How We Use Charlotte Mason Style Learning In Our Homeschool
It’s day 2 of our series: Beginner’s Guide to Charlotte Mason!!! Today I want to talk about how we use Charlotte Mason style learning in our homeschool. If you haven’t read the first post in this series, I recommend you start HERE.
Before I begin, I want to say again that I am not an expert on Charlotte Mason and her methods. I am just someone who loves her ideas, and I want to incorporate them into my homeschool as much as I can. I am drawn to the ease of her methods. Since we’ve started using CM in our homeschool, days have been a lot smoother. (Not saying that they don’t ever get challenging… because that is just a struggle all of us have as homeschool moms. Some days are great, others are not so much. What I am saying is, her methods have really helped us out.)
In the last post, there was a list of what a CM education looks like. Now, I am going to try to break that down for you and show you how we do it.
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Formation of Good Habits
This one is something that we work on every day. I am sure you do too… you just may not realize it. Do your children have chores?? Making the bed? Cleaning their rooms? Brushing their teeth? That is forming habits. Now we do go further… as you should. Teaching our children to be selfless… putting others first.
Here’s an example of how we succeeded in that area: My 6-year-old son just lost his first tooth. The “tooth fairy” gave him $2. The next day, we went to a birthday party. He pulled out his $2 and gave it to the birthday boy! No prompting from us at all! Totally his idea!! I was so amazed! But, that is just proof that what we are doing to teach them, is forming good habits in their lives.
We teach through formal Bible lessons/ studies, giving our children chores, having them pay tithes on any money they receive, and above all, we pray for them. We correct them when they are wrong, and they do learn. It takes time, though. No habit is ever formed overnight, so keep your head up and keep pushing through. Children are molded so easily in their early years… that is the perfect time to start!
What is a living book anyway? Living books are books that come alive when you read them. Interesting and intriguing books that get the child’s attention. They can be fictional or nonfictional. That does not matter. What matters is the content. We are using Heart of Dakota this year for our children. The curriculum is packed full of awesome living books. Some examples are:
Grandpa’s Box: Retelling the Biblical Story of Redemption (Love this one!)
And there are really just too many to list!
We also use The Sassafras Science Adventures: Volume One: Zoology. It is an awesome living book Science Curriculum.
We do narration after storytime about 2-3 times per week. This is also something that is assigned in Heart of Dakota. We do oral narration on one or two days. Then we do written narration at the end of the week. When your child does narration, they are to tell back the story to you in their own words. It is used to see what the child has learned… what information they have retained.
**Copywork is mainly used for handwriting practice.
Poetry: Our poetry is all inside Heart of Dakota. In the back of the teacher’s manual they have compiled an awesome list of poems for every eek by well-known poets. The children study one poem all week and they learn information on the author of the poem as well. They also do poetry writing activities in Heart of Dakota and in Learning Language Arts Through Literature.
Art/Artist Studies: We use ARTistic Pursuits . You study a painting by a famous artist, and then there is a corresponding lesson and project.
Composer Studies: Honestly, this year we have slacked, but in the past, we have done artist studies alongside My Father’s World.
For nature study, we use Nature Anatomy. We use a regular sketch pad to do nature drawings in. Most of our lessons are unplanned. Nature Study works so much better for us when we just happen upon a subject we want to study. For example, today as I walked to my mailbox there were butterflies covering my flowers! So I called the kids outside, and we observed the butterflies. We watched them closely for a while. Then we came inside and opened our Nature Anatomy book to read about butterflies and figure out what kind of butterflies they were.
We love to be outdoors! So nature walks are right up our alley. We usually go to local state parks and go on some hiking trails. We also live right next to a wildlife refuge that has plenty of hiking trails as well. Here’s a picture of the waterfall at the end of one of our favorite trails:
As I have already said, we love outdoors! It is really not too hard to convince our children to go outside to play. There are days they are outside for 4-6 hours at a time. They play outside as much as they can throughout the day when the weather is good. We even play in the rain! And snow of course. Who doesn’t like to build snowmen???
Short lessons? What’s that all about? Well, short lessons are meant to help keep a child’s attention. Many children, especially younger children, can not stay focused on one subject for a very long time. I know my kids are that way for sure. So, short lessons help keep them engaged, and help them to retain more information. The Language Arts curriculum we do is set up that way. Short to the point lessons. Really, all of our curriculum, aside from Math are short lessons.
Math is usually manipulative based/ hands-on in a Charlotte Mason style education. That is one of the things that drew us to Math U See. It works really well with CM learning. We also read Life of Fred to our children. Life of Fred is a living book math program. So it fits in nicely, and my children absolutely love the stories!
This is an area that we slack some. We currently do not use any formal foreign language programs. Right now we teach the children a few Spanish and French words here and there, and some sign language. (anything that Mom and Dad remember from school!)
We try to memorize a weekly scripture. Our scriptures are given to us in the Heart of Dakota teacher’s manual, but in the past, I have used some of my favorite scriptures for scripture memory. (Confession: I have also randomly pulled a scripture from my daily bread box.) My kids are also doing Bible quizzing at church, so they do memorize scriptures there and in Sunday School as well.
Dictation is also part of Heart of Dakota and Learning Language Arts Through Literature. That is where most of our dictation comes from. It is used for Spelling. I was a little nervous about using it as a spelling program because was so used to the traditional spelling programs with huge lists of words. But, so far, it is working pretty well.
Now we have finally reached the most important part of a child’s education: knowledge of God and the Bible! Our children are given so many different opportunities to study the word of God. At Sunday School they are taught many Bible lessons, but at home, they get to go deeper into the Bible, and actually study God’s word. Heart of Dakota assigns Bible study every day, and the Bible is woven throughout the curriculum in other areas as well. We try to have our children read the Bible every day, and we also read the Bible to them.
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Don’t forget to look for more in this series: Beginner’s Guide to Charlotte Mason!