Mother Culture: A Charlotte Mason Support Group in Bradford, Ontario *Note date change!*

** Please note the date changes below.  Thank you all for your kind words and support as our family has struggled to find health this fall.  We are pleased to report that hubby is now recovering at home after a week long hospital stay. **

I am so excited to start a new year of Charlotte Mason Support Group!  As many of you know I host this little book club for very selfish reasons as I am so energized and encouraged by the visits of like-minded mamas every 5-6 week.  You give me a boost that helps me to imagine I might survive this crazy game for a few more weeks. 

Continue reading Mother Culture: A Charlotte Mason Support Group in Bradford, Ontario *Note date change!*

Mother Culture: Notes on A Biblical Home Education, Chapter Two: History


from November 1, 2012

 

Friends, even with the help of the wonderfully efficient and organized Jacki Young, I have been negligent in getting these notes to you.  If you are new to our little spot here “Under the Maple Tree” then please join our little group.  You will find details here about this actual and virtual support group and our first set of notes here.  In short, we meet as a small support group to learn from one another and a good book as well as to encourage and spur one another on in this crazy homeschooling life.  This year our book of choice is A Biblical Home Education by Dr. Ruth Beechick.  If you are interested in joining us even if only virtually, then the book is available through Maple Tree.  Contact me, Cori, for ordering information.

 

If you are following our little group online, or if you missed the meeting in person, or if you were here and wanted to look over the ideas and resources that we discussed then please enjoy the notes below with thanks to the great Jacki Young.

 

——————

 

Beechick writes, “We must match history to the Bible – not only its timeline and chronology, but also the principles and the meanings we attach to it.” (p.23)

 

It is difficult to find resources that integrate Bible with history. Here are some suggestions:

o www.dianawaring.com – “Ancient Civilizations” curriculum and other resources for integrating Bible and History

o History resources from Simplecharlottemason.com

o A Story of the World – keep in mind that the Bible is treated as literature, not as core

o www.jonathanpark.com – Jonathan Parks CDs

o Mystery of History – in this curriculum the Bible isn’t just integrated but is the core of history

 

Beechick encourages us to “resist the hype” i.e. set realistic goals for history (p.39)

o Don’t try to do too many activities; rather, focus on the reading

o Notebooking and reading work well with multiple age levels

 

There are benefits to reading in short spurts or in longer chunks

o Good to stop before seeing the “glazed look” in their eyes

o Leave them wanting more and excited to see what happens when reading is resumed

o Reading for longer chunks allows more depth of study

 

There are many benefits to using extra-Biblical sources to study Ancient history:

o Helps us understand that the world is bigger than Biblical history

o Integrates Bible and History to help us see parallels – things happening at the same time in different places in world

o Helps to lend credibility to Bible

o Helps to give place in history

o Artifacts also give credibility to Bible

o Shows the contradictions between the Bible and History eg. we know from the Bible that people were made smart (no cavemen); this contradicts common “History”

o We need the whole picture to argue our point eg. To discuss evolution vs the Bible

o Enables us to stand up for our beliefs even if persecuted

o If we can stand up for our beliefs, we will “stand before kings”:

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men. ” Proverbs 22:29

 

Today, history is not necessarily taught in society; instead, an “individual history” is emphasized

o Charlotte Mason thought history should be taught so that students could “think justly of what is occurring today” (“Home Education”, p. 169)

o Understanding history helps us to be less self-focused

 
Where should a homeschooling parent start with history? Some suggestions:

o My Father’s World website www.mfwbooks.com

§ Integrates Bible and “History”

§ Can be too repetitive depending on your style/taste

o Mystery of History (available through Maple Tree)

o 50 Famous Stories by James Baldwin – stories of heroes & famous men (available as a free ebook or on www.librivox.org for free audio download)

o An Island Story by H.E. Marshall (Recommended on Amblesideonline.org) (also available free online)

o “Trial and Triumph” by R. Hannula – stories of heroes of church history

 
Building a timeline

o Create a timeline (either on the wall or “Book of Centuries”)

– some suggested delaying timelines until grade 3 and later while others started them earlier

o Various websites can help you make one eg. Knowledgequest.com

o Cori has made a timeline book; request the file if you are interested

o Simplycharlottemason.com has 2 versions of a “book of centuries”. One is free, while the other costs but includes categories ie. Art, culture, religion, etc.

