Monthly Archives: March 2009

Home Education curriculum thoughts.

As we come up to the Easter Holidays it’s time for me to look over what the children have been doing and plan the Spring and to some extent the Summer term learning with them.


Ronan has been doing quite a bit of science stuff; light, shadows and mirrors. We have had fun in dark corners of the house with a torch and various objects and after Easter we will be using mirrors and bits of foil to reflect and bend light.

We’ve done quite a bit about earthquakes, tectonics and volcanoes and I think we will leave that alone for a bit and go back to it the following academic year for more depth.

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Learning their heritage LOL

My children have learned the alphabet song and can sing and Sign it. They have been learning the Greek Alphabet and now it’s time to learn a little about their mother’s heritage.

And so here is the Black Country Alphabet; Bostin’ eh it?

H/T to me ol’mukker Jools.

In the middle of this song is a tee-shirt with ‘OwAmYa’ written on it. My beloved Aunt Rose who said she was ‘never edumatcated’ used to start all her letters to us with Ow am yam?

Children are persons

The philosophical foundation of a Charlotte Mason education is that “children are persons”.  She seems to have understood this personhood of the child in the sense of them being one substance, fully human and neither good nor bad from the beginning. By the time Miss Mason was writing her six volumes there had already been philosophical attacks on the nature of the person from philosophers such as Descartes (d.1650) and Locke (d.1704) who defined (and thereby restricted) personhood to those behaving in a rational way and autonomously. These views along with Neitzsche who had died in 1900 left the personhood of all vulnerable people up for grabs.

Charlotte was holistic in her approach. Children are fully human, fully persons in their own right, made in the image of God with an inherent dignity. This flies in the face of the elitist moderns who were busy seperating out human from person so that Margaret Sanger and Marie Stopes could try and decide who should live and who should be sterilised and treated worse than farm animals.

But that was then and surely having seen two world wars and the utter devestation left by socialistic governments we have learned our lessons?

Apparently not.

What exactly IS the philosphical foundation of the school system we have today? It doesn’t appear to be that children are persons.  There does seem to be a view that children are blank slates ready to be filled with whatever propagan…information the Government sees fit. They are to be shaped and adjusted so that they can attain targets and be ready for the workplace.

And that seems to be it.

The word “individual” gets banded around a lot but children are individual what? Persons? Cogs for the machine?

Crosby (see end links) writes that personhood and freedom are inseparable and he recognises that those who are out to restrict freedoms tend not to refer to people as persons.

If we as parents want to hold on to our rights and freedoms and protect our children from the ever growing tentacles of Government interference in our family lives and how our children learn; then take back the language.

We are persons with freedom and dignity not individuals to be moulded and shaped to fit the economic machine. Tick box education does nothing to recognise the dignity of the person whether a child or the teacher.

I am afraid I think too many parents fall into the view that their children are only to be judged as ‘good’ if they fulfil the shaping of school. How many parents do you meet who are proud of their children for ANY OTHER REASON than what they have achieved at school?

“John is so good. He got 4 A levels you know.”

“This is Beccy she is doing 12 GCSEs this year. Isn’t she great?”

I hate this. How can children grow up recognising their own inherent dignity when they are seen only through the eyes of academic achievement? No wonder so many kids cheat! Honesty is valued in a person; not a machine cog.

I don’t value my children by what exams they might or have sat. I value them as persons.


Diane Irving on the scientific and philosphical arguments of personhood.

Human Personhood Begins At Conception. Peter Kreeft

Human Freedon. John F Crosby

Taking back our parenting.

The review keeps on going.

Carlotta has posted Calderdale LAs somewhat confused response HERE. Again and again it becomes clear that personnel working for the LAs around the country do not seem to know the law regarding families who choose to home educate their children.

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Charlotte Mason and some sidebar updates

inmemoriamAntiona was asking about books to read on Charlotte Mason.

To be honest I haven’t read that many. I have bought Karen Andreola’s Charlotte Mason Companion which is a good dippy into book with lovely illustrations that although a bit twee and cutesy Edwardian I rather like.

I also invested in the six book Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte Mason herself. These books are not easy reading but they are well worth the effort. Charlotte was Anglican but she had a great love of St Teresa of Avila and that really shines through in Vol 4 Ourselves. If you have ever read St Teresa’s The Interior Castle you’ll see the influence in Charlotte’s writing.

You can read the series free online via the AMBLESIDE website.

Ambleside Online is a huge treasure trove of Charlotte Mason goodies. There are articles from the original PNEU magazines and there is a well thought out curriculum. It is American and so follows their school years so watch out for a bit of confusion.

One of the joys of a Charlotte Mason approach is that no curriculum is rigid. I look at the Ambulside one for ideas but we don’t follow it completely. It’s a dip and take what is best for your child thing.

Simply Charlotte Mason is another good site for resources especially for those just staring out.

Charlotte may seem an odd sort of person to have as a model for home education. She was single, had no children of her own and was a teacher. But she truly loved children and understood families very well; it shines through in her writing.

There is  Charlotte Mason Education: a how to manual by Catherine Levison which I have to admit I have never read.

