Meet Charlotte Mason

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Meet Charlotte Mason

Let us take a moment to meet Charlotte Mason, and in doing so, gain inspiration and direction for homeschooling our own precious children! Charlotte Mason was born in England in 1842 on New Year’s Day. Her father was a Liverpool merchant, a simple but refined man who was very fond of books.  Both of Charlotte’s parents loved to educate her. As only children themselves, teaching  Charlotte, their only daughter, was a special joy.  Unfortunately, Charlotte’s mother died when Charlotte was just 16. Her grief-stricken father died the following year. Suddenly alone in the world, Charlotte lived with friends until at 18, she moved to London. She enrolled in the only training college available to teachers in England at the time.  From these difficult beginnings, Charlotte rose to become an advocate of parents as educators for their children.

Heart of Dakota – Inspired by Charlotte Mason

Heart of Dakota is inspired by Charlotte Mason, and it is our family’s hope that you will be too!  So many  educational cornerstones of Charlotte Mason’s approach to education form the foundation of Heart of Dakota’s approach to learning.  It is no surprise to me that an orphaned young daughter would grasp the importance of the education parents could give their children and long for it herself.  We believe this too.  Through Charlotte Mason’s approach to learning, we find we as parents can hopefully give something Charlotte’s parents could not – an education provided by loving parents that carries our children to adulthood. 

Education is an atmosphere!

“By the saying, ‘education is an atmosphere,’ it is not meant that a child should be isolated in what may be called a ‘child environment,’ especially adapted and prepared; but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere, both as regards persons and things, and should let him live freely among his proper conditions.  (Mason 1923: preface).

I think Charlotte longed for her childhood days of her parents lovingly creating a home atmosphere for education.  It was powerful to her, because she once had it and lost it.  She spent her life trying to help parents create this atmosphere of education within the home setting – perhaps because she longed for it herself.  We long for this ourselves as parents, and we also long for it for you, as fellow homeschool parents.  Hence, Heart of Dakota.

A dream dreamed, from an orphaned child, coming to fruition through you!

I believe Charlotte Mason was a strong woman whose difficulties in life brought about a newfound respect for the once well-respected old adage that parents are the best teachers for their children.  Parents love their children as no others could. They are invested in their future, and there is no ‘passing on’ of the children to a new teacher. The parent is the teacher. She knows her children well, and she has a heart full of love and hope and fortitude to see them through to be the best they can be.

I like to think we as homeschool parents have the love and hope and fortitude for our children Charlotte’s parents surely had for her.  Only, Lord willing, perhaps we will be blessed enough to journey on this home education road a little longer.  I believe this was an orphaned child’s dream, and it can come to fruition through you. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be introducing Charlotte Mason to you as she makes her presence known in Heart of Dakota. I hope you take as much inspiration in meeting her this way as I have.

In Christ,

Julie

Charlotte Mason Via Ambleside Online Vs. Charlotte Mason Via Heart of Dakota

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Charlotte Mason Via Ambleside Online Vs. Charlotte Mason Via Heart of Dakota

Fellow homeschool moms – this is wonderful post by Carrie on the topic of teaching Charlotte Mason using Ambleside Online vs. teaching Charlotte Mason via Heart of Dakota. It really is also a post comparing straight-forward Charlotte Mason style teaching done very simply, vs. making changes based on experience that may result in a better balance of education for our children today.  I thought you might enjoy reading this for our “More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment.”  So, without further adieu, here are Carrie’s thoughts on the matter, which have shaped our resulting Heart of Dakota PreK to 12th grade curriculum.  I hope you enjoy!

When did Carrie use Ambleside Online (AO)?

I find this subject near and dear to my heart, for I used Ambleside Online for 4 years with my oldest son, Cole, before I wrote the HOD guides for his level. He used the AO years right on grade level. We used each level exactly as written. He used Ambleside 3 in grade 3, Ambleside 4 in grade 4, Ambleside 5 in grade 5, and Ambleside 6 in grade 6. He did use Drawn into the Heart of Reading along the way with Ambleside Online. After that he began piloting guides for HOD, beginning with Creation to Christ.

Carrie’s Initial Thoughts and Experiences with Ambleside Online

Since we did AO as written and did it for multiple years, I feel pretty clear when I share my initial thoughts about our Ambleside Online experience. First of all, I am grateful to that program. AO introduced me to Charlotte Mason (CM), and it helped me learn about the CM way of schooling. CM’s focus on character training and the importance of God’s Word thrilled me. In fact, I remain enthralled with that today. Her methods of studied dictation were a complete breakthrough. I believe there is nothing better. CM’s slower, more thoughtful reading process and the deeper thinking about what was read is pure genius. Fewer books done better is still my motto. We enjoyed our years in AO to some extent, and I definitely felt good about some of the old, classic books I was introduced to along the way.

