like to ask each of you to list by age level the title, author, ISBN # or ordering information if you have it for History and Geography books that you have found suitable as school texts. I do not, in this instance, particularly want the second rank of books that are suitable as light reading choices, but am looking for the first class ones you would consider 'core'. What's more, I want to hear from our members in countries besides the USA. What books are you able to find or recommend about YOUR country, your history? Where can we order them? It's easy for us to find good books about the USA, but what about Russia, or Taiwan, or the Middle East? If the book is not in English, what language or dialect is it in? Lynn H I don't believe in miracles. I rely on them.

"Living Books for Living Children" essay by Penny Gardner in her "Study Guide"

Suggested readings:

PG Study Guide 114-119

The Original Home Schooling Series
Volume 1, Part 5, chapters 17 & 18
Volume 6, p 169-180 and 224-230

Articles by Rob & Cyndy Shearer:

from Practical Homeschooling:
Twaddle-Free History: An introduction
Why Teach Ancient History?
Dealing with Evolution in History Texts
How to Handle Mythology in History Class
Why History Should Begin with the Old Testament
What Constitutes Success in the Teaching of History?
Good and Bad Multi-Culturalism - the Myth of Neutrality

from Homeschooling Today: Studying Knights & Castles

I believe everyone knows that before she wrote Home Education, Charlotte Mason wrote Geography textbooks? Her set was called the Ambleside Geography books. I believe they covered the Geography of England. That is the sum total of my awareness of these books - if they are available out there somewhere, I have not found them. Since they cover something fairly permanent (geography is not going to change!) they might still be useful.

Here are a few quotations from those Penny included in this Topic.

"The peculiar value of geography lies in its fitness to nourish the mind with ideas, and to furnish the imagination with pictures. Herein lies the educational value of Geography."(Vol. 1, p272)

"The Child gets his rudimentary notions of geography ... in those long hours out of doors ... He gets his first notions of a map from a rude sketch ... or with a stick in the sand or gravel." (p 273-274)

"The fatal mistake is in the notion that he must learn 'outlines', of the whole history... just as he must cover the geography of all the world. Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age." (p 280)

For that matter, there are books which seem to cover far more than one nation - I think of "The Travels of Marco Polo", by Marco Polo. This journal covers the entire civilized World of the 1200's! As a merchant he traveled to China and the Far East, to Russia and India, Tibet and many more! His book is rather dry in style, but the content is fascinating. It is so fantastic that many considered it a fable, but it was true.

"Children have other ways of expressing the conceptions that fill them when they are duly fed. They play at their history lessons, dress up, make tableaux, act scenes; or they have a stage, and the dolls act, while they paint the scenery and speak the speeches. There is no end to the modes of expression children find when there is anything in them to express.
The mistake we make is to suppose that the imagination is fed by nature, or that it works on the insipid diet of children's story-books. Let a child have the meat he requires in his history readings, and in the literature which naturally gathers around this history, and imagination will bestir itself without any help of ours; the child will live out in detail a thousand scenes of which he only gets the merest hint." (p 294-295)

Now, a few weeks ago there was a question about children acting out in play what they read in their books. The particular book being discussed was "Treasure Island". Here I believe we have the appropriate forum to discuss play in education (it is also still the topic in the study of the book "For the Children's Sake") If the children's imaginations are being fed, should we not expect to see this sort of expression of what Ideas they are talking in? This is a sort of Narration, as well. If your children are reading Marco Polo, drawing maps, looking up the peoples in the Encyclopedia and really enjoying their studies, should you not also expect to see them dress up, ride 'camels' through the yard, and so on?

Discussion Starters:

I know that when I read, and enjoy, I will express what I read in my life. If I am reading a cooking book, my cooking will reflect the style of that book. I have noticed that when I read ANY book I tend to speak and write in a similar style as I incorporate the thoughts (it HAS been mentioned to me that I sometimes write like CM - I take that as a compliment!). For this reason, many years ago I decided to remove two certain categories of books from my life. One was a category I had read since childhood. I had hundreds of them! I had videos, I had theme clothes, and so on - but I decided that when I read these books I didn't like the person I saw as myself. The second category simply depressed me. I have since read a few - sometimes someone recommends one to me as excellent literature, or as having a certain reason to read. (One was set in a town I lived in as a child.) I have never been pleased with them - my original decision was correct. These books do not belong in my life. They may be excellent, they may be well-written, but to me they are light reading or even Twaddle. If they are the kind of Light Reading you enjoy, it's all right - but I'll pass.

