For The Children’s Sake By Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

I you look up this book on line you will find a lot of great and detailed reviews have already been written. Google, “Charlotte Mason” and you will be overwhelmed with a tidal wave of information. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here and do a full review of this book but I do want to take some time to share what I have learned because I liked this book so much!

Charlotte Mason was a teacher and education philosopher who lived 1842-1923. This book For The Children’s Sake Foundations of Education for Home and School was published by Susan Macaulay 1984 discussing Charlotte Mason’s education philosophy.

The bulk of the book is dedicated to answering the question, “what is education?” The Charlotte Mason view promotes reading to children what she refers to as living books. She promotes children spending large amounts of unstructured time exploring nature. She encourages parents and teachers to teach children to observe the world around them, to appreciate rich art and music. The book explains why it is beneficial to the minds of children to not be confined to “kids music” or coloring books but to be exposed to and given the best of what the world has to offer. She refers to much of what is labeled children’s curriculum as “twaddle”. Things that are merely time fillers that don’t engage or enrich the mind of anybody. Give the children the best! The best of music, the best of art and literature.

I like how she describes education as the science of relationships. How do I fit into this world? What is my relationship to the people and things around me? Math is connected to geography which is connected to history which is connected to literature and so on. One of the reasons I want to homeschool is because I believe my children will be more connected to and have relationships with people of different ages and different walks of life than if they were in a classroom.

A big part of this teaching philosophy is teaching kids how to learn. So much of education today is spoon feeding children facts and not letting them use the minds. A so called spoon fed education leads to a crippled mind that does not know how to think or problem solve. Instead, read to your children thought provoking literature and let them grapple with the ideas of right and wrong through the lives of those who came before them. Charlotte Mason taught that in the younger years children should be able to retell orally what they have been learning. In the older grades her students used writing to tell what they have learned. She believe that if a child could retell in their own words the subject studied that at that point they had thoroughly digested it and made it their own. Teaching your kids how to think not merely what to think is the idea.

Charlotte Mason ran her school on the idea of doing book work in the morning when kids minds were fresh and having the afternoon free for unstructured outside play, exploring the arts and working on projects. I live in an area of the country where if I wanted to implement this it would depend on the time of year. For instance, in  the summer I would want to take the kids out to play before the afternoon comes and it is near 100 degrees and we want to be in the air conditioning! During the winter though we do the opposite, we wait for it to warm up in the afternoon to play outside.

There is an entire chapter dedicated to the idea that, “children are persons.” They are unique individuals and their individual needs should be meet. Children deserve respect as well and should not be treated as “projects” but as people. Private schooling and homeschooling has a better ability to make the education fit the child rather than trying to make hundreds of kids in a school fit into the same mold.

I recently listened to this TED talk on education and I thought it was funny that the people who have been deemed the best and the brightest in education of our day are speaking about principles I just read in a book written over 100 years ago. When Angela Duckworth speaks about grit it reminds me of the chapter on forming habits. One teacher speaks on forming relationships with students and another speaks on engaging a child’s curiosity. http://youtu.be/dilnw_dP3xk

This book made me feel excited about educating my kids. While listening to these educators discuss all the problems with the public school system and why it is failing our children and hurting society I was made to feel more confident in my ability to give my children something better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A peek into our preschool at home

 

I’ve been asked about pre schooling E at home quite a bit lately so I thought I’d share a little bit of what we’re up to these days.

Tuesday:
For some fun math we had a “number snowball fight.” I would call out a number for E to go stand on and then I’d throw that number of “snowballs” (cotton balls) at her. She would then place the snowballs on the sheet of paper as we counted them together.

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For some name practice I finally found a use for the cereal made of beans gone stale that I bought in the clearance section!

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We read a chapter of the Jesus Storybook Bible. Today I read her the story of Joseph.

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At Arkansas Center For Music Education she got to jingle some bells and maracas and T.J got in on the fun as well.

Tuesday afternoon’s she has gymnastics. She does really well! She’s tiny but she’s strong!

Before bed I read her a chapter from On The Banks Of Plum Creek By Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s said to be a 5th grade reading level book. Reading E books above her age group and that exceed her vocabulary is a part of my homeschooling philosophy. It’s a lot more fun for me as well!

Wednesday:

I’ve done so many things with these circle stickers I had left over from a yard sale this past summer. After numbering them 1-5 I put them on E’s finger nails. We talked about our ages and stuck stickers on our foreheads and shirts with our ages on them. We did some name stickers too. This one shows how fast and easy a lesson can be. (it’s all wrinkled up because I forgot about taking a picture of it until the baby tried to eat it!)