My Oldest Son’s Initial Response to Ambleside Online

My oldest son, Cole, was one of those early readers who could read the AO books without trouble. He definitely rose to the challenge and completed his assignments without difficulty. Blessedly, he was a natural narrator and was not a fan of writing. He completed his school in a timely fashion and did what he was asked without complaint. So, his initial response to Ambleside Online was good. However, the further we went down the Ambleside path, the more I found that there were some definite problems running under the surface of his education.

Developing Dislike of Orally Narrating, Lack of Enthusiasm for Book Selections, Antiquated Language, and Little Guidance on Scripture Instruction

The first bump that appeared was his outright dislike of orally narrating every text. He began to really frown over narrating, though he could do it easily. The next bump appeared after we ramped up the number of daily written narrations. While he did them well, it began taking him longer to complete them. He began to dread written narrations.

The next bump was his lack of enthusiasm for the book selections. This really surprised me. The antiquated language and the old-fashioned story lines began to color his opinion of the books he was reading. This was a child who loved to read anything! He didn’t complain about the books. But, he was no longer excited about his school day or what he would read. I also felt like there was no guidance on Scripture instruction or character training. I felt alone in coming up with my own plan for this.

Repetitive Days… Reading… Narrating… Reading… Narrating

From my perspective as a teacher there were also increasing bumps. First, I felt that my son’s days were pretty repetitive, with him reading and narrating… reading and narrating…. and reading and narrating. We did do poetry, composer study, hymn study, nature walks, and handicrafts. In fact, we did one of these each day. But, it still seemed like his day involved a lot of reading and narrating. My oldest is such a hands-on child that he missed more activity. As a teacher, I missed the connections that can be made through a more unit study approach through projects, timeline, research, geography, primary source documents, guided drawing practice, notebooking etc.

Delayed Grammar and Writing Instruction Posed a Problem

I also increasingly felt like the delayed approach to formal grammar and writing instruction was leaving me wondering how to talk to my son about grammar and writing skills that I felt he was needing earlier than CM advocated. I was left alone to figure out many other skills that I wanted my son to be gaining along the way, it seemed. They just weren’t a formal part of AO. Skills like dictation and copywork were also left for me to implement, gleaning from CM’s guidance.

The things I felt my son was missing, he was missing too.

In the beginning, I loved the idea of a more streamlined day with the focus on reading and narrating. However, as I watched my son’s enthusiasm for school and learning wane through the years, I began to see that the things I felt he was missing… he was missing too. I began asking myself, just because my son could read Robinson Crusoe as a 9 year old, should he? Or, would he benefit more from it later, when he had more maturity?

Some books are richer when read later.

When Pilgrim’s Progress scared him, as he read it at such a young age, because he was worried he couldn’t face the trials that Christian faced. I realized it might have been better to save this book for a time when he was more mature. By waiting, he could potentially really appreciate the complexities of the allegory and be encouraged by Christian’s journey. The further we went, the more I began to see that maturity has as much, or more, to do with enjoying the richness of classic books as reading level does. Some books are richer when read later.

The first newness or awe of reading a classic book cannot be regained.

There is never the same newness or awe of reading a classic book as the first time you read it. Why not wait until the newness and the richness can come together and be appreciated by a mature reader? Why not read the easier wonderful classics and new classics too when your child is younger, saving the harder classics for when your child is older? As I pondered these questions, I realized I wanted a book list with a different balance of books. I wanted a list that that took into account the fact that our young children are not living in the same era as Charlotte Mason.  Thankfully, hardships don’t impact children on a daily basis now as they did during that time.

The Importance of A Balance of Old and New, As Well As of Skills

I longed for a balance of old books and new books, as well as a balance of skills. So, I began the quest of taking as much of CM’s philosophy as I agreed with and adding in the skills I knew from my own 20 years of teaching experience would be necessary for kiddos in this day and age of education. What appeared then was our guides from Creation to Christ (CTC) on up.

The Switch from AO to CTC

When my son made the switch from AO to doing CTC, I can honestly say that it was challenging. CTC asked him to do thing that he had not done before. His day was definitely longer. Yet, by the end of the year I had seen so much growth in my son spiritually and Godly character-wise that I was a firm believer that the switch had been a good one. What’s more, my son was enjoying his learning again, even with a longer day. His day was much more varied. Overall, I felt his learning was richer. I knew exactly what to expect from him each day, and he knew exactly what was expected of him.