I felt overwhelmed addressing this Topic, with so many good essays available to us! I'll only ask a few questions: Rob mentions "The Myth of Neutrality". I agree with him - there is no such thing as a neutral view. In history, every Living Book comes from a single point of view. Every person has a paradigm, a Worldview. This is the way you look at your world. This will be completely different if you are a Christian than if you are a Secular Humanist /Evolutionist. If you consider that the world is only 10-25,000 years old you will have a completely different idea about human history than the college Anthropologists. This is important! You need to know not only your own point of view, but you also need to consider the view of the material you are reading. Children are VERY quick to pick up on viewpoints - what points have your children caught? Tell us about some good discussions you have had.

Lynn H

Citizenship and Morals pages 71-72line

As we wind up our study of Catherine Levison's book "A Charlotte Mason Education", we reach the very short chapter entitled "Citizenship and Morals" on page 71. Once again, a brief review of the Charlotte Mason philosophy, in "layman's terms". (read: " in my own words, hoping this helps you!") Not "CM philosophy in cliches that have no personal experience behind them." Not "CM's philosophy in all her own words"...Her 6 volumes are filled with her own words, and each of us is responsible to take those words, and give them personal meaning by applying the concept, and putting it into our OWN vernacular. That is all I have attempted to do in my "articles" (loosely stated) for our summer studies of Levison's book - take each concept, and put it in layman's terms, yet staying true to what CM herself meant. Back to the brief review: "Direct Contact, with Only the Best, in Small Doses (short lessons)". These ideas apply to the topic of Morals as well. How to start? In considering CM's opinion on the moral upbringing of children, we can no doubt find points of agreement, and points of disagreement. I am going to attempt to simply out line her philosophy in this area without sharing my personal conclusions too much. You will need an open, thinking mind for this study! First of all, looking at the thought behind "Direct Contact". As that applies to Morals, Charlotte, in keeping with her prevailing philosophy of children being persons to be respected, felt that children should be allowed direct contact with living ideas - even those ideas of a decidedly moral nature. Do not get between the child and that book - that book with it's ideas and moral conclusions! Instead, and I quote, the children "should form their own opinions. It is our duty to form opinions carefully, and to hold them tenaciously in so far as the original grounds of our conclusions remain unshaken. But what we have no right to do, is to pass these opinions on to our children." Again - direct contact, no sermonizing. This allows a child to form his own opinions, and grow to be an intelligent person. CM felt it was necessary a child be allowed to "be" a person before he can become a moral person. With that being said on the outset, let's have a bit of interesting history. Around 1908, the first International Congress on Moral Education was to take place in London, with a man called "Sir Michael" as president of it. Sir Michael solicited the views of many educators, including those of our Charlotte Mason, asking them their thoughts on "Moral Instruction - direct and indirect". Charlotte was half apologetic in her reply, stating that her response was longer than allowed. (Why are we not surprised??) In this long response, she rallied for what she called a "third position". In other words, CM did not see only two ways to morally educate, those two ways being direct and indirect means. Her "third position" involved what can truly be seen as the meat of her whole philosophy - her views condensed and applied to moral training. She included in her response her book entitled "Ourselves" - which at that time was actually what she called "two little books". (Which, for what it's worth, CRACKS me up!) In short, CM's idea of moral training was one of a more natural approach. Morals do not need to be artificially "force fed" as some separate subject, divorced from the living ideas to be found in books themselves. She instead believed that children must simply be fed - intellectually and spiritually - by the reading of living books and the Bible. She highly recommended Plutarch's Lives as an example of moral training through literature. She said, "...morality is not to be expected from the uneducated, and I would add that there can be no intelligent morality without much intelligent occupation with what is called the humanities." In addition to every child being very well read , Charlotte recommended SOME direct moral teaching - but NOT teaching that draws a single moral conclusion FOR a child. Rather, her version of direct moral teaching was to give a child an inner "road map" if you will. The best direct moral teaching was to simply make a child aware of the possibilities WITHIN him, as well as the pitfalls within the child's own being. Her outline of these possibilities and pitfalls are indeed found in the volume entitled "Ourselves". This book was meant to be read by a child twelve or older, and was to form a framework for moral teaching. "Ourselves" was Charlotte's answer to direct teaching, and it was no "direct answer" in the sense of it being an over simplified, artificial "morals curriculum". Rather the book provided the intellectual and spiritual "pegs" - the basic knowledge needed for a child to be able to hang and categorize the moral conclusions they drew from their reading - a sort of mental "filing system" that could help them decipher (and this is just one example) "This is courage and a strong will" or "This is cowardice and weak will". The book "Ourselves" is allegorical in many senses and should not be undertaken lightly, in my opinion. So there you have it. "Direct Contact" - no interjecting the teacher's opinions into the student. "Only the Best" - morals are to be gotten from the best literature, with the Bible being of greatest importance. "Small Doses" - Charlotte's book "Ourselves" is reflective of her penchant for short lessons. In her own words, "...