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Wednesday mornings we go to the library for story time. Ms. Emily, the children’s librarian puts a lot of work into the kids having a good time. They play with a parachute and then either do a craft or a coloring sheet. Each week we check out as many books as will fit in our library bag.

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After watching an episode of Sid the Science Kid about airplanes that we checked out at the library, I got on Pinterest and looked up how to make paper airplanes. E liked this one a lot! We went up to our loft and threw them down from up there.

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We worked for maybe 5 minutes, maybe less, on hand writing practice. I use books from the dollar store. E really doesn’t like practicing letters with a pencil. At 3 years old, I don’t push it. I offer it to her and she can try for as long as she is interested and then she can be done. At this age my main goal is for her to enjoy learning and want to learn. Today she worked some on the letter H.

Before bed we read one of her books she checked out today.

Thursday:
E and Daddy spent time reading together this morning when he got off work.

Today we checked out a story time they were having at a new book store down town. I don’t know if we’ll go back next week. It was a huge hassle to park downtown in the middle of the day and there was only a couple other kids and after wards E wanted so badly for me to buy her a book but they were priced 16-28 dollars and I know those same books are at the library.

We ran a bunch of errands today. Since E was a baby I’ve used outings as opportunities to talk with her and teach her. I usually have an ongoing conversation with her as I drive about why I’m stopping or what road were on why I’m changing lanes.

Today at the pet store I helped her count fish and we talked about how much the birds cost. I know this all sounds like just life and not school but that’s the point I’m trying to make- for us they are one in the same.

While we were at the grocery store I made sure to pick up some more cheap salt so we could make some more homemade play dough. She loves play dough! I wish I had gotten a picture of what she ended up creating. She made a pretty impressive octopus!

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Friday:
E woke up tired and clingy. I read her a bunch of books and then she just wanted to lay around. I set up a shape craft for her and tried to entice her to do a shape game but she didn’t feel like it. When she didn’t want to do play dough I knew something was wrong! Sure enough by dinnertime she was running a fever. Thankfully by Saturday morning her fever was gone so it was just a quick bug.
One of the books we read was about a girl who was sick. E could identify!
I told her in 3 year old terms about her immune system and how the white blood cells were working hard to gobble up the virus in her body. She also seemed pretty fascinated when I taught her how her blood is pumped and taught her to feel her pulse on her neck and on her wrist. About every 5 minutes she informed us that her heart was still beating. Good to know! ha ha

Monday:

We were invited over the home of a homeschool mom and friend of mine who is doing a book club/discussion group going through the book For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer.

We made cookie dough for the kids to roll out and cut shapes out of. While the cookies baked and cooled, the kids watched a movie and ate popcorn while the moms discussed the book. Today we discussed habit formation specifically building the habits of self control and selflessness in children.

The kids then got to decorate!

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When I was a kid in public school, the week before break I remember consisting of eating sugar and cleaning out our desks. That means I am totally counting decorating cookies with friends as “preschool time.”  🙂

Everyone enjoy your time with your family this week!

I don’t know that you’ll hear from me on the blog until next year- we’ve got some fun stuff planned for the rest of the year! I’ve got a lot of posts in my head though I want to share come January.

 

 

This Year’s Preschool at Home Plans

This week school started around here which has me making some updated preschool at home plans for E.

Last year I bought the printable e book from teaching mama.org that I used for her curriculum and blogged about some. I didn’t finish it for 2 reasons. One, I had a baby last year and the teaching mama curriculum takes a lot of prep work and requires a parent to be involved for 100% of the activities. I just didn’t have that much time to put into it with a new born. If you look under “preschool” on my list of categories you can see some of the stuff we did. It was a lot of fun but not feasible with multiple children IMO.

The second reason was she was only 2 last year and I feel most of the activities she just didn’t have the coordination, interest or attention span for. I feel it is better suited for a 3 or 4 year old. The teaching mama stuff also called for a lot of sensory bins which she would think was interesting for maybe 10 minutes but then would require ALOT of clean up.

Last year I also had turned our loft into a home school room. It was cute and cozy but totally impractical. Most the stuff we did was very messy and I needed to be near a sink to clean it up. Being 8 months pregnant climbing up and down the stairs 15 times to clean up paint was just not worth it. It was also so much better to just be at the kitchen table so I could unload the dishwasher while she did a sensory box etc. Now that I have a 9 month old I prefer to be at the kitchen table working with her so I can be feeding him at his high chair at the same time.

I still have our maps and ABC’s and felt boards and stuff upstairs but it’s more of a play room now. This year I’m doing more of a home school spot.

I moved a book case out of the master bedroom and put it on the dining room are. I purchased several preschool work books at the dollar store and stocked up on craft stuff and flash cards.

