A Charlotte Mason Education for All

Author: Jennifer (Page 1 of 3)

Jennifer Gehman is a co-creator of Wildwood Curriculum, a certified teacher, and a facilitator with the Neufeld Institute. She lives and plays with her partner and five children in Canada. Though four of her oldest have graduated from homeschool they still ask her to edit their university papers. Her youngest is still learning in the living room.

2020-2021 Family Picture Study

Note: The picture study rotation was updated in July 2020. Some of the artists that were originally in the rotation were removed to make way a more balanced selection in terms of gender and nationality. This unfortunately had the impact of moving some artists around and you may have already studied the artists listed for this. We have included an optional replacement artist at the bottom if that is the case.

Claude Monet (1840-1926)

Monet is such a popular artist that you are encouraged to check out your library for a selection of books about his life and works. There are several lovely children's book.

Suggested Selections:

Amrita Sher-Gil (1913-1941)

Amrita Sher Gil: Rebel with a Paint Brush by Anita vachharajani

BOOKS and articles:

OPTIONAL: Angelica Kauffman (1741 – 1807)

BOOKS and Articles:

[Stonechats 14] Reading Problems with Kim Stoddard Part 2

Join us part 2 of our chat with reading specialist Kim Stoddard from Born 2 Read about reading problems, dyslexia, and strategies that parents can use when they and their children are struggling.

Links for some of the items referenced in this episode:

Orton Gillingham System
All About Reading
Logic of English
Barton Reading
Pride Reading Program

Is my Child Ready for Barton? Barton Student Screening Test

Foundations in Sounds - if a child cannot pass the screening test

Check out our other episodes here.

[Stonechats 13] Reading Problems with Kim Stoddard Part 1

Join us this episode and the next as we chat with reading specialist Kim Stoddard from Born 2 Read about reading problems, dyslexia, and strategies that parents can use when they and their children are struggling.

[Stonechats 12] Reading with Melisa Nielsen

[Stonechats 11] Singing with Crystal Hosea

Today Marjorie, Miriam and Jennifer discuss reading with Melisa Nielsen of Waldorf Essentials. Melisa is a Waldorf educator, parent coach, and homeschooling mother of 5 children, two of whom have spectrum struggles. The Waldorf approach to early education  is very similar to Miss Mason's own approach. Both methods are developmental, experiential in nature and honor the individual child. Melisa comes with a wealth of ideas for helping parents teach reading.

  • 1:00 - Introduction to Melisa Nielsen
  • 2:55 - An overview of Melisa's Waldorf-centric way to teach reading
  • 6:39 - Shellie Davidow readers
  • 7:45 - Is there a reason you introduce vowels after consonants?
  • 9:18 - What if a young child wants to read?
    - Jodie Mesler's Living Music program
  • 10:15 - How do you actually teach the letters?
  • 15:07 - What is the best age to start? What do you do with young children wanting to learn to read?
  • 17:43 - What are the most common problems moms come to you with and what is your advice?
  • 27:23 - At what point do you say you need outside help?
  • 43:05 - What non-reading parts of the day should you definitely not skip that would support reading indirectly ?
  • 46:14 - What are your recommendations for children who are reading very early?
  • 51:04 - Nature Minutes

[Stonechats 11] Singing with Crystal Hosea

[Stonechats 11] Singing with Crystal Hosea

Marjorie, Jennifer and Miriam are joined today with Crystal Hosea, creator of Legends of the Staff of Musique, a comprehensive music curriculum inspired by the unique environment of home education, and incorporating movement and art alongside the voice.

  • Introduction - Crystal explains how Legends of the Staff of Musique explores music in a holistic way through singing and movement.
  • 3:50 - How do you bring singing to your children if you are not a confident singer yourself?
  • 6:33  - If you feel you sing off-key all the time, should you still sing to your children or will you be teaching them to sing off-key?
  • 8:30 - How do you incorporate singing into your day rather than having it just be a lesson time?
  • 15:00 - What is the purpose of learning folksongs versus pop songs and what is, any is your personal preference?
  • 24:45 - What if your child of whatever age is resistant to singing and think it's lame or dumb?
  • 38:30 - How is brain development affected by singing?
  • 43:40 - Why did you incorporate art into your music curriculum, Legends of the Staff Musique
  • 49:30 - Nature Minutes 

[Stonechats 10] Live Q and A

We hosted a Live a Q and A! Here are our responses.

