Scholé at Home Week 3


The illustration and quote above is from our Week 3 Fairy-tale reading from “The King of the Golden River,” by John Ruskin.  I’m reading from a lovely vintage copy printed in 1895, which makes the readings seem extra special.  It was my favorite reading this week, and it went a little something like this.  After South West Wind Esquire swept away in a whirlwind which tore off the roof and left the brothers in desolation, he kept his word by not returning to their plot ever again.  This meant that the south west wind never came to their property to help their crops, and soon enough their crops dried up.  In need of a new means of income the two wicked older brothers plotted a scheme to sell golden items, which they decided would not really be golden in truth, but brass would be mixed in so that they could make more money by defrauding their customers.  They obtained a furnace and the raw materials necessary and they began their new business.  It wasn’t very successful because the customers were not happy with the products and every time they made any money, instead of reinvesting in raw materials the brothers went straight to the bar and drank up all their earnings in alcohol.  They continued in this way until they were left with only one item of raw material left in their possession, which was a special mug given as a gift to the youngest righteous brother, Gluck.  It was a mug with a very strange but intriguing face carved into it.  One evening the two oldest wicked brothers went out drinking and commanded to the youngest brother to melt down his precious mug and make something to sell.  Since he wasn’t one to cross his brothers, he obeyed.  He put the mug in the furnace and as it melted he heard a strange voice.  When he poured the liquid metal out it formed into a little man with whispy golden hair like spun gold.  They had a little conversation and the man gave him a sort of blessing which went something like this, “Whoever pours 3 drops of holy water into the source of the river, to him it will become a River of Gold, but whoever pours unholy water into the source of the river will turn into a black rock.  There are no second chances.”  This was the end of our reading.  Next week we’ll see what happens.  I’m looking forward to knowing the outcome.

All in all week 3 was rich and delightful.  This week we engaged in Nature Walk & Journal Drawing, Gospel Readings according to the Orthodox Church Calendar, Christian Education, Latin, Greek, Poetry, Roman, British, and American History, Publicola – Plutarch, A Mid Summer Night’s Dream – Shakespeare, Peter Pan, as well as folk songs from the 1800’s, Schumann, Mary Cassatt, Recitation of Psalm 1, and Dictation.  It was a lovely feast of ideas.

Like the brothers from “The King of the Golden River,” we have rich soil and plenty of good things.  Let us be hospitable rather than uncharitable with the good gifts given from God.  I pray the Holy Spirit will guide us through Week 4.  Amen.

Scholé at Home, Week 2


Scholé at home this week went a little something like this.  In keeping with Charlotte Mason’s method, I’ll “tell it back,” as best as I can remember.

Each day this week we started with a short nature walk and the children made quick sketches of their nature findings in their journals.  We followed nature walks with Gospel readings for the day.  We used the Orthodox Study Bible and the Church Calendar for our reading assignments.  We got into a pattern of my oldest son reading the passage aloud for us.  We coupled copywork with this lesson, by having the children each select a sentence to copy from the reading.  I learned a little more about copywork later in the week that the goal is two perfectly formed lines without looking up and down every word or phrase, but trying to hold the whole sentence in your mind before copying it out.  I began instructing the children in this practice after learning about this lesson procedure.

After copywork we moved right into our Orthodox Christian studies.  We rotated through five different faith building subjects: Catechism, Saints Lives, Writings of Church Fathers, God/Self/Others, and Church History.  The books we are using are: Law of God, Saints of North America, Our Island Saints, and Lives of the Apostles, The Hexaemeron, Who is God? Who am I? Who are You?, and Heroes of Truth.  We read from one section of each on their given scheduled days, and the children narrated back what they could remember.  As the week went on I contemplated something I heard about “scaffolding” a lesson.  Though I don’t have that down yet, just thinking about it and starting a reading with a tiny background and review helped the children to tell back in more detail.  I’m going to read and listen to more about scaffolding when I get time so I can put that into practice more moving forward.

