(All photos in this entry are from a family adventure to the Big Island of Hawaii in 2005-I am so in the mood to go again and this was my way of feeding that desire.)
I can remember clearly sitting on the bench at the park reading A Charlotte Mason Companion and devouring the ideas that Karen Andreola expressed about her personal experiences with a Charlotte Mason homeschool education. Each chapter made me want to know more about this method of education. My four children were all homeschooling at that time and they were doing fine but it seemed like as much as I tried to put my finger on it, the harder it was to discover what the missing element was in our homeschool. Some days were dry and boring and it was not for my lack of trying, but rather I was longing for a better way to offer their subjects in a meaningful way.
I wanted more than the Three R’s and the mechanical school days that we were churning out. What in the world were we homeschooling for if we could not do better than the public school system?
Who knew that a lady from the early 2oth century would supply the fuel for a better homeschool experience? How were her ideas and principles to be applied in our modern world? Was it even a good idea? I decided to investigate more and eventually started to take some baby steps.
Shell Beach, Kona
Charlotte Mason’s ideas breathed life into our homeschool. Picture study, listening to composers, lots of outdoor time, free afternoons, and meaningful handicrafts were added in right away and it was so refreshing. Next came lots of living books and narrations. I began to focus on habit training and we worked hard on raising our standards of excellence in our daily work, both in schoolwork and around the house.
Hapuna Beach boogie boarding with Dad
We started nature journals, regularly listened to wonderful classical music, hung famous artwork up on the wall and really looked at it every week. We centered our free time on meaningful things like working on handicrafts, enjoying our backyard, and learning about the things we encountered in our everyday life. Things just started coming to life.
Smashing macadamia nuts, near Hilo
The shelves were cleared of twaddle and replaced with more living books. We squeezed in more artwork on the walls of the school area. We dusted off our singing voices for early morning worship. Notebooks were filled with narrations of all kinds that reflected the experiences and reflections of some very eager minds.
Laupahoehoe-site of a tsunami in 1946
Mom found time to just let the kids play and explore and not feel guilty. Dad became a great instigator of field trips to near-by trails he had heard about from friends. The backyard became our field laboratory and it keeps growing and changing with our family’s interests.
More than all that….above all else……I became a more confident homeschooling mom. This felt like what school should be like with true learning, with brain cells popping, with eyes wide open all the time, with fingers busy with projects and drawing and making things.
No more wasted time with worksheets and textbooks and mind-numbing drills. There was a space filled with Charlotte Mason’s principles that was empty but now is overflowing with goodness.
At the park in Hilo
We are no longer content with anything but the most excellent of homeschool days. We will never go back to those old dry bones of a homeschool again. We have experienced homeschooling with wings.
Barb-Harmony Art Mom