(this book should be taught) a little at a time, perhaps by way of Sunday talks. This would help to impress children with the thought that our relations with God embrace the whole of our lives." Amen, Charlotte! No secular/sacred. No pigeon holing learning - even learning of a decidedly moral nature. Give the child proper nourishment ACROSS THE BOARD and he will grow. The very best of literature enables us to live all sorts of "lives". We can experience vicariously the results both of moral failure and moral excellence - without the sting of personal shame or the danger of self righteousness. We can decide "for ourselves" whether we agree with what has been portrayed, and whether it lines up with God's word - which is something Charlotte would wholeheartedly endorse. Action Points 1. This one never changes: Read to your children....read, and read some more. In being asked to write loop studies, it was requested that I aim my communication to those of you who are new to this method - perhaps new to home schooling entirely. So forgive me if this over simplifies it for you veterans. 2. Skip CM's entire introduction and just read just chapter one of "Ourselves" for now. (If you have not touched it yet!) It's very short, and entitled "The Country of Mansoul". I found this first chapter delightful, and it will at least give you an idea of where she is taking you for the rest of the journey through the book. It reads almost like a story book - you will like it, I dare to say. Mom's Quote Jar: "If your morals make you dreary, depend upon it, they are wrong." Robert Louis Stevenson A fine quote on morals - when someone treats us badly... "To refrain from imitation is the best revenge." Marcus Aurelius "Literature is the question minus the answer." Roland Barthes Must Reads from our shelves... "Children of a Greater God" by Terry Glaspey "Books That Build Character" compiled by William Kirkpatrick and Gregory and Suzanne M. Wolfe "Invitation to the Classics" ....already mentioned on this list by Donna Jean and Wendi and myself In Our Home: again, I am short on time, so I am going to borrow (for the "In Our Home" segment ONLY) from previous material. I hope this blesses those of you who have recently joined the list. What is "Twaddle"? Here is my definition: In a misguided effort to be on a child's level, twaddle is to take an otherwise full, meaty concept - a lofty ideal - or a single truth, and reduce it to something over simplified. Or opposite of that, jazz it up and complicate it. Or make it insipidly sweet. Twaddle complicates the simple, and over simplifies the rightfully profound. Why is great literature vs. "twaddle" so important? Stop and think. We using this CM method are not only saying literature is important, we are saying it IS education itself! Literature is vital because a child can learn so much more than, say, science (Swiss Family Robinson), history (any Henty book), a broad vocabulary (Shakespeare) etc. The most needed thing to be gotten from the best literature is what is called a "moral imagination". Through literature, your child can observe evil "from a safe distance"; in a manner that does not de-sensitize him. He can also (hopefully) see for himself by the end of the book that a man reaps what he sows. Your child also gets to see what moral goodness looks like with it's skin on. Courage - in action. Resourcefulness - in action. Selflessness - in action. And all without a single sermon from you, mom! And - get this - no puppets, no animation, no crossword puzzles with words like "Ethics", "Morals", or "Citizenship". All those things are contrived. Read: "TWADDLE"! It has been said, "Jesus was God who told stories." God could have written His word like a modern textbook. Full of facts, principles, and "stuff" to memorize about Him. ( I am not downplaying the memorization of scripture...read this in CONTEXT, please!) But no. By and large, we draw forth an accurate concept of His character piece by piece through the stories of Adam, Noah, Moses, David, Daniel, Jesus who was God, the disciples, and the exciting stories of the early church in Acts. And do not forget the beloved parables the God-man Jesus told. He knows the way to our hearts for sure. Picture with me two points, with a deep chasm between them. (Oh, where is a cyber "write-and-wipe" when you need one??) The point on the left is the mind of your child. The point on the right is his heart. The question is the same for you and your child: How do we get truth from the mind, across that deep chasm, and into the heart? How many teenagers come to mind that have stumbled horribly - yet "knew" better? The answer is simple. There needs to be a bridge! Before you panic and call the architects and engineers - relax! God already made one. It's a narrow, one lane bridge, called *imagination*. We move moral absolutes - beauty - truth - from the mind to the heart via the bridge of imagination. I borrowed this bridge concept, and now teach it to others, and it's so wonderful to see the lightbulbs come on over heads all across the room! God made us with hearts. He made our emotions. We are created in His image. Therefore, God is emotional! Oh, we can bring him joy, or we can give Him pain! God made us- not as mechanical robots - but as feeling hearts. He knows we need to be gripped in some measure by a passion to be "real". We aren't "wired" for mere mental assent. We are created to be passionate for something. Since we fall in love with what we focus on, it behooves us as parents to ever be shipping across the bridge of our children's imaginations the true, the good, the lovely etc. I also tell my kids that they must stand guard on their "bridge". I say to them, "Do not let just anything pass over your bridge. Wicked imaginings are as powerful as the morally upright ones. When a wicked imagining attempts a crossing, don't let it into your heart. Do not allow it to stir up your feelings one way or the other. And don't send it back to the mind for further consideration. Simply kill it! Throw it right off the bridge!" Use extreme caution, mom and dad, with the entertainment that you allow access to your child's bridge - whether books, movies, music or computer games. It all goes straight to his heart; it takes the quickest, most direct route. Could be dangerous. Just ask the kids of Columbine Highschool. Ah, literature! Think how the Bible itself starts out: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Sounds almost like "Once upon a time, in a far away land..." But this Bible is every word true! Oh wow. So there is your "morals" (as well as literature) lesson. Direct contact with only the best. Don't sermonize or lecture. Choose carefully, and make sure whatever you read imparts *emotion* with it's truths. Shelia