After Orthodox Christian studies we worked on Latin 3x and Greek 1x this week.  In Latin we wrote and memorized noun declensions, new vocabulary, and translated short sentences from Latin to English and English to Latin.  In Greek we worked on the alphabet and the sounds of the alphabet.

Our history studies consisted of Roman, British, and American History.  Roman History was a struggle this week and last week.  The book I tried in week 1 wasn’t reading smoothly as a read aloud and neither was the book I tried this week.  The narrations I got sounded something like, “There was a dude, and yeah, that’s all I can remember.”  I wanted to use a book I already had because I bought so many books and I already had several Roman History books, but after two weeks of very awkward Roman History lessons I decided I should buy the book which was recommended to me by the ladies at A Delectable Education, Dorothy Mills’ The Book of the Ancient Romans with the Memoria Press study guide so I can do scaffolding.  I’ll implement this in week 4 after everything arrives.

We covered two time periods of British History: ancient and 19th century.  We learned about ancient Alba and Brutus naming the place Britain and about Richard Arkwright and how through much toil and hardship, especially when his own wife smashed his work to pieces, he went from a hairdresser to a wig maker to an inventor of a cloth weaving machine.

In Citizenship we considered the role of the President, how it has changed through the years and how technology and inventions have contributed to the changes in job description that the President executes on a daily basis.

We got a taste for Tennyson’s poetry and noticed that he enjoys themes of fantasy creatures and dark ideas like murder.  I thought there might be some historical connection to his poem about a murder but I couldn’t connect the dots, not having recognized the story.

We listened to Schumann’s piano pieces and noticed the fanciful style.  Some of his music seemed familiar, like perhaps it was used in old Disney movies or it’s played at Disneyland over the speaker.

We enjoyed a picture by Mary Cassatt. This one had a woman sitting in a chair with a child around the age of two or three hanging on her lap.  The woman was working on a cloth, sewing I think.  The colors were light and cheerful.  The woman’s dress was striped and pretty but not too fancy.  Her hair was in a loose bun.  She had solid and soft facial features and the child was very healthy looking.  They seemed peaceful.

For Literature I read a chapter in Peter and Wendy.  In this chapter, if I’m remembering correctly, Wendy’s mom notices leaves and footsteps in the nursery and she has a hard time believing Peter came in.  But when she fell asleep in the room and woke up she saw him there with Tinkerbell.

I also read Chapter 1 from a fairy tale book called The King of the Golden River.  In the story there were three brothers.  The two older brothers were wicked and the youngest brother sweet, generous, and kind.  The older brothers abused him with insults and hard work, while the youngest brother’s attitude remained positive.  They owned a farm which was very prosperous but they never shared and they sold their goods for high prices.  They were very rich and wicked with their riches.  One day a strange man came to the door while the two wicked brothers were away, drinking at the bar I think.  The youngest brother didn’t want to let the man in, but he kept begging to come in because he was cold and wet.  The boy finally let him in but he said that he couldn’t stay long or his brothers would kill him.  The strange man convinced him to give him some food and he stayed so long that the brothers came home to find him there.  They were extremely rude to him.  The strange man finally left but with a message that he would never come back because they were so ugly to him.  He left with a big rushing wind that tore off the roof and ruined all their possessions and he left his business card on the table, “South West Wind Esquire,” was written on the card with long, swift, curly writing.

I also did Dictation with the children and learned that we could be doing this together, so I might change this up next week, or I might keep it the same because the kids each like different books to dictate from.  Surprisingly the children have really liked these lessons, especially our daughter.

Everyday the children recited aloud from The Psalter.  We worked up to three verses this week.  I haven’t added poetry or Shakespeare yet, but I plan to before too long.

We attended Divine Liturgy on the occasion of the Feast of St. Innocent on Thursday which replaced our morning lessons.  The hymn we sang in honor of St. Innocent concludes with this proclamation, “the Lord truly guides a man in the way he should go.”  Doesn’t this speak right to the heart of scholé at home?  Not only does the Lord truly guide the mother and father to administer scholé at home, but the Lord truly guides the hearts and minds of each child in the homeschool in the way that he should go, if we leave room.  Principle 20 of Charlotte Mason’s “A Short Synopsis” says, “We allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and the ‘spiritual’ life of children, but teach them that the Divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their continual Helper in all the interests, duties and joys of life.”

