Every summer, I return to a handful of familiar books and revel in the reunion. These are the standbys, the sure things, the books that remind me of what I really want from my home life, particularly from my home education adventure.
I re-read Educating the Wholehearted Child and sing with the joy Sally Clarkson exudes. I remember that the important things in a child's education are not at all difficult to provide. I first read this book about eleven years ago. There were far fewer choices on the home education landscape back then and most of them replicated school at home. Sally spoke sense to me. She gave voice to what I knew to be true and she offered me the wisdom of her experience. Sally weaves a real books education into a real--and very rich--family-centered life of faith. Hers is a grace-based approach to children. I have this book memorized in parts but I still like to return to it every summer and remind myself what matters most.
I also read Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum. I'm fairly certain that the book on my shelf is my third copy. The first was given to me by my friend Margaret when Christian was an infant. It was a true original run--copied on a copy machine and stapled down the middle. Laura Berquist had sent a few of these out into the world when this was a fresh idea in home education. Still, Laura's children at the time were much further along the educational path than mine and Margaret clearly knew what she was doing with hers. I had much to learn from them and learn I did. Now, fifteen years later, we can all clearly see that Laura's plan and Mother of Divine Grace programs have been very successful over time. I know lots of kids who have been educated Laura Berquist-style and have gone on to do very well in college and beyond. She's proven herself to be well worth a fresh reading every summer.
Last summer, I added Donna Simmons' Waldorf Curriculum Overview for Homeschoolers to the list. I found this book to be refreshingly inspiring and very encouraging. Donna's warm wisdom reminds me to keep art and beauty, the rhythm of the days and the seasons, the natural wonder of the child, at the forefront when I plan and ponder. There's something about Waldorf that always slows me down, softens my breathing, and helps me remember that some of my children are still very young and very much in need of gentle rhythms.
Usually, I also pick through my Original Homeschooling Series. This set of six volumes of Charlotte Mason's writings is dog-eared and well-loved. It's highlighted, post-it noted and sometimes committed to memory. Charlotte Mason's wisdom is unparalleled in the world of education, particularly home education. I don't re-read the whole series; I just find my notes throughout.
This summer, though, I am going to focus on Charlotte Mason a bit more narrowly. The good folks at Simply Charlotte Mason have made available some e-books which are beautifully edited. It's as if they took my ratty paperback volumes, found every quote I consider worthy of re-reading, and organized them perfectly. I began with one titled Education Is.. It matters not that my own book has a chapter with the same subtitles; this book focuses it all for me anew. (And besides, I'm not much on re-reading my own book--I know what it says:-).
From there, I'm moving on to Laying Down the Rails: a Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook. THIS is the perfect summer book! This is a beautiful reminder of all those virtues we wish to instill in our children before they leave home. My only problem is that I want to work on all of them right now, and have those tracks well-laid by summer's end. The book is mostly Charlotte Mason quotes and it begs conversation with like-minded moms.
We can do conversation! My thought is to begin a summertime book study. We can read the free ebook first and then move on to Laying Down the Rails.. Then, I'd love to see us move on to Hours in the Out-of-Doors in the early autumn.
Charlotte Mason was a wise woman. She saw the whole child and understood that the family, the atmosphere, the developmental stage of the child, and the unique call of every Christian all work together to educate a child. She doesn't neglect any of these factors. She is no-nonsense in her insistence that parents do their duty to teach their children well. It's all so very sensible.
So, download away at Simply Charlotte Mason. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts about a Charlotte Mason Education. We can inspire each other to raise and educate happy, healthy, holy children for the glory of God!
While I appreciate the beauty, the materials and some of the methods of Waldorf education, I am not a follower of Rudolf Steiner, his educational philosophy, or his religion. I am a practicing Catholic who is very clear in teaching the faith to her children. Please see this post for any further explanation of incorporating methods or materials that might also appear in Waldorf schools into your home. Take inspiration from what is good and what in in harmony with the true faith and leave the rest. If you can't discern, then leave it all alone.