 
For good history book lists, refer to the following resources:

o Through the Ages by Christine Miller

o Amblesideonline.org

o Sonlight.com

o Cmhelp.com

o Greenleaf Press

o A Story of the World

o Heartofwisdom.com (Biblical history)

o Classicalhomeschooling.org
o See also great series like Our Canadian Girl, the Dear Canada diary series, and the Canadian Flyer series for Canadian history
 

Beechick’s categorization of history differs from most. It is not divided according to Jesus life/death:

1) Early Times (Creation – Abraham)

2) Kingdom of Israel(Father Abraham – Fall of Judah)

3) Gentile Kingdoms (Captivity of Israel & Judah – God’s kingdom on Earth)

According to Beechick, the statue from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2 “shows the whole history of the Gentile world from Babylon through to the kingdom of Christ” (p.32-33)

o This image is also studied in Precept Bible Studies for kids by Kay Arthur

 

We also took some time to discuss Living books and in short these are some of the notes that we had on them.

 

Living Books

 

What are living books?

o Whole books written by a single author where the subject is a “favourite” of author. We can share the author’s enthusiasm for the topic as we read. (S. Schaeffer McCauley)

o Special interest books that could be fiction or non-fiction (K. Andreola)

o A simple test of a good book is if kids are interested after reading one page (K. Andreola)

 
Some examples of living books:

o Apologia books

o Andrew Lang fairy books

o Trailblazer Books by Dave & Neta Jackson (unfortunately out of print) *Maple Tree has found a few of these still available new – let me know if you would like a title or two.

o Check out www.amblesideonline.orgfor excellent reading lists of living books.

o See also Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt and Books Children Love to Read by Elizabeth Wilson for excellent living book bibliographies.
 
Well, there are a few notes to get you started friends. :) I’m again looking forward to hearing some feedback. To those of you who were there, is there anything we missed? I’m sure there are more resources you can recommend.  If you weren’t there, what are your thoughts? What were the take away lessons that have challenged you or have helped in your home school recently? Please try to post your comments directly on the blog (rather than replying if you are receiving this as an email) so that we can all participate in the conversation.
 
I will try to get the notes to you for Decemeber’s meeting in the next few days and am looking forward to seeing some of you in person later this week!
 
Blessings,
 
Cori 
 
Maple Tree Publications
905-778-9412 

Mother Culture: Notes on A Biblical Home Education, Introduction and Chapter One

From our first meeting of the year…

September 20, 2012

Knowing that I didn’t do an exemplary job at sharing notes after meetings last year, Jacki Young, who is graciously co-leading our study group has also heroically offered to share her notes on the meetings.  I have cut and pasted her notes below and added a few thoughts of my own.  (The good stuff is Jacki’s writing; the muttering is mine.  Thank you for your grace in wading through my mutterings.)  Jacki has not only provided a summary of the ideas presented in the book but has also added in some of the thoughts, suggestions, ideas, and musings that we enjoyed during the evening.

