Thursday, September 9, 2010


"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life." --Charlotte Mason

I know I started my last blog post with that quotation, and today I want to offer a reflection on it as it pertains to my own life. Much of what I have learned about Charlotte Mason and home education in general is from the book Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss. (She's really wonderful and I may have a weird obsession with her--don't judge.)

In her book, Elizabeth asks us to look at our atmosphere for home education. For me, this was a great exercise. At this point in our lives, we live in a two bedroom apartment. We have three children and a tight budget. We do have a small yard. We live over an hour from both sets of relatives. We have made many good friends in this city.

In my head, I always had a big separate room for homeschooling, with comfy couches and millions of bookshelves. The shelves would lined with math manipulatives and educational Montessori style toys for the baby. There would be a large space for art projects like painting and sculpting and open ended art. Outside, we'd have a couple acres with some goats and a big garden. I would be a fabulous housekeeper and my children would love learning and each other. In my head, this was the way to "homeschool."

Elizabeth Foss and Charlotte Mason are helping me to learn that my atmosphere of learning is PERFECT because this is our God-given atmosphere.

Our baby is really destructive--she is clearly here to give us all lessons in patience and creativity.

My husband is not often home for supper--forcing me to plan better and be more creative in meals and nutrition. We will learn to appreciate our time with him even more and be grateful for the freedom that home education gives us.

My upstairs neighbors sometimes make "bad choices." God will give us all grace to learn from that and love them and witness to them.

Our tiny yard is no place for goats, but it is a great place to collect bugs and watch the clouds.

There is no need to unnaturally contrive a perfect setting or go into loads of debt trying to MAKE an atmosphere. I have one already.

If my kids have to share their learning space with laundry folding, it's because God knew best for them. And He knows best for me. It's as much my education as it is theirs.

What is YOUR atmosphere?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Our First (Official) Day of School!

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life." --Charlotte Mason

Well, today was our first "official" day of our homeschool! I say official because we try to learn every day--the world is our classroom! I'm trying to get John Paul to say that more often, instead of him telling everyone that we're on "spring break."
We started with a little Math-U-See, followed by some copywork.

Copywork is NOT John Paul's we do it early and get it done! He's getting better and better at it, though!

We decided to go outside for a little nature and bug catching. We got some strange looks with our nets and bug collectors...or maybe they were looking at me clutching a cup of coffee in one hand and a wriggly 18 month old in the other. We caught a moth in the back yard! They live in the grass--John Paul hypothesized that they live there because there is food and ALSO to hide from birds so they don't get eaten.

Joey found some crabapples and put them in his container. He hypothesized that bears eat them. Maybe not in suburban Wauwatosa...but probably somewhere.

We found some ants and compared how some were bigger and some were smaller--Daddy ants and Baby ants, of course. (I guess we'll save species sizes for another day!) I love this picture with all three of them being "scientists."

And we found some lovely black eyed Susans and stopped to enjoy them!
We came home and journaled about our nature walk.
We read about God creating the world for us in Tomie de Paola's Book of Bible Stories.
Joey drew some pictures of the sun and John Paul played with dinosaurs.
We read 2 Chapters of Charlotte's Web--Wilbur learned that the Zuckermans plan to kill him at Christmas--traumatizing, but also exciting. Reading Charlotte's Web aloud really has the boys listening closely--they don't want to miss a part about how spiders paralyze the flies before they suck their blood, or where Christmas ham comes from. The language is a little higher level, but it's really in line with the Charlotte Mason curriculum from there for more info!
And I'm pretty sure THIS girl had the best day of all...our little explorer. :)

Whew! A big day, and it's only 1:00! I had a BLAST and I think the kids did too. Thanks for coming along with us on our first official day of school...hope to see you again soon. :)