"'Education is the Science of Relations'; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books, for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of––
'Those first-born affinities,
That fit our new existence to existing things.'"

Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education
with a quote from The Prelude by William Wordsworth

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New! The Gallery Blog Carnival

Art Lessons For Kids at Ms. Julie's Art School is starting The Gallery Blog Carnival of Art Projects for Kids. Each month the carnival will showcase wonderful how-to blog entries. The first issue will be published on September 1st and I am looking forward to reading it!

Art Camp

This year, much to my joy, my mother decided to teach an Art Camp this summer for kids 8 and up, which included Ds#1 and Ds#1 and many of their friends. My aunt, who just retired in May, was her assistant. They put a lot of time and effort into five mornings of projects, and the kids really enjoyed themselves. The results were spectacular!

They worked with a lot of color and texture, working mostly with chalk pastels and various papers, though they used other mediums as well. Ds#3 was not officially in the camp, but he would bring some of his coloring pages from home to show Grammy, and she let him in on a few of the projects as well.

It was a big hit all the way around, and something I hope they do again next summer!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My Charlotte Mason

I certainly consider myself a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, though I am just as certain that I do not exactly follow her methods. It appears this is not uncommon among CMers.

What I have embraced fundamentally, as the title of this blog reflects, is that "education is the science of relations." Those relations are lifelong pursuits when education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. They are best formed through living books and materials. The rest is an eclectic mix of educational material to achieve these goals.

While Ambleside Online and Mater Amabilis are outstanding programs, I wanted to combine my children in several subjects, so the separate yearly schedules made that very difficult. I refer to and recommend them frequently. I also view books like This Country of Ours and Apologia Science as textbooks compared to the many other books available about specific aspects of history and science.

Having said that, our school is not void of all curricula; instead we have an eclectic mix of living educational material that best works for our family. Here is an overview of My Charlotte Mason educational program:

Religious Education: I spend one day a week for each child teaching Faith and Life using the teacher's manual after they have done the reading in the student book. Other days they are reading the Bible and the Saints.

Math: we all love M.E.P. I set aside 40 minutes per child to teach it 3 days a week. We do various living math 2 days a week.

Language Arts: Each child works independently. Ds#1 is on year 2 of 3 in Intermediate Language Lessons, while Ds#2 is on year 2 of 2 in Primary Language Lessons. These books have a wonderful mix of grammar, picture study, dictation, and copywork. Ds#3 needs to solidify his reading, so I will continue Hooked on Phonics with him (a program I've had for 7 years now.) He'll also be doing copywork.

Literature: Ds#1 and Ds#2 read independently while I read aloud to Ds#3; art study they read and view independently. They work on Rosetta Stone Italian separately. I may try and fit in some basic Latin, too, though I am not sure if I will do this with Ds#1 only or all 3.

Everything else I combine, starting with the Program for Achieving Character Education (P.A.C.E.) I get poetry and copywork from it; the stories from William Bennett's The Book of Virtues and The Moral Compass we read aloud together.

Shakepeare and tales we read together, and we do art projects together. I even do Writing together, though each are of course working on their own pieces.

U.S. History, World History, Science, and Nature I approach in a similar way using the CONNECT method as described in the Connecting With History program. I introduce and discuss whatever topic we are covering to all of them. Each week we have short readings from our "spine" and work on timelines, cultures, famous people, and experiments together. Beyond that I give them individual books to read (or to have read to them) at their own levels, and they narrate (written or oral) what they have read. They also each pick projects to work on throughout the weeks; these are presented at the end of each topic. Everything gets put into notebooks or lapbooks.

We start at 8 am and finish by noon, with additional time in the afternoon for them to work on their projects. It is not what Charlotte Mason described, with children reading all morning, their attention kept by the wonderful books and that they may be called upon to narrate; and then long afternoons outdoors for masterly inactivity and nature study. Yet through My Charlotte Mason I am striving to meet that fundamental principle: Education is the Science of Relations.