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Friday, November 12, 2010

reflections on a Charlotte Mason education.

"What are your favorite aspects of AO? Why did you choose to use that as your primary curricula?"

Basically, here's the thing with Charlotte Mason/AO...
The idea is that the child is born a natural learner.  And that all the while he's living (if we don't give him reason not to) he'll delight in learning from nature, observing things around him, picking up ideas from the stories he's told and the experiences he's having and making connections between them all... that the child naturally remembers the things that interest him.  As something interests him and he begins to form a relationship with that area (with birds for instance), he'll naturally notice them in the backyard, and then identify personally with them in Burgess Bird book and file this information away for the next encounter he might have for example at a family outing to the aviary or park to feed the ducks and notice the differences between water birds and the birds he sees at the birdfeeder...etc. etc.  We can gently capitalize on these moments and help them by giving them small tidbits, more food for thought, or provide them with more experiences that add to the whole compost of ideas that's churning inside them.  These kinds of relationships are what real living education is made of... it really has no pin-point-able beginning or end - well, excepting birth and death; even then there's heaven. Who knows if we'll ever stop learning!...    :)

I think the thing that attracted me at first to Ambleside Online was the fact that a lot of the resources were available online.  Second was CM's emphasis on the natural beauty of learning itself.  That we don't have to be taught to enjoy learning... only encouraged to keep on loving it...  (with modern methods, sometimes it seems virtually impossible to maintain interest! at least that's what happened in my case and a good many others I know of!  ;)

As I began AO/CM, the thing that secured my interest was how it all flows together.  How we can and ought to integrate a lot of areas of education, that education is a life, and atmosphere in itself... I realized how important it is to give the gift of culture, the arts, living history to my kids so that they can be whole, diverse and interesting people!  :)  AO/CM encouraged everything I ideally wanted to incorporate even though initially I didn't know how to do it.  So, I dove in, learning as I went (I'm still learning!).  I fell more and more in love with 'education as a life' philosophy as I too was being enticed by all the knowledge that somehow I'd looked on as 'boring' and left by the wayside during my earlier education years.

As I've continued on with AO/CM, I've been amazed at how much my kids know!  Reading living books, narrating them back, being exposed to the arts, and nature study (observation, attention, etc), it is SERIOUSLY amazing how natural and enticing a living education really can be!  My kids really enjoy learning, and they retain a TON!  They still remember books/lessons/poetry/art from 5 years ago!  It really is shocking.  :)

"I guess my question is when you read the books do you have activities that you do or implement to go along with them or is reading enough?"

Though it might seem crazy, a child doesn't really need a lot of hands-on activities to learn things or make connections when reading living books!!  :)  A drawing, an acting out, a couple of sentences written/dictated about what he's read (all actually forms of narration, retelling), in whatever way is particularly interesting to your child... all of these things are good.  Basically, the only thing required is the child in some way retell what he's just heard.  When the material is interesting, the kids amazingly remember.  :)

So, please do share with us...
What is YOUR favorite aspect of a CM education?

Would you consider posting and sharing your thoughts about this?
If you do post, please do link up below! ;)


Silvia said...

Oh, I'll certainly join, just give me some time and I'll add my link.
I've enjoyed your reflexions, you have a beautiful way of saying with words all the amazing learning and ideas that govern your home.

Silvia said...

I just had to write about this, I didn't need much time after all. I love talking about CM, and I'm very glad for AO as well.
Thanks for proposing!

amy in peru said...

Thanks Silvia! I enjoyed reading your post :) I just wanted to point out that, I put these specific questions up because they are some that one of my readers sent me in an e-mail.

Anyone else who'd like to link up, feel free to answer the questions in your own way, or just simply share in your post about:

YOUR favorite aspect of a CM education!


I do hope that others will post!

Unknown said...

Great thoughts here, Amy. Of course you got nominated for HSBA! Your blog is wonderful!

I also love how things are so interconnected. Sometimes when we've spent an hour studying, I'm not sure how to "count" it (as if I had to). Is it math, art, science, or language arts? There's just so much cross over. I love that so much.

