Today’s chat is all about personalized Charlotte Mason help. Have you ever wished that you could chat with someone on the phone who could walk you through what a Charlotte Mason day would look like for your family’s morning lessons and afternoon occupations? Have you ever wished that someone could hand pick beautiful and engaging living books for your children’s subjects based on their ability and your family’s specific circumstances? Have you ever wished to have a cohesive plan for your year that involved the entire family sharing one time period for history while each child enjoyed a feast of living books appropriate for their individual abilities? Well, I have a treat for you! The consultations from A Delectable Education are like a “genie in the bottle” for your homeschool wishes! Today I’m chatting with a few moms who are a part of the Charlotte Mason Soirée Facebook group about their experiences with the consultations that they’ve had with ADE. Everyone in our FB group loves gabbing on and on about the many things we have learned about the Charlotte Mason philosophy and methodology from the podcast A Delectable Education. And many of us have had personal Charlotte Mason help through the consultations offered by ADE. There are so many different nuggets of gold that can be obtained through their customized and personalized consultations, that I wanted you to hear from some ladies who have had a consult. When I asked in the Charlotte Mason Soirée FB group if anyone would be interested in chatting with me about their experience with an ADE consultion, several responded that they would be delighted to. Because they all had such great things to share, I couldn’t pick and choose which replies to use and which to cut out! In order for this post to not grow to be the length of a novel, I am making two posts for A Chat with Some Charlotte Mason Soiréers. The Deuxième Partie (“Part Two” in French because French sounds cool and very CMish) will be coming very soon. So kick back and grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and let my sweet fellow Soiréers introduce themselves to you!
I’m Jennifer, a wife of 22 years, mother of 4, Orthodox Christian, keeper of a Havanese dog and a Siberian Forest cat and a business owner.
Hiya! I’m Sheri, and I spend my time feeding people, plants, and animals. When I’m not in the kitchen preparing, preserving, and canning, you can find me in my barn or garden feeding my plants and animals. When I’m not in my garden or barn you can find me hiking trails near our farm. When I’m not hiking, you can find me curled up knitting with a lovely cup of tea, or volunteering with CASA.
Hi, my name is Amber! I have identical twin girls age 7, Form I in IB, and a highly spirited 3 year old boy. They are the light of my life! We are in College Station, TX, and I’m blessed to have met a few CM families. I hope our little CM community continues to grow!
Hi! I’m Shawn. My wonderful husband and I have 3 energetic boys who are 11, 9 and 5. They love any sport that includes a ball, and if they can’t find a ball, they’ll just throw whatever’s nearby! I am a former school counselor who despised homeschooling until God changed my heart when our first son was born. We’ve been homeschooling ever since.
So let’s get to chatting! How did you hear about the “personal Charlotte Mason help” offered through consultations by the ladies at A Delectable Education?
Jennifer- Bridgett, of course.
Sheri- We live just over an hour from the Living Books Library and joined in late 2015. Our library membership slowly reintroduced us to CM, and we chose to consult with ADE and ultimately embrace the CM method fully. The ladies at ADE are the ones who own Living Books Library.
Amber- I was initially led to the ADE website when I was in search of alternative history rotations. I couldn’t wrap my head around starting with British history at age 6! Anyway, after falling in love with their history streams (it just made so much sense to me…thank you, ADE), I’ve been a podcast listener ever since! It was a long time before I felt I was in need of a consultation. However, 1/3 of the way through term 1 I just had a few questions, so I decided it was time!
Shawn- When I met Bridgett at a CM conference last fall, she told me about her amazing experience with her consultation. She told me how much her homeschool changed for the better and how delightful the book recommendations were. When I heard that, I couldn’t wait to get home and schedule a consultation for myself
What schooling difficulties were you and/or your children facing when you scheduled your consultation?
Jennifer- I didn’t feel a sense of peace. I knew that the potential was there for our homeschool to be rich and beautiful and peaceful, but I didn’t feel we had achieved that with our eclectic/classical style of homeschooling.
Sheri- I remember reading about CM early on in our homeschooling journey and not being able to wrap my mind around the “how” of the method. We ended up trying so many different purchased curricula that never quite fit our needs and used methods from Waldorf to unschooling to spending a year just reading books from LBL aloud together. We were wandering through homeschooling without a method that met the needs of my active children and without a philosophy that could guide us. I was plagued with guilt and wondered if I was serving my children well.
Amber- I wasn’t confident or comfortable with our Bible schedule. Things, again, were not making sense to me. ADE to the rescue!!
