Charlotte Mason skills learned in high school give students strong study skills in college!

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Charlotte Mason skills learned in high school give students strong study skills in college!

I was looking back at past posts on our Heart of Dakota (HOD) Message Board. In the HOD Weekly Check-In posts, I found a random past post I’d done about my oldest son’s week in USI. Reading this post, I realized how all of those Charlotte Mason skills my son learned in HOD still help him so much in college! I just was struck by how well Charlotte Mason skills prepared him to study and succeed in college. Below, I’ll share my 2016 post about USI, and then at the end I’ll share how I’ve seen these skills help my son study well in college.

The Study Skill of Giving a Topic Oral Narration Using Notes

This week Wyatt has been learning about The Second Continental Congress and the Declaration of Independence in history. He prepared to give a topic oral narration by listing topics as starting points for a new part of the narration in his US1 HOD History Notebook. Phrases of names, dates, places, etc. that were important were jotted down to help jog his memory. He then referred to these notes as he narrated orally. This activity has so many important skills in it! They are skills I used in college often, and I am glad he is leaning to utilize them already now. He now takes notes and refers to them as he speaks very naturally. It just flows, and he is at ease as he speaks.

The Study Skill of Responding to Critical Thinking Questions

Another great activity is his responding in writing to critical thinking questions from Great Documents in U.S. History. So much more depth is brought out from the readings by the pondering of these critical thinking questions. Then, reading actual Great Letters in American History alongside these assignments – well, what could be better than the actual letters, word for word, written by these amazing people from history themselves! It is like being transported back in time and really being able to ‘know’ that person through his/her very thoughts and words put to paper.

The Study Skill of Researching A Topic and Supporting Your Opinion

A Noble Experiment has Wyatt researching various court cases and their findings, and he finds it incredibly interesting. It appeals to his sense of right and wrong, and he is beginning to see the importance of being able to ‘support’ your opinion by citing the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, etc.

The Study Skills of Watching Presentations, Taking Notes, and Sharing What You’ve Learned

The USI History Notebook is not just a place for Wyatt to record his thoughts and written answers. It is also a beautiful visual reminder of that which he is studying, and every picture, portrait, document, historic memorabilia, etc. has its purpose and is used in some way, shape, or form for assessing what he has learned. This week, after Wyatt watched his American Testimony DVD, he referred to the beautiful pictures in his USI History Notebook as he orally narrated about each portion of the DVD he’d watched. Being comfortable speaking while referring to diagrams, photos, documents – this is a key skill he’ll need for whatever future job he will probably have. He is already becoming quite comfortable with it, and I can envision him giving a power point presentation with notes quite adeptly someday.

The Study Skill of Conveying Your Thoughts and Opinions in Writing

Being an accomplished writer that can convey thoughts and opinions clearly in an accurate interesting way – this is becoming a lost skill for many teenagers. NOT SO, with HOD! The steady diet of completing Charlotte Mason style written narrations inspired by reading timeless living books has made responding in writing to a topic quite easy for Wyatt. Now, this was not always so. I only have to pull out his beginning fledgling written narrations from CTC to be reminded of how far he has come. But, oh, it is so exciting to me to see the progress!

The Study Skill of Internalizing What’s Been Learned

Where many high school students stare at the blank page with no confidence of how to begin, he can begin writing immediately. Why? Because having completed countless oral and written narrations in the past, he knows from experience one must THINK about what one is reading while one is reading it to be able to respond to it afterward. Pretty important stuff if you ask me. So, oral narrations with index card planning, critical thinking questions, and written narration assessments all work together to help our dc learn to internalize and respond to what they have read in an active thoughtful way. So much better than completing a multiple choice quiz every time.

How These Study Skills Help My Son in College

My son just finished his sophomore year of college. He has taken 18 credits each semester. Some of these credits were earned by taking courses. The other credits were earned by taking CLEP or DSST tests. Either way, he uses the study skills he learned in HOD for both. As he reads his college material, he takes notes. He takes notes as he listens to his professors or watches DVD presentations (just like he did for USI’s American Testimony DVD assignments). From these notes, he writes essays (just like he did for his topic narrations in USI). He has to give an overview (i.e. written narration) and share his opinion citing research or court cases to support it (i.e. opinion narration). Throughout all of this, he is taking quizzes and tests. The scores he receives show he has internalized what he has learned!

