Monday, January 25, 2016

Charlotte Mason 2016 Winter Term Updates

The more I work with our Catholic Charlotte Mason homeschooling loop schedule, the better I am able to refine our curriculum and to see how we can best proceed on the journey. Last week lessons were put on hold while Beezy was sick, so today it was great to get back into the groove of our routine.

Beezy finished reading The Courage of Sarah Noble, the true story of a young girl living among American Indians. Native American studies are integral to U.S. history, but also to the history of the entire New World, so we learn about these First Peoples of North and South America every year. We are also reading Saint Isaac and the Indians, about the French Jesuits and their work converting the Huron Indians of Canada to Christianity. 

Another Canadian connection is our reading of the Anne of Green Gables series, set on Prince Edward Island. These are the types of "natural correspondences" that Charlotte Mason wrote about. There will be an organic overlapping of subjects in a CM education, but this is distinguished from unit studies, which Charlotte did not advocate. Children should be allowed to make their own connections in this living education, rather than having the adult tie every subject to a central theme. 

We finally finished Leif Erikson the Lucky, but we are not done with Viking history. This week we will begin a read aloud of D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths, and Beezy will be reading to herself and narrating Rover by Jackie French, a historical fiction novel set in Viking days and connecting to Leif Erikson. I think it's important for children to know how the Old World connects with the New World in history. 

Because St. Brigid's Day and Candlemas are coming up early in February, and St. Patrick's Day is in March, I'm adding some books about the beloved patron saints of Ireland. I think it's important to follow the liturgical year in our lessons and how it ties to Church history. And as a natural correspondence, we are reading prayers from Celtic Vision by Esther de Waal, an anthology taken from the Carmina Gaedelica.

I've included my updated loop schedule. Please take a look, and if you have any questions about it's contents or how it works, I'd love to discuss it in the comments section. Keep in mind that a Charlotte Mason education is not about following the curriculum guidelines and lesson plans of someone else, though you may find that helpful. The journey is really about providing your children with a guided self-education, connecting them mind-to-mind with the great thinkers, through living books, the fine arts, and exploration of the natural world. The method flows from a philosophy built upon natural law, the child's innate curiosity, and one's intimacies, and its desired end is that education be the "handmaid of Religion".

Daily Core:

Living Faith devotional with daily Mass readings and Celtic Vision prayers
Reading: Rover by Jackie French (Viking historical fiction) w/ oral narration
Math lesson
Piano practice
Literature read aloud: D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths (for lesson time, with oral narration and/or discussion); Anne of the Island (Montgomery, bedtime)

Writing loop:
copy work
grammar workbook
written narration or spelling workbook
cursive writing (Seton Handwriting 3)

Extended Loops:

Religion loop:
The Baltimore Catechism or other catechetical/liturgical book
The Rosary in Art (picture studies, Seton)
New Testament Bible reading (Rosary mysteries and decade prayers)
Saints:  Saint Isaac and the Indians by Milton Lomask; The Saint Book (Newland);   Journeys with Mary (De Santis); The Story of Saint Brigid (Caitriona Clarke)

Humanities Loop:
Nature Studies: The Story Book of Science, Winter EcoJournal, or nature walk
A Child’s Geography of the World and/or map work or visual enrichment
Memory work/recitation
The Care & Keeping of You (American Girl, health)

Tea Time Fridays:  French, poetry (Christian Rossetti), music, baking, correspondence, handicrafts

Religious Ed. Class at parish church on Wednesdays
Gym and art classes at Catholic school & piano lessons on Thursdays
Art, lunch and recess at Catholic school on Fridays

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Celtic Roots

I have for a very long time been drawn to all things Celtic--art, poetry, music, folk tradition and faerie lore, symbols, clothing, history, Medieval and Renaissance festivals. And more recently, St. Brigid, St. Patrick, and the prayers and blessings of the Carmina Gadelica. Not believing in reincarnation, I have speculated that being drawn to certain cultures and time periods as I do is a result not of one's own past life experiences, but the former lives of one's ancestors. Feelings, looks, personality, spirituality, what one loves and disdains, what one is drawn to, even memory in a mystical sense, are all passed on through the blood from generation to generation.

I have written before of my Catholic great-grandmother, Ruth Valley Roush. Her father was Levi Valley (originally spelled Valle), whose ancestors had come to Canada from France in the 1600s and eventually found their way to Vincennes, Indiana. Ruth's mother was Alice Maud Sharp, an Irishwoman. So Great-Grandma Ruth, who I do remember and who died when I was four, was almost entirely French and Irish, with a smidgen of American Indian.

Today I made an astounding discovery with an internet search. God bless Google, truly! The Valle family of France originated in Brittany, a peninsular territory in the northwest corner of the country. Brittany is one of five regions recognized to be of Celtic heritage which continues in the present day, having a particular language and historic culture in common. The other regions are Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and the Isle of Mann. Ruth was almost entirely Celtic!

I do have other European ancestry in my blood, Dutch and German. (Incidentally, the Germanic peoples are also historically connected to the Celts!) But I feel most connected to the French and Irish, which might seem to be very different culturally. Yet Brittany is distinct from the rest of France in its Celtic tradition, so those peoples had, and still have, more in common with the territories of Great Britain as mentioned. Valle is one of the most ancient family names in Brittany, and they were distinguished members of the aristocracy in the region.

I think that my conversion to the Catholic Faith has drawn me even more closely to my Celtic heritage, and I am so excited to continue this exploration of my roots. I think that we can feel a little lost in the United States of America, because we are a very young country and increasingly distanced from our immigrant ancestors. So if you feel inexplicably drawn to certain countries, cultures, time periods, and traditions, I think it's worthwhile, especially in the spiritual sense, to find out where you come from. In this way you may figure out where and how you belong.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Thinking in French

In the last post I wrote about how I have not given up on incorporating Spanish into our homeschooling. But the truth is, I haven't been consistent with teaching Spanish simply because my heart is not in it. I studied Spanish in high school and college, and I want to take a risk and try something new. I had really wanted to learn French, but in the 8th grade when I chose what foreign language I would be taking in high school, the choices were only Spanish and Latin. And what the heck was Latin? So fate chose.

I do wish to learn Latin, and that day will come. But what gets me excited right now is the prospect of what Charlotte Mason wrote in Home Education, Volume 1 of her series:

"If you are all day long trying to work out a 'series' in French... you come to think in French, to 'dream in French,' to speak French" (p. 303). And, "You order your thoughts in the new language, and, having done so, the words which express these are an inalienable expression" (p. 304).

By learning any new language, your thinking changes in accordance with the particularities of that tongue. If I wish to more closely adopt a French lifestyle, which is, after all, a major theme of this blog, then it only makes sense to learn to speak French! And Charlotte Mason does advocate learning a new language only verbally first. "French should be acquired as English is, not as a grammar, but as a living speech. To train the ear to distinguish and the lips to produce the French vocabulary is a valuable part of the education of the senses, and one which can hardly be undertaken too soon" (Home Education, p. 300).

Beezy is perfectly fine with learning French rather than Spanish, and I have great plans for this new adventure which I can't wait to share with my readers! Whether you are a like-minded francophile or not, I hope you will join me on the journey.