Archive for the ‘Homeschool Philosophy’ Category

There are loads of different homeschooling philosophies, but one of my favorite thinkers is Charlotte Mason. I like her foundational principles because I find them deeply respectful of and compassionate toward children; her thinking just seems to fit with a gentle, gospel-centric family culture really well!


Once upon a time, the only way to get hold of her writing was to track down her original essay series in hardcover form… thanks to the wonders of the internet, now there are some great on-line resources!

https://simplycharlottemason.com/ is laid out very cleanly–there’s a LOT to explore around the site, but it’s pretty intuitive, and there are some good summaries and get-started ideas there.

https://www.amblesideonline.org/ has the original Charlotte Mason texts for free on the site, which I find highly useful. If you’re not used to 19th century writing, you’ll find her work a bit of a slog, but it’s gorgeous language, and full of deep thought and compassion.

Now, both sites give curriculum layouts–but keep in mind that the philosophical structure of Mason’s work does not proscribe a particular set of resources. That’s what I like so much about her philosophy. It’s a MINDSET, and you can use whatever resources to fulfill that mindset and home culture as are best fit to your family.

For instance, we use Mason-style philosophy combined with John Holt style unschooling. I have friends who combine Mason’s philosophy with far more structured “classical school at home” set-ups. BOTH are consistent with the underpinnings, and both work. So you’re not locked into anything. It’s just the philosophy.

Some of the things I like best about Charlotte Mason are: focus on character, meaningful work, twaddle-free learning, “living” books and tools, the basic respect for the humanity and soul of a child, a grand appreciation for outdoor activity… it’s just so lovely and gentle and humane, and fits so well into gospel-centric living!

* The Scriptures (can’t get much more Living Book than that!)

* Church magazines like The Friend for child-centered application of gospel principles, though you will generally have to weed out “inside the box” thinking on some topics.

* Preach My Gospel as a resource for parents–some good teaching and mentoring strategies there!

* The Primary section on LDS.org... so many great bits of art, music, and scripture/theme notes to harmonize home teaching with Primary class topics and sharing time.

* Hymns and Primary songs to use in the music and poetry sections of a CM base

* Pioneer, church history, and world faith stories are all living stories, not twaddle.

* The Church History museum and archives all have fantastic art to study, and there are very low-cost art prints from the distribution center.

* Nature and science study can be given a Gratitude To Heavenly Father base that really, really lets us all experience joy!

* Prayer and scripture, singing, etc, built into the day’s work…. I’m working on a fun project to do with hymns, and when it’s ready, I’ll share.


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Quickly, go and read a very wonderfully amazing and gorgeous essay about readers in schools, because it is full of truth, and will make you cry:

School is No Place for a Reader

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There’s a sweet little children’s song my minions learn at home and at church, called “I Am a Child of God.” Though my own Family of Origin is prone to writing and singing dreadful parodies of most songs (including this one), the poetry here makes a very concise outline of some basic educational ideas that struck me particularly well this past weekend.

And since I’m never one to be struck without sharing, here we go:

I am a child of God, and He has sent me here; has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear.

The reminder of my children’s true spiritual genetic foundation is right there: I’m entrusted with people who are my spiritual siblings, and we’re children together. I’m given the role of mentorship, but not ownership, and that also means I have to let go of thinking I can control their entire experience and response to learning opportunities.

I am a child of God, and so my needs are great; help me to understand His words before it grows too late.

I sometimes get impatient with those at a different point in their learning, but it’s important for me, as a homeschooling mother, to remember it’s Not About Me… it’s about them, and they have needs. Needs for rest and recreation, needs for encouragement, needs for the creativity that can only be sparked by boredom. Needs for patient reminders, needs for a good sense of humor, needs for guidance in finding new ways to respond to stresses. Some days, needs to just sit around reading for hours. Or a week.

There are so many educational strategies inside Scripture–God’s Word. I have just as great a need to understand as they do, in matters temporal and spiritual. I’m comforted that our faith is one of second chances… because some days, I feel the pressure of “too late”, and need to remember to use it as a motivator for tomorrow, rather than a large stick to castigate myself.

This verse is also a reminder that a firm foundation in gospel principles and their application truly is a major part of learning. When a child starts to understand their eternal potential, their responsibilities and stewardship as a disciple of Christ, their ability to interact directly with their Creator, and the liberty they can find within their covenants, they’re experiencing a change that can carry them through every situation they’ll experience later. All learning counts!

I am a child of God. Rich blessings are in store; if I but learn to do His will, I’ll live with Him once more.

There are huge blessings in learning together at home, even on the hard days (and oh, there are hard days!) Being able to remember the blessings helps with minor frustrations as they arise. And the major ones, too. The bit about “will” is, for me, more about tempering my own Natural (wo)Man, and trying to be the sort of guiding teacher and parent God is to me; bending my imperfect, finite will to His perfection and infinite goodness. Not easy. Totally worth it.

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with Him someday.

And there’s the crux of it: lead, guide, walk beside, help, teach.

Nowhere in there does it say “be perfectly organized at all time” and “do awesome crafting” and “make themed lunches every day” and “teach kids Latin in kindergarten.”

Just: lead, guide, walk beside, help, teach.

Show them a good example in my own improving habits and learning. Guide them to good habits, and interesting things to learn. Work along with them, and learn as we go. Help them accomplish things, and find solid resources. Teach them all the things I use as an adult, and how to learn in pursuit of their own passions.

Plus, the song has a catchy tune to hum. Not bad for a very condensed educational philosophy course!

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Blogging over at Real Intent this week, on matters of education and faith!

Real Intent

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I’ve mentioned before that our sort of learning tends to be a bit toward the “unschooling” end of things, with a healthy dose of the “living books” and “twaddle-free” philosophy of Charlotte Mason; we’re largely interest-driven, with only minimal structure, a lot of self-direction, and very few textbooks enter our home. I like real-world application, and real-world exploration.

However, I also love well-ordered, peaceful days, and with our four offspring all in learning years, and the addition of our Spare Teen (a young lady who lives around the corner, and comes down to learn alongside us most days), means that a bit of routine and some pre-planning really does make the days go more smoothly, and more fully. I love the days that are replete with “stuff.”

I’m trying to be surreptitious with myself here (hard to do, as I’m… well, me, and thus aware of my nefarious plotting): laying out our learning goals for the coming season helps me get the notes together for myself. It’ll also give a snapshot of just one set of ideas to blend the learning needs of two (very different) teenage girls, one young teen boy, and two (very different) little girls. (more…)

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