  • 2:00 How do you organize everything?
  • 16:00 Is creative nonfiction the same as a living book?
  • 21:00 Are audiobooks living books? What is a living book?
  • 30:00 How do you balance teaching while still preserving “a quiet growing time”?
  • 38:00 How do you use KISS grammar?
  • 45:00 What can you do in the early years to create rhythm?
  • 55:00 Nature minutes

2019-2020 Family Picture Study

[Stonechats 9] Singing, Solfa and Kodaly with Guest RaeAnna Goss Part 2

On Part 2 of our discussion about singing and the Solfa, we continue our chat with RaeAnna Goss, singing teacher, homeschool graduate, homeschooling mother, and Charlotte Mason follower, who has created Solfa Sofa, an early years approach for introducing singing in a CM-friendly way. (Part 1 can be found here.)

We were also joined by Crystal Hosea of The Legends of the Staff of Musique, but we invited Crystal back for another episode about her own CM approach to combining story and music, which will air in a couple of weeks.

Recorded April 15, 2019

Show Notes:

[Stonechats 8] Singing, Solfa and Kodaly with Guest RaeAnna Goss

On this 2-part episode, we were joined by RaeAnna Goss, singing teacher, homeschool graduate, homeschooling mother, and Charlotte Mason follower, who has created Solfa Sofa, an early years approach for introducing singing in a CM-friendly way.

We were also joined by Crystal Hosea of The Legends of the Staff of Musique, but we invited Crystal back for another episode about her own CM approach to combining story and music, which will air in a couple of weeks.

Other ideas and resources mentioned in the podcast:

  • 0:00 Introductions
  • 4:25 The Curwin approach, Tonic Solfa, and the Modulator
  • 9:50 Difference between Curwen and Kodály, and why Raeanna supports Kodály
  • 11:15 What is the Kodály approach?
  • 14:30 What would a singing lesson look like in CM’s time?
    • 3 minutes of voice training
    • 5 minutes of modulator practice
    • 3 minutes of sight singing
    • 7 minutes of rhythm work
    • 4 minutes of ear training
    • 8 minutes to practice songs
  • 17:58 John M. Feierabend and Conversational Solfege
    • “Children should be tuneful, beatful, and artful.”
  • 20:28 An overview of the progression of singing through Forms 1 and 2
  • 24:25 Resouces at Solfa Sofa that can help with early years
  • 26:30 Forms 3 (part-songs and rounds), and higher (descants, classical repetoire)
  • 28:55 Losing joy in singing and moving more into theory and other music approaches (PNEU article: A Few Remarks on Teaching Music by W.H. Leslie)
  • 33:14 Perfect Pitch and Moveable Doe
  • 35:05 Shortening Form 1 lessons and help them find their singing voice

Why Does Wildwood use Forms Instead of Grades?

Wildwood Curriculum is divided into this confusing set of categories called forms which are then subdivided into more categories called lower and upper and then again into tri-level categories called A and B.

Why? Why not just list each of these categories as the grade levels that they ultimately represent?

First and foremost, we use forms because Charlotte Mason used forms. When we are working on transcribing her programmes, we maintain each form and the sublevel within it because if we used more modern terminology, we would need to be constantly translating it back and forth, and so in some part it easier for us to use her own categories and subdivisions.

However, we at Wildwood have deeper reasons for choosing to maintain the Form labels. The primary one is that we do not want people who come to our curriculum to think about grade levels. We deliberately want to move people away from the familiar and sometimes limiting idea of grade levels as used today.

Grade demarcations almost always indicate a whole set of ideas that we might not even be aware of. Primarily we link grade and age. A six-year-old is in grade 1. A seven-year-old is in grade 2. 

We also think that each grade has some bundle of knowledge that a child is to learn within that year and then they will move up to the next level and proceed to learn the next bundle of knowledge. Children who struggle are often seen as being “behind” and those who assimilate the knowledge easily are seen as advanced or even gifted. 

And Charlotte’s Mason ideology is completely opposed to these ideas. In Philosophy of Education (Volume 6) she writes:

“Academic success and knowledge are not the same thing and many excellent schools fail to give their pupils delight in the latter for its own sake or to bring them in touch with the sort of knowledge that influences character and conduct. The slow, imperceptible, sinking-in of high ideals is the gain that a good school should yield its pupils.”

She was not concerned about academic success. She was concerned with the slow and steady development of children into ethical and idealistic adults.

In talking about children with different talents and therefore different abilities, she wrote,

“But why should the tortoise keep pace with the hare and why should a boy's success in life depend upon drudgery in Mathematics [the skill with which he was struggling]?”

