We spread an abundant and delicate feast in the programmes and each small guest assimilates what he can – Charlotte Mason (Vol. 6, p. 183).
The delectable ‘feast’ is one of the appeals of a Charlotte Mason Education; the variety of stories and lives and lessons to fill our children’s hearts and minds excites me and brings joy as I plan for their learning days.
After a long summer of adventures, camping, conversations around back yard candles and firelight; after days of late nights and later mornings, unplanned food thrown together, memories from car to beach we’ve kicked off our ninth ‘formal’ learning year this week (because everything is learning right?). I leaned more towards a ‘soft launch’ allowing the children to adjust, orientate and for me to communicate our new course of travel over a few days; then it’s heads down, ears open, hearts ready to soak up what our year may bring.
Despite my slow approach to launching straight into all of our subjects and schedule, in spite of a splattering of summering still humming in the background like a busy worker bee; as I sat and reflected on our day I was overwhelmed by the impact of what I had served up.
So here’s our day, a very normal day but a day where I paid attention to conversation; I noticed voices and opinions, actions and reactions, methods and themes of play and I can heartily say there was no veneer – this was a feasting day!
I yell the children downstairs as I finish preparing breakfast to the quiet soundtrack of our beloved British radio favourite ‘Classic FM’; Dave noticed one track was from the film ‘Love actually’ before he left for work.
We gathered around the table and I read ‘Kindness’ by Naomi Shihab Nye and discussed the contrast of sorrow and kindness, heartache and joy and how they are synonymous to each other. We talked about her starting to write poetry at 7. This caught Micah’s attention and he went on to talk about Roald Dahl’s writing hut. Micah later set up a writing table in our garden to write his books. He was inspired to not allow the fact that he is a child hinder him or hold him back from publishing a story…
We then looked at our first Murillo painting; each child narrated and Nyah was the only one to notice the dog in the bottom right hand corner of the painting. We discussed the angel up in the sky on the right hand side being there to signify a miracle, a true work of God. We discussed Roman architecture, disciples, how the angel looked like a unicorn and how there was a possibility of the guy on the balcony being a spy (smile).
We then read from the Bible; we read the beginning of the story of Joshua attempting to enter the Promised Land, going in as spies and Rahab helping them – one child commented on Rahab telling the king that they weren’t there anymore but knowing she had hidden them. Why would she lie?
As I read to the children Micah drew his version of Murillo’s painting (unprompted) in pencil.
We read together John 3:16 and committed to memorising it this week.
They bickered – I addressed it; I spoke to them about peace and how to make good choices of when to speak, stay silent, and why not to react to their siblings.
We prayed; everyone prayed.
We then got on with work in the house; folding laundry, wiping down the bathroom, making beds, brushing teeth, emptying and refilling the dishwasher.
Then it was heads down for listening and learning independently (if old enough); I talked through with Nyah and Joel their schedules, books and expectations – they then got on with grammar, copying out poetry and fables, map study, foreign language, reading Shakespeare – the maths launch is tomorrow for the older children.
I orientate Micah with his new schedule and eight year old expectations; he goes on to copy out a quote about nature, begins to study his list of spellings, starts to study a map of Europe and watches an online maths lesson.
Our youngest learner Sienna starts ‘life of fred’ (‘living’ maths) and learns that x always equals x and y always equals y. No matter which way round 5 + 2 is (i.e. 2+5), it will always equals 7.
We read A A Milne poetry together and she chose some ‘beautiful’ words to copy out and add to her homemade flash cards. We read a nature story and looked for more interesting words.
After a group effort of hashing lunch and a pot of tea together we fell straight into our quiet reading half hour; between us we had the pages of Pride and Prejudice, Five children and It (audio), Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, a biography about Louis Pasteur and Krista Tippett’s ‘Becoming Wise’ open and being lapped up.
We also realised we hadn’t quite finished ‘Miracles on Maple Hill’ before the summer break so I read aloud one of the two chapters we have to finish the book.
My younger children interspersed their reading and listening with games, songs, dancing around the garden, playing ‘Hulk’, making potions and being ‘scientists’, Lego and lots and lots of drawing.
Micah scribed a ‘book’ at his writing table and also had a bit of time playing a game on his Kindle fire.
We observed an Orb Weaver spider on a huge web wrapping up a fly, we found honey fungus growing under a tree, we noticed the life cycle of a ladybug was happening on a bush right in our backyard after one of the children spotted a pupae on a leaf.
The September sun was warm enough to play long and hard outside.
The day turned into early evening and dinner was prepared; the table was set, Dave came home and together we all breath and eat and connect and converse about our very normal day.
It is the duty of parents to sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as they sustain its body with food – Charlotte Mason