What changed once we made the switch?

Much changed for my son, once we made the switch. He no longer dreaded narrations, as they were only once daily and rotated among the subjects. The balance of books piqued his interest. I often found him digging deeper into topics that interested him. He began voluntarily sharing about things that he’d learned. Our dialogues were filled with enthusiasm! Likewise, my interactions with him were much more varied, and I was more enthusiastic as well. My son opened up about his faith. We had opportunities all throughout the year right within the guide to talk about his walk (and mine) with the Lord. It was the education I’d wanted him to have, but could never figure out how to give him.

A Love for Reading, Balanced Skills, Teacher Guidance, Focus on God’s Word, and Character Training

My other kiddos have only ever done HOD. I must say that within their education I continue to find this same richness, love for reading, solid balance of skills, teacher guidance and help, focus on God’s Word, opportunities for character training, and academic excellence too. Every year, as we begin pondering what to do next in HOD, I pull back out CM’s original volumes and reread all that pertains to the stage of learning we are entering. I take as much as I agree with from her philosophy and then add things from my own research and years of experience as a teacher and educator as well.

HOD – A CM Education with Some Differences

So, within HOD you will see a CM education with some differences. You will see her wonderful focus on reading living books and narrating from them, doing copywork and dictation, composer study, artist appreciation, hymn study, nature journal, steady diet of poetry, sketching practice, timeline work, etc.  But, you will also see the richness of research, hands-on projects, notebooking, formal writing instruction, formal English instruction, geography lessons, lessons on primary source documents, mapping, etc.

An Organized Way for a Teacher to Guide, Direct, and Facilitate Learning

I know that CM also included many of these things I just listed. However, I was in desperate need of presenting these things from a teaching standpoint in an organized fashion. I needed it to be laid out for me as a teacher to guide, direct, and facilitate my kiddos’ learning. I wanted lessons that lent themselves to helping my kiddos make connections as they were learning. More than that, I wanted God at the center of my boys’ learning. I wanted His Word integrated throughout our day. Likewise, I wanted character training to be a part of each guide. I wanted training in becoming a Godly young man or woman to be a part of every year. This is how we designed HOD.

I learned much from my oldest son’s journey and my years of teaching that helped me reach the philosophy I have today.

Each family must make their own choices as to what they are looking for in their children’s education. However, I wanted to share a bit more about what I was looking for in my boys’ education. This is why we wrote the guides the way we did. AO was a part of my oldest son’s journey that I learned much from. I can honestly say it helped me fine-tune my philosophy of education. It helped me know in my heart what I believe about how kiddos’ learn. It helped me take my 11 years teaching in the public school classroom, combined with 2 years of doing my master’s in education to be a principal, and then another 20 years as a homeschool teacher and put them together to reach the philosophy I hold today.

Implementing this philosophy, as we continue to create HOD to have a balanced approach to skills and learning, continues to be a journey for me that I enjoy. I pray you will find what you are seeking too.

Blessings,
Carrie

Charlotte Mason’s Picture Study Inspires Art Appreciation

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Charlotte Mason’s Picture Study Inspires Art Appreciation

Charlotte Mason loved to inspire children to appreciate art by using the format of picture study. According to Charlotte Mason, We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture. (Volume 1, p. 309)

So, how do you do Charlotte Mason style picture study?

It is not as hard as one might think! In fact, many times people try to over-complicate Charlotte Mason’s picture study. Simply put, during picture study children spend time studying artist’s pictures, absorbing their details, and discussing what they noticed. In the process of picture study, the goal is for children to learn to appreciate art. Through picture study according to Charlotte Mason, Children learn not merely to see a picture but “to look at it”, taking in every detail. (Volume 6, p. 214-215)

So, what does Carrie have to say about her journey with Charlotte Mason’s picture study?

Our family pursued Charlotte Mason style picture study for many years before I wrote it into our guides. I must admit I was extremely skeptical about the simplicity of the Charlotte Mason approach to picture study in the beginning. But, I have become a firm believer in it as the years have passed! Because of picture study, my kiddos and I have learned to appreciate and love beautiful art. We spent time studying pictures, absorbing each picture’s details, and discussing what each of us individually noticed. Best of all, we did find we truly learned to appreciate art in the process. We also learned art study doesn’t have to be long or in-depth to resonate. It just needs to be meditated upon and shared.

