Thursday, February 25, 2016

Areas where we are doing the Charlotte Mason method well, and where we can improve

Some of Charlotte Mason's methods are being implemented here quite well. Others are falling short. I'm taking a look at how things are going in our home school and areas where we can improve. This will help guide my personal reading list ahead of planning, but it will also help me be more intentional with our day-to-day.

Here are some of Mason's methods, boiled down to a bullet point (and that's not fair, but for the sake of brevity!) and how it's looking at our house:

Things going well:

Short lessons: Yes! That's easy to manage. At this age, 15-20 minutes tops per subject is plenty. The goal is to have focused attention during that time.

Living books: I'll call it a "yay!" We read some great books together -- books full of ideas, books that aren't talking down to the children, books that use interesting language. I do allow them to check out "twaddle" from the library, however. I want them to know they have that freedom in choice.

My 5yo isn't yet reading, so she looks at the pictures and if she requests, I will read a particular book to her. I do not go out of my way to read one of those fluffier LEGO Friends (or whatever) books. Instead, when I read to her I give her a choice between two living books. My son really enjoys non-fiction, and will often choose an encyclopedia of "dry facts" for himself. Ok!

Math: Our program (RightStart) focuses on understanding, uses good manipulatives. I think Mason would approve. We are almost to the halfway point of level B, and I am such a fan. So is my son.

Things going so-so:

Narration: J will narrate chapters or other readings for me upon request and usually does so cheerfully. I'm not consistent about requiring narrations after every reading. (Need to read my copy of SCM's guide on narration).

Picture study: When we do it, it goes well and is roughly CM. Roughly, because we aren't spending a term on one artist at the moment, but are doing a more general overview of a variety of artists. We spend time looking at 2-3 of their works, since that's all I typically have of a particular artist in my set. I can see how CM is wise in focusing on one artist and really getting to know him or her for a time is better.

Slow readings: Rather than tear through a book as quickly as possible, if we spread out the readings and take time to absorb it, I find that we have better retention and enjoyment. I think it's ok to binge-read a book that we can't put down, but I also think it's worthwhile to take some time with it. Sometimes I read more than I probably should aloud (but really, when they beg for just one more chapter, it is HARD to say no!).

The goal isn't getting through a set quantity of books; the goal is to experience and absorb quality literature and allow time for making connections. After learning more about the importance of slower readings and trying the practice myself, I am seeing just how our interaction with a book is different when we read fast vs. read over time. I retain more, I make more connections, and I remember more long-term.

Areas where significant improvement is needed:

Nature study: We just aren't doing it! LAME. While we are reading from living nature books, we also need to ahem, get out there and be outside, observing, drawing and being. Plan for improvement: We are doing some outdoor meet-ups with friends coming up and will dress for the weather. Spring is also coming, which ought to help. We are going to some parks that do not have playground structures. This will help us focus on the great outdoors. Playgrounds are fun, but it can be harder to accomplish nature study when swings and slides are beckoning.

Memorization and recitation: This has fallen by the wayside.

I am reading "Consider This" by Karen Glass and would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone interested in Charlotte Mason education, but classical education as well.

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