St. Innocent was a unique missionary sent from Russia to the native people of Alaska.  The reason I say “unique” was because he ministered to the native people where they were at.  He didn’t expect them to convert to “Russian” Christianity or any other ethnic Christianity.  He brought Christ to them, not trying to change their native ways, and he taught them the Gospel in their own tongue.  He created an alphabet for the Aleut people, because they didn’t have one, and translated the Gospels and the services in the Aleut native language.  Years later, when the U.S. purchased Alaska, he wasn’t dismayed.  Instead he foretold that this would allow Orthodox Christianity to move into the lower 49 and that some day the Orthodox Divine Liturgy would be sung in English, in the states.  I was present in this very service, foretold by St. Innocent, as we sang the Divine Liturgy in English by my English speaking priest and our choir and lay people.  It was beautiful.

The focus of scholé, restful learning about the most important things in life: truth, goodness, and beauty culminates in the faith we live out day to day as we worship Christ, glorified in His creation, in His Saints, and in our daily lives as we are guided in the way that we should go, by the grace of God.

*Maple Leaf & Seed painted by me, Jennifer Bascom.  May not be used without permission.

Edited to add: Afternoons consisted of narrations of previous afternoon lessons and independent lessons of math, science, biography, literature and historical fiction reading, current events, composition, handicrafts, physical fitness, and afternoon leisure activities.

Scholé at Home Week 1


It’s the Thursday night of our first week of scholé at home with the Charlotte Mason method and I want to share with you what our week was like and how I’m feeling about the journey toward living Philippians 4:8* and John 14:27** in our home. First I’ll share how I feel. I’m feeling unworthy of this much beauty, truth, and goodness. I’m finding myself “declempt” with emotion when I think about everything we’ve done together and that the kids have done independently. Please don’t take this post as a brag-a-thon. I want to share it in a spirit of humility and honesty that I never thought this was possible for our family.  I’m a working mom, and I’ve always thought of myself as a “lesser” homeschooler because I own a business that needs me nearly as much as four kids and my husband need me.  I think I’ll always consider myself lesser, and that’s a good thing. I’m thankful it’s the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth. (Grant it oh Lord.) I never thought this much beauty was possible in my circumstances. I’ve been in a constant state of gratitude that it’s really happening. What I’ve secretly wished in unspoken (because it seemed too much to ask outright) prayers is coming to pass in our home.  Here is what this stage of the journey looked like this week:

Together Time from 9-11:20ish: Nature Walk & Draw, Bible, Copywork, Law of God/Saints/Church Fathers, Latin/Greek, Poetry, Roman History/Plutarch/Am. History/Art Appreciation/Literature, Folksongs, Recitation, Dictation.  (Slashes indicate that we did a loop or rotation M-Th.)

After Together Time and lunch, I had Individual Time 12:00-1:00ish with each of my (3) homeschooled children ages 13, 12, and 9 (my oldest is in Aviation School). During Individual Time we discussed what was done the previous day (Tu-Th) and I listened to narrations, read written work and I explained the lesson plans for the afternoon. I also worked with my youngest doing trade-off reading and Tummy Time lessons.

After Individual Time the children completed their Independent Time lessons. I devised a system to organize their independent work so that it encourages personal ownership of the lessons. (I’ll share my system with pictures in my next post.) Independent Time consisted of lessons in Natural History, Composition, British History Biography, American History Biography, Geography Reading (travel story), Literature Novel, Historical Fiction, Current Events, Musical Instrument Practice, Physical Fitness, Clean-Up Time, Handicraft, and Afternoon Leisure allowable activities until 5:30. Some of these are every day and some are on a rotation.

