Answer the questionnaire with a yes or no.
- Do your children spend 3 or more hours outside every day?
- Do they describe and identify what they see outdoors?
- Do you know birds, flowers, insects and other animals from your area?
- Have you trained them in many habits consistently and frequently?
- Have you read her original volumes? At least one full volume?
- Do you follow the Ambleside curriculum?
- Do you have composer, artist, hymn, folk song, foreign language studies?
- What about nature journals and walks?
- Do they paint with brushes regularly?
- Do your children narrate from age six?
- Do they listen attentively to your one and only reading?
- Do you have only living books, no.twaddle.at.all?
- Do you study history using time lines and books of centuries?
- Have you ever bought any prepacked curriculum?
- Have you ever done a unit study, lap book, or deferred to any other method different than Mason?
- Do you use any worksheets other than a few for math?
- Do you use manipulatives for math?
- Do you have cable TV? What about a Kindle or any reader? An i pad?
- Do your children play any video games, watch any movies, or listen to any music but classic?
- Do you memorize whole Bible passages and poetry?
- Do your children play any instruments?
- Do they play or act out Shakespeare plays or the books you read to them in their play?
- Do they do any handiwork in the free time?
- You mean you don’t knit, crochet, saw, or bake?
- Do you eat any fast food or prepacked foods?
If you answered no to more than ten of these questions or yes to 14, 15, 16, 19, 19 or 25 , I’m sorry to announce that you are a Charlotte Mason impostor… JUST KIDDING.
I know many of AMAZING YOU, truly DO most if not all of the seriously mentioned things. I also know that it is not about the quantity of things you do. It is not how well you do them, or if you failed to do something in the past. I know that TODAY is what counts. That every year is a better year if you try a few or even just one more thing that will get you closer to the never obtainable Charlotte Mason education ideal that in any case regulates and guides our days, but should never suffocate them or discourage our wonderful homeschools with our children.
Every time you do something, I only hope it’s moved by an IDEA. By the thought that it is something good for your family, not to put a check mark or to catch up with the other masonschoolers, or because “everybody” seems to do it, so I should.
I’m thinking now about Amy. It’s obvious she has a renewed interest in incorporating hymns, and folk songs, and foreign language studies. She is also beautifully pregnant. I’ve been writing than having a day per ‘subject’ so to speak is working well for us. And that those studies we never quite did very well, are improving. But these two or three weeks with my husband’s condition, those things have diminished. However, sitting a while and deciding on some hymns and folk songs, and foreign language songs… not many, a few… has made it possible to always be able to play them on the laptop on our short school time more frequently than ever.To be honest, those are the things that I like to do every single day, but now they happen once, twice or more in the week, and they add so much color to our days.
I also have to be completely honest. We are not reading Trial and Triumph, Parables from Nature, nor Shakespeare for children. And just because it’s not a lot, or to compensate or anything, but because I fell in love with this short book, we added Highroads of Geography. The first book I’m not interested in reading now. Maybe later. We don’t believe Trial and Triumph to be the history of christianity, but it has in it the life of many important religious figures in our Western culture, and as such, it’s a book we may get to later. Parables from Nature we don’t read because I simply can’t read it well, with my accent, and the content the way is presented, is totally over our abilities at the time. It’s not that we are giving up in a difficult book, it’s that simply we have enough challenge and we are not ready to benefit from it yet. Again, it’s a book we may consider later, who knows? One mom was just saying they read Fifty Famous Stories Retold, but it was never her favorite. To us, Fifty Famous Stories Retold is a favorite, at least to me, and if this were the challenge, I won’t eliminate it because the few but carefully selected history readings I’m not ready to forgo. And Shakespeare because I only have a girl in AO year 1, and I know that in two years, when my youngest is in year 1, Shakespeare will be a success. Then they’ll be able to act out the stories and appreciate it best. It doesn’t worry me, my oldest is perfectly happy with the books we read, the things we do. For play production, my oldest has been weeks writing her own Cinderella plays on word. Those Shakespeare for children were not written at the time of Charlotte Mason. Again, it’s great if you are using them since your children are 6 or 7, I’m just fine waiting a bit longer. In the meantime, it will be me who will read Shakespeare to prepare for later.
All this Charlotte Mason thing is something easier than we make it be, because there is no belts or levels to obtain. You’ll get better with time, but it may be that at any given moment in your life and homeschool you need to stop and regroup. Kathy in her post is right. There is today many blogs and information of those who claim to be CM or influenced by her, many curriculum packages, products, etc, and it’s probably confusing and not quite right. Then, how much or how little you take from her will depend on you, but be content with what you have whatever it is instead of beating yourself about those things which don’t happen yet or never will, I’m talking to myself. If I follow her principles it is because to us they work, at the humble level we apply them, which is still very incipient, but what can I say? I see many benefits from this type of education, but listen, your children life and education don’t pend exclusively on your ability to stick to Charlotte Mason or any philosophy of education. After all, we are all just a family with our idiosyncrasy, our believes, our likes and dislikes, our strengths and weaknesses, and in our case we have faith and know that our daughters will be fine as persons, the way God intends them to be academically, physically, and most important, spiritually.