{Home Ed} Introducing Charlotte

Introducing Charlotte | The Open Home

Since we started home educating Blossom two and a half years ago, six families have been in contact with me directly to discuss the possibility of home educating their little one(s) at home on this island, not to mention the countless others I have spoken with online via a Facebook group for home educators in Guernsey.

They usually start by asking me what do we do and are then very eager to know what we use to do it.

This line of thought often has people bogged down in the “how to” of home educating, most often before they have even given much thought as to the “why” of home educating.

I personally feel it’s important to understand why you want to home educate your kids before you start planning how to home educate them and unfortunately, I’m often not much help when it comes to the “how to” of home educating, especially not when someone is after a curriculum suggestion, as we do not follow the national curriculum nor a box set of curriculum.

What I do follow however, is an educational philosophy.

Introducing Charlotte | The Open Home

Now if a curriculum is the “how to” of an education then an educational philosophy is the “why”. It’s the guiding principle that keeps the big picture in mind and the reference point for all learning.

This is why when prospective home educators are seeking advice on how to home educate their kids I like to encourage them to first take some time to think about why they want to home educate their kids. I find researching the various educational philosophies can really help with this, enabling you to identify the educational values and methods that aren’t always used in schools, but are important to you.

Now there are many educational philosophies out there and not everyone that home educates chooses to follow one and many even glean ideas from a few. Waldorf Steiner, Montessori, Classical, Charlotte Mason and Un-schooling seem to be the most popular ones, but there are others and I’m not going to go into the details of all of these here as I do not follow them all.

Instead today I would just like to introduce you to Charlotte Mason, the creator of the one educational philosophy that I do follow.

Introducing Charlotte | The Open Home

Now Charlotte Mason was a British educator who lived in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. As a child she was mostly educated at home by her parents and then as an adult went on to become a teacher, lecturer and educator who authored many books on the topic of educational theory. She also co-founded an organisation, the Parents Educational Union later renamed the Parents National Education Union, or the PNEU for short which offered support and resources to parents who were educating their children at home.

As her theory of education became popular the first school based on her principles was opened in 1890 and there are still a few PNEU private schools operating in the UK today, not to mention thousands of home educators worldwide choosing to educate their children the Charlotte Mason way.

Now I won’t go into all the principles of a Charlotte Mason education here nor will I share in detail about all of her wonderful methods, which appeal to so many. I will save that for a later post as this one is already getting rather long. Today I just wanted to briefly introduce you to Charlotte, to put her on your radar and then in my later home ed posts I can unpack the philosophy a little more.

Personally I have found following an educational philosophy, particularly the Charlotte Mason philosophy to be very grounding and affirming in my journey as a home educator. It’s enabled me to better understand my educational values, to keep focused on what I’m trying to achieve in our homeschool and it gives me greater freedom when making decisions as I have some guiding principles to come back to.

So in conclusion today I would just like to briefly sum up, in my own words what the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education looks like. I’m sure that other home educators would explain it very differently, as different aspects of the philosophy may appeal to them more, but for those who are unsure of some of the traits of a Charlotte Mason education then these are the elements that drew me to the philosophy.

Here we go:

“The Charlotte Mason philosophy of education is also known as the gentle art of learning. It provides an education rich in the liberal arts offering a wide variety of subjects that educate the whole child, not just his mind. There is a focus on forming good habits, gaining life skills, spending time outdoors and using quality children’s literature, with short formal lessons being delayed until a child is around 6 years old.”

Introducing Charlotte | The Open Home

So in my next Charlotte Mason post I’ll share more about how we implement the Charlotte Mason philosophy in our homeschool, mentioning some of the main methods she used that have now become some of the key characteristics of a Charlotte Mason homeschool education.

So tell me, what are your questions about a Charlotte Mason education?

{Winter Nature Study}

Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home

“Why be indoors when you can rightly be without.” – Charlotte Mason

Each week we kickstart our homeschool week with Nature Explorers on a Monday morning and it’s always one of the highlights of our week. As a group we’re using Exploring Nature with Children as a guide and I also use this curriculum at home to inspire my library withdrawals and craft activities.

This term we’ve braved the cold winds on our nature walks, we’ve got our hands dirty as we dug for worms and we’ve got technical as we measured the age of trees. We took a closer look at the winter sky and moon and also revisited the tree we chose back in autumn.