Shawn- One of the biggest struggles we had was trying to get through all of the recommended reading of our former plan along with other subjects I thought were “essential” to teach. In order to keep up with the schedule, I would read large chunks in one sitting, many times taking up to 45 minutes to finish the reading. Because I wanted to just finish the assigned reading so I could check it off, I read quickly and didn’t stop for narration very often. Sometimes I would only ask for narration at the end of the reading. This lead to a lot of frustration with both of my sons who would either give me a very brief narration, or not be able to give me a narration at all. We usually didn’t get through all of the scheduled material in one day. At the end of our long day, we were all tired, grumpy and worn out. I felt defeated as we never made it through everything on the schedule. No one was enjoying a feast of any kind. I was force feeding them mediocre books and extra subjects we didn’t need, while not giving them time to chew and savor anything.
Have you homeschooled with the Charlotte Mason philosophy for the entirety of your teaching career? If not, tell me about how you met CM and what drew you to her philosophy.
Jennifer- I attempted the Charlotte Mason method in the early stages of my homeschool career and slowly became eclectic leaning toward classical as the years went by. I had a bout with traditional schooling, using K12 for a little while, but that was very similar to The Well Trained Mind, and I consider it really the same thing in what we did on a day to day basis.
Sheri- CM’s first principle of the child as a whole person was what first resonated deeply with me. Our family is formed through adoption and biology; we had to work hard to become parents with both of our children. We’ve taken so seriously (too seriously?) most every decision we’ve made as parents. Our parenting decisions themselves were an evolution of methods from a rewards/consequences model to finally a feeling of wholeness with a gentle/attachment parenting method with great respect for the trauma our children have experienced. (We appreciate the works of Heather Forbes, LCSW called ‘Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control.’) With CM I feel as though I’ve found a philosophy and method of education that is a seamless extension of our parenting.
Amber- Yes, we have. When I stumbled across Charlotte Mason when the girls were 3, I knew it was the philosophy we’d follow. I feel blessed to have found her so early on! We’ve been using the CM method since the beginning.
Shawn- Even though I used to say we’ve been homeschooling with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy for the past 3 years, I realize now that I really wasn’t at all! Lol! I was just using a Charlotte Mason reading list. It wasn’t until a friend invited me to a Charlotte Mason conference here in Wisconsin last spring that I learned about Charlotte Mason. Kelli Christenberry taught us all about Charlotte’s philosophy, and I fell in love with everything she shared! I remember leaving that conference with two major takeaways: Charlotte Mason’s ways of teaching are humble and gentle, and I want to learn as much about Charlotte Mason as I can.
Since having your consultation, what has been the most challenging subject or thing to implement and what steps have you taken to begin establishing the habits needed to implement it?
Jennifer- The most challenging has been modern foreign language, which I haven’t attempted yet. I was encouraged to choose a modern foreign language that we would hear in regular life, which was either Greek or Russian, since we are Orthodox and there are many Greeks and Russians in my church. However, I don’t have a good program to use for either language, so I’m stuck. I’ve since reached out to my godmother who is studying Russian, and she has graciously shared many links to fairy tales and songs. I have yet to look through them, but that will be what I do next to step into the uncharted modern foreign language territory.
Sheri- What is hardest to me isn’t one subject or one thing, it is the entirety. It was both daunting and soothing to me to completely restructure our lessons. The most important piece of this for me has been to honor the process. During my consultation, Emily encouraged me to change what I could and add pieces in as they became more manageable. My consultation provided the outline for the ideal. My response has been to regularly reread my consult papers to evaluate and reevaluate where we actually are in our day. I am listening over again to all of the ADE podcasts, taking advantage of the conferences near us and focusing now on educating myself further on CM.
Amber- Great question! Need to think on that one…. Hmmm. I think that our most challenging area is handicrafts. And since CM spends so much time on this in the Form 1 years, I’m really hoping to get a handle on it! 🙂 I was encouraged again by my consult here, to know that cooking & cleaning/organizing can be a handicraft. We’ve focused there are have made much progress. But I still in the back of my mind worry that I’m not teaching the girls a calming handicraft that they can focus on in the afternoon course like sewing or knitting. I just don’t do those things, so it’s challenging, but I do want them to. They do spend much time drawing and with their watercolors. Also I don’t feel like I’m giving enough focused energy to nature study at this time. I go in waves with our Texas weather and would like to be more consistent in this area.
Shawn- The most challenging subject for me to implement has been math. Even though I loved math when I was in school, I can’t remember ANY of it now! Lol! I was planning on continuing to use our former math curriculum, but then, with the support of the Charlotte Mason Math Together Facebook group, I decided to teach my children math the way Charlotte did. First, I listened to the math podcasts by A Delectable Education and loved them! I was so inspired that I bought Richele Baburina’s Mathematics Book and DVD bundle. After reading Richele’s book and watching the video, I feel confident, equipped and inspired to teach math in a real and fun way. When I get stuck, I watch the video again and check out the Facebook group for help.
If you met a mom who felt like she was floundering in following CM’s principles and was looking for help, why would you recommend a consultation to her?
