December 2, 2003

Raising Whole Children... I have recently been reading A Charlotte Mason Companion:
Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning
by Karen Andreola, and I can't say enough good about it. I LOVE this book and I love almost everything I am hearing in it.

Sometimes I feel like each new book I read awakens a part of me I never realized was there before. It seems each new homeschooling book (almost) I read teaches me something that I decide I want to utilize in our home and family - but this one was different. This book reinforced what I am already doing in my home and helped me think of better ways to do it. That is a special book - kind of like the first time I read The Baby Book and The Discipline Book by Dr Sears and found someone describing the way I was parenting. It is nice to find yourself in a book and to find new and better suggestions.

Some ideas that we have decided to start implementing right away (ok AFTER our move) are a Nature Study Notebook, Narration, and studying one composer and one artist for 3 months. I really want my children to grow up cultured and I suppose I have a very different definition of culture than what it seems is promoted to children these days. I read a Jane Austen novel and I love that they had a thorough appreciation for art, classical music, poetry and worked on these skills. I want my children to recognize and love Bach, Beethoven, Monet, Manet, Keats, Dickens, and Shakespeare to name a few. I want them to appreciate and love beauty in everything and I want them to be whole people.

I recognize this culture starts in the home and in the atmosphere you raise your children in. We are already clearly a family of readers and reading is encouraged and cultivated at every turn in our lives (including a library in the new house!!!!) and that will continue. But as of recently I realized I have been so focused on literature that I have let music and art appreciation slip through the cracks, not to even mention poetry. Now don't get me wrong my children are still very young and I know they have plenty of time - but how easy it is to play classical music while we make and eat lunch. How nice it is to read a simple and short poem as a respite between play. How wonderful to show the children real art masterpieces and encourage them to truly draw themselves. How much more can that enrich their lives. I can't do it all at once. But in true FLYbaby style I will babystep it one step at a time.

It is easy to get several CD's by a single composer and big art books from the library (or as our budget affords) and keep them on display and on the stereo for three months at a time. It is easy to listen to classical music for just 30 minutes a day and read one poem a day. We recently began reading one proverb a day (corresponding with the date) and I found it didn't take long to become a routine and it doesn't take much time at all.

Again I come back to my "I can do anything for 15 minutes philosophy" and I realize how easy it is to introduce my kids to a large variety of culture and in a meaningful way. We will work on introducing classical works, art masterpieces, wonderful poetry and sketching God's creation into our days and I am sure that is a decision we will NEVER regret. I want to grow whole children and I think there is much wisdom in the days of past we can and should learn from.

Pick up a copy of A Charlotte Mason Companion:
Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning
by Karen Andreola and find yourself refreshed and inspired. The pictures alone in the book are worth it. They represent the kind of atmosphere many of us want for our children. They show children at peace, at play and in an atmosphere that promotes the love of learning and the growth of a whole child.


UPDATE: AS I was reading this morning Linda's blog had a link to get a sonnet a day. How easy some things are in the days of the internet and email!

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