And I like this quote -- "Though it might seem crazy, a child doesn't really need a lot of hands-on activities to learn things or make connections when reading living books!!" I think that basically you are right. And you certainly don't HAVE to do hands-on. If your child has learned without it, then it is icing (assuming your child enjoys it). For very small kiddos, hands-on manipulatives are important for abstract things. I've been mulling over this idea of hands-on. I think that sometimes people choose hands-on just for the sake of hands-on and not deliberately for the sake of enhancing learning. There is a real distinction there. Sometimes we do what I called "themed play." it's fun, hands-on, but not at all essential to the learning.

amy in peru said...

yep, I totally agree with you... (re: hands-on projects) as far as 'icing'... I even almost put something to that effect into the post, and then decided it didn't really fit in the context where I'd put it, so I just left it out ;)

yes. totally hands-on for abstract. but there again like you said you have people doing hands-on stuff just because it makes them feel good... like they've allowed their kids to make a mess, spent money on supplies and made something to show for their 'learning'... heheh. I'm not really antagonistic about projects, just the replacement of real learning with 'busy work' and I think a lot of hands-on projects would qualify under this category! ;P

it's fun to rant sometimes... ;)

Anonymous said...

Amy this is a fantastic post! I was half way through and already knew I wanted to link it, then I saw your question for other bloggers. I'm trying to get my brain in gear to answer it. :D Either way I will link this post. Thanks for the great thoughts, it's perfect timing for me. I appreciate your perspective of having done AO for 5 years now.

amy in peru said...

yay cori! I'm looking forward to reading you on the subject :)
oh and your hydrangeas are awesome! that's one of my favorite flowers!

amy in peru said...

also... if you've already posted on a similar theme, please link up, it definitely does NOT have to be a current post! ;)


Unknown said...

Well Amy, you did a great job summing up my thoughts too on AO. I do need to add one thing though and that is the pre made schedule. With a large family and used to the task of making my own for so many years in the beginning I love to be able to print one off and go. But that's just a small yet significant reason.

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy, I did a short post mostly because I wanted to link yours! Now that you mention old posts, I'm sure I have some more detailed posts on my blog. I was on fire for learning method a few months ago and now I'm winding down and getting busy. :) CM is great either way -- relaxed or to the letter.

Dissertation help said...

Wonderful article,thanks for putting this together! "This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here. Keep it up!"

Jamie {See Jamie blog} said...

WONDERFUL post. I need to re-read my CM books. I feel all off-focus. This is a great reminder for me. :)

Esther Ruth said...

Richele said...

Your pictures say it favorite thing is that we are enjoying making these connections together as a family. Mama isn't the sage on the stage but the guide by their side.

I probably have a new favorite thing about a CM-education every day though :)

Fantastically posted, as always, Amy!

Unknown said...

Thanks for your precious article - a real inspiration.
I find that as my children mature, I need to re-read my CM books and refresh my understanding of her principles and how I should apply them in our homeschooling. I am constantly learning more and really need to read what others are doing, so this link up will be great!
I wanted to link to this post (I think I put the incorrect url in the linky.)

Erin said...

Living Books is our favourite:) But you've just re-inspired me to not neglect Nature and Art.
I'm re-reading CM's works at present and 13 years down the track they have even more depth then I picked up on the first go-round.

rachaelnz said...

Go Amy! I'm glad I've found your blog! You have such enthusiasm about CM, it's infectious!
I plan to answer your questions on my blog and post a link, when I have time :-).

Dove's Rest said...

Oh my, I have so much to learn. I still feel very much in the throws of learning how to be more of a guide than a teacher, I want that balance so much. I love reading all things CM and have started making my way through her Original Homeschool Series so thankyou for the inspiration I have read and re-read this post a few time now. Blessings Amy

Jodie said...

What's my favourite aspect of a CM education? 

I'd have to say the building of character, morals, good habits, maturity and confidence. That's what I want for my children. I want them know how to communicate properly with people and have a positive pleasing personality. That alone will take them far in life. 
We are new to home-schooling, I have two kids in AO year 1, week 11 and they love school. We do 14 lessons a day 4 days a week. So it keeps us busy but it's always entertaining.

amyinperu said...

yay! jodie!
thanks for sharing. we AO/CMers tend to have lots in common. your goals are so similar to mine!!

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