Although I consider our family to be eclectic home educators, there are plenty of things that we do that could be considered to be a bit Charlotte Mason-y. For example I am a big fan of short lessons, and our table work is made up of a series of them, covering key skill areas including maths, spelling, reading practice, grammar, sight words etc. We also do a lot of learning through stories and living books, and though I don’t think I could get through the amount of readalouds that some CM families do (covering 3 or 4 subjects every day for example), I have been adding daytime readalouds alongside the reading we do at bedtime.
The difficulty is that a lot of the Charlotte Mason book lists are US centric, not only in history, but also in their choices of nature study authors. So I have been researching which of the vintage authors are/were British to make sure that we are learning about things that are directly relevant to our day to day lives.
Birds of the Air book by Arabella Buckley – British-Based living book authors for Charlotte Mason homeschooler/home
Arabella Buckley is a fantastic example of an author of living books that Britain-based home educators can use. She was a naturalist and scientist who wrote extensively for children, in a chatty, clear way. We are currently reading ‘Birds of the Air’ originally published in 1901, and it is as relevant now as it has ever been.
And her books are easy to get hold of at low cost, assuming you are willing to use digital copies. Two of her books (The Fairy Land of Science, and Through Magic Glasses and other Lectures) are available via gutenberg.org in various digital formats at no cost. Others are available at Yesterday’s Classics and amazon.co.uk for less than £3/$3 per book.
We are planning to read a number of her books this year and next, so I’ll let you know what I think of them as we get more familiar with her work.
(Precursor – We are currently a home educating family, mostly because we can be. This is the start of our second year, and we are really enjoying it. And while this isn’t strictly a home ed/homeschool blog, I will probably share things about this part of our lives here from time to time. Particularly when it comes to books. But you already knew I was crazy about books. 😉
After a break of all of the summer I’ve restarted circle time/morning meetings and I finally gathered everything together into the basket I used last year.
Here’s what’s in my basket at the moment:
- October song (find link from pinterest) This is slightly pre-emptive since FB has only just started reading, but he is interested in how words are spelt and LR loves songs and months are something that hasn’t totally clicked. So I’m giving these songs a go.
- What to look for in Autumn by E. L. Grant Watson (ladybird 072140099X) We read this last year and it really informed our family walks. It’s dated but given my children’s love of historical farming, that doesn’t much matter.
- Year Round things to do (aka something to do – puffin 978-0140302370 ) (folio society – doesn’t have an ISBN weird.) This is a great book full of Shirley Hughes illustrations. Each month has sections on key (christian centric) festivals, british historical dates, a bird, flower, and pet of fhe month. There are seasonal outdoor and indoor activities, recipes, gardening information, games, songs and poems. Again, old fashioned (first published in 1966) but full of good stuff.
- The singing year by candy verney (hawthorn press 1903458390) I love this book. I have the companion book ‘the singing day’ too and they are both great. They are full of seasonal poems as well as songs so we do a bit of both.
- Autumn (wynstones press 0946206481) I find the songs from these books tricky because i don’t sight read music cold. (i wish someone would record the songs – maybe they already have? I should check.) but the poems are great. I tend to crack it open at random and read whatever I come across.
- Usbourne Internet Linked First Atlas (usbourne 9680746053454) my mil gave us this book and I’m letting the children pick a double page spread they want me to read. We already have a wall map so they have a basic understanding of the world.
- Usbourne travel activity pad (usbourne 9781409561910) My god mother brought this for FB when she visited in the summer. I am planning to do a page or two from it at a time. It’s got a nice mixture of activities and is encouraging FB to do some letter and number writing practice, without feeling too worksheety.
- The Squirrel Book by phyllis kelway (collins) Another vintage book I picked up at Oxfam. (This time from 1944). I haven’t read any of it yet, but the park opposite us is full of squirrels so it’s at least relevant. I’ll let you know how we get on.
- Bunchy by Joyce Lankester Brisley (jane nissen books 1903252229)
We are in the middle of a Milly Molly Mandy kick at the moment, which everyone is thoroughly enjoying (except daddy who things they are too repetitive.) I never read them when I was a child and so I’m enjoying them for the first time right along with the children. This is written by the same author, about a girl who lives in the countryside with her grandmother and who has to literally make herself some friends. We read the first chapter this afternoon, it was lovely and the children have been asking for more ever since. I’m guessing this is about the move into a bedtime book and I’ll have to find something else. Always a good sign. 🙂 (Expect a post about Joyce Lankester Brisley – there is one in the pipelines!)
- Autumn by Gerda Muller (floris 9780863151910) and Jamberry by Bruce Degen (harper 0694006513) are there for HB (who is now 19 months) either to look at or read as something her-centric to mix things up a bit.
- Taking Turns (cherrytree 9781842344989) and Owning Up (cherrytree 9781842344965) are part of a series of books W’s aunt bought FB when she heard we were home edding. They are what used to be called PSE (personal and sociel education) when i was at school).
- (not photographed because it was a late addition to the basket) Wildlife Watch from the wildlife trust (which my mum sends the childen). These magazines get looked at a lot but not really read so I realised we could read a bit at circle time and get more out of them.
Important! We don’t do everything every circle time! We just do a bit. As an illustration, this what we did today:
– 2 songs from The Singing Year
– 2 small mazes and a number problem from the Travel Activity Pad
– 3 pages from the September chapter of Year Round Things to Do
– 2 pages from First Atlas about how maps work
– October Song
– 1 chapter from Bunchy
– 3 short poems from Autumn
That still sounds like a lot doesn’t it? We were probably there for half an hour, but since we were hanging out on the double bed, we were comfy. And if they were getting wiggly I would have stopped sooner.
I really like circle time because it ticks a ton of boxes for me as the (home ed) parent. I know I have read to them, and touched on a number of interesting, seasonal things that might then turn up in our day to day lives. (For example LR pointed out rose hips in a front garden we passed, on our way to our friend’s house, and told me we had learnt about them in a book. Which we had. At circle time.) We have done a bit of maths and literacy so I can basically consider the ‘schoolly’ bit of the day done, leaving plenty of room for interest led things and play. Plus curling up with my children and reading stuff is just fun.
And when the ‘omg am I doing enough?’ panic sets in (which obviously it does for me, just as much as with anyone else), this and my home ed journal are my life raft.