A Special Webinar with Jeff Myers

These study skills all came together during an Educational Leadership webinar with Jeff Myers and fellow students. Each student had to write one question for Jeff Myers, based on the materials they’d read. During the live webinar, Jeff chose some of the students’ questions to answer. Jeff chose Wyatt’s question! Wyatt was so excited! Jeff spent nearly 30 minutes answering it and interacting with Wyatt and the other students as he did. It was just such a neat moment! After this, Wyatt wrote an essay on what he’d learned, citing his notes and supporting his opinions with references to the reading material and webinar. So, rest assured, HOD’s Charlotte Mason-inspired skills do much to help your future college students! Even on quizzes and tests – because they truly have the skills to internalize what they have read and what they have heard.  What a blessing!

In Christ,

Julie

Alternate inspirational and disciplinary subjects.

Teaching Tip

Alternate inspirational and disciplinary subjects.

When scheduling your child’s day, Charlotte Mason advocated alternating inspirational subjects with disciplinary subjects. This makes a lot of sense to me and is something I try to consider when scheduling my kiddos.

What is the difference?

Disciplinary subjects are those that are skill-based, while inspirational subjects are those that are content-based. Subjects often are not exclusively in one category or the other.  They may fit in both categories depending on how the subject is taught. However, typically a subject will lean more in one direction than the other.

What are some examples of disciplinary subjects?

Disciplinary subjects will often be subjects like mathematics, phonics, reading instruction, geography, handwriting, dictation, English/grammar, composition, copywork, research, timeline, drawing, and foreign language.

What are some examples of inspirational subjects?

Inspirational subjects often include history, poetry, Bible, read alouds, literature, science, picture study, composer study, and art appreciation.

What are the benefits of alternating different types of subjects?

Alternating differing subject types keeps learning fresh.  This is because disciplinary and inspirational subject matter calls on different parts of the brain. Try alternating the disciplinary and inspirational subjects found within your HOD guide.  See if you notice a difference in your child’s focus and concentration!

Blessings,
Carrie

PS: Want to dive deeper into how alternating these two kinds of subjects works? Then, check out this blog post by Julie!

Learning comes alive with living books!

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Learning comes alive with living books!

Charlotte Mason had a passion for living books being at the heart and center of a child’s education! Why? Well, simply put, “living” books make learning ‘come alive.’ They pull you into a subject and make you want to read more. Think about some of the books that have impacted you the most. These books spoke to you for one reason or another, and they stayed with you long after the last page was read. Living books do that. Dry textbooks with encyclopedia-like writing do the opposite. In fact, instead of making learning ‘come alive,’ they seem to put us to sleep. Very few textbooks, if any, make their way onto our favorite books’ list. An education with living books is a lasting education, because what is read is remembered.

“Children should have the joy of living in far lands, in other persons, in other times – a delightful double existence; and this joy they will find, for the most part, in their story books. Their lessons, too, history and geography, should cultivate their conceptive powers. If the children do not live in the times of his history lesson, be not at home in the climate his geography book describes, why, these lessons will fail of their purpose.” – Charlotte Mason

Authors love what they write about in their living books!

Living books are often written by authors that are passionate about one thing, and that one thing is the topic of their beloved book(s). For example, John Hudson Tiner is passionate about science. This love comes through in the living books he’s authored, like Exploring Planet Earth. Ann Voskamp is passionate about geography, and so she wrote  A Child’s Geography I and II. Edward Eggleston was passionate about American history, and so was William J. Bennett, which is why they wrote the amazing living books they did! Starr Meade loves the Bible, and so she authored Grandpa’s Box and The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Study!  Bob Schultz had a heart for helping boys become Christian men, while Joni Eareckson Tada and Bobbi Wolgemuth are passionate about hymns. The author passionate about what he/she writes produces a far different book than a group of people mass writing a textbook together.

