Today’s Chat is with a kind and gentle soul. She has homeschooled her two boys for many years and has delved deeply into Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and methodology. She shares her knowledge and wisdom through writing books and speaking at Charlotte Mason retreats and conferences. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet her in February at the In a Large Room Retreat. I admit I was a little starstruck to be able to sit on the front row of one of her workshops, but then after we all hung out for a bit in the lobby of the hotel that evening, I was not surprised to find that she, like all of the other Charlotte Mason Influencers I’ve met, was so down to earth and personable. After reading this Chat, you will probably come to the same conclusion! I’m very happy to introduce to you Richele Baburina, a Charlotte Mason math mom!
Thanks so much, Richele, for taking the time to chat with me! We would love to hear what was the journey that led you to meeting Charlotte Mason?
I had gone back to school while my twin sister was a mother, wife and owner of a cafe. Whenever visiting, I would pick up whatever literature happened to be on the side table and one day that was Karen Andreola’s “A Charlotte Mason Companion.” My nephew was attending a Montessori school at the time which also fascinated me. We had some great discussions about the differing philosophies and my sister’s eventual call to home educate her children. The next things that appeared on my sister’s shelves were Mason’s “Original Homeschooling Series” and the “Parents’ Review Magazine” which the Andreola’s published from 1991-1996. Though I had no children of my own, I was hooked on the wisdom of Charlotte Mason. At some point my sister got me my own set of Mason’s Homeschooling Series. I’m sure it was equally because she loved me and was tired of me taking her own volumes.
I’ve had the privilege to meet both you and your husband at the In a Large Room Retreat this past February. My husband is American/Italian but grew up in South America, and we’ve had lots of interesting things to work out in our marriage due to this. We have also had some unique advantages. What are some of the unique things that you have learned by being married to someone who did not grow up in the U.S. and what are some of the challenges you have worked through together?
“Unique advantages” is quite a diplomatic term, Bridgett. Combining family cultures through marriage is one thing but add to that mix the highly contrasting cultures of Russia and America and there is never.a.dull.moment. Everything can be looked on as an adventure –from parenting to cooking to understanding the rules of baseball– everything is different. One of the many things I apprize about my husband is that, as an immigrant, he does not take our constitutional rights for granted. He appreciates that he lives in a country where his voice can be heard; therefore, he is an involved citizen.
We intentionally chose to speak Russian in our home and, although our formal school lessons are mainly in English, both our children are fluent in Russian. When my boys were babies, it felt unnatural to speak to them in a foreign language but when my in-laws moved in with us a few years later I was so thankful we put forth the effort. Before marriage my Russian-language experience was of either a technical or literary nature, so our kids have had to teach me things like the names of insects and nautical terms which they have learned from their father.
We so enjoyed meeting you at the retreat and appreciated your Southern hospitality in the Northeast (read: inviting us to your killer party).
Of course, y’all are invited to the killer party! Speaking of growing up, tell me what was your favorite thing about having a twin sister?
It was loads of fun to have a built-in playfellow and best friend both then and now.
Both you and your sister are educating your children using the Charlotte Mason method. Do you do any planning together?
We both plan and coordinate a number of the books we use by subject so our children are able to feast together; albeit a few thousand miles apart.
How long did the last load of laundry sit in your dryer before taking it out?
And I thought the marriage question was getting personal! I have this trait –and I am unsure if it comes from having served in the military or was always a part of my personality– but I do not even do a load of laundry until I have worked out the logistics of the entire undertaking in my head. Thus, laundry does not sit in the dryer around here. Please understand that it may sit in the hamper at length while awaiting full and swift execution of Operation Laundry.
Oh my goodness you CRACK. ME. UP. Haha!
You’ve posted a couple of pictures on the Charlotte Mason Math Together Facebook group of your beautiful, WiFi-free mountainside home. Tell me about how you and your husband came to make the decision to live there and what has been the most rewarding thing your family has experienced from this decision?
Thank you, Bridgett. This move was a huge decision for us as we were living in a c. 1850 New England farmhouse with plenty of elbow room and outbuildings when the opportunity arose to purchase the photo preservation business that had originally brought our family East. We knew it would be a stretch to maintain both physically and financially so we chose to downsize to what had originally been a retreat home built in the early 1970’s. In the words of Emily Dickinson, the home’s diminutive size has allowed us to “dwell in Possibility”.
Not only are you a Charlotte Mason homeschooling momma, you are also the author of the only resource I have found available that is Charlotte Mason’s way of teaching math, Mathematics: An Instrument for Living Teaching. What led you to research, and read, and study, and research some more in order to write this book?
First, let me tell your readers that you were quite thorough in your own questions to me regarding math before Soirée even existed. Your tenacity should not be underestimated, and I appreciate the thought and care you put into your decision to make changes.
When I saw we were experiencing the rewards of a Mason education in every area except mathematics I knew I had either misunderstood or had been misinformed on what “Charlotte Mason math” really is. When I began to dig deep I realized how “off” the perceptions are surrounding what Mason really thought of math while discovering just how beautifully her living teaching of it dovetails with so many other areas of study, including; geography, reading lessons, history charts, and handicraft just to name a few.
Mason not only told us her methods rest firmly upon her principles but they are such as to invite the Holy Spirit into each lesson. My hope is that children and educators would experience the joy and lifting of their hearts to the Lord to which Mason refers when brought into the presence of absolute truth.
Tell me about a book you’ve read within the last year or so and what you liked most about it.
Last spring I did a buddy read along with my sister and Nancy Kelly of the historical fiction “Silence” by Shusaku Endo. This book is devastating in its beauty and awakened me to how small my own thoughts are regarding the qualities and dimensions of both sin and God’s grace. We followed this with Makoto Fujimura’s “Silence and Beauty” which deepened my appreciation of Japanese culture, art, and the book’s terrible beauty.
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color are you and why?
Midnight blue. When I first received that coveted box of 64 Crayolas at seven years of age it became my favorite and remains so to this day. Recently I read in a letter from Charlotte Mason to her dear friend, Netta Franklin, “Do humans ever grow up? Or are we always children?”
Answers © 2017 Richele Baburina
I believe my house would benefit greatly from a slightly more “full and swift execution of Operation Laundry” approach haha! Love that!
And I am so thankful for her diligent work on bringing to light Charlotte Mason’s methods of teaching math. If you haven’t already bought your Charlotte Mason math resource, you can find it here.