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

Should my children do poetry copywork if they are doing Cheerful Cursive?

Dear Carrie

If my children are doing Cheerful Cursive in Bigger Hearts, should I still have them do the poetry copywork?

We are starting Heart of Dakota‘s Bigger Hearts for His Glory on Monday. I wasn’t sure if I should have my kids do both the Cheerful Cursive and the Charlotte Mason copywork in the Poetry section. Even though we are starting cursive, their printing could still use some work. Should I do both? Or, is there enough other writing that they will still get enough printing practice? Thanks in advance for your help, and we can’t wait to start!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Not Sure If My Children Should Do Copywork and Cursive”

Dear “Ms. Not Sure If My Children Should Do Poetry Copywork and Cursive,”

The choice of whether to do the poetry copywork in Bigger Hearts works well either way, as the poetry copywork is an optional choice if you’re currently doing Cheerful Cursive or Italic D. When we did Bigger Hearts with my second son, we did the poetry copywork in manuscript along with doing Cheerful Cursive. However, that particular son of mine loves to write. There is plenty of writing/copywork within Bigger Hearts, so if you have a child who does not love to write or is easily tired by too much writing, I wouldn’t do the poetry copywork. Instead, I would work toward fully doing the other assigned copywork in history and science and vocabulary.

What We Decided to Do with My Third Son’s Poetry Copywork and Cursive in Bigger Hearts

When my third son did Bigger Hearts for His Glory, I decided to do the poetry copywork in manuscript but wait on Cheerful Cursive. He just was not nearly ready for cursive. I based this decision on him having had some struggles with handwriting due to having surgery on the tips of his fingers on his left hand, as well as on us having to make him be a “righty” when he was obviously a “lefty”). Anyway, we added cursive for him the next homeschool year, when we came back to finish the rest of Bigger Hearts (at which point we decided not to continue with the optional poetry copywork in manuscript).

What We Decided to Do with My Fourth Son’s Poetry Copywork and Cursive in Bigger Hearts

When my fourth son did Bigger Hearts for His Glory, I chose a pace of half-speed with him. As I wanted him to continue practicing his printing but also begin learning cursive, I had him do both the poetry copywork and Cheerful Cursive. So, one day he did the poetry copywork, and the next day he did Cheerful Cursive. This way, I had him strengthening his fine motor skills by writing every day. So, there are many options to choose from, and I would choose which is best for each of your children doing Bigger Hearts based on their individual needs.

Blessings,

Carrie

Let the child lie fallow till he is six…

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“Let the child lie fallow till he is six, and then, in this matter of memorising, (sic) as in others, attempt only a little, and let the poems the child learns be simple and within the range of his own thought and imagination. At the same time, when there is so much noble poetry within a child’s compass, the pity of it, that he should be allowed to learn twaddle!”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 1, p. 253)

Does Heart of Dakota follow Charlotte Mason’s approach to learning?

Poetry – Another Hidden Gem in Your Heart of Dakota Guides!

Heart of Dakota Tidbit

Poetry study is included in Heart of Dakota guides!

HOD Value: Did you know that each of the HOD guides up to high school have a full-blown poetry study included in their daily lesson plans? Many poetry books are between $15- $20. So, the hidden value in each of our guides is conservatively $15.00.

Have a great weekend!

Personal Style Within the Structure of the Plans, Part 1

From Our House to Yours

Can you encourage personal style within the provided structure of Heart of Dakota’s plans?

Absolutely! In fact, the opportunity for personal style is naturally part of the plans already. How are both included, you may ask? Well, the daily plans provide specific guidelines for each school subject, which gives structure for each assignment. This type of structure might include how many sentences a written narration should be, what topics need to be narrated upon, which timeline entries need to be made, etc. Structure gives needed parameters, but it need not squelch the creativity of personal style!

How can students get creative with their personal style then?

Good question! Well, the good news is personal style is completely a natural part of a living books approach to learning, and a living books approach to learning is part of every Heart of Dakota guide. Narrations include structure in the plans, such as which books to narrate upon, which pages within that book to narrate upon, and which kind of narration to give. But, they also encourage personal style by letting each student choose what to retell, which parts to give more attention, and what connections are made. This is the opposite of a textbook/workbook approach, which include “just the facts ma’am.” Likewise, the varied assessments included in the structure of Heart of Dakota’s plans are the opposite of a worksheet, quizzes, and tests only plan for assessments, which include just one right answer.

Do you have some examples of personal style being encouraged within the structure of the plans?

Well, yes I do! Glad you asked because this is what I wanted to share with you this week in my weekly check-in! Let’s start with my son, Emmett, in Creation to Christ.

Timeline Entry Assignment
Creation to Christ Timeline Entry Assignment - Unit 23
Creation to Christ Timeline Entry Assignment – Unit 23

Structure in the Plans:

  • 3 timeline entries must be made
  • specific pictures must be drawn
  • captions must be written

Personal Style:

  • drew his own pictures
  • colored the pictures how he wanted
  • chose to write his labels in either cursive or print

 

 

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a drawing assignment, so if the timeline pictures are not of art quality – in the name of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the right 3 things are drawn labeled with the proper captions.

Geography Travel Log Assignment
Creation to Christ Geography Travel Log
Creation to Christ Geography Travel Log

Structure in the Plans:

Personal Style:

  • chose his own Travel Log template
  • decided on his own 3 topics to write about
  • chose his own picture to draw

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a quiz, so if your student didn’t write a summary of what was learned – in the name of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the 3 written topics and the 1 drawing must be pertinent to the geography reading.

Poetry Appreciation Assignment:
Creation to Christ Poetry Appreciation
Creation to Christ Poetry Appreciation

Structure in the Plans:

  • required to read the poem pausing at punctuation marks
  • write the given stanza
  • must follow the steps to watercolor paint

Personal Style:

  • chose his own way of doing the painting
  • decided on his own small picture to draw
  • chose where to place his index card

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t an art appreciation assignment (it’s a poetry appreciation assignment), so if your student didn’t paint a jaw-dropping picture – in the name of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the steps for creating the painting and the steps for creating the card be followed. A ‘perfect’ model was not given for him to look at. This encourages the personal style as opposed to exactly duplicating someone else’s painting.

Part 2 – World Geography Next Week!

Next weekly check-in, I’ll share Part 2 of this series on personal style within the structure of the plans in regard to my son Riley, who is completing World Geography this year. Then, the following weekly check-in, I’ll share Part 3 of this series in regard to my son Wyatt, who is completing U.S. History II this year. For now, I’ll just sign off saying… Happy Homeschooling to all you lovely ladies!

In Christ,
Julie

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Heart of Dakota