Today’s Chat is Deuxième Partie (Part Two in French because it sounds so snazzy) of A Chat with Some Charlotte Mason Soiréers. We will continue the conversation from last week’s post about customized Charlotte Mason plans. I’m talking today with a couple of gals from the Charlotte Mason Soirée Facebook group about the personal Charlotte Mason help they received through consultations offered by A Delectable Education. Be sure to check out Partie Un if you missed it! Without further delay, let my friends introduce themselves to you!
My name is Jenny, and I’m a second-generation Korean gal from Texas. My husband and I are missionaries in beautiful Nagano, Japan (think: 1998 Winter Olympics) where we have lived for the last three years. Prior to our missionary service, my husband was a Navy submarine officer (he is a Reservist now), and I was a speech-language pathologist. We have two adorable kids, a 10-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter. Music, coffee, and books are among God’s best gifts to me.
My name is Morgan. I love Jesus, coffee, talking, singing, and cooking from scratch. My family and I live in Arkansas-the Natural State-and love exploring God’s creation. I married my high school sweetheart and we have 5 girls-ages 3 to 11.
How did you hear about the “personal Charlotte Mason help” offered through consultations by the ladies at A Delectable Education?
Jenny- I heard about the personalized CM help right at about the time I was discovering Charlotte Mason AND podcasts for the first time! I just happened to search in iTunes for “Charlotte Mason” podcasts, and A Delectable Education popped up. The ADE podcast was still pretty new, and after binge listening to and loving the first few episodes, I looked up the ADE website where I saw the little button in the sidebar about consultations, talked to my husband… and went for it!
Morgan- I think I first heard of the consultations on the podcast. I was really struggling to put together our curriculum based on the ladies’ recommendations and reached out for help!
What schooling difficulties were you and/or your children facing when you scheduled your consultation?
Jenny- My daily reality with homeschooling was nowhere near what I envisioned for it. We had been homeschooling for a few years before moving to Japan, but I was never confident nor satisfied with the curricula, and many lessons ended in tears – often times mine. Then there was the added stress of moving to a foreign country where my husband and I became full-time language students, and our family had many struggles adjusting to life in Japan. I ordered a year’s worth of boxed curriculum to homeschool our children part-time while they went to Japanese school part-time, but we were under so much stress that I never even cracked a book open from the box. After two years, I was growing concerned about our daughter who was not enjoying Japanese school, would never pick up a book to read, and was losing any interest in learning. Our son was also not thriving in Japanese school. After completing our language training which had turmoil of its own, my husband and I were evaluating our kids’ education and praying about how to proceed. For various reasons, we decided that full-time Japanese public school was not an option. We decided to pursue full-time homeschooling, but I constantly second-guessed that decision and lacked direction in how to move forward. Enter Charlotte Mason and A Delectable Education…
Morgan- My oldest daughter has some learning disabilities and medical issues. I had a lot of babies in a small amount of time and so with all that I felt that we were so far behind where we should be and I really didn’t know how to dig myself out of the hole.
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.
Jenny- I didn’t know anything about Charlotte Mason when we started homeschooling. Right before we moved overseas, I just happened to pick up a copy of For the Children’s Sake, but then the book immediately went into a box to Japan. Two years later, I pulled it off the shelf… I devoured that book, soaking in everything about who Charlotte Mason was and what she had to say about education and children (meanwhile kicking myself for not reading the book sooner!). Certainly the method drew me in and gave me a beautiful picture of what homeschooling could look like. But it was her philosophy that profoundly inspired me and gave me the purpose and direction I was looking for. Mason’s very first principle that “children are born persons,” and pondering all of its implications, resonated deeply with me. We were in such an intense and isolated environment that upon finding CM, I found validation for the choices we were making for our family’s (specifically, our children’s) well-being, I found encouragement in parenting, and I found healing and nourishment for my heart as I read Mason’s lifegiving words on humanity and spirituality. The more I learned, the more I saw that Mason was addressing not just education, but all of LIFE. I also love that Mason’s philosophy is rooted in her “Great Recognition” that the Holy Spirit is our children’s first and foremost “Imparter of knowledge, Instructor of youth, and Inspirer of genius.” I have believed that 2 Peter 1:3 (“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness”) is also true for homeschooling, but until finding CM there was a great disconnect. These were all HUGE themes for me and what drew me to Charlotte Mason. I’ve had regrets about not finding CM sooner in our homeschooling journey, but I believe the Lord allowed me to find her at just the right time and in a powerful way in my life and my family’s life.
