Friday, August 2, 2019

CM is just a lot of reading....

Narrator: Not quite.

People often ask for projects to do to supplement the reading in a Charlotte Mason education.  For the most part, this type of supplementation is not necessary.  If the students have spare time in the afternoons (or in some part of the day), they can use it to come up with their own projects.  You may need to remove the screens and let them be bored for a bit in order to give this process a bit of a nudge, but boredom is a great starter dough for creativity.

There are also plenty of non-book activities already built into Miss Mason's philosophy and practice of education. Some of the non-reading things in the curriculum include:

  • Singing folksongs 
  • Singing Hymns 
  • Drill- some sort of physical activity, exercise, sport, physical game 
  • Handicrafts- origami, cardboard sloyd, clay work, weaving, soap carving, basket making, cooking, baking, and so on. 
  • Map work 
  • Timeline, history book or century book work (you need not do all, but they are each slightly different) 
  • Picture Study 
  • Composer Study 
  • Recitation is kind of in the middle, it involves some kind of reading, but the focus is on style and saying the words clearly and with a speaking voice it is a pleausure to listen to. 
  • Narrations can be oral, written, acted, drawn set up as a scene using blocks, legos, tinker toys, toy soldiers, plastic farm animals, and more.  Here are some ideas.
  •  Nature study, nature walks, and nature journals
  • Occasional visits to museums and historical sites, with sketching (sketches here can go in their history books or timelines) 
  • Foreign Language 
  • Science experiments 
  • Some of the map and geography work is more hands on 
  • Mason also recommends some sort of service project the children can do 
  • She also recommends learning to play an instrument. 

That's off the top of my head, and two or three times I thought I was done, and then I remembered something else. You don't have to do it all every day, or even every month.  I just wanted people to see how many non-book related activities are part of a CM education.

Some children appreciate a bit of input into the curriculum, which can help when you are worried about 'too much just reading', but don't overdo it.  They need to own their education, but they don't run it, they don't decide what topics are or not necessary.  But giving them some choices here and there can be a useful way to get them invested in what they are doing.   Decision fatigue is real, and it's harder for some kids than other, so again, use the following ideas with wise eyes on your children:
Sometimes after a reading ask if your child would rather narrate orally, or set up a scene from the story using his* legos.
 Pack a picnic lunch to take on a nature walk and ask if he'd* rather help learn to make deviled eggs or cut the cheese into squares and make toothpick shiskabobs of the cheese squares and sausage slices with pickles.
For foreign language study, ask him to choose ten nouns or verbs to learn together and then practice using them all week.
 For copywork, let him choose the sentence to copy form his reading. (this is the ideal)
If he is into artistic things, see about learning calligraphy.
When doing the folk songs and hymns, find two versions on youtube and ask which he prefers.

These things should be mixed up and sprinkled throughout your school day, because the schedule should be varied. Read something and narrate, then sing something, or do copywork, or go outside. Read something and narrate by drawing a picture, then read something and narrate with a diorama, then sing a song.  Mix things up so it's not all book reading in a row. 

*or her, hers, or she, of course.