Leslie said, "If I follow this guideline. I teach the 10 Commandments which contain some clear moral guidelines in the context of God delivering the Israelites from Egypt and setting up the rules of the house so to speak. I read the extended account or have them read it for themselves. You're saying that I don't tell them that these laws are considered right behavior for them as well. The need to come to their own conclusion about that. Now this is really tough, because there are lots of Sunday School Curriculum Lessons and Bible Lessons which have this very point." Dear Leslie, First of all, let's not confuse READING God's word, exalting it and respecting it for what it IS (living, powerful).........with "sermonizing" ABOUT it. Yes! God gave clear moral guidelines! Read them d-i-r-e-c-t-l-y to your children! Put them in direct contact with the living God. *Of course* you do not tell them God's law is not considered right behavior for them as well. That is a quantum leap in judgement, and that is *not* what I was saying, nor is it what CM meant. Period. End of that. (Sorry, but I simply will not be misunderstood on such a vital point! I am a *lover* of the Word of God, and I *am* smiling!) You then said ". I am not to preach. I am not to draw conclusions. I am not to ask the children to tell me what's right and what's wrong because of their conciences are not yet fully informed and they do not need to get into a habit of judging. If I could find the appropriate quote I would forward it. How is this moral discussion done? Anyone? ~~Nope. Don't preach, let the Holy Spirit. He is more than able. (By the way, these are GREAT points you are making...this is a *discussion*, and a good one at that.) As for the quote you are thinking of, I have read it, but don't have the time to look it up right now. May I draw you to the comment in my article, " In considering CM's opinion on the moral upbringing of children, we can no doubt find points of agreement, and points of disagreement. I am going to attempt to simply out line her philosophy in this area without sharing my personal conclusions too much. " Would that lead you to believe I do not *fully* agree with all CM's thoughts on this subject? It should. I *do* believe in imparting to my children in ways that help them make their conclusions their OWN. Let's again draw a distinction between stilted, artificial moralizing - a CONSTANT dishing out of only my opinion to my children......VERSUS serving them the living ideas from Scripture or any other living book, and then sharing with them - in relationship - "I do not agree with what the character in that book did....let me tell you why I don't, and see what you think." Am I being clear?? The difference is they are presented with the *idea* FIRST - say, "dishonesty", disguised as a character in a book. They are "first hand witnesses" so to speak to this act of dishonesty. They must grapple with IT....not my opinion of it. They see, both in their own lives as they draw parallels, and in the life of the character in the book, the act and the end result. Their mental gears are grinding the IDEA of dishonesty....instead of my merely saying, "Don't lie." GOD told stories too...some true, some parables. AND He directly told us what He felt. This is not an "either/ or" - ESPECIALLY when it comes to Scripture. This is a "both/and". We must not over simplify, OR jump to quick judgement on this topic, OR take everything CM said as truth. Hope this helps. In His Amazing Love, Sheila

