Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Worthwhile Evening

For my friends in the public schools, this is not
meant to be a put-down!!! It is an adjustment to
the reality of the differences between learning at
home and learning in a classroom.

Last evening our homeschool co-op enjoyed our
monthly "Mom's Meeting". However, last night
we included the Dads and children who wished to
be there.

Our guest speaker was Dean Andreola. You may know him
as the publisher of Charlotte Mason Materials or as
a reviewer at Christian Book Distributors.

Dean and Karen had joined our co-op upon moving into our
area a couple of years ago and it has been a true pleasure
to get to know them. We had missed seeing them since
Nigel graduated and no longer needed the co-op.
The relationship has rekindled through church and our boys' friendship.
Nigel recommended a book that has Mikey reading enthusiastically.
This has blown my mind since he is a very hesitant reader.
Thank You, Nigel!
You are my hero!

The sincerity with which the Andreolas approach
their work and life is beautiful.

Before Nigel graduated, Karen gave her Mother Culture Talk to
the Moms of the Co-op. It was so neat. If you have had a
chance to hear Karen speak you know what I am talking about.

One of the things that made Dean's talk so interesting last
evening were the personal anecdotes he shared about he and
Karen's years growing up in New Jersey. It was fun to hear
a husband's perspective on his wife, who is our friend.

Dean had us wiping tears from our eyes we were laughing so
hard but then in the next breath he would share something
totally profound and so true.

Over the past couple of years I have found myself using more
of a Charlotte Mason approach to our homeschool with much better
results than we saw with a more workbook/textbook oriented approach.
The kids are happier and learning more while I am much less stressed.
If we could ditch math, I would be completely happy...
but that is not happening, so I continue to suffer through the math.

Some of you may be wondering, "What is Charlotte Mason?"

It is more of a philosophy than anything else...although
Dean and Karen have printed and written books to teach the
Charlotte Mason method. The philosophy is finding that thing that inspires
your child to learn. To learn from nature, music, poetry,and
living books. It is the antitheses of attempting to recreate
what we think of as Public School in the home.

The books that Karen writes are inspirations to get us
headed in the right direction. Some are actual tools, such as
Pocket Full of Pinecones, and Story Starters.
Very cool!

No rows of desks...no attempt to teach our children as a class of twenty.
There are only three in this house...

I spend time at the library searching out books that will
inspire the children to learn more about a subject. Books that
they will not begrudgingly read. This approach takes time, effort
and planning but it is definitely worth it. For example, we have read
some of the neatest historical fictions that have shed light on
World War II and its effects on people, learned scientific principles
through books on airships, and so much about history through reading
the biographies of those who lived it. So fun! So interesting!
When I see my kids sketching away and it is a picture of something
we have been reading about...I know I have them. When I go to close
a book and they complain that they want more...I know I have them.

This is the Charlotte Mason Method. Teaching your child to enjoy
lifelong learning. Not "doing school" as it used to be done at
our house with tears and lots of worksheets.

Now we make books, and write stories. We draw, we go outside and look
at the plants about which we study...we are in the kitchen creating dishes
that are fantastic...as we learn about homemaking and cooking. We take
every natural opportunity to learn. We have found our children's passions
and we are seeking to make available to them the tools of learning to
expand upon them. We are teaching them the fun in learning. The ability
to appreciate the knowledge.

To do this we are having to "unlearn" some old, bad habits.

Mikey resists anything that is called schoolwork. He is softening
a little bit as this year we have built his Junior year around his
interests in botany. He will be doing his writing assignments and
speech on this subject or perhaps one will involve the science aspects
of his dirt bike. Propulsion, speed, thrust, gas engines...so many options.

I don't mind if he mixes his sciences as long he is learning.

Jonathan has a strong interest in the chemistry of Food.
Food Science.
I have ordered a text...unfortunately it is on back order, however,
he will be studying food science this year.
for us.
But, it should be fun.

Chelsea is an avid reader and writer. She learns about so much every day.
She reads magazines and books. This one is very motivated to write and
learn. She is also growing in the arts of homemaking and only last evening
commented that she can now see herself with a family of her own. We were making
knock-out beef and pepper stir-fry over Chinese noodles. We were using her new
cooking class book. I found it for a dollar at the library "store".

The meal was y-u-mm-y!

Dean's talk last evening was just the encouragement we needed to continue along
our path of inspiring our children to learn and to love the process. The
hope is that they will carry that love of learning all through their
lives and pass it on to the next generation.

Thanks for being here today and reading about what is such a large portion of my life. It is my biggest burden and my biggest joy.

I love my children and want the best for them. I pray constantly that God would allow us to provide whatever it is that they need to help them to grow into Godly adults with careers that they love...or in Chelsea's case if she grows into the homemaker and Mom that I can see her as...that will be great with me. She wants to be a published author.
I can see that happening too.
She is a great little writer.

Alright, off to wake the aforementioned children...they have a busy day ahead.

Blessings on your day.

Becky K.


Mrs. Rabe said...

Great Post Becky!

This is how we conduct our "school". We love it, and wouldn't trade it for anything!

Kelly said...

Thanks for the information on the Charlotte Mason approach. I've heard of it but never knew what it really was. We sort of do this, but I would like to break the "school" habit a little bit more with Nicholas. It's so easy with Anthony because he's self-motivated and has many interests, but Nicholas still hasn't expressed much interest in much of anything, although I do have a couple of ideas. We do read a lot of great books because we use Sonlight and my boys love that! There's no better way to retain knowledge than by reading an exciting story instead of just a boring textbook.