General comments about the book:

          Does not have as many practical suggestions as expected.  Perhaps other Ruth Beechick books would fill in the gaps?  See for example The Three R’s (practical suggestions for kindergarten through grade 2) or You Can Teach Your Child Successfully(Grades 3 and up).  Ruth Beechick also has several other writings that would be worth looking at.  I (Cori) liked this article: http://creation.com/images/pdfs/home-school-corner/teaching-writing/6627how-not-teach-writing.pdf

          There are a number of assumptions that Dr. Beechick has made from the start of this study such as that we already feel confident in the choice to home educate and that the Bible is wholely true.  She doesn’t leave room for discussion of these ideas in this volume assumedly because she feels that the title A Biblical Home Education ensures that her readers have already grappled with these issues

          Would like more details on how to teach Bible as literature ie. Hebrew poetry

          Dr. Beechick distinguishes between language learning and content learning and encourages students to improve their language skills by using them in the content subjects

          Recent blog articles on simplycharlottemason.com might help with teaching individual subjects (17 part series).  Refer to:

o        http://simplycharlottemason.com/series/subject-by-subject/

Chapter 1 – Bible

          The Bible is essential for literacy because it is the most widely referenced book

          The Bible and Bible storybooks are important for teaching doctrine and for teaching Bible as literature; can be used as main textbook for home school.  An interesting difference from the stance that Charlotte Mason had as she wasn’t very much in favour of using Bible Storybooks.  Charlotte Mason felt that the Bible was story book enough and that any other story books pre-digested the truths for the children, and dumbed down the language.  Hmm, food for thought.

          Reading the whole Bible (not just passages) ensures that parents cannot take verses out of context eg. to manipulate children to doing right

          Old Testament stories point to Jesus (this is a “type”); this is evident in Jesus Storybook Bible and Mystery of History resources

          Put Bible readings in history.  Biblical history and the rest of history mustn’t be separated!

          Beechick says, “Chronological order does not help in the early years”.  As we teach the Bible and History over and over again, children of different ages will hear the cycle a number of times and understand the chronology.  Again, a departure from Charlotte Mason’s style and worth pondering.

          Beechick’s process of a child learning to understanding analogy:

o        Analogies of actions

o        Analogies of actors

o        The objects in the analogies

          There are parallels with the three stages of classical education:

o        Grammar (facts & stories)

o        Dialectic (why?)

o        Rhetorical (what do I think?)

          Do we censor the Bible when reading to young children?  WE use discretion as parents to ensure readings are “age appropriate”

          Other helpful Bible resources:

o        Children’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos

o        “What’s in the Bible?” DVD series by Phil Vischer

o        Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible on librivox.org

          Some considerations when choosing a version of the Bible to use:

o        Beechick’s history of modern day Bible translations is “limited” eg. King James Version was not “thrown out” when other versions written

o        Different versions had different goals in translation; some Bibles are paraphrases, not translations eg. The Message

o        Some modern day translations have truncated verses eg. In 1 Tim 2:5, studying refers to studying God’s word, not just studying in general

o        King James version is better written (quality, cadence, flow, etc.); familiarity with KJV enables students to read other difficult classic literature sooner

_____

Wow!  Thank you Jackifor giving such thorough feedback on the book and the meeting.

I’m also looking forward to hearing some feedback.  To those of you who were there, is there anything we missed?  If you weren’t there, what are your thoughts?  What were the take away lessons that have challenged you or have helped in your home school recently?  Please try to post your comments directly on the blog (rather than replying if you are receiving this as an email) so that we can all participate in the conversation.

Looking forward to the next meeting on November 1stwhen we will look at Chapter 2: “World History to Match the Bible”!

Blessings, Friends!

Cori

Maple Tree Publications

www.mapletreepublications.ca

Book Suggestions From This Meeting:

(Many of these are regularly in stock at Maple Tree.  Most of the rest can be ordered through Maple Tree.  Call or email for details as not all of our regular stock is listed on the website.)

