This continues the study guide on Home Education By Charlotte Mason. A blog series dedicated to provide a study guide companion to a Home Education book study, utilizing certain study guide questions from the appendix. Your welcome to join the Holistic Homeschooling group to learn more about Charlotte Mason’s methods, gain encouragement and support from other homeschooling parents.
As I am pouring over the words in this part of the reading, I keep thinking of how much thought Ms. Mason put into caring for the whole child. In nursing school this was regarded as “critical thinking skills” and it was applied in terms to determine the best way to treat a patient and who to prioritize first. One can tell that Ms. Mason was passionate about educating the whole child and it resonates in her writing. Ms. Mason is clearly using her personal experience, expertise, and critical thinking skills to determine the best way to educate and applying it in how to guide the whole child in learning.
Out of respect of her educational philosophy and all the critical thinking she put in her volumes, I quote her word for word as answers to the study guide questions. She regarded the dumbing down of books with great disdain. I do paraphrase or add in my thoughts and opinions to most of the questions. However, it is only after I answer the study guide question in her own words. If I only paraphrased the answers to the study guide questions, then I would be solely revising her words. Which would be a great disrespect to Ms. Mason.
I lay no claim in being an expert Charlotte Mason Home educator, I am learning as I go on through this book study. What I can lay claim to is that I love God with all my heart and next to that is my husband and children. I am most passionate about finding the best way to home educate my children. My personal perspective and thoughts closely align with Ms. Mason’s philosophy and in this way I can relate to her teaching methods. In time, as I learn more of the microscopic details of Ms. Mason’s Methods I will gain knowledge and will apply it to my Children’s lives. After all, learning is multifaceted and encompasses the body, mind, and spirit-the whole child. Thank you for joining me in this book study as we continue to progress through volume one together.
What is meant by ‘picture painting’?
”Get the children to look well at some patch of landscape, and then to shut their eyes and call up the picture before them; if any bit of it is blurred, they had better look again.” -Charlotte Mason Home Education pg 48
Ms. Mason explains to have the child take a mental picture of something that they have seen. As an example she refers to a pond. She instructs that the child should close their eyes and describe what they have observed by reflecting back on that image. The child should not just say that they have seen a pond but describe its every detail. If the image is fuzzy in their mind, then they should look at it again.
Show the value of this exercise
This exercise helps develop the habit of “recalling” and “reproducing.” I personally find significant value in this exercise. Often times I look at a great many things with just a glance. Do you do the same? Think back on how fuzzy the pictured memory is? Now to incorporate this exercise of ‘picture painting’ in your child’s life, from time to time, imagine how it will hone a Child’s observation skills. I practiced this myself and it made a notable difference in what I could visually recall. I started to think ahead on how a skill such as this could help in a great number of professions-nearly everything medical came to mind.
**note** Ms. Mason advises only to do this now and then as it “involves some strain on the attention”(CMpg.49) to the point of causing fatigue.
What is the mother’s part in the play?
I appreciate this question so much. I always have such positive intentions to let my children lead in their learning but then this side of me that went through a public school system just subconsciously sneaks in and tries to dictate how learning should happen. I myself am learning to smash that beast down but what is my role then?
Recognizing that this is a philosophy founded on mental image that works fluidly towards progress, Ms. Mason professes that “at first the children will need a little help in the art of seeing.” The mother would then point out things she observes in nature as a way to draw in the children and peak their interest. She would ask questions that are engaging, for instance, “What do those stand up leaves remind you of?”(CMpg.49) The mother would even demonstrate the recollection of a mental image in an entertaining sort of way to further encourage the child’s own interest.
With what field crops may children become aquainted in your neighborhood?
“They should know meadow and pasture, clover, turnip, and corn field, under every aspect, from the ploughing of the land to the getting in of the crops.” -Charlotte Mason pg.51
I whole heartily agree, she’s on point again. I come from long line of farmers. I know for fact that my great grandpa owned land and farmed it. His son (my grandfather) did, he sold his fresh vegetables at low price to his community and anyone who frankly told him they were in need-he then just gave it away. He handed his green thumb down to my mother, who passed it onto me. The value of keeping a garden is monumental. Although I keep a simple 4×6 box garden, my oldest has learned the life cycle of the plant, the names of varies fruits and vegetables, the responsibility and hard work of harvesting, not to mention the benefit of fresh vegetables on demand. (I’m thinking back to proper nourishment for the child.)
What should the child know about any wild flower of his neighborhood?
“Every wild flower that grows in their neighborhood, they should know quite well; should be able to describe the leaf-its shape, size, growing from the root or from the stem; the manner of flowering-a head of flowers, a single flower, a spike, etc.”
My mother was an avid gardener, her front flower garden was such a gorgeous display of flowers, anyone who ever saw it just stopped to stare at it for a long while. In my own early years we had little money. She wanted to put a path lined with flowers through our backyard. This began a project that took two consecutive summers. She would take us into the nearest woods and we would scout the forest for trillium, May apple, wild phlox, marsh marigolds, and for-get-me-nots to line my mothers path.