Jennifer- Yes, I have recommended consultations to many self-proclaimed floundering moms!
Sheri- I was this mom, only I didn’t even know I was seeking CM. The consultation provides such a personalized package to families and makes CM’s methods and philosophies manageable by providing a blueprint to follow. Years ago I had given up on understanding how CM works in practice. Now, I have experts laying the foundation for our day with goals for each term and practical tips on how to implement this method. My consultation was as much about my own growth as a homeschooling mom and CM enthusiast as it was about the best way for me to educate my children.
Amber- Because it’s a real live person to TALK to!! And not just that but someone who is extremely knowledgeable, kind, and helpful!! Where else in 2017 can you get such a personal consultation at an affordable rate? They are blessings!! I have at least three moms I’ve spoken with recently that I’ve referred to ADE and based on our experiences will continue to do so. Lastly the resources they send post conversation are wonderful too!
Shawn- I recommend this consultation to all of my friends. In fact, they’re probably pretty tired of me talking about it! Lol! Since we had our ADE consultation, everything has changed in our homeschool! First of all, I am truly setting a FEAST before my children with the very best literature. We all LOVE the books that the ADE ladies have recommended. Secondly, we are doing short, varied lessons. I am presenting the feast, and allowing them to take time to savor and enjoy it. There is no pressure to get through a long reading list, and I’m no longer rushing them to finish the chapter. We are no longer doing “extra” subjects. We take our time and we are truly learning and enjoying.
Tell me about something that impacted you during your conversation with Liz during the phone portion of the consultation.
Jennifer- I was impacted by Liz’s ability to quickly apply Charlotte Mason’s principles, philosophy and method to any situation I presented to her. She was fast and exacting and reminded me of Charlotte Mason in her communication style. Though I know that she won’t like hearing this because she’s humble, but I felt like I was talking to Charlotte Mason.
Sheri- My consultation was in person with Emily and Liz. I came away feeling overwhelmed with the relief of having a plan that made sense!
Amber- The clarification and help for my reason I called, Bible scheduling, was something that impacted me as well as and the help with the handicraft area and memory/recitation area that I was having some troubles with.
Shawn- Before the phone call I was really nervous. But talking with Liz was like talking with an old friend. Her welcoming manner put me at ease, and I felt comfortable asking her all the millions of questions I had. I was amazed at how she kept track of my boys names and ages throughout the conversation. She also sprinkled throughout the consultation her own personal tips that worked with her children. Those little tips were so personal and helpful to me. I really loved that.
What did you appreciate most about how personalized the “curriculum” portion of the consultation was?
Jennifer- I appreciated the grouping of the children together in many subjects and keeping on the same history time period. I also appreciated the book recommendations, many of which I hadn’t heard of before.
Sheri- ADE considered what I had done with my children, where they are in their development, their interests and gifts in recommending books and how to implement in ways that make sense for our family. Our plan is completely custom fit to our needs. The result is a finally a curriculum that works for all of us! It has been priceless!
Amber- All of it. I think what they offer is beyond worth the cost. I appreciate a kind voice talking me through questions I have about CM. You can’t talk to just anyone about CM and especially not someone who can meet you where you are in the journey. Liz did meet me right where I was. She helped me with exactly what I needed and much more!
Shawn- When we began reading the ADE recommended books, my boys and I truly loved them. It was as if each book were hand picked with my boys in mind. That just melts my heart
If ADE is still offering them, why would you consider scheduling consultations for future years of homeschooling?
Jennifer- I will continue to invest in consultations because it frees me up to quickly come up with a schedule and dive right into homeschooling. Rather than agonizing over what to do and starting from scratch, I have a jumping off point. I still feel free to be me, but I also feel I have the tools I need to authentically administer a Charlotte Mason education to the best of my current level of ability and skills. Being part of ADE reminds me of the Orthodox Church, in that we are given some tools to help us, but we come as we are and with the help of the Holy Spirit we walk in the light we are given day to day toward the Dayspring from on high.
Sheri- I am hoping to have access to ADE annually through high school! I would so appreciate their continued expertise. They know where we’ve come from, what we’re currently doing and thus our next steps.
Amber-Oh I sure hope they are!! Even if they have to start building a bigger team of mentors! YES!! I plan to schedule one every summer to solidify our plans, get help with answering my questions, help me with book choices, and with scheduling issues. I know once my son joins us more formally I will probably need more help.
Shawn- I can’t wait to do another consultation for next year. I just love the books and their expertise.
And that concludes Partie Un (Part One) of our A Chat with Some Soiréers. I’m so very thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to have two consults with A Delectable Education, and as you can see here in this post, these consults come HIGHLY recommended! There were so many points these ladies made with which I could totally relate. What were some things they shared that resonated with you? Have more questions about consultations? Leave a comment below!