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

A quiet place to work is key.

Teaching Tip:

Do you have a student in 6th grade or above?

Older students naturally have a heavier workload with lengthier readings and weightier material. As students mature, assignments take longer and require more thought. Today’s tip deals with older students and something we’ve discovered by trial and error through years of schooling 4 boys.

For older students, having a quiet place to work with less interruptions is key.

Our older boys do MUCH better with school when they have a quiet place of “their own” to work. Even though our boys are different from one another personality-wise, they each came to a time when they craved personal space. Working in a space with less interruptions was key in their ability to focus during the middle school and high school years.

What are some possible places to use as quiet work spaces?

With our oldest son, we acknowledged the need for a quiet work space and allowed him to work in our bedroom. There were less distractions for him in our bedroom than in his bedroom. As he matured, he later worked in his own room. Then, after we built an addition onto our house, he worked in the new addition. Our next son also did better after he gained a quiet table of his own in our new addition. These days our third son has taken our second son’s place at the addition table. Our fourth son works in his bedroom spread out on his carpeted floor.

Get creative in thinking about possible work spaces in your home.

I encourage you to get creative in thinking of possible quiet work spaces in your home. Some personal work spaces may require more monitoring than others. For example, I had to check on my oldest son more often when he was working upstairs in my bedroom. During those years, I sent a timer with him so he would know when to come back downstairs. If you have to utilize a space on a different floor, it can still be a workable solution. Even with the extra monitoring required, I still found the positive changes in my son to be worth the extra effort.

No matter what type of learner you have, a quiet personal work space can positively impact your child’s attitude and work habits.

I cannot begin to tell you the change a quiet space produced in each of our older boys’ attitudes and work habits! This is true in spite of our four sons being uniquely different in so many ways. No matter what type of learner you have, it will pay dividends if you can give your older child a quiet work space.

A quiet work space means fewer distractions and less interruptions.

In a quiet space there are fewer distractions and less interruptions. In their quiet work spaces, our older sons got more done than when they were working near the rest of us downstairs. Try creating a quiet, personal work space for your older child. See if you think it improves your child’s attitude, focus, and/or work habits. You may find your child gets more done in less time and does better work too!

Blessings,

Carrie

Do you have a child who needs to transition to smaller handwriting?

Teaching Tip

Do you have a child who needs to transition to smaller handwriting?

My tip today deals with kiddos who are maturing manuscript or cursive sentence writers. A good handwriting goal for students in grades 2-4 is to work toward writing smaller as they write on paper.

How can you encourage your child to write smaller on lined paper?

There are a few easy ways to encourage your child in the transition to smaller handwriting. One easy way is to have your child switch from special handwriting paper with big lines to regular, wide-lined notebook paper. To aid your child in copying on wide-lined paper, draw a light dotted pencil line in the middle of each wide line. The dotted line will give your child a midpoint guide on each line for lower case letters. This simple change will help your child automatically begin to shrink his/her writing to fit in the space

How can you help your child transition to writing smaller on blank paper?

In Bigger Hearts, Preparing Hearts, and Creation to Christ children are transitioning to writing on blank paper or in blank boxes in a student notebook. You can help shrink your child’s writing by drawing 1/2″ lines in pencil in the assigned blank areas of the page. This will guide your child to write smaller to stay within the lines.

After smaller handwriting has become a habit, your child will no longer need guide lines.

Once writing smaller has become a habit for your child, you can eventually stop including guide lines. Urging your child toward smaller handwriting is easy to do with these simple tips! Give these tips a try and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

Recovering from the holiday season? Consider starting school half-speed!

Teaching Tip:

Are you still recovering from the busy holiday season?

As the new year is underway, are you still recovering from the busy holiday season? If so, it can feel daunting to launch back into school again. Yet, often the routine of school is just what is needed to get your days back to normal.

You could consider starting school half-speed.

To help you get back into the routine of school, you could consider starting half-speed. Easing into school this way is easier than starting full-speed, yet it starts the process of getting back into the school mindset.

There are several easy ways to go half-speed.

Through the years, we have gone half-speed with our guides in many different ways. Going half-speed can be as easy as doing the left page of plans one day and the right page the next day. Another way to go half-speed is to count the number of boxes on your two-page spread and divide by two. Then, choose half of the boxes to do one day and half of the boxes to do the next day. Other options for going half-speed will work too. Just be sure to finish an entire day of plans before moving on to the next day. Simply check off the boxes as you complete them, so there is no confusion as to which boxes remain.

How long can you go half-speed?

Typically, going half-speed with a guide is not a permanent solution. At our house, we have downshifted to half-speed in times of illness, stress, holiday breaks, busy work schedules, days with therapy or doctor’s appointments, or when we are first beginning a new guide. Usually, after a time half-speed no longer feels like enough.

How can you move up to full-speed gradually?

If we did stay at half-speed for an extended time, we tried to add one box each week until we were at full-speed. This meant we were sometimes finishing up one day of plans and starting on a new day of plans in the same day. While not ideal, it did work. Getting up to full-speed is always our end-goal.

How can schooling continue when you or your child is very sick?

With our son Greyson’s multiple hospitalizations last year, we had to downshift to what he was able to do. This means we did only one or two boxes in the plans for many days. Other days he was too sick to do any school. When he got some better, we tried slowly adding one more box of plans as he seemed able. At the time, it seemed like we were barely progressing. Yet, in looking back we only lost half a year of school instead of the whole year. During the summer, he did his guide half-speed four days a week. He didn’t mind, since he was finally starting to feel better. Doing even a little when you can is still progress!

When life is busy, half-speed works.

Maybe you are at a place in your life right now where full-speed is working great. If so, keep going! Just remember that when life is busy, half-speed works.

Blessings,

Carrie

Christmas is a time for family!

Teaching Tip: 

Christmas is a time for family, as we gather together to celebrate Christ’s birth.

At Christmas, it is easy to get consumed and overwhelmed with the busyness of the season. Working, homeschooling, and preparing for the holiday season can take a lot of energy. At our house, the joy of having a large, extended family means we get to celebrate Christmas for awhile! At times, it seems like we can hardly fit in everything. Our boys have 26 first cousins if that gives you any idea of how big our extended family is! Yet, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

A faith-filled family is a blessing from the Lord.

A large, faith-filled family is a blessing from the Lord. Family stands together when life is hard. We encourage one another when times are tough and celebrate when times are good. Family prays for one another and helps without expecting anything in return. A close, faith-filled family is a reflection of Christ’s love.

The church stands ready to be your faith-filled family.

Whether you have the gift of a close, faith-filled family or not, the church stands ready to fulfill that role. In this season of Christ’s birth, the church is a reflection of Christ’s love.

God is your gracious, loving Father.

Your Father in heaven is your gracious, loving Father. As such, He was willing to send His precious Son to earth to save you and me from eternal destruction. This Christmas, know that you are loved by the Creator of this world. As the angels announced the birth of His Son on earth, so you can sing in your Spirit knowing God sent His Son for you!

If you are a Christian, you are part of a heavenly family.

This Christmas season, know that you are part of a heavenly family. God, your Father, loves you. Jesus, His only Son, left the splendors of heaven to live among us. He chose to die for you and for me as payment for our sins. One day, we will join Him in heaven. You and I are linked with heaven.

Remember the meaning of Christ’s birth.

In the busyness of the season, remember the meaning of Christ’s birth. Remember why He came to earth, and what purpose He fulfilled. Then, join me in thanking God that you are a member of His family. There is no better family we can be part of and be given. Christmas is truly a time for family!

In Christ,

Carrie