Funny, how so many years have passed and I can still identify wild flowers and recall their names, when I take my own children on a nature walk. Ms. Mason ascertains that if the mother is not a botanist then she should get a wild flower field guide, in order to identify the flowers and know “pleasant facts and fancies that the children delight in.”(CM pg.51) I know from my experience with my own mother that those key words “pleasant facts” and “delight” is the precise reasons why the names of flowers are naturally embedded into my mind and sowed in long lasting cherishable childhood memories. I feel blessed to be able to meld this teaching philosophy with my own experience and pass it onto my children.
How should the children take up the study of trees?
“Children should be made early intimate with the trees, too; should pick out half a dozen trees, oak, elm, ash, beech, in their winter nakedness, and take these to be their year long friends. In the winter, they will observe the light tresses of the birch, the knotted arms of the oak, the sturdy growth of the sycamore. They may wait to learn the names of the trees until the leaves come.”-Charlotte Mason pg.52
I am so fortunate to have a path lined with various trees near our home. We live near a 1,000 acre nature preserve and the city gardens. The city gardens has a dirt path that leads through the forest, over 28 different trees line this path and each one is labeled by the city with a stake. I’ve been utilizing this trail for nature walks with my children. Its a perfect way to adapt Charlotte Mason’s tree study into my own children’s education.
I record these on the holistic homeschooler’s utube channel, I thought it may be helpful in the identification of various trees and for those mamas that are homebound for their own personal reasons. If this is something that you think will be useful to you, you can view that here- https://youtu.be/Y9wkNQCJQg4
I know it is rough recording but I will improve with time.
What does Leigh Hunt say about flowers?
“Suppose flowers themselves were new!” Suppose they had just come into the world, a sweet reward for some new goodness…(Ms. Hunt continues to describe a flowers stages of development until she reaches the flower bud)… then this mysterious bud gradually unfolding like the leaf, amazing us with delight, as if we knew not what enchantment were to ensure, til at length, in all its fairy beauty, and odorous voluptuousness, and mysterious elaboration of tender and living sculpture, shines for the blushing flower.” Ms. Hunt then proceeds to use this as a poetic analogy for the budding mind of children. “The flowers, it is true, are not new; but the children are; and it is the fault of their elders if every new flower they come upon is not to them a piccolo (baby), a mystery of beauty to be watched from day to day with unspeakable awe and delight.”-Ms. Leah Hunt quoted by Charlotte Mason on pg.53.
What a perspective to hold and what a lesson it is for the rest of us. To think that our children are curious and everything they are learning, they are learning for the first time and we need to remember that as we interact and guide them in their learning. Ms. Hunt drives her point home when she says, “One of the secrets of an educator is to present nothing as stale knowledge, but to put himself in the position of the child, and wonder and admire with him; for every common miracle which the child sees with his own eyes makes of him for the moment another Newton.”
Just to add a little twist to this- For those of us who are not botanist (I am not, I can identify but I can not recall facts) so I will be in some regard learning along side my children. Their is a sort of beauty in this and you may share in it as well, if you think of it. You will be learning some of this information for the first time, with all the wonder and curiosity of a child-as they are learning for the first time. In this way you can relate and still emphasize with your child’s learning perspective and in this way you can as Ms. Hunt puts it, “put yourself in the position of the child, and wonder and admire with him.”
What use should be made of calendars and note-books?
“It is a capital plan for children to keep a calendar-the first oak-leaf, the first tadpole, the first cowslip, the first catskin, the first ripe blackberries, where seen, and when.” -Charlotte Mason pg.54. Ms. Mason points out the “zest” and “interest” in this exercise encourages a desire towards daily walks and little excursions. A calendar of firsts? hhmmm…we don’t have that one yet, might need to add that to my list.
Nature Diaries was covered in this section of the reading as well and I wrote about it in a previous article. If you would like to read it, follow the link (click grey link) here.
What of the child who says, ‘I can’t stop thinking’?
Ms. Mason writes about a child who has a busy mind and it sounds as though this child’s mind is racing with thoughts. It makes me think of children with attention issues or even some sensory issues which can cause a racing mind. These days we are quick to medicate these children with attention issues when all they simply need is some extra “work” outside.
“Set the child to definite work by all means, and give him something to grind. But, pray, let him work with things and not with signs-the things of nature in their own places, meadow and hedgerow, woods and shore.”-Charlotte Mason pg.56
I would like to point out the intuitiveness of Ms. Mason’s logic. “Give him something to grind” “let him work” this is something children like this need more of and why? It truly has to do with the way their brain works. That focused attention on his “grinding work” channels all that energy from his racing thoughts to his work until he regulates and finds his own balance again.
This concludes this sections study guide, if you would like to add to the discussion please leave a comment or join us in the holistic homeschooling group. I enjoyed so much of this reading but I do wonder, will you be getting your child a calendar of firsts?
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