The Three R’s

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully
A Biblical Home Education
Jesus Storybook Bible
Mystery of History
Children’s Story Bible
What’s in the Bible?
Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible
The Bible: many favourite versions and paraphrases include: King James Version, New International Version, New American Standard Version, the Message, and others…

Mother Culture: Wisdom vs. Knowledge – Part Two

Wisdom vs. Knowledge (Some notes on Chapter 5, Home Education:  Strengthening Your Child’s Mind to Learn for God) 

The Clarkson’s have created a simplified list that they believe to be seven basic mental muscles (strengths) that kids need in order to graduate as strong, well-educated adults: 

  1. Language
          talk and discuss much, create a print rich environment, read aloud a lot and on your own, write, limit television

“We all use language as a utilitarian means of information exchange, but those who understand its power use it to change lives and even influence history.” – pg 76


        What are some of your favourite family reads lately?  Do you, like me, find it hard to prioritize that yummy reading time when there are so many measurable things that you should do like math lessons, piano practice and copywork? 

  1. Appetites
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever if right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:8-9

– create and appetite for the best academic materials: great literature, art, music, poetry, books that bring people, topics and episodes in history alive.  Limit videos.

  1. Habits
Developing right habits is key to the success and good character of our children.  “Most good habits are the end product of discipleship and discipline of your children.” – pg. 80.  We must work on helping our children to become people of strong virtue.  (That’s why I wrote “Working Together”!)
How do you help your family to build those right habits?  What would define success in habit building to you?  In our family, we have put an emphasis on habits that develop strong, positive character traits and that develop responsibility.  (I would love it if Working Together was an encouragement to you as you strive to teach your family strong character while still working on conquering the everyday responsibilities of keeping home and family.  Please do check it out!)

  1. Creativity
Contemporary parenting styles may create overly programmed lives for children, by over-protecting them and over-scheduling them, which has the effect of denying children opportunities to discover for themselves as much as in previous generations.” – pg. 82 quote from Kyung Hee Kim, Associate Professor at the College of William and Mary.

– keys to creativity: provide time (FREE time) and tools, help to rightly develop the imagination (steering away from destructive imaginative outlets), encourage kids creative strengths and guide kids to try new things without forcing things on them and model creativity as parents.
One of the biggest lessons that I learned in all of my years as a math tutor was that kids who were always busy weren’t always the happiest or most successful.  There has to be something else that leads to success and happiness even though busyness seems to be the mantra of our age.

  1. Curiosity
You must learn how to channel that God-given curiousity into pure-clean waters.” – pg. 84

– how to foster the right kind of curiosity: let them know that curiosity is good, model discerning curiosity, provide lots of resources (not just books but craft supplies, a microscope, telescope, computer programmes or appropriately supervised internet access), direct studies to areas that kids are interested in, plan field trips strategically, and use teachable moments.

  1. Reason
Our reasoning is grounded in our world view so our faith is inextricably connected to our ability to take account of what is real or known (rather than speculative or unknown) to make judgements, to reason.

– Help to develop reasoning by constantly dialoguing and discussing issues, solving problems together, forming opinions and exercising thinking skills.  (They suggest “two-minute mysteries” as good dinner time talk and thinking skill builders.  Some of the mamas in our little group like the deductive reasoning skills books that often have fun mysteries to unravel.  Any other suggestions?)

  1. Wisdom
Wisdom goes well beyond knowledge to rightly applying what we know.  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

– We can help our kids to be discerning by helping them to gain the skills needed to search the scriptures for the answers that they need.  Teach them how to use a concordance, Bible dictionary and topical Bible to do their own research.

– Learn the connection between wisdom and humility by seeking answers from others that know more than ourselves.

– Pray for wisdom.  Be a good steward of your time and resources.  Write out wise quotes and keep them present in a book or posted in significant places in your home.

In our homes we need to cultivate a positive learning environment.  Learning can’t be rushed however it is wise to help our children to learn a sense of duty so that they will also know how to do what they ought to do both as young people and later as adults.  This a another one of the careful balancing acts that a parent must maintain knowing that home life itself is a huge part of one’s education despite the presence of a formal time. 