“One more thing is of vital importance; children must have books, living books; the best are not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough; and if it is needful to exercise economy, let go everything that belongs to soft and luxurious living before letting go the duty of supplying the books, and the frequent changes of books, which are necessary for the constant stimulation of the child’s intellectual life.” ― Charlotte Mason

Children come alive by reading living books!

Heart of Dakota uses living books for as many school subjects as possible. All of the authors I mentioned earlier are people your children will get to ‘meet’ via their living books using Heart of Dakota! The other day, we had our eye doctor appointments. Each of my sons brought a book to read, and the receptionist asked me what I did to get them to read books. I told her these books were simply amazing! The kind you just can’t put down! She told me sadly how rare it is to see children reading anymore – they always seemed to be playing games on their phones. “Whatever those books are, I need to get some!” she said. “I want my little one to love reading like your sons do!” Two words dear… ‘living books.’ That’s all I can say! They just make learning come alive!!!

“The most common and the monstrous defect in the education of the day is that children fail to acquire the habit of reading.”Charlotte Mason

In Christ,

Julie

Charlotte Mason Recitation… So Much More Than Rote Memorization

More than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Charlotte Mason Recitation… So Much More Than Rote Memorization

Charlotte Mason encouraged recitation of beautiful poems, scripture, and hymns throughout a child’s learning. For twenty minutes each day, Charlotte’s schools planned for ‘Repetition.’ During ‘Repetition’ time, children would alternate between poetry, Bible, and hymns. Younger children recited a poem of their choice, a hymn, a Psalm, and several passages each six verses in length per term. Older children recited several longer Bible passages each about 20 verses in length, as well as three poems each term. Children also practiced hymns. As children matured, they memorized lengthier Bible passages and poems, and they added more hymns to their repertoire.

Charlotte Mason-style recitation differs from rote memorization.

Just as Charlotte Mason’s living books differ from dry textbooks, Charlotte Mason’s recitation differs from rote memorization of dry facts. Just as Charlotte Mason lovingly and carefully selected living books, she also lovingly and carefully selected recitation sources. Poetry, scripture, hymns – one can see the line of thinking Charlotte had about what was worthy of recitation. Recitation is often thought to be synonymous with memorization, but Charlotte differentiated between the two.

Charlotte Mason’s quotes regarding recitation of poetry, scripture, and hymns.

“Recitation and committing to memory are not necessarily the same thing, and it is well to store a child’s memory with a good deal of poetry, learnt without labour…. attempt only a little, and let the poems the child learns be simple and within the range of his own thought and imaginations” (Volume I, p. 224-226).

“The learning by heart of Bible passages should begin while the children are quite young, six or seven. It is a delightful thing to have the memory stored with beautiful, comforting, and inspiring passages, and we cannot tell when and how this manner of seed may spring up, grow, and bear fruit…” (Volume I, p. 253).

“Praise and thanksgiving come freely from the young heart; gladness is natural and holy, and music is a delight. The singing of hymns at home and of the hymns and canticles in church should be a special delight; and the habit of soft and reverent singing, of offering our very best in praise, should be carefully formed” (Volume III, p. 143).

Making Charlotte Mason’s Recitation Happen in Your Home

Many young mothers read Charlotte Mason’s thoughts on recitation and long for this kind of more meaningful memorization. In Charlotte’s type of recitation, we can all see context is king. Memorizing poetry, scripture, and hymns within the context of studying a certain poet, a particular book of the Bible, or a hymn study just gives depth to what is memorized. It gives what is being memorized meaning. However, successfully integrating meaningful recitation in the day-to-day of homeschooling on the fly isn’t so easy. Blessedly, Heart of Dakota already includes Charlotte Mason-style recitation in its guides in a balanced, meaningful way!

Recitation – already a beautiful, meaningful part of Heart of Dakota’s guides!

We include recitation of Bible verses within each of our guides, and we begin recitation of poetry each term in Preparing Hearts. Likewise, we include corresponding music in our guides. We keep things fresh by rotating the focus of our music. Sometimes we choose music based on scripture, and sometimes we choose it based on hymns. But either way, we always include recitation with it (often in the form of singing).

