Monday, February 9, 2015

Book Review: Charlotte Mason Companion

A kind friend who had homeschooled her children gave me a stupendous book. Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning, by Karen Andreola, is a book that I’d heard of, but I don’t think I would have read it if it hadn’t been given to me. I’d read two of Charlotte Mason’s books (Home Education and School Education) and didn’t think I’d find anything new or interesting in someone’s rehash of her philosophy.
But I was wrong. This book was great! It wasn’t a rehash at all. Andreola wrote about how she had implemented Mason’s philosophy, what they had gained from it and how it had affected their homeschool, as well as adding her own thoughts and personal insights.
I’d read this book after teaching Little Pink Girl her letters using a combination of Mason and Montessori. But I was fascinated to read that Andreola had done a very similar thing. At that point I knew we must be kindred spirits.
Although Andreola is not of the same faith I am, I find that she believes many of the same things I do. In her chapter on Greek Myth, she talks about how the Greeks lived the truths they knew, and so God gave them more. All good and truth comes from God, and they seemed to have a lot, especially at first. She explains that they did originally believe in one God who had created everything. And she believes that children can benefit from the truth that they did have. Does this sound familiar?
I also love her thoughts on narration. I, too, have thought that when a child narrates back to you what they have read, that they have to make it their own. They have to integrate it into their thinking, and therefore they really learn.
I wasn’t so sure about the chapter on hero worship. I’ll have to think on that one.
Reading her chapters on nature study convinced me that we can use it for science for kindergarten through 4th grade. I didn’t realize what you could do with nature study. You can use star gazing, rock collecting and zoo trips! I also believe that when children form “relations” with things around them, and they are used to watching certain phenomena in nature, that they will make connections when studying out of a textbook that are amazing. The stuff in the book will come alive in their minds.
Andreola also gives lots of ideas for books to read and activities to complete. She also has some good suggestions for picture study.
Do you use Charlotte Mason’s ideas in your homeschool? Why?

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