Month: May 2009

Nature Study with Max: A Boy with Learning Difficulties by Deborah and HollyAnne Dobbins

      “Then the flowers come, each shut up tight in the dainty casket we call a bud, as cunningly wrapped as the leaves in their buds, but less carefully guarded, for these ‘sweet nurslings’ delay their coming for the most part until earth has a warm bed to offer, and the sun a kindly welcome” (Charlotte Mason; Home Education, vol.1, p.53).         “Energetic, talkative, and likable” are words that have been used to describe Max. He is also humorous, affectionate, curious, and struggles with a number of learning difficulties. “His talents and gifts are hidden,” his teacher, Patricia Anderson, wrote, “and by the Lord’s direction, they will be brought to light.” Max’s father offered insight into the first few years of Max’s life: “When Maxwell was two years old, we were told by our family pediatrician that he was likely to have developmental differences from other children. Maxwell was missing milestones, and this pattern continued as he progressed to an age where we expected him to begin communicating verbally. He rarely …

Beauty in a Postmodern World by Jennie McClellan

I read in the Fall/Winter issue of the Charlotte Mason Educational Review that the topic for the next Charlotte Mason conference is: Beauty. I have been mulling this idea in my head for several weeks trying to figure out what beauty in a Charlotte Mason context means. I’ve also been reading and listening to a lecture series on Post-Modernism which has a lot to say about beauty. These two ideas are converging in my mind, and here I am trying to sort them out…..Bear with me for thinking out loud. Beginning my studies of CM’s writings in earnest three years ago, her works are slowly dismantling many unworthy habits and ideas as well as solidified several truisms in regards to children, education, and parenting I have long held. After grappling with her philosophy and comparing it to Christianity, I do find most of her theories and methods to align very closely with Scriptural principles. Her writings were considered in her day to be counter-culture, but in light of our current trends, her insights transcend time …

First Lessons in Nature Study by Jeannette Tulis

First Lessons in Nature Study: a CM inspired class for first graders in a homeschool co-op setting First of all I must confess to borrowing the first part of my title from a very old book by Edith Patch who was a student of Anna Botsford Comstock of the Handbook of Nature Study fame. It is a daunting challenge to introduce very young children to the whole area of nature study. In planning my class I felt keenly the weight of knowing that, even though children in the primary grades have a built in affinity for nature, it might hinge on me whether or not this was nurtured in such a way to set them on a life’s course of appreciation for God’s creation. OK, so maybe I do have an issue with putting too much pressure on myself! I have taught nature study to my three older children in various formats:  keeping a nature journal, walking often through the woods, following years of the Ambleside online nature study curriculum, being part of a nature club …

Children are Born Persons and Persons have Needs by Tara Schorr

Upon first hearing the foundational principal of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, “Children are born persons,” I couldn’t have been less impressed.  It seemed like a statement of the obvious and a waste of paper to bother writing it down.  Now, however, it is the lens which I look through to weigh all other thought regarding the education of children.  It has taken a grip on my heart and breathes life into my decisions and relationships.   So what does this seemingly overt declaration mean and what are its implications?  To understand it in its fullness we have to look back at life itself.  We were all created in the image of God; and if we were all created in the image of God, then children were as well.  Children are born complete, with all of the complexities and potential that they will ever have.  While they will grow, mature, and be affected by the people and circumstances around them, the very essence of that eternal being which was knit together in His image is there from …

Kids Being Kings by Ted Trainor

“Happy hearts and happy faces, Happy play in grassy places–That was how in ancient ages, Children grew to kings and sages.”~From “Good and Bad Kids” by Robert Louis Stevenson A few years ago, the center piece of our backyard makeover in Atlanta was a mound of Georgia red clay.  To my children, however, the dirt pile was a world to conquer, a natural slide, an alphine adventure, a tower to climb, and a precipice from which to jump.  From atop Knox’s Knoll (named after the littlest Trainor), they launched pinecones, rocks, dirt, sticks, and each other. I was amazed as I watched my children dig, build, bury, and play with the clay for hours — for days even!  With their imaginations ignited by dirt, my children had endless activities, and these activities were (and are!) critical to their physical development. Think of the gross motor skill exercise that occurs in the above activities.  Underneath those red clay stained clothes, muscles were strengthening, their limbs and joints adjusted dexterously to accommodate the varying slopes of the …