Month: April 2008

On the Fear of Bathmats by Laurie Bestvater

The barometer that is the pit of my stomach has often been a faithful guide in my educational journey. From the first flip flop of fear at being left under the eye of my graying and stern Kindergarten teacher, through the perils of the curriculum hall as a new ” homeschooler,” past the monolithic teachers’ union temple in my community that stands as testimony of the power of the culture shaping lords of education, my uneasiness has been a constant. Clearly our educational choices are fraught with fearful consequences. Perhaps the Holy Spirit, who whispers, “this is the way, walk in it,” leads also through the gut but maturity requires something more than living by feelings. Grandparents and school officials alike are relieved when we home educators can converse about educational philosophy and we ourselves are satisfied to sort these things out for ourselves, to “give a reason for the hope that is within us.” That is why I love the work of Charlotte Mason. Mason has allowed me, over the years, not only to …

Some Thoughts toward Composition by Sandy Rusby-Bell

I think I have almost memorized the appendices in Charlotte Mason’s third volume, School Education. When I need to really figure out how to put some meat on the bones of Mason’s directives, this is where I go. I’m usually inspired, sometimes a bit disbelieving and always completely intimidated. Are these really samples of the work of average children in a PNEU school and can I reasonably expect the same results in my homeschool if I carefully follow Mason’s instructions about teaching? I am especially in awe of the “vigorous” writing style these young people displayed. One of my greatest desires as I educate my children is that they would grow to be effective communicators, in speech and in writing. I have spent hours combing through Mason’s books trying to figure out how exactly she taught her students to write so well. Mason’s method for teaching composition is often described as gentle and natural. Young children do copywork and narrate orally after a single reading. They move into dictation and written narration and eventually start …

Good for the Soul: Laughter by Bonnie Buckingham

In thinking upon what is good for the soul, laughter came to mind. I think we will always remember the books and poems at our house that made us burst out in laughter. We wanted to read them again! This is an atmosphere in learning that Charlotte Mason helped me see. It is created not only in where we are but in what we are reading, discussing or looking at. Proverbs 15:15 says “the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.” And this a good laugh will bring! For Picture Books for the very young, I recommend Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman. Written in stanzas, you’ll never realize it’s poetry. Here are some excerpts: When Peter was just one year old, He did not like his milk served cold. He did not like his milk served hot. He liked it warm… And he would not Drink it if he was not sure It was the proper temperature. And: Not so long ago, they say, A mother lived–just like today. Mrs. Peters was her …

The Art of Play by Rebekah Brown

I wish I had a photograph to show you of the outside play area where my kindergarten class plays each day, but I have confidence your imagination will substitute nicely.  Our school is located in the busy theater district in midtown St. Louis.  The building is situated upon an enormous parking lot.  A small corner section, roughly about half the size of a football field, has been allocated for us.  There is a large historic mansion adjacent to our play area, also on the parking lot – the last remaining house not bought out by developers.  (Undaunted by the owner’s refusal to sell, city planners simply put in the parking lot around the house.)  By the grace of God, that owner is a retired landscape architect.  He put in trees, shrubs, flowers, ivy, and built a rock wall on the two long sides of the lot, facing the streets.  Also, by the grace of God, our landscape architect welcomes children climbing his trees, walking on his ivy, sitting on his rocks, and doesn’t mind the …