Furthermore, Heart of Dakota provides rich context for recitation. Children complete recitation of poems within the context of poetry study. So, children truly get to know the poet and the inspiration behind the writing of the poems. Children complete recitation of scripture within the context of a formal Bible study. So, children truly are immersed in a book (or books) of the Bible and its deeper meaning. Children complete memorization of hymns within the context of a hymn study. So, children truly get to know the hymn writer and the inspiration behind the writing of the hymns.

Recitation Recorded in a Charlotte Mason Common Place Book

Approaching recitation in a more meaningful way is taken even one step further by the keeping of a Common Place Book. Charlotte Mason refers to Arthur Burrell’s In Recitation: The Children’s Art, in which he recommends filling a copybook with beautiful passages and poems. Charlotte Mason encouraged children to keep their own Common Place Book for this very purpose. In Heart of Dakota, poems children memorize, Bible passages children memorize, and stanzas of hymns children sing are lovingly recorded, so students create a special keepsake of their recitation. As they look back at their Common Place Book, they remember – not just the recitation, but the poet, the author, the writer and their inspiration. Recitation done this way is more than words; it is someone’s life story. And because of that, those words are remembered, right along with the people who wrote them.

In Christ,
Julie

What is one key of a Charlotte Mason education?

Teaching Tip:

What is one key part of a Charlotte Mason education?

Today’s tip has to do with one key part of a Charlotte Mason education that is often overlooked or misunderstood. Charlotte Mason advocated that a child aged 9 or older who can read his/her own material should. This doesn’t mean you should never read aloud to children past the age of 9! It does mean that for subjects where the child is reading to “know,” the child should be doing the reading if he/she is able.

Why is it important for children who can read their own school books to do so?

Training a child to read to “know” is an important part of any child’s education. This is because reading one’s own books exercises a child’s focus and power of attention in a unique way. Asking children to read their own material encourages them to savor what they read and make their own connections.

Reading aloud books meant to be read by the child means we are getting between the book and the child.

Once a child can read fluently, we need take care not to get between the book and child. Instead, we need to “get out of the way” and let the child read assigned books without interference. This doesn’t mean we don’t discuss books. It just means the child should be allowed to read those books without our ideas in his head already as distractions. In this way, children can make their own discoveries and connections.

Often when we read aloud, we make the connections… rather than the child making the connections.

When we read aloud, we often share our own personal connections and reflections. It is true a child may learn much from our perspective he wouldn’t otherwise learn from reading alone. But, is that learning his own, or ours? Who is doing the hard work of thinking, drawing conclusions, and making lasting connections? Is it us, or is it the child?

Reading one’s own books is a skill that takes practice.

Charlotte Mason wanted children to develop the skill of reading their lesson books for themselves. This is why our Heart of Dakota guides gradually introduce children to this important skill. Beginning with Preparing Hearts for His Glory, we start having children read part of their history and science books on their own. Each subsequent Heart of Dakota guide hands more of the reading over to the child. Graduating learners who can and will pick up higher level books and tackle them with ease takes practice.

It’s easier to sit and listen to someone read than to grapple with a book yourself.

While it is great to be read to, it is also easy to get spoiled by the ease of listening to someone else read aloud. Consider how easy it is to do other tasks while listening to an audio. Then, think about whether the same is true when you are reading words on a page. Paying attention to a voice is a very different mental skill than paying attention to thoughts written on a page. A child will never develop fluency, proficiency, or ease in reading for himself unless he practices the skill often with a variety of materials. This is why our guides begin practicing this skill as soon as children are able.

Charlotte Mason taught that when children are old enough, much of their reading is done on their own.

While reading aloud to our children is extremely important, it should never take the place of children learning to read independently. We need to be sure that we are allowing our children to read, savor and make connections for themselves. Try it today! Just follow the ‘I’ boxes in your HOD guide and allow your child to read his own material if he is able.

Blessings,

Carrie