Looking back, this synopsis seems long…  There is just so much packed into each chapter.  Yikes!  I still have so much to learn.  (Don’t you sometimes wonder that you will never really be ready to love and care for and teach your little cherubs until you have graduated them all?  Maybe it’s just me.)

Wishing you strenth as you take this crazy job on!

Cori

Mother Culture: Wisdom and Knowledge – Part One

(Some of you, Friends, mentioned that, when receiving these posts by email, the last post didn’t come through fully.  My technical expertise are still very lean and so if that is the case again then please look to the bottom of the email for a link to the blog online where you can read this entire post.  Thank you for your Grace!))

**  Thank you also for your many words of encouragement and your prayers for our daughter.  Her cardiologist feels that her pains aren’t related to her heart condition at this time and so her paediatrician gave her a bout of antibiotics…  L  A few days later she was sick again but with a common virus (fever and headache) so “out of the frying pan and into the fire”.  At least now we are dealing with a more run of the mill illness and are recovering. **

Wisdom vs. Knowledge (Some notes on Chapter 5, Home Education:  Strengthening Your Child’s Mind to Learn for God)
“Contrary to secular educator’s view, a child is not educated just because he has logged enough time in classroom, performed well on certain tests, or completed a formal curriculum….  A truly educated child is one who has the desire and the ability to learn and to grow as a whole person.  The desire to learn (will) is from the heart; the ability to learn (skill) is in the mind.” – pg. 73

How do we need change the way that we have been teaching in light of this?  In our house it has meant taking the focus on the short term (history, language, math) skills building and focusing instead on more long term character based skill building (attentiveness, responsibility).

The true test of a child’s education is not what they know at any one time relative to what other children know (or don’t know).  It is whether or not the child is growing stronger in all of the most important learning skills – the skills that enable them to acquire knowledge, insight, and ability and to educate themselves independently.” – pg. 75

The goal should be to exercise all of a child’s mental muscles so they enter adulthood with a strong mind and the will and skill to learn whatever is necessary.” – pg. 75

Do we properly value autonomous learning skills?

Regardless of your children’s mental capacity, it is the strength of their mental muscles that will have the greatest impact on their success in life.” – pg. 75
Thoughts?
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Cori

Mother Culture: Language Arts

Practice makes perfect, they say, and while many of the things that we learn in life don’t need to build on previous learning there are some subjects that are more skill based and where learning builds on learning.  You couldn’t ask a child to learn to multiply fractions who didn’t already know a thing or two about adding and then multiplying and fractions and so on.  Piano students and athletes know only too well that you can’t expect to excel without a lot of consistent practice.  Language Arts also falls under this disciplined study banner.  (When labeling the subject “Language Arts” we are really encompassing several sub-categories of learning like phonics, grammar, punctuation, spelling, vocabulary and handwriting.)

In Educating the WholeHearted Child, the Clarksons, like most, advocate a happy medium in approach between the traditional “phonics” and “whole language” approach.  They do this, as expected by encouraging lots of reading time with our children and while still using a phonics based programme to learn to read.  They do however stress that you should focus on phonics principles rather than on memorizing many phonics rules.

Don’t schedule reading success!  (While extended family, neighbours, and church acquaintances may define educational success by how well your kiddos are reading don’t fall into that trap yourself.)  What freedom this word of advice gave me when my oldest was learning to read.  She, like me, is a bit of a perfectionist and was often reluctant to read without knowing exactly what to expect, she wanted to know all of the rules before she would read just for fun.  It wasn’t until she finished grade three that that special time came along. My second daughter on the other hand wasn’t terribly concerned with rules and just started reading and writing at about age four.  She quickly beginning reading well above where we expected she would having had a reluctant first reader but was not terribly concerned with the specifics.  (She used to write long letters using an “a” everywhere that a vowel seemed appropriate before she knew all of her vowels.  Very entertaining: “I lav u mom.  U r mi bast frand.”)