Morgan- Bridgett, this is incredibly long so don’t feel you have to include all of this (or any of this). But when I started typing I just wanted to share with you our entire story. I won’t be upset if it is completely left out of the article!
Honey, you ought to know me better than that! I’m not leaving any of the good stuff out, so keep going!
My oldest daughter was diagnosed with a massive low grade infiltrative type brain tumor when she was 3 years old. I was an SLP but immediately quit my job and became a SAHM. The first year after her diagnosis was a difficult time. Her tumor couldn’t be removed but it also wasn’t growing. We felt a little in limbo not knowing what the next MRI would reveal. I felt like time with her was precious and didn’t want to send her to school. We prayed and prayed and felt it was the path the Lord was leading us down. So I began to research!
I remember reading the SCM article “5 Homeschooling Styles” and felt a connection to CM. I looked at AO (Ambleside Online) and HUFI (now CM Help)-printed the book lists, but just could not wrap my head around how to accomplish that with a 5 year old. I don’t remember learning about narration or any other aspects of the CM method-just lots of book lists. I chickened out and went with FIAR (Five in a Row) for kindergarten. I then read TWTM (The Well Trained Mind) and changed everything for first grade. It was a disaster! We all hated it. During the K and 1st years my oldest (the only one actually doing ‘school’) began having seizures again due to her tumor and was not well enough to do school half the time. Most of our school time was spent on just the basics-math, reading, handwriting. I was beginning to see her struggles but blamed our inconsistency for them. Her 2nd grade year we switched to HOD (Heart of Dakota). I also added a kindergartner this same year but I only worked on the basics with her. We eventually dropped HOD for my oldest and went back to basics since she was so behind in all those areas. I did do a version of Morning Time that we all enjoyed. It was very short and didn’t happen daily but it was great when we did it.
My daughter’s 3rd grade year was the worst one of all. I decided to give HOD a try again and I switched from Math-U-See to Teaching Textbooks. She struggled so much but I just wasn’t sure of the cause. I suspected learning disabilities but I was also feeling so much guilt for not being consistent enough. On top of her struggles I was a wreck. I had PPD and a baby that wouldn’t sleep. I barely survived that school year. After talking to some professionals I decided to have a full neuropsych eval on my oldest. She was diagnosed with ADHD & dyscalculia and there were noted visual and fine motor impairments. I took her for a visual therapy evaluation and she had multiple issues there. We had to drive an hour and fifteen minutes every Tuesday for 9 months but her vision issues did improve dramatically! She also began OT.
It was very difficult to accept that my child had all these learning issues. I felt responsible on one hand and then a bit relieved that it wasn’t all my fault on the other hand. I had some family members suggest that it would be better for her to go to public school so the ‘professionals’ could help her with these issues. Even my husband thought we were in over our head. I began to seriously doubt that I could continue to teach at home. I actually did the groundwork for enrolling her and my other daughter in school. I just never felt at peace with that decision and I asked my husband for one more year.
The 4th grade year (last year) was much better. We were only doing the basics each day but the atmosphere of our home was much better. A friend had just started homeschooling and asked me about Charlotte Mason. I was excited to talk about it with someone although my conclusion had been that CM just wasn’t practical for a large family or a child with learning disabilities. A bit later my sister began researching homeschooling and asked me what my philosophy was. I told her that I had always been drawn to CM but had never implemented it. After I hung up the phone I thought “if I am drawn to CM so much-why don’t I learn more and try to make it work?” I continued on with just the basics but began researching CM like crazy.
Unfortunately I wasted a lot of time and money due to blogs, podcasts, and products that claimed to be CM inspired. I did order For the Children’s Sake and began a book club with my friend who had expressed interest in CM earlier. That book really helped me see the vision and to realize that some of this CM inspired stuff was not CM at all. It was probably April or May before I ran across A Delectable Education. It was mentioned in a Morning Time group I was in. It took about 5 minutes of listening before I realized that THIS was what I had needed from the get go. I binge listened to all episodes then went back and listened again-carefully taking notes. I scheduled a consult and the rest is history!
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?