We even started a Calendar of Firsts and a Phenology Wheel in our nature journals and ended the season with a rare Guernsey snow day!

Here are some of the snap shots:

Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Watching the sea foam frolic in the wild winter wind!
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Rock pooling in the winter is a favourite nature activity of ours.
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Dramatic winter skies are best observed down on the beach.
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Winter pond study with early daffodils at Silbe Nature Reserve.
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Trudging through the beautifully muddy St. Peters countryside.
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
Mother-Daughter nature journaling in action.
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
The first sign of Spring, Candlemas Bells, more commonly known as Snowdrops.
Winter Nature Study 2018 | The Open Home
First snow day!

What do you enjoy most about nature this Winter?

Our Flexible Learning Lifestyle

Our Flexible Learning Lifestyle | The Open Home

Well if you hadn’t quite clued on to the fact that we are home educating our girls then this post will hopefully say it loud and clear.

WE ARE HOME EDUCATING!

Have been since October 2017 and I’m pleased to say that so far, so good we all seem to be enjoying our new flexible learning lifestyle (as I like to call it).

You may or may not be surprised to hear that home educating is becoming more and more popular in Britain as families for various different reasons decide to educate their children outside of the traditional school system. Living on a small island the home ed community here is of course small, but very much alive and growing.

Our Flexible Learning Lifestyle | The Open Home

I am aware though, that for many of my friends and readers on the island we are in fact the first home educating family that you actually know so many of you of course, have questions about what we do, what’s allowed and whether or not we are crazy. The latter of which is still open to debate.

Snippets of our home educating lifestyle have and will continue to creep into my Daughter Diaries and Gratitude Journal posts from time to time, but I thought I would occasionally do some home ed specific posts to help you understand it all a little more.

I’ve actually been really surprised by the genuine interest and encouragement that has been coming my way. I guess I was mainly expecting blank and confused expressions, tinged with a side of judgement, which I admit I do get from time to time, but I’m pleased to report that the response has been mostly positive.

Our Flexible Learning Lifestyle | The Open Home

Before I share more posts about our home ed lifestyle let me first disclose that I am by no means an expert and this is not a homeschool “how-to” blog. There are many veteran homeschoolers out there with a wealth of information and flashy websites with affiliate links to go with it. I’m not planning to go too deep and wide with my blog posts here, but rather just give you a glimpse into what “school” looks like for us on this tiny island and what led us to home educate in the first place.

My hope is that by sharing a little about our learning lifestyle here that my readers will come to understand two things about home education. Firstly, that it can be a wonderfully enriching educational choice for many families and secondly, that not all homeschoolers are unsociable, tree-hugging, school-hating weirdos – although I’m sure some of us are!

If you have any questions in regard to home educating, particularly on a small island like Guernsey then please leave your questions in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer them in future posts.

What would you like to know about home educating on a small island?

{Autumn Nature Study}

Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home

“Why be indoors when you can rightly be without.” – Charlotte Mason

A big part of my girls education involves time outdoors and nature study. We love this aspect of our learning lifestyle as it’s something that all the family gets involved with.

We use Exploring Nature with Children as a guide both at home and with our weekly Nature Explorers group.

This term we’ve taken a closer look at autumn leaves, fungus, moss and lichen and we even picked out our very own tree to study throughout the academic year.

Here are some of the snap shots:

Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Conkering is still our favourite autumn activity.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Mild autumns call for lunch outdoors.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
One of favourite parks for nature walks.
Autumn Homeschool 2017 | The Open Home
A Japanese Maple fairy inspired by the wonderful works of Cecily Mary Barker.
The Open Home 893
Autumn Tree Study. Blossom picked this beauty…
Autumn Homeschool 2017 | The Open Home
… and mama picked this one.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Collecting leaves to paint and print.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
This moss and lichen covered tree kept us enthralled for a while.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
The girls are now very apt and spotting even the tiniest of mushrooms!
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Impressive fungi we discovered on a recent nature walk.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
PE the homeschool way with wellies on our feet and the wind in our hair.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Leaf confetti never gets old.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Our favourite nature treasures remain on display for further exploration.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Nature journaling goes hand-in-hand with nature study.
Autumn Nature Study 2017 | The Open Home
Getting creative with nature.

What do you enjoy most about nature this Autumn?