arration is at the heart of a good Charlotte Mason approach to learning. By the time a child has reached the age of 7 and is ready for school (in the gentle world of PNEU) he should be getting fairly adept at narration having heard the poem or passage only once. You see, this skill is rooted in Miss Mason’s discipline of habits – the habit of listening.
It occurred to me today as I packed away all the worksheets and workbooks, that we are drifting away from the living books approach and heading down the “it looks more like learning” approach of, dare I say, “school at home.” I am unconvinced that piles of completed worksheets are any indicator that the children are learning.
It is not what I intended and I am not sure it’s the right approach. I need to stop, step back a little, and have a think.
Some of the workbooks are very good in that they don’t just offer exercise pages but have beautiful pieces of art and added poems for discussion. The English for Young Catholic Books and Great Saints In World History are especially good for this. (thanks to BWYA for the books).
But, although I rather like the Critical Thinking books I am wondering if we use them too much. Maybe I should spread their use out a bit to leave more space for stories and that all important narration.
I realise that Ronan isn’t that good at narration. He can answer questions about a story really well, but if I say, tell me what that was about, he get’s a bit wide eyed and can’t think where to start. I am not too worried about this, but I do think I need to get back to Miss Mason and her gentle art of learning before I end up being a teacher of a school at home , rather than a mother who home educates her children.
I’m re-looking at Ambleside and Mater Amambilis to see what I need to tweak and think about. I am out of the worst of the flare now so I think I should be able to sit and read to the children more- (I can see again for a start; that helps). I would hope that by the time we reach half term at the end of October I’ll be more or less getting back to the full curriculum I want to do with the children; that is more stories and less worksheets.
Ronan is a fluent reader now, so more of the reading can be passed on to him to read to the girls. I am sure that will help him absorb more information and improve his narration anyway.
So far they are not bored with the worksheets and workbooks so that’s good, and I don’t want them to get bored. All the more reason for shifting emphasis a bit.
We also need to get out more. There’s plenty of Autumn things to be doing. We already have conkers and pinecones piling up and some leaves for decoration and leaf rubbing. You see, I can still think like a home educator. All is not lost.
Now, must go and file those worksheets….