It seems impossible to me that we did all of this and it was peaceful and restful. There are a few lessons that will be added as well, as some of our books arrived this week, and there are still a few more to come. I have to give thanks to Charlotte Mason for her method and A Delectable Education for the custom curriculum they created for us. I highly recommend a consultation with them if help is needed in pulling together a Charlotte Mason education for your family. I’m also thankful for a system of organization, my husband who fully supports us with encouragement and time to devote to homeschooling, and our children who are joyful, delightful, and eager.

This journey so far is full of Gratitude.

In my next post I’ll share my system of organization for scholé at home with the Charlotte Mason method. Please subscribe.

* “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

** “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Scholé at Home, a Journey (Part 2)

By August 17th I still had not begun to plan.  With the help of a chit chat with Ashley Woleben of Between the Linens, I made a list of what I wanted my kids to engage in this year.  My list included things like: watercolor, Gospel reading with commonplace book, memorize poetry, art and music appreciation with the masters, Church history, memorize a Psalm or two, memorize some Gospel passages, memorize a few hymns, learn some Saints lives, know some Latin and Greek, know some stories from the countries of the world, hear some nature lore, hear and read some great pieces of literature, learn some Orthodox doctrine, learn and memorize some Shakespeare, know some of Plutarch’s Lives, experience some close reading, know some Roman history, begin a Book of Centuries, nature walks, and close nature observation with a microscope.  This was my list on TOP of the subjects I obligated myself to by enrolling my middle school kids in Classical Conversations Challenge A. Now, how was I going to schedule all of this and keep it scholé?  I was frozen.

Two weeks later we had our first Classical Conversations Challenge A community meeting.  At 8:15 AM, Latin was first.  After the Latin strand I was like, “AWESOME!  This is what I’m talking about.  I love this!”  Then came Geography and I was like, “Oh, I’m getting tired…Press on.”  Then came Lost Tools of Writing and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to collapse, die even!”  Then I got called out to work.  Very much relieved for the break from heavy duty lesson engagement, I left to go on some deliveries.  I got back in time to pick up the kids at 3:30.  They were spent, beyond drained, even pale and my daughter was already panicking that she wouldn’t be able to get all the homework done.  I reassured the kids that I was the teacher and that I was going to modify the lessons to suit our homeschool goals.  We got back to the shop and my son was really grumpy.  He was embarrassed that he gave the teacher a rude comment in class about the homework.  I called him out to the lawn in front of our print shop to talk to him.  He was all grumpy faced and defensive.  I asked him, “Tell me the truth, what did you think?”  He said something to the effect of, “Do you really want to know what I think?”  (Is he my kid or what?)  I reassured him that I really wanted to know what he thought.  He told me, “I think they ruthlessly pile on the work.”  Ouch! That hurt because I’ve been on this quest for scholé all spring and summer and that was not the description I had in mind when seeking after scholé, and I had my own list of subjects to “ruthlessly” pile on.  I reassured him that we were all about restful learning and that I would figure this out. He was happy, but I was secretly concerned.

My first implementation of scholé at home was to attend the Nativity of the Theotokos church service, instead of CC community day.  Instead of the 6 strands of subjects we would worship God and take communion, and celebrate the birth of the Mother of God.  That seemed like the epitome of scholé, attending Divine Liturgy.  Our first day of official scholé learning looked something like this: at 9:00 we had morning Together Time: nature walk, watercolor technique, read and commonplace the Gospel for the day.  We dug into our Latin for about 20 minutes.  Next, I taught the kids how to do a graphite rubbing and we transferred the Canada map from the guide onto nice drawing paper.  (This method was inspired by a post I saw on Facebook of the maps students used to make in the 1800’s, very detailed and very beautiful.) Then I had the children get out their planners and write down everything else they had to do for the day: Math, Lost Tools of Writing, Science Research, and Reading.  Again, I was secretly concerned.

