The importance of getting nourishment from books

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“The boy who has not formed the habit of getting nourishment out of his books in school-days does not, afterwards, see the good in reading. He has not acquired, in an intellectual sense, the art of reading, so he cannot be said to have lost it; and he goes through life an imperfect person, with the best and most delightful of his powers latent or maimed.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 5, p.291)

“Reading lessons must be short; ten minutes or a quarter of an hour of fixed attention is enough…”

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,


Narration and the Importance of a Single Reading

A Charlotte Mason Moment

“I have already spoken of the importance of a single reading. If a child is not able to narrate what he has read once, let him not get the notion that he may, or that he must, read it again. A look of slight regret because there is a gap in his knowledge will convict him.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 1, pp. 229, 230)

Charlotte Mason’s Nature Journals in Missions to Modern Marvels

Dear Carrie

How are nature journals planned in a Charlotte Mason way in Missions to Modern Marvels?

Dear Carrie,

My daughter and I have enjoyed Heart of Dakota’s way of including a rotation of Charlotte Mason fine arts. She loved the watercolor painting and poetry in Creation to Christ. Next, she was thrilled with the art and picture study in Resurrection to Reformation. Then, she oohed and ahhed over Revival to Revolution’s music appreciation and composer study. Now, we see there is a Charlotte Mason style nature journal in Missions to Modern Marvels. We’re tentatively excited, but we tried our hand at nature journals when my daughter was much younger. She just didn’t do very well with it. I think I tried it way too young with her and expected way too much. So, my question is, how are nature journals planned in a Charlotte Mason way in Missions to Modern Marvels?


“Ms. Please Explain How Nature Journals Are Done”

Dear “Ms. Please Explain How Nature Journals Are Done,”

We’re very excited about the Charlotte Mason style nature journal we have planned in Missions to Modern Marvels! It is titled Nature Drawing and Journaling and is an outstanding product created by Barry Stebbing of How Great Thou Art! This resource was exactly what we were looking for, as it incorporates a love for nature, includes lessons on drawing from nature, guides students in keeping a nature journal, and works to look at nature as God’s glorious handiwork.

As this describes it so well, here is the product description of Nature Drawing and Journaling!

Nature Drawing and Journaling is a unique combination of nature journaling instructions, reflections, and space for your own work. Nature Drawing and Journaling will keep you observing & thinking for as long as you have time. Filled with Barry Stebbing’s 40 years’ worth of insights on studying nature and keeping an art journal, with patience and practice you’ll be able to create your very own! Supply lists, instructions on what a journal is (and is not), and hints on starting your own are provided. The journal pages feature journal entries, full-color illustrations, a quote at the top, and often full-page reproductions of Barry Stebbing’s journal.

Nature-inspired poetry pairs beautifully with Nature Drawing and Journaling!

In tandem with the nature journaling twice weekly, we included nature-inspired poetry from Wordsworth, Longfellow, and Whitman. We spend 12 weeks, which is a Charlotte Mason-style term, on each poet. Nature-based poems provide inspiration for journaling and give lovely narrative to describe God’s handiwork.

An Overall Look at Charlotte Mason’s Fine Arts Skills in Heart of Dakota

With this last choice of doing nature journaling in MTMM, we have done the Charlotte Mason fine arts skills in a 4 year rotation (as you have already mentioned). We did watercolor painting weekly along with Robert Frost’s poetry in CTC. Then, we did art appreciation with picture study in RTR. Next, we did music appreciation with composer study in Rev2Rev (plus classic paintings included throughout the Student Notebook). Finally, we did nature journaling in MTMM.

Additionally, we did classic poetry every year from Beyond Little Hearts on up. We did sketching practice with instruction through Draw and Write from CTC through MTMM. Not to mention, we scheduled hymn singing and hymn appreciation in both Bigger Hearts and MTMM.  I won’t get into high school and Charlotte Mason’s fine arts skills here, but I will just say, I think you and your daughter are sure to enjoy that balance as well!