Jenny- Pretty much all of the afternoon occupations and field work have been inconsistent at my house. I don’t want to neglect this part of the day, but we have such a full schedule with language study, ministry, a couple of kids’ extracurricular activities, not to mention the culture and language stress I still live with, so finding energy and time to get our afternoons organized has been challenging. I still feel like a newbie with CM, but I am taking baby steps and adding things in gradually. I have also been relistening to the podcast episodes regarding these afternoon occupations to get a better idea of what they are about.
Morgan- I think we struggle the most with French and drawing. I haven’t found a great solution yet other than to just keep trying. I am constantly challenged by the podcast to tweak little things here or there or to adjust my thinking in one area or another. I learn something new from them every week!
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?
Jenny- I would absolutely recommend an ADE consultation because what they offer is rather unique: first, the personalized consultation is an opportunity to talk one-on-one with a real person and an expert on Charlotte Mason philosophy and method. And they’re all so encouraging—what homeschooling mom doesn’t need that! There are so many wonderful pieces of a CM education (it is a “feast!”) that it is very difficult for someone who is new or struggling to implement a CM education to figure it out by oneself. You get a tailor-made curriculum, subject-by-subject. They take into consideration the ages and number of children you have and any unique circumstances you might be facing. Emily has brilliantly worked CM’s history streams and helps you understand how that works so that our children can all be studying the same time period which also involves artist and composer studies. And you can ask questions!! Secondly, the ADE ladies provide a wonderful weekly podcast focusing on different parts of CM method and philosophy. They really get deep into the philosophy, and I find that every time they explain each piece of a CM education, I find myself liberated from slavish and guiltridden tendencies. I also appreciate that with all of the “CM-style” or “CM + something else” offerings available on the internet and elsewhere, the ADE ladies are committed and diligent in their on-going study of CM, so you can trust that they are offering true CM advice to the best of their ability. The combination of the ADE personal consultation, the podcast AND thirdly, our lovely Charlotte Mason Soirée Facebook group, is all so Mason-esque… the help is given in such a living and life-giving way!
Morgan- Absolutely! I tell everyone about the podcast and the consultation and what a lifesaver they have been.
Tell me about something that impacted you during your conversation with Liz during the phone portion of the consultation.
Jenny- I was very touched by Liz’s willingness to schedule a phone appointment with me even though the time zone difference is quite difficult to schedule around. I found her so warm and personable, just like she is on the podcast. More than anything, I am so inspired by Liz. I could hear a noise in the background, some device I knew that she must have been taking notes with because of her blindness which she openly talks about on the podcast. Liz truly inspires me to not be paralyzed by challenges, and that a Charlotte Mason education is possible even with those challenges.
What did you appreciate most about how personalized the “curriculum” portion of the consultation was?
Morgan- I really appreciated how coordinated it all was and how easy it was for me to just order some books, read some ‘procedures’ (for lack of a better word), and move around those scheduling cards-which were also a Godsend!
If ADE is still offering them, why would you consider scheduling consultations for future years of homeschooling?
Jenny- As long as ADE provides them, I will continue to schedule consultations as my children get older. There are new subjects and skills as the Forms get higher that I am quite sure I will need help navigating. As much as I hope and plan to read CM’s volumes myself, I know I can’t wrap my mind around all of the philosophy and method with the time I have. The ADE ladies have studied Mason for many years, they love to share CM with others, and they have been such a support to me, so my attitude is, why wouldn’t I schedule more consultations in the future!
Morgan- I think I will always want to do a consultation. It just helps so much to keep me focused on CM’s methods and to not get distracted by that shiny thing over there. It also gives me confidence in the process and the direction of my homeschool. And it just takes a huge load off my shoulders!
This school year with CM has been the best one yet. My daughter still has health and learning issues, I still have 3 little ones running around destroying things, I am still not as consistent as I would like to be, and yet we are making so much progress and enjoying our days. I feel so much peace in my heart about it all and have had my confidence restored.
That concludes our A Chat with Some Soiréers. Once again, it is so very encouraging and uplifting to hear from other moms! What is something from this post that you can relate to? Leave a comment below and tell me!
Lots more posts are in the queue…more Chats with some regular mommas, posts about ideas for introverts, as well as extroverts, for starting your own community centered around Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and methodology, and more Chats with some CM celebrities. If you don’t want to miss any new posts, be sure to subscribe to the blog.