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My lesson planning is super simple and I’m only going to be planning one week in advance instead of trying to predict what life will look like for the next school year and trying to predict a 3 year old’s changing needs. Also, my husband works rotating shift work and every week is different and it’s hard for me to know in advance what our family schedule is going to look like.

Another thing I’m doing with my planning notebook is marking when the activity is completed and adding any activities we did in addition to the ones I had planned. That way at the end of the year I’ll have a record of what we did each week.

I wrote out my preschool goals for E and taped them up on the book case. I based my list off of different teacher requirements and suggestions floating around the internet. I am basing her lessons off these goals. Each day we’ll aim to do-

  1. some form of name practice each day- there are so many hands on and creative ways for a child to earn to spell their name!
  2. Reading and discussing a story from The Jesus Storybook Bible
  3. 1 page of each of her work books each day (shapes, letters, numbers)
  4. a math activity each day. Learning numbers and patterns, etc. Usually in a game or some hands on activity.
  5. plenty of crafts and just for fun reading which is part of our every day life anyways

I’m really into seasonal stuff so I’m sure we’ll be including plenty of field trips and science and history type stuff into our days based on the season. For preschool my main focus though is the 3 R’s. (Reading, Writing, Arithmetic.)

How has your homeschool evolved over time? What things have you changed and what things have really worked for you?

 

 

Summer Fun Bucket List 2016

I made one of these lists last year for E and now I have two kiddos to have fun with this summer. I’m brainstorming things I want to do with them this season.

  1. Splash pad playdate at city park
  2. Water park day
  3. go camping
  4. get a sandbox for our back yard
  5. visit a park we’ve never been to
  6. summer reading program
  7. go to a fair
  8. plant potted flowers
  9. plant some vegetables and herbs
  10. watch fireworks
  11. visit the zoo
  12. berry picking
  13. Go to our favorite swimming spots and play on the ‘beach’
  14. go on a road trip to visit cousins
  15. go for a nature walk
  16. find some where to do sidewalk chalk (we don’t have a paved driveway)
  17. face paint
  18. go see a kids movie at the theatre
  19. make your own pizza night
  20. pillow fight
  21. star gazing
  22. read stories outside
  23. host a bbq for friends
  24. make cool aid play dough
  25. learn to swim, take swimming lessons
  26. t shirt decorating
  27. bake cookies
  28. grow a sunflower
  29. make homemade popsicles
  30. bake a cake

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things

This week I’ve started back up with the teaching mama curriculum with E. This week I taught her about the letter I.

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I is for ice, ice cream and insects..

IMG_2422  Sensory play, painting on ice

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We checked out several bug books from the library and watched videos about bugs on youtube. Ella is really into lady bugs right now because we have so many of those lady bug look a like beetles around our yard and house right now.

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The best activity this week was making homemade ice cream with two ziplock bags. I was surprised by how good it came out!

I don’t have much time to write today but I wanted to do a quick preschool update.

We’ve also done some fun seasonal stuff this week. We made and decorated ginger bread people and E got to experience going to a parade for the first time. She sat on dad’s shoulders and went back and forth from being really excited to pulling out dad’s hair when she got scared of the noise! At the end of the parade a Santa was on top of a fire truck and the kids yelled “Santa!” except for E who yelled, “It’s Grandpa!”

Have a happy weekend!

 

 

 

Letter H week and a break from teaching mama curriculum

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E decided the placement of the doors, windows and roof of the letter H house. Isn’t it cute?

The second picture was a suggested project from the curriculum. I made it using foam sheets from the dollar store, a hole punch and a borrowed shoe lace from one of dad’s shoes! We tried doing it together for a few minutes but E didn’t really think it was fun. As she gets older though it will be good hand eye coordination practice.

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At ACME this week the kids got to try out a tuba. E was a little intimidated by it’s size at first by the teacher did a good job getting her to warm up to it.

IMG_3680  Library day was special this week as the Mayor came and read to the kids.

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The cat with the -at hat was a cute project from the curriculum. Obviously a 2 year old is probably not going to grasp the concept but it’s never too early to start introducing new concepts. E made her daddy love cards with hearts.

H was an easy letter to find books for so while I have been down with a hurting back we’ve been reading lots of books this week.

There are also a lot of cute videos on youtube that we watched teaching letters. I sat on the couch with my back hurting and clapped for her while she danced to the letter H songs.

I was hoping to be able to keep up with the curriculum throughout my pregnancy and taking a break once E’s brother is born but due to some health challenges life has got to slow way down these last few weeks of my pregnancy.

