Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Charlotte Mason Education Is Possible In Your Homeschool

Tired of being chained to expensive traditional boxed curriculum sets?  Have your children been rebelling against the monotony of workbooks and texts books that bore them to tears? Are you looking for a superior education that would stimulate your children to higher more critical thinking with subjects like Bible, world history, math, science, nature study, Shakespeare, composer and artist study, poetry, foreign language, art, handicrafts, music and literature? There is a better way. 

You may have read about Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education and been drawn to short lessons reading books that inspire children to think and to develop the whole character;  the use of narration which replaces hours of endless paper pencil workbook pages.  Lots of outdoor time is spent in studying God’s creation to sharpen the child’s observation skills and to build a science foundation.  Children are not buckets or blank slates in which you must fill with dry facts and knowledge to memorize and reproduce on a test.  Children require vital ideas in which they may interact with to feed their growing minds.  

I would like to help you implement a Charlotte Mason education in your homeschool using Ambleside Online, a free curriculum.  The curriculum uses many free online sources as well.  I will show you how to use the curriculum and the free resources to plan your weeks, how to write lesson plans, where to find the materials that you would need, and how to get connected into the support community to help you along.  So toss out the expensive curriculums that leave you chained to traditional methods that do not work and find educational joy and freedom for you and your family!

Getting Started Implementing Ambleside Online Curriculum Seminar
Rebecca Miller, Homewood Christian Association Member
15 years teaching in public, private and homeschool
Founded and runs Mason Approach to Children’s Education Co-op
Member of North Houston Charlotte Mason Group

Room 109
South County Community Center
2235 Lake Robbins Dr, The Woodlands, TX, 77380

June 28

What Time:

Cost (Materials Included):
Early bird mail in discount: $10 per person
At the door if space is available:  $15 per person
Space is limited.  First come, first serve.  Reserve you’re seat by mailing a check to Rebecca Miller by June 15th.  Please include the names of those attending and an email address.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nature Study Comes Knocking on the Window

Nature study can happen in the most unexpected ways.  A snail oozing across the window sparked questions and investigation.  We pull out our jewelers loupes to look at it under 5x magnification.  Did you know the eyes are on their retractable antennae?  "Are snails born with shells?" he asks.  A quick internet search turns up the surprising answer, "Yes," and gives us more fascinating information.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Is nature study enough science in the younger years?

"Of the teaching of Natural Philosophy, I will only remind the reader of what was said in an earlier chapter––that there is no part of a child's education more important than that he should lay, by his own observation, a wide basis of facts towards scientific knowledge in the future. He must live hours daily in the open air, and, as far as possible, in the country; must look and touch and listen; must be quick to note, consciously, every peculiarity of habit or structure, in beast, bird, or insect; the manner of growth and fructification of every plant. He must be accustomed to ask why––Why does the wind blow? Why does the river flow? Why is a leaf-bud sticky? And do not hurry to answer his questions for him; let him think his difficulties out so far as his small experience will carry him. Above all, when you come to the rescue, let it not be in the 'cut and dried' formula of some miserable little text-book; let him have all the insight available and you will find that on many scientific questions the child may be brought at once to the level of modern thought." Charlotte Mason-vol 1 pg 265

Do you remember when you were in 4th grade?  Do you remember your fourth grade science textbook with fond memories because you gleaned so much knowledge from it?  Most likely you do not remember any of your textbooks fondly because they dryly dispensed facts the curriculum writers thought you should know at each grade level.  So when we ask, “Is nature study enough?’  what we are really asking is, “Is the real study of the biological world in its actual context enough science?”  We have been so conditioned to think that learning is what is done in a classroom at a desk with text books, that when we are faced with the simplicity of really doing science, it does not seem adequate or real.

Charlotte Mason encourages a paradigm shift from using the abstract dry form of dispensing filtered knowledge in a textbook and children dutifully memorizing this information to experiencing the real thing through the actual study of nature where children learn from their own observations.   Nature study IS the foundation of science.  It is what drives the child toward a curious investigation of the world God created and it gives children a passion for science in the later years.  A child that has never observed a frog first hand or studied fungus in its natural environment will never wonder why frogs are found in or near ponds or why fungus grows in our yards?  There will be no further passion to experiment to find out how things work or why they do.  They won’t be driven by their curiosity to seek out those answers.

Living books that bring the natural world alive by writers that are passionate about their subject, undergird the study of nature.  James Herriot's Treasury for Children by James Herriot, The Burgess Bird Book for Children or The Burgess Animal Book by Thornton Burgess, Secrets of the Woods by William J. Long, Madam How and Lady Why by Charles Kingsley are read in the younger years.   These writers draw their readers into the natural world in such a way that the reader connects with it on a personal level.  Later, the children read biographies of the people who have made a significant impact in the field of science such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Alexander Graham Bell, and George Washington, Carver.

The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock is a necessity for the teacher.  This resource will help you in girding up your knowledge and it gives great nature study ideas.  Include some field guides to help identify what you find on your nature walks.

Nature Notebooks allow the child to hone his observation skills as he attempts to reproduce a subject from nature that has been studied, through drawing or painting.  As the child gets older he will include narrations of the study as well.  The nature notebook is not a field guide with dry facts about the subject.  It is a living expression of the nature study itself in which the child recounts what happened or what was seen on the nature walk.

To answer the question, “Is nature study enough in the younger years,” I would say no.  Round out your study with living books about nature, field guides, The Hand book of nature for the teacher, and sufficient time working in a nature notebook every week.  Get them outdoors often, every day if possible.  This is the solid foundation to build a science education on which will give your child the passion and tools for a lifelong love of science and learning!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ambleside Online is Not Structured Enough?

When I tell people that I am using the Charlotte Mason curriculum Ambleside Online for my homeschool the response is often, “I have looked into it once but was overwhelmed.  I need something that is much more structured.”  I understand why one would feel that way.  When you go the Ambleside Online website, you can easily become overwhelmed when looking at the long list of weekly readings.  It is hard for many to imagine how that list can become what you traditionally thought of as school.  What many people do not know is that there are organized schedules that you can download for free.

The school year is 36 weeks which is divided into three 12 week terms.  The term schedules break down the books into weekly readings by chapter.  The schedule below is the one we are currently working from.  This is one of six pages.  Once you have downloaded it, the schedule is fully editable.  You simply fill it in with your math curriculum and so forth.  This is the schedule from Judy Elliot, which I use to make my weekly lesson plans from.  So don’t get stymied by the website.  There is an easier more structured format!  You can find the files on the AO HEO Schedules Yahoo Group.  Simply join the group to gain access to the schedules you will need to implement the curriculum.

Blogger Wordpress Gadgets