guess if CM "rallied for a third position" when it came to moral instruction, then I rally for a FOURTH position, one that your post brought to mind: I do agree that morals are more "caught" than taught, hence the importance of lots of living literature, including the Bible. I also agree that some direct instruction is best, although the nature of the direct instruction I give my children, and that sort of instruction Charlotte recommended differ. My "fourth position" would involve the importance of modeling. No, not "modeling" in the sense of cameras and fashion magazines (BIG ha ha), rather, modeling in the sense of what our lives as parents "say" to our children. I realize CM DID advocate modeling, in that she spoke often of "hero admiration." And I know she felt "hero admiration" played a large part in the formation of character. But again, I want to put CM into "my" vernacular. *I* would speak of the importance of what we "model" to our children. If we as parents are exaggerative and untruthful, why then at BEST our children will get a little bit older and wiser.....and see right through us. At worst they will follow our lead, and even farther. (I think of the Abraham, Isaac example - when Abraham said Sarah was his sister...Isaac grew up to do the same.) If we as parents are unkind or insecure or overly competitive, we will raise children who will one day shake their heads in dismay at our antics.... at BEST. Or we will raise children who are doubly unkind, who battle insecurity (which is pride with it's coat turned inside out!), and who cannot stand to see another person honored. What a sad existence, but I see it all through the body of Christ. Those are just two examples, but they are about the most prevalent. I suppose the above mentioned, plus a lack of self discipline would be a third example. I could go on and on. I feel sorry for parents who do not know how to relax and enjoy the Christian life. What sort of example is that? I am sorry for the parents who do not have a church home that they regularly attend and support. Why? I have seen the fruit of all of this for over 15 years. It's rotten stuff. I have been around the people of God long enough to not only grow to adulthood myself, but to see those just behind me grow up too. I have seen end over end the sins of the fathers being "caught" by the children. Then, I have also seen young people get their eyes opened by the Holy Spirit, and begin to see their parent's character or lack thereof for what it is, and do the RIGHT thing. (Not in any openly disrespectful way...just a quiet revelation which these young people took to heart - still loving their parents, yet not wanting to "be like that". How sad.) With all my warts and imperfections, I desire with my whole heart for my children to see in their mother a totally honest person - intellectually honest, and honest with all I come in contact with. I want them to observe me embracing meekness and humility. I want them to see and HEAR me rejoice when another is honored. I have friends in our church where my dh pastors, whom I regularly tell, "I want you to go BEYOND me...I want to see you succeed beyond where I have been, or will ever be." I say it because God has graced me just enough to MEAN it..*wink* But what powerful stuff for our children to "catch". THEY will make the greatest leaders: for a leader by definition brings out the best in those around him or her. Any other sort of leadership is proud and insecure. I tell my kids almost every day that they are *expected* to be the leader. I do not believe in this thing that leaders are "born not made"...well, in a way I do. IF you are "born again", then you are called by God, and *expected* to bear the stamp of Christ, who led. (Of course, in the church there are different positions, offices etc., but that's another OFF TOPIC thing....heavens no, I won't go there.) Make a long story short: lead by example. And by example LEAD. Your children will very likely "catch" your leadership style like one "catches" a cold. If someone were to ask me to submit a "thesis" on moral training for children, THIS is what mine would say....."Mother? Father? Of what are YOU made?" In Him Who is Able, Sheila

The Formation of Habit 73-84line

Appendix 84-endline


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