I’m looking forward to the weather hopefully starting to cool down and planning some fall activities with E. It makes me so happy to see how excited E is about a new baby and I can’t wait to experience her excitement of meeting him.

With 2-3 doctors appointments a week and all the other challenges we are going through right now I don’t imagine I’ll be blogging very much in the upcoming weeks but we’ll see!

 

 

 

Letter G fun!

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Giraffe, glue, gingerbread..

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We made a letter G goat and over the weekend she pet a real goat so I’m counting that for the week too! 🙂

IMG_3614 She really liked getting to use as much glitter glue as she wanted. (she used it all!)

IMG_3620 We read books, but the funnest part of the week was..

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… Letter G snacks! Grapes and gummy worms. E had never had gummy worms before that I can remember so she was pretty amused by the dirt and worms dessert.

Have a great weekend!

 

Teaching The Letter F

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We’re doing a lot of frog and fish projects this week. Before doing the life cycle of a frog activity sheet that was a printable from the teaching mama curriculum I showed E a video for kids on youtube about tadpoles growing into frogs.

IMG_3504  Flowers, frogs, fish, feathers…

IMG_3507  This particular activity was a little too advanced for E. She tried hard though to pick up a gold fish with a pair of tweezers! She did manage to mash up a bunch of gold fish in the process but she also ate a bunch so she was happy.

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I love these pictures from music class this week! She was so cute trying to blow the trumpet. We would get her to pucker her lips like she was blowing a raspberry but each time she got near the mouth piece she wanted to put the whole thing in her mouth like she was eating it! Her monkey even got to try.

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We traced our feet and played a foot game that was recently given to us. After, we listened to an audio of “The Foot Book” by Dr. Seuss

IMG_3586  Ella likes the Froggy books, she thinks it’s funny when the mama frog yells “Frooogy!”

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This week’s Bible story was the tower of Babel. I’ll be doing some research and getting some ideas of toddler Bible time because she’s not that interested in the felts and I want her to have fun with it. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Teaching the letter E

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Here’s our E elephant and this week’s letter box. I’ve realized that the vowels are the hardest to come up with objects that start with that letter and also to find books that start with that letter.

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We made eye ball critters with play dough and I bought E a sun catcher to paint of her name. The curriculum suggested several activities with plastic and felt eggs but unless it was easter time I don’t think I would be able to find those anywhere.

IMG_3487  E books!

IMG_3468  I finished teaching the story of the flood.

IMG_3485  This was a cute project from the teaching mama curriculum. I traced E’s hand and we made her hand prints into elephants. Afterwards we listened to Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss.

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During music class Tuesday the teacher read a Pete The Cat sing- a-long book. The kids stomped their feet in time to the cats song.

This week was a little more low key due to the increasing number of doctors appointments and health challenges I’ve been facing as my pregnancy progresses. Looking back over the week though we did actually manage to fit in quite a bit!

 

Week 4 of Preschool at Home

This week I’m teaching E the letter D which involved lots of dinosaur fun!

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Pictured first was an easy sensory box that E had fun with. I simply put dirt, sticks, rocks and grass in a bucket along  with some of her plastic dinosaurs then set it out on the porch for her to play with.

She thought the pokey purple dinosaur was funny.

IMG_3343   I’ve been surprised by how much she likes these letter boxes. I pull it out once each morning to review it with her and she acts like it’s just as exciting as the day before.

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This week I told her the story of Noah and the flood, up until the point that they are on the water. I’ll save the rest of the story for next week.

IMG_3381  She got to try and blow the trombone during music class Tuesday!

IMG_3393 Library wiggle fingers!

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Salt dough dinosaur fossils. Yes it was as messy as it sounds!

IMG_3405  Our duck eggs. The curriculum suggested dinosaur eggs but I couldn’t find any small plastic dinosaurs so I went with the ducks instead. Dinosaurs probably would have worked better though as the ducks kind of floated to the top. I bought white balloons and put the ducks inside. Next I  filled the balloons with water and froze them over night. We “cracked” them open the next morning by cutting off the ballons then I gave them to E to play with as they melted.

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The concept of this activity was a little advanced for a 2 year old but an older child would enjoy it. I numbered the clothespins 1-10. The dinosaurs were a printable that came with the curriculum. Each dinosaur is numbered and the activity is to match the clothes pin to it’s matching dinosaur. Poor E wasn’t so thrilled with this because she pinched her hand with a clothespin and then didn’t trust them after that. She liked coloring the dinosaurs though.

IMG_3408  Letter D books from the library.

 

And that’s our letter D week! I’m looking forward to next week because I have some neat ideas for using the week to introduce E to spelling her name.