Thursday, January 15, 2009

So Thankful for Real Education



I just have to write a "homeschooling blog" today because I am so very thankful that the Lord has introduced me to the methods of Charlotte Mason, and to Ambleside Online. Now, I know that last spring I made up a homeschooling blog, but that I have decided will be for reference. I want to keep all my blog posts here.

If you look at my sidebar you will see some info on Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online. These methods of education are rich and full.

Well, today I read a "fairy tale" to the children as they ate lunch. Yes, a fairy tale. They can be SO wonderful for teaching our little ones morals. Not preaching morals at them...but letting them think about how these morals are worked out in stories and therefore in their lives.

Today's tale was called "Prince Darling" and you can...and I recommend you do...read the entire story here online: Prince Darling This is true literature for children. Stories that are both well written with vocabulary that stretches them, and with morals and lessons within the tale. And there were SO many in today's reading!! This story was perfect to read to my six year old. One of the many great stories in The Blue Fairy Book.




Well, reading the above tale today, just made me thankful again for the curriculum I am using, which is based on Charlotte Mason's methods. Earlier today, we also read a wonderful Bible story (about Jacob's dream and how he knew God was his friend) and a fable from Aesop. You know Aesop - the boy who cried wolf, the tortoise and the hare...those are just two of the many fables he wrote. Each one is short and has a moral or lesson taught. After I read the fable, Sarah told it back to me in her own words, which I wrote down and she then illustrated. As I read the Bible story the children colored a picture of it. We put all those into their Bible notebook. Bible time is my daughter's absolute favorite time!!



So many wonderful books are scheduled in Ambleside Online's Year 1 curriculum. Story books faithfully teaching history and science and more. Parables of Nature is another excellent resource...and I mean EXCELLENT. Jesus taught in parables. Using nature to teach is just awesome! Read this first story in the parables book and you will get a taste for just how rich this book is: A Lesson of Faith



Ambleside has scheduled the book Pilgrim's Progress Book 1 to be read over two years. Year 2 and Year 3. So in September, I will begin that with my children, but I may use the unabridged audio version. To prepare them, I am currently reading Little Pilgrim's Progress to them, which is written for children. They LOVE it! LOVE IT! I am doing this in order to get them familiar with the storyline before we move onto the original version written in the original language.

Some may wonder about this- the original language you ask? Yup! Listen to the advice from this one mother:

"I bought my children -- when they were very young (five and seven) -- the Orion's Gate cd's of this book, and they have listened to them all the way through at least once a year since then. They are now 13 and 16, and both insist that listening to this book when they were young, and in the original language, was the most character forming literary experience of their early childhood. There are long passages of this book that they can quote at length in the original. Phrases from this book float through their heads and out of their lips frequently.

I do not, for one minute, believe that they would be quoting those passages now if they had heard them in stale modern English!

It's the richness of the language in which these great thoughts are conveyed that captured their imaginations back then, and that's what keeps them coming back to it now."

Also, I will never forget what was shared in the book For the Children's Sake regarding the original Pilgrim's Progress:

"All children should have an excellent diet of mind-food to be nurtured on...let us apply this principle to the actual detailed practice in schools or homes. A seven year old happens to need a short period of phonic practice, followed by reading a story out loud to you haltingly every day. He then laboriously concentrates on learning the machanics...this does not mean to say that his mind should be left "frozen" at the level of his skills. When the essential, regular, practice has been completed, the child puts all his little books and papers away, and turns his full attention to the adult. She will now be the medium through which he can "read" real books...

Perhaps she reads a short portion from Pilgrim's Progress. She must, of course, be a person who wants to understand and enjoy this herself...Pilgrim's Progress will be read perhaps twice a week...by the time such educated children are nine or ten they will, of course, have been reading for themselves a long time...they will enjoy and understand a really rich diet of books, letters, essays, plays and poetry. They will have thought, discussed, and shared these ideas...is it idealistic? Does it work? The answer is, yes.

I had a child of six, Kirsteen, in a bright little school. She was happy enough and learned to read and write after a fashion...when she came home, she sometimes talked about something that had happened. But there wasn't much to discuss. Kirsteen's older sister, Margaret, was faring worse, at ages nine and ten. She...had no interest in education. One January day, God opened a door for them into a school where true education was going on...After the first day, Kirsteen came home glowing with life and interest. "We had the most exciting story today, but Mrs. Norton stopped at just the wrong place. I can't wait to hear the next part of the story!" And what was this exciting, vitalizing story? To my astonishment it was Pilgrim's Progress, read to them in the original.

The quite electrifying change in those two children is truly indescribable. They had so much to talk about! A wealth of literature, history, art, which was so glorious to work through. Their eyes became brighter, their minds alert. We had grand discussions, again and again...Some people were incredulous. "It's not possible", they responded. "Children just aren't up to that." But they are-if the door is opened. There is only one problem that I can see. The adult...has to be able to enjoy and understand what he or she is reading with the children."

There you have it.

I love this method of education. And it is not all reading, so don't think that. It is also based on real life experiences...getting outside to watch nature as the most important science. We watched the transformation of caterpillars to butterflies firsthand...and will do so with tadpoles, etc.

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