So, when is picture study included in Heart of Dakota?

Heart of Dakota includes picture study one day in each unit of Resurrection to Reformation.  Parent and student get to do art appreciation together, so both can enjoy it! Art prints for the picture study either use full-color prints from Looking at Pictures or from the full-color “Art Gallery” provided in the back of the Resurrection to Reformation Student Notebook. Looking at Pictures with its 150 stunning illustrations in full color from The National Gallery in London (including entries from Leonardo, Rembrandt, Matisse, Seurat, Picasso, and many more) partnered with the full color Art Gallery in RTR’s notebook work together beautifully!

Closing Thoughts

I don’t know about you, but I am personally thankful we get to enjoy Charlotte Mason’s ideals in such a way that I can actually do them! If I were to try to do every Charlotte Mason ideal every day or even every homeschool year, I think I would fall down eventually. I feel I have the best of both worlds with the way Carrie has written HOD’s guides. The tenets of Charlotte Mason are always present in the guides – dictation, copywork, oral narrations, written narrations, timelines/Book of Centuries, and living books. But, the other Charlotte Mason led activities (such as hymn study, composer study, nature study, and picture study) rotate. Each gets their moment in the sun! We get to do each activity thoroughly and completely, so we can remember and enjoy it for years to come.

My children will never walk into an art museum without appreciating the art they see, and I have Charlotte Mason and Carrie Austin to thank for that!

 How do we prepare a child, again, to use the aesthetic sense with which he appears to come provided? His education should furnish him with whole galleries of mental pictures, pictures by great artists old and new. (Charlotte Mason, Volume 6, p. 43)

 We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture. (Charlotte Mason, Volume 1, page 109).

In Christ,

Julie

 

Nature Journals Done Charlotte Mason Style in MTMM

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Nature Journals Done Charlotte Mason Style

Point to some lovely flower or gracious tree, not only as a beautiful work, but a beautiful thought of God.  (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1, page 80)

Hiking in God’s Creation As a Family

When I see a beautiful sunrise or sunset, I catch my breath!  Not only because I am looking at something lovely, but because I see the Creator in it!  Psalm 19:1  The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.

Sunrise in South Dakota

I believe this is what Charlotte Mason saw, and that is why she loved the idea of keeping a nature journal!  Many of us have read Charlotte Mason’s Volumes, and we long to instill this love of nature in our children.  We aspire to our children looking at nature in awe.  But, more so, we hope our children look deeply at nature in awe, and the closer they look, they delight in God’s hand in it all.

Our ideal picture of keeping a nature journal may not match our reality of trying to keep a nature journal.

I see many a homeschool moms trying to duplicate Charlotte Mason’s ideal picture of keeping a nature journal in their daily lives.  However, time constraints, weather constraints, and just daily life’s constraints and responsibilities prevent nature walks and nature journals from happening.  As a young mom, I remember being incredibly inspired to keep a nature  journal having read Charlotte Mason’s works.  I recall taking my little sons on a nature walk.  I believe my oldest son was 4 years old, and my youngest was just barely 1 year old and in a stroller.  Our house was in town, and not in the most affluent area, mind you.  We were young, and the house we could afford had a very small backyard.  As we walked, there wasn’t much nature; there was much concrete.

A Failed Nature Walk

We tried to sketch bugs, frogs, and butterflies.  I was upset my 4 year old son’s nature journal entries looked more like unknown blobs.  I took it over, sketched the best frog I could, and had him rewrite the word ‘frog’ a few times so it was legible as a caption.  Failure.  I knew it.  NOT, what Charlotte Mason envisioned.  My son actually asked me to put aside the nature journal, as it just didn’t ‘turn out right.’ Hmmmm.  Not what I was hoping for in a nature walk.

Nature Journals As a Focus in MTMM

It turned out my sons just needed to mature a little.  They needed years in the Psalms in the Bible and in lovely Christian-based studies of life science to appreciate nature. In short, they needed to love God’s creation and mature.  I also needed to mature.  It became clear, I needed to realize I couldn’t do everything well all at once.  Hence, the reason nature journals are added as the focus of one of the Heart of Dakota guides.  Missions to Modern Marvels (MTMM) to be exact!  One year to hone in on this, to do it right, to make a nature journal my sons felt proud of!  There are other years Heart of Dakota guides include the concept of ‘nature journals’ as well.  Just in the form of science notebooking entries, amazing God-honoring experiments, outdoor activities, etc.  But, nature journals themselves SHINE in MTMM!