The foundation of Charlotte’s philosophy of education is that CHILDREN ARE PERSONs. This is something sadly lacking in todays educational philosophies.

Parents begin not with the three Rs or anything that looks educational but rather with habits; the discipline of habits. A child isn’t going to learn much if he doesn’t know how to learn; how to listen, how to see and he needs the freedom to explore his world.

She firmly believed that children should be with their parents-mothers in particular until they were at least 7. She was horrified by the growing trend to put children into schools at an earlier and earlier age. She pointed out that even that Lu..what’s-his-name of the Spartans didn’t take children until they were 7.

It might be worth noting here that the Spartan system of taking children at the age of 7 and forcing them into education and training aimed at making them fit for purpose for the nation failed. Spartans may be remembered but they no longer exist.

 Flowers & Butterfly 

Some sidebar additions have been made:

Engineering Interact. It says it is aimed at KS2 9-11yr olds but Ronan and Avila like it and have not found it too difficult.

Signed Stories     I think I might have mentioned this site before. Do have a look at it. There are stories for children to listen to and read and learn a little BSL as they go.

Northumberland Resources is a great place to find things.

The Artists Toolkit looks good but we haven’t had a good look at it yet.

The Virtual Orchestra is marvellous. The children have had a good look at each instrument and get to listen to what it sounds like.

Tales of Europe looks good as does Myths and Legends which I found via Carlotta’s Dare to Know blog.


Feast of the Anunciation


It’s the feast of The Annunciation and I thought I would post this beautiful painting by Fra Angelico. I love this painting. It has so much to say and is a true example of teaching the Gospel without words. Here is Mary full of Grace saying YES (FIAT) to God where Eve who had been full of Grace lost it by saying no.  Where Adam is sent from the Garden he was supposed to guard when he did not turn to the Tree of Life, Mary’s Son will embrace the Tree and bring life to the world.

As soon as the angel had left the Holy Spirit comes to Mary and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity becomes a zygote. “The Word is made flesh”.


Fr Dwight put this painting by Collier up. I love it.

Mother’s Day and being a mum days

I should have got around to saying what a lovely Sunday I had. The children plied me with cards and jelly babies and some lovely hair clips from Iona. I had coffee in bed and then Al made me breakfast.

At Mass Father wore rose vestments and Lent was lifted from the purple for a day. At the Offertory Iona Ronan and Avila took three baskets full of little bunches of flowers up and at the end of Mass Father blessed them before all the mums received some flowers.Many others took flowers to take to mother’s or to put on graves that day.

Iona cooked dinner and then I had a quiet and chilled afternoon.

Alex gave me a lovely bouquet of flowers which included yellow roses and lillies. Beautiful.

Then on Monday morning it was back to the home education. One of the things I thought about on Sunday is that I am a mum not a teacher. Certainly part of any mother’s role is to teach her children and to train them in what Charlotte Mason called ‘habits’. But how I teach my children habits in listening, good manners and so on is not the same as a teacher.

I think one of the things about home education that is little understood from those who don’t know it or do it is that most mums who educate our children don’t teach like a teacher. Some do-I’ve seen it; but most of us a mums helping our children to learn and learning alongside them.

I think this is why we don’t do a lot of worksheets here. I do get Roni to do some of them to help emphasise something he has learned but for most things there are either online activities that do this or we can make a lapbook which is a freer way to gather the information.

A lot of what the children have learned comes out when we are sitting around the dinner table and the children tell dad what they have done that day. The things they were particularly interested in they talk about the most.

Last night Iona shocked her dad (hehehe) when she told him she had been writing up her child care notes and had read up on Attachment Theory (Dad’s special knowledge area) and how she was applying it in her writing and her hands on work with a baby and her toddler sister. She went on to talk about some of her history research including information about a couple of men who chose sausages as their weapon of choice for a duel.

Her plan is to write a booklet; A Gentlemen’s Guide to Duelling as her finished piece of work for this history project.

I never really thought of us as Autonamous Educaters but having read Carlotta’s blog recently I’ve realised that although with Roni I am more structured-though not rigidly; Iona is more or less doing her own thing-and then telling me about it. When it comes to her portfolio there are things that I think need to be there so I have offered some guidance there, but most of it is of her own making.

There is even freedom in the way Ronan learns. He was looking at the engines of cars yesterday and today he asked about earthquakes so we spent some time with the little science books and pottering around websites looking at information. There were a few short videos to watch, after which Ronan informed me that he didn’t think watching videos was a good way to learn.

Now this surprised me because I thought there was lots to learn in those videos and I learned stuff-but he seems to take in the information better if he can be more interactive with it. Less watching, more doing for the boy then.

He stuck some photos into his Nature Diary and wrote a few sentences about Spring to go with them. Avila thinks this is great and wants to make one too. Well, why not?

We had another home ed family over this afternoon and began looking at the story of Rome. They got to hear the story of Romulus and Remus and look at a map of Italy and the Roman Empire. Then there was lots of lego and sword fighting to do.

We used THIS SITE for some Roman stuff.

I must do a website update soon. There’s a few we’ve found.