For the rest of the day and on Saturday I couldn’t stop thinking about the uphill battle this would be to make the Challenge program, plus all the things I wanted to cover with the kids work in a scholé way.  I was feeling extremely pressured and full of anxiety.  Friday night I had a talk with my husband, Saturday afternoon I went to Flaming Geyser State Park to think next to the running river.  In the evening I had confession and a talk with my priest, and after that I decided I should unenroll the kids from the Challenge program.  After Divine Liturgy on Sunday I spent the afternoon drafting the letter to our Director.  In my vain imagination I thought I could do everything: a rich Together Time with 20+ subjects, customize the Challenge program to our needs, run a business and the usual life responsibilities, and keep it restful.  After some sober thought I realized that I didn’t have peaceful and restful learning at the top of my priorities, and after everything I learned this spring and summer I was slipping into doing the opposite. I realized that what I really wanted when I wrote out my wish list resembled more of a Charlotte Mason education. Once I began to realize this, my thoughts became clearer and the vision of scholé at home came into focus.  I decided we were going to follow the Charlotte Mason method.

In the middle of the scholé data input whirlwind I asked my oldest daughter what her favorite book from her homeschool years was. She said one really stood out, and it was Granny’s Wonderful Chair.  That was the book I used for dictation the year we used the Charlotte Mason method, 8 years ago!  After all these years I found myself back again with Charlotte Mason and her beautiful method full of truth, goodness, and beauty.

I’m tempted to second guess and feel anxiety about this decision, but instead I remember something that Fr. John, my priest, shared at the Homeschooling from Rest retreat.  He said that when we find ourselves full of anxiety, give thanks. So, that is what I’m going to do.  Even though it was a tough lesson, I thank God that I enrolled and then unenrolled in CC.  I’m thankful that our CC Director was so gracious and kind in her interactions with me during all my angst.  Interacting with her has been a truly human experience.  I thank God that I have this time with my children to dine on the feast of learning ahead of us.  I thank God for my husband and his support.  I’m thankful for my children’s gracious responses and their understanding as we journey toward scholé.  I thank God for all of the wonderful educators I’ve engaged with this spring and summer in my whirlwind of scholé data input.  I’m thankful for Sarah Mackenzie and that she wrote Teaching from Rest, and that Classical Academic Press made it available to all of us.  I’m thankful for the mom who left a copy on the giveaway table at CC Burien so that I could pick it up, read it, and be led on a journey to scholé.  I’m thankful for my friend Lynn, who is my favorite person to jump homeschool ideas off of, and she’s so practical and thinks of EVERYTHING!  I’m thankful for the ladies who have shared and contended with me through the events I hosted.  Most of all I thank the Holy Spirit that my children and my husband and I may be guided into all truth.

I plan on blogging my experience with scholé at home using the Charlotte Mason method.  I welcome and hope for feedback and comments from my scholé sisters and brothers.  Come on this journey with me.  We may be using different methods and practices in our home, but we can learn from each other and be encouraged.  We don’t have to feel lonely.  We can do this together.

In my next post I will explain how I planned, scheduled, and organized our Charlotte Mason scholé at home lessons and materials.

Scholé at Home, a Journey (Part 1)

Since reading Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie, I’ve been living in a self inflicted whirlwind of scholé data input.  It’s the way I normally respond to something that really clicks.  I remember when I responded like this when I encountered the ancient faith of Orthodox Christianity.  I dove in strong and deep and swam around in a sea of Church Fathers, Church history, Christological theology, Saints lives, and ancient Bible commentary until my head hurt.

You may be asking, what exactly is a self inflicted whirlwind of scholé data input?  It all started after reading the book Teaching from Rest.  I was so excited to see on paper what had already been written on my heart for years, that whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy, think on these things.  I couldn’t just stop there with a beautiful encounter of truth and take a rest as the book and the Good Book both encourage me to do, I had to know more, dig deeper, see what others were saying, engage further with this idea. For better or worse, that’s just what I did.