In Parents and Children (Volume 2), she clearly stated the need to customize our teaching strategies to our learners:

“It is necessary to individualise and say, this part of education is the most important for this child, or this class, but may be relegated into a lower place for another child or another class.”

She also had quite a bit to say about examinations and the evils of competition that often arise because of them.

“But the fact that a successful examination of one sort or another is the goal towards which most of our young people are labouring with feverish haste and with undue anxiety, is one which possibly calls for the scrutiny of the investigating. Why?

In the first place, people rarely accomplish beyond their own aims. Their aim is a pass, not knowledge; 'they cram to pass and not to know; they do pass and they don't know,' says Mr. Ruskin; and most of us who know the 'candidate' will admit that there is some truth in the epigram. There are, doubtless, people who pass and who also know, but, even so, it is open to question, whether passing is the most direct, simple, natural and efficacious way of securing knowledge, or whether the persons who pass and know are not those keen and original minds which would get blood out of a stone,––anyway, sap out of sawdust.”

Charlotte Mason was concerned most with the end product of education - the living breathing adult who was to emerge at the end of the process. The year-to-year progress was supposed to be slow, methodical and suited to the individual child, focusing on the development of their whole being, not their academic progress.

And so we at Wildwood choose to use forms so that parents have to think differently about the placement of their children within the framework of this curriculum. A very knowledgeable adult could work their way through Form 1B (the first “level”) and still gain copious amounts of knowledge and insight because the curriculum isn’t about the facts. There isn’t a set amount of information at that level that one must master. A Charlotte Mason education isn’t about the knowledge - it is about the ideas and how a child makes connections to those ideas within their own mind. That can happen, and happen beautifully within any of the forms.

However, the content in each form is set out in a developmental way - early forms draw on resources that will have knowledge that can be connected to a younger child’s experience. Upper forms include more mature ideas and resources because older children will have more experiences and more knowledge of the world.

It is more helpful to think about the forms as developmental stages rather than as grades. They do not represent any sort of success in the sense that movement from one form to another implies that a child has “passed.” They are merely a grouping of resources that are chosen to be developmentally appropriate to children at a particular age and stage.

So then what does it mean when it comes time to place a child in a form or move a child onto the next form?

Forms do roughly follow ages, and movement to a higher form was to indicate a maturation in the child and their ability to interact with ideas in a more mature way. We now know Miss Mason’s stages align with modern neuroscience that shows a distinct brain growth sometime between the ages of 8 and 9 (when a child would move from Form I into Form II), and then again at the beginning of adolescence between 11 and 14 (when a child would move into Form III). Forms that have only one year are looked upon as intense transition years to prepare a student for the new challenges in the next form.

A child begins in the beginner form (indicated with a B) and moves up to a more advanced level (indicated with an A). If a form is further split (or sometimes in place of the beginner/advanced demarcation), the child will begin in the lower level and move up to the upper level. (Miss Mason used Roman numerals to mark her forms. At Wildwood, we use Roman numerals and Arabic numerals interchangeably.)

  • Form 1 - ages 6-9
    • Form 1B
    • Form 1A lower
    • Form 1A upper
  • Form 2 ages 9-12
    • Form 2B
    • Form 2A lower
    • Form 2A upper
  • Form 3 ages 12-14
    • Form 3 lower
    • Form 3 upper
  • Form 4 - age 14-15
  • Form 5 - ages 15-16
    • Form 5 lower
    • Form 5 upper
  • Form 6 - age 16-17​

Within a form, it is more important to focus on enacting Miss Mason’s methods, not on what books you are reading. So you could have two children at different ages or stages within the same form but should expect different interactions from them. For example, the quality of the narrations would need to be different, or you might be using the resources from one form but could begin drawing on more advanced techniques from another form - such as introducing composition.

If you have a child who is not ready to move to a higher form, they can just stay in a form. If you have a child who shows great developmental progress half-way through a form, you can move them up to the next form immediately. Miss Mason’s classes often never completed books. Students might only complete a couple of chapters from a book before they moved onto a different one.  It is not about completing the book or mastering the facts. It is about interacting with the material!

The decision to combine children into forms is a personal one that a parent needs to consider in light of their personal resources, their children’s needs and personalities, and their overall educational goals. There is no right way! Combine or separate as best serves you and your children. The magic happens in how you engage your children.

Unfortunately, a Charlotte Mason education is not a neat package that a parent can open and expect her children to complete. It is not a system - it is a methodology. We as parents need to have some understanding of the underpinning philosophy in order to provide this education to our children. At Wildwood, we try to inspire parents to dig into this philosophy.

If you would like more information about using a Charlotte Mason approach in your home, please consider:

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