One of Riley’s Nature Journal Entries
Skills leading up to nature journals help students keep a nature journal they are proud of!

So, as you are feeling inspired yet overwhelmed by Charlotte Mason’s ideals on nature walks and nature journals, know they are coming! They are an amazing part of MTMM, and they will come at a time your child can actually feel proud of what they are recording in their nature journals.  Other HOD guides lay the groundwork for this.  John Audubon’s bird studies, Arabella Buckeley’s plant and bird studies, Fulbright’s astronomy study, and so many more – lead the way for students to truly be able to fully enjoy the compilation of a nature journal!  Likewise, step-by-step Draw and Write… drawing assignments,  history projects, history notebooking entries, and science experiments help students acquire the skills necessary to be able to create a nature journal they can be proud of.

Classic poetry study further inspires nature journal entries!
MTMM draws upon all students have learned previously, so they can keep a nature journal they love!

So, this blog’s focus is Charlotte Mason’s nature journals and how HOD has this covered in such a beautiful way that you don’t have to feel the need to add it on your own to other years!  HOD’s guides all include celebrating and showcasing a love of the Creator’s handiwork.  But, MTMM draws upon all children have learned previously, so they can focus on keeping a nature journal they’ll love for years to come.

Common topics for nature journals make it easy to keep a journal wherever you live!
Two days in each unit of MTMM focus on nature journaling using lessons from Nature Drawing and Journaling.  In this book, award-winning artist Barry Stebbing shares 40 years’ worth of insights on studying nature and keeping a nature journal. Full-color illustrations, inspirational quotes, journal entries, and copies of Stebbing’s own journal will have you making your own Charlotte-Mason style nature journal in no time.
You may find you want to keep your own journal alongside your student! But, no comparing – every journal is precious to the one creating it!
Clear instructions, poignant reflections, and space for your work are provided in this spiral-bound softcover book. Also plans include over 47 nature-related art lessons to guide your student in learning to sketch and appreciate the outdoors. Art lessons and nature journal sessions are scheduled twice weekly for the student to enjoy in Missions to Modern Marvels. The nature-themed poetry of Wordsworth, Longfellow, and Whitman is scheduled once weekly to enhance the nature journal sessions.
William Wordsworth’s Poetry
Nature journals are covered beautifully in HOD, so there is no need to try to ‘add them in’ other years.
So, rest assured!  Nature journals Charlotte Mason-style are a part of HOD’s guides.  First, in the form of loving the Lord’s Creation. Next, in the way of learning to draw and record thoughts well. Finally, in the fruition of keeping a nature journal in MTMM.  I hope this helps you enjoy the journey of Charlotte Mason style skills leading up to the actual keeping of a nature journal in MTMM, knowing this is covered beautifully in HOD already!!!
Have fun seeing your own student’s nature journal come to life in MTMM!
In Christ,
Julie

Alternating Inspirational and Disciplinary Subjects, Like Charlotte Mason Did

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Charlotte Mason structured her students’ school days by alternating inspirational and disciplinary subjects.

There are many ways we can structure our homeschool days!  Blessedly, with Heart of Dakota, we can choose the structure we most prefer. We can disperse our boxes of plans throughout the day in varying ways. So, we might choose a structure that is different from another family’s structure.  But, both can be right!  As we begin pondering this, we should ask what Charlotte Mason’s thoughts on the matter were.

As we can see, Charlotte Mason  put much thought into the structure of the day.  She especially paid close attention to the order of subjects. Plus, she did so by considering something we might not often consider!  What’s that, we may ask?  Well, it’s alternating inspirational and disciplinary subjects. But, what does that really mean?  To answer that question, we can first look at the difference between inspirational and disciplinary subjects.

So, what is the difference between inspirational and disciplinary subjects?

In general, Charlotte Mason categorized disciplinary subjects as skill-based. In contrast, she thought of inspirational subjects as being more content-based. She considered inspirational subjects as those that take thought. In contrast, she labeled disciplinary subjects as those that can be painstaking, requiring repeated practice to acquire skills. However, she found she could not place subjects exclusively in one category.  Based on the assignment, she could place subjects in both categories. So, how we categorize a subject depends on how we teach the subject. However, we can typically place a subject more in one category than the other.

We can often place disciplinary subjects in mathematics, phonics, reading instruction, geography, handwriting, dictation, English/grammar, composition, copywork, research, timeline, drawing, and foreign language. In contrast,we can place inspirational subjects in history, poetry, Bible, read alouds, literature, science, picture study, composer study, and art appreciation.