I looked up Scholé Groups, because it was mentioned in the back of her book.  I discovered that there were co-op groups popping up all over the U.S. where homeschoolers were getting together to do scholé (restful learning).  “Maybe I could start one,” the little voice in my head whispered. I discovered that there were Scholé Sister groups where moms were doing scholé together, and of course I had to start one of those, Scholé in Seattle (name credit goes to Lynn Wilcox, who is my clever and fun brainstorm partner).

Then I had a hairbrained idea, “What if I could host a retreat?  What homeschool mom doesn’t want to get away for a restful retreat of learning?  I could call it Homeschooling from Rest!” Somehow I discovered Jennifer Dow with Expanding Wisdom and incredibly she agreed to come all the way out from North Carolina to share some practical ways to homeschool from rest.  Had I ever hosted a women’s event before?  Nope.  Did I know what I was doing?  Nope.  Was I crazy?  Yep.  Amazingly, we had 50 ladies attend, and generous donations from companies like: Classical Academic PressThe Well Trained Mind Press, Memoria Press, Simply Charlotte Mason, Veritas Press, IEW, Ed Snap Shots, Expanding Wisdom, Catherine’s Pascha, Usborne Books, and official sponsorship from Scholé Groups and my parish Holy Resurrection, and we left there swimming with ideas about scholé.  Was I done?  Nope.

I joined an online group hosted by Jennifer Mackintosh of Wildflowers and Marbles to discuss CiRCE‘s new video series with Andrew Kern and Matt Bianco, Restful Teaching.  I watched and listened to each video several times, and discussed them with the group’s lovely ladies through video chat.  You’d think I would be done after this…nope.  In truly restless fashion, I was just getting started. I wanted to do another retreat, this time a smaller event.  In thinking about who to ask to come and speak, I couldn’t stop thinking about Heidi Scovel of Mt. Hope Chronicles.  So, I contacted her to pitch this idea.  She agreed to come out and speak from her heart about everything she had learned on her journey toward scholé.  We decided to title the mini-retreat Truth, Goodness and Beauty: From Principle to Practice.  “Perfect!  That’s what I need.  I need to get from Principle to Practice!  Awesome!”  Somewhere in here before the TGB retreat I became a Retreat Consultant for Scholé Groups, and Truth, Goodness, and Beauty became our first official Scholé Retreat.  Then we had a follow-up discussion on Facebook, Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  “Hey Jen, are you done yet?” my inner self was asking, and my husband was hoping.  Nope.

I proceeded to listen to every podcast, read every blog, engross myself in every discussion I could get my eyes, ears, or mouth engaged in.  Some of those included, and in no particular order before, between, or after these events: The Liturgical Classroom with Jenny Rallens, The Mason Jar with Cindy Rollins, From Ancients to Zoology Master Class with Sarah Mackenzie and Pam Barnhill, various videos and podcasts with Dr. Christopher Perrin, Andrew Kern, Matt Bianco, Pam Barnhill, and Sarah Mackenzie.  Around the 4th of July we took a trip to Grants Pass, Oregon, and I listened to Charlotte Mason’s Volume 1 on audio on the way down.  On the way up I listened to as many episodes as I could fit in from the podcast, A Delectable Education.  In the meantime mixed in there I was reading Dante’s Inferno and discussing with Jennifer Dow on her Expanding Wisdom discussion group, and I was watching Wesley Callihan on Roman Roads Media “Epics” video series, and I was reading Homer (well, the children’s version by Padraic Colum – to my kids during Together Time).  What else?  Oh there’s more.  On August 14th I wrote this Facebook post: I feasted to gorging.  (Please hop over and read it.  There are some fascinating insights.)  Additionally, I hosted a Lost Tools of Writing workshop with Matt Bianco.  Somewhere in there, I posted about my homeschool planning freeze.  Andrew Kern and Jennifer Mackintosh encouraged me to slow down, stop even (Eek!) the scholé data input whirlwind.  I obeyed, for a little while, and my mind and heart began to settle down.  There were several confessions with my priest mixed in there, which always help to settle down my spirit.

To read where this all ended up and follow my journey to scholé at home, continue on to Part 2.




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