Is this all there is to a Charlotte Mason day really? Do kids really just read books and then tell them back all day long? Of course not, although you could be mistaken for thinking so sometimes. As Jemimah was working today, it struck me just how many other things she did in the course of her school day, although she did read a lot of books, and she did tell them back.
Here are some of the other things. Today, Jemimah...
- Read from the Bible and recorded her thoughts in her Scripture Notebook
- Listened to me read aloud 300 lines of Beowulf and looked for examples of alliteration, which she studied in grammar last week
- Sang a folksong. And then another. Then a Psalm. We like singing, okay?
- Read aloud some poetry
- Studied her memory passages - Scripture in French and English and a poem
- Read a passage of French and then narrated it in French
- Practised writing perfectly some Japanese hiragana
- Read The Birth of Britain, narrated the passage, and then used a map to show where the action occurred and where the kings lived
- Wrote out a passage of copy work
- Did map drill of Anglo-Saxon Britain and added the seven kingdoms of the heptarchy to her map
- Observed the maturation of carrot seeds according to the position of the umbels on the plant, and the location on the head, and made accurate labelled drawings in her Science Notebook
- Fashioned a wise man out of Sculpey for her miniature nativity set (polymer clay modelling has taken over handwork in our home, for better or worse.)
- Read and narrated orally Watership Down and our Australian natural history book, Bush Days. then looked up Christmas Bells (Blandfordia nobilis) online and made a quick sketch in her Nature Notebook
- Read a chapter of The Brendan Voyage, narrated, and made a drawing of St Brendan's boat in her Book of Centuries
- Completed a revision lesson on fractions for maths
- Read a chapter of Mere Christianity on Psychoanalysis and Morality and discussed it with mummy
- Kept fit doing a ballet class followed by jazz and tap and then a class of musical theatre. (Yes, she makes me tired.)
- Read a couple of chapters of her free reading book.
So yes, there is a lot of reading there. This year Jemimah reads from about five books each day, since she prefers to divide the longer books into shorter, more manageable chunks over the week. Every reading needs narrating - sometimes written, today only orally. There was maths there as well. But this is only the beginning of a full and rich liberal education. Every day there is some science and a notebook entry. There are maps and copywork and poetry and music and art and the dreaded Sculpey. There are in-depth grand conversations with mum. There is drawing, memorisation, language study. There is exercise - dance, swimming, basketball. Every day there are books, but every day brings something different as well.
Miss Mason frequently describes this liberal education as a feast or banquet, or a broad room filled with delicious ideas. It is generous, rich, never boring. There are books, yes, but there is so much more. I can't believe how much Jemimah is learning, and many days it doesn't feel like school at all. Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life, after all. A life filled with inspiring, uplifting ideas.
Children make large demands upon us. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. Thou hast set my feet in a large room; should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking––the strain would be too great––but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. We cannot give the children these interests; we prefer that they should never say they have learned botany or conchology, geology or astronomy. The question is not,––how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education––but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?
Charlotte Mason School Education pp 170-171