In language arts, as with most learning areas, the Clarkson’s stress that you don’t need age-graded curricula.  They advocate for a simple phonics based learned to read programme and they say that most spelling, vocabulary, grammar and so on can be learned through quality literature and Bible reading.

They used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons because it was simple and straight forward but stressed that it wasn’t the only or best curriculum.

In our little gathering, other mama’s praised Teach Your Child to Read Well as being very similar.

I found the Clarkson’s ideas to closely echo those of Ruth Beechick and have used her very simple little book, The Three R’s, as the starting point for reading for all of my girlies.  After that, we really like Learning Language Arts Through Literature for a few reasons.  The first is that I don’t want to have to be a grammar and vocabulary and composition and …  expert.  LLATL ties together all of the important disciplines and helps us to make sure we are covering all the bases all while getting into some of the amazing literature that we have been raving about.  With very few exceptions, my kids love the chosen books.  It’s not hard to use great literature to learn from.  Learning Language Arts is actually based on Ruth Beechick’s principles and as such is a systematized version of what the Clarkson’s advocate.  The drawbacks: as with so many resources, it is a very American curriculum and so I always feel the need to refocus on Canadian history and geography every so often.  It is also pretty grammar heavy and I don’t think that we need to get bogged down in the fine print of grammar rules too young.  (I solve this by treating the grammar segments lightly, knowing that there is a lot of review and so we will be able to better assimilate ideas again later.)

I don’t know that anyone mentioned any other comprehensive curricula so here are a few of the other favourite resources that folks mentioned (since most of us aren’t able to throw out the idea of curricula completely as the Clarkson’s would like us to do.)

*** Please lend us your comments on the resources below or add your favourite resources to them so that we can all shop a little more wisely.***

Spelling:

All About Spelling

Spelling Wisdom
Spelling Workout
Spelling Power (Okay, this is the one we use.  It really isn’t Charlotte Mason style because it is just lists of “related” words but they are arranged by frequency so I’ve always figured that we have reached the same end as other curricula but in a very comprehensive and systematic way.)

Composition:

Writing Jungle by Brave Writer

Write Shop
Writing with Ease by Susan Wise Bauer
Story Starters by Karen Andreola (My oldest daughter is enjoying this one for a change here and there.  It is what it says, many story starters that the student is encouraged to finish creatively.)
The Daily Journal Series by Cyndy Regeling and CoriDean (These booklets each contain a year’s worth – or more – of journal or creative writing prompts that help to get the creative juices flowing.  Gotta love the Canadian content – yes, I’m biased.)

Handwriting and Vocabulary:


Draw, Write, Now (This is a yummy set of learn to draw books that incorporates handwriting practice, learning about various topics.  My kids have always picked them up as fun time drawing books with the added learning and handwriting just a bonus for teacher-mamma,)
There are also a lot of copywork books out there.  I like to start my girlies with My Character Printing Workbook and My Keepsake Book both by Andrea McLellan at Ontario’s Joy Center of Learning as they integrate character training with handwriting lessons.  After they complete these, I like to get my kids a nice notebook to record their best handwriting in by way of nice poems, quotes and scriptures.

Grammar:

English for the Thoughtful Child by Mary F. Hyde and Cyndy Shearer.  A more primary look at grammar.  Cathy Duffy calls is a good introductory course for children (in grades 1 or 2?) who can write and print but need to learn to write complete sentences.  She recommends following this with Simply Grammar.

Simply Grammar written by Charlotte Mason and rewritten and published by Karen Andreola.  This was Charlotte Mason’s own grammar curriculum which she later decided was best left to older grades (4-8) rather than younger. 

Vocabulary:

Really, we all agreed that the best vocabulary builders were lots and lots of good books!

How’s that for a starter on the Language Arts and some of the resources that we have out there for our students?  I look forward to hearing your input, comments, and other resources suggestions… 

Wishing you a wonderful day as you enjoy the world of reading and literature with your own tribe today!

Cori
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