So, how did Charlotte Mason categorize inspirational and disciplinary subjects?  Well, let’s look at her list…

Inspirational Subjects:
Bible
Music
Literature
Nature Study
Picture Study
Poetry
Read-Aloud
Science
History

Disciplinary Subjects:
Art
Composition
Dictation
Foreign Language
Geography
Grammar
Handwriting
Mathematics
P.E.
Handicrafts

Notice Charlotte Mason maintained a balance of inspirational and disciplinary subjects!

Charlotte Mason listed 9 inspirational subjects and 10 disciplinary subjects.  She discovered keeping a balance of each to be ideal!  She found students need both kinds of subjects in their day.  If a student omits disciplinary subjects because he finds they are not as inspiring, there will be major gaps in skills.  Likewise, a student should not omit inspirational subjects.  Just because he prefers the predictability of disciplinary subjects, he will miss the deep thought and true connections inspirational subjects provide.

It’s best to let disciplinary subjects be disciplinary, and inspirational subjects be inspirational!

It is sometimes tempting to try to make disciplinary subjects be inspirational.  However, a student cannot live in a constant state of inspiration!  Nor, should we expect him to.  Can you imagine trying to be constantly inspired with every part of your day?  I find the thought to be somewhat exhausting, don’t you?  Imagine waking up and doing your Bible devotional and praying.  You are inspired!  What a special start to your day that was full of deep thought!

However, next it is time to unload the dishwasher, as the dishes are clean, and the children need to eat.  Can you imagine trying to make unloading the dishwasher inspirational each day?  You could try to change the plates to have more varied colors to unload. Or, you could try unloading the dishwasher in a new way each day. Maybe back to front, top to bottom, and then from left to right.  Or, you could try to ponder the mechanics of how your dishwasher got your dishes clean.  Hmmmm.  Or…  you could just unload it!  Personally, I feel a real sense of accomplishment in just getting this done quickly and efficiently, don’t you?

Disciplinary subjects need not be dressed up!

Disciplinary subjects are like that dishwasher.  They need not be ‘dressed up’ to be disguised as inspirational.  If they are, the day just gets longer. We cannot live in a constant state of inspiration, nor can our children – and that’s okay!  Not every moment of the school day is meant to be inspiring!  Students just need to know their times tables eventually.  They just need learn to spell words correctly.  Or, they need to learn how to correct them.  Likewise, continents just need to be recognized. Moreover, in grammar, they need to recognize a noun as a noun, and a verb as a verb.  When students say they are not excited about disciplinary subjects, we need to remember… it is not possible (nor even desirable) for them to be always inspired.  We can’t maintain that, and neither can they.  We can find beauty in the balance!  Likewise, they can too!

Inspirational subjects need not be stripped down!

We might also be tempted to try to make inspirational subjects be disciplinary.  However, a student cannot live in a constant state of discipline! Nor, should we expect him to.  Can you imagine trying to be constantly disciplined with every part of your day?  The thought is somewhat exhausting, isn’t it? I can’t imagine taking the Bible and making it solely disciplinary.

Memorizing Bible verses, for example, is excellent to do! However, I find the the Word of God to be incredibly inspiring!  I find the Bible a worthy subject to think deeply upon, rather than just Words to be memorized – albeit beautiful Words.  There is merit in both!  But, I find it sad when people can quote the Bible eloquently but profoundly miss out on the relationship with the Lord.  That is what can happen when an inspirational subject is made into a solely disciplinary subject.

We can structure our students’ school days and our own personal days with inspiration and discipline in mind!

I am not only structuring my school days this way! Likewise, I am structuring my own days this way.  I think this is going to be good for me!  Sometimes, I tend to focus only on disciplinary subjects in my day.  I set aside my inspirational subjects, thinking I don’t really need them in my day.  Am I alone in this?!?  Maybe!  However, in truth, I find it is the inspirational ones  I need the most sometimes! They balance out the more disciplinary parts of my day.

Let’s try alternating inspirational and disciplinary subjects!

So, join me, if you will!  As we ponder how to structure our homeschool days, why don’t we try alternating disciplinary and inspirational subjects?  We can find both in our HOD guides. We can find both in our lives too. So, we might as well try it in both!  Let’s see if we notice a difference in our child’s focus and concentration, by alternating inspirational and disciplinary subjects. Likewise, let’s try it in our own lives! I think we may find both to be a healthy balance! So, let’s give it a try!

In Christ,

Julie