Hi I have twin 14 year old daughters who I am now home schooling after having removed them from Public School. I am very attracted to using the Charlotte Mason method, but don’t find much info on teaching teens. I will say they are excellent readers, and we read excellent literature as a matter of course in our family, I have never appreciated twaddle. I would like them to narrate verbally and in writing however they have no experience of this and I am not sure how to start. I loathe the idea of using study guides and things for literature as I think it can lead to a total dislike of reading, so narration seems to fit the bill. My other big concern is science – how do I make sure they have a good science education – we looked at [something] but it was too text book for them and they did not find it appealing – however we are doing an Equine Science text book as my daughters have a great interest in horses and one of them wants to be a competitive rider and instructor when she is older. I want them to be well rounded and I feel somewhat pressured that as I am starting late, I cannot afford too many mistakes. I have to say that in all the years the girls were in public school they seldom had science or history, so those subjects are pretty new to them – also I have found math is sadly behind, so we will work on fixing that with a few good math books. I also wonder how you document this learning and then prepare it for a transcript – it is all a little baffling to me. I would really appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks in advance, L L
Wow, that is a lot of questions. Laugh. First of all I don’t intend to sound as if I’m a salesman for my book but….in my second book “More Charlotte Mason Education” I wrote everything I could ever think of about high school CM education in the high school chapter. That chapter will help you, I can tell by your questions. This book is in the library system, ask for a inter-library loan and read that high school chapter.
In the meanwhile I understand what you mean when you speak of not wanting to make mistakes. I understand completely because these next few years are going to fly by for you, and the teenage years will soon be over. You are off to a good start because you already avoid twaddle.
Narration and the older child is no different than with younger children. If they are inexperienced with “how” to do it then they have to learn through practice. Start with smaller quantities of reading material and make sure it is straight forward material and ask them to tell you what it said. If the twins are not excelling at that then try “catching” them at narration. In other words if they run into the kitchen and start telling you all about some documentary or phone call or event congratulate them on a great narration when they are done. Also, narrate for them on occasion. Read something and then just tell them it seems like your turn. Then narrate the material briefly, skim across the high points and make it look easy!! That will show them that it is not that difficult of a task.
Okay, the science question. I am asked this all the time for the older grades. First of all if either of them is going to be a scientist you would probably know that by now. They would be the kind of daughter that got A’s in chemistry and loved every science book she ever saw. You would know that she is going on to university and majoring in one of the sciences. What I am saying here is proved by what you write about the interest in horses. Helping her to pursue that interest is just that, helping her. She has already proven, or at least shown, her interest, your job is to aid her in that.
If any child is simply not interested in science or only nominally interested then proceeding with ordinary CM science should suffice. Read about astronomy from a whole book, or botany or get a really written biography about a scientist. That’s only the beginning though. Get outside all the time and do that nature sketching, that is good science not just some Victorian pipe dream. The nature sketching teaches deep observation and how things really look. Charlotte Mason’s college students had to keep a garden according to botanical properties and they were made to continue the sketching. Don’t force the twins to sketch but make every opportunity for them to sketch.
Right now my family is studying evolution from Ken Ham’s prospective as our primary goal. However, we are involved with an on-going study in undersea life, other animals and the nature work and all of my children are teenager or above at this point.
Another thing about history and science not having been emphasized in their past education may well be due to the fact that those two areas are not highly valued on state assessment tests. All those IOWA basic skills tests and the like. Not always, but frequently those areas are neglected in testing and if teachers know that in advance then they do not worry about them as much. Not to mention those two areas are difficult to test for. What kind of questions do you craft to find out if the nation’s children are learning history? History is so huge that narrowing down a few “fill in the bubble” test questions is really difficult.
I like what you said about being well rounded, that is the goal!! Read Shakespeare and poetry and visit museums and take an art class. Read the sciences widely and go hiking and raised them to be well rounded, that is great that you want that for them.
Transcript keeping is fairly easy. My approach was to obtain a high school transcript and copy it. I had one of those in hand as I started high school with my oldest, plus I had their scope and sequence so I covered exactly the same topics they did, only I did it my way. Then end result was a good education and a professional looking transcript. Although only one person has ever asked to see it to date, it was worth compiling. I believe I wrote more about this in the second book as well. I also wrote a third book that is an annotated book list but in addition to that I wrote a national scope and sequence for all grade levels for the appendix. It’s titled “A Literary Education.”
I think that your questions are probably universal, although you seem to have a head start with your understanding, and that means that other mothers may have your exact questions and would benefit from them.
Thank you for writing,
I am so grateful that you have written me such a wonderful reply, I feel much better now. I actually have your book “A Literary Education” and have a lot of the books in it. While I was still living in England I was able to get a lot of HE Marshall’s books and I got the “Fairyland of Science” and various others all through your recommendations (it is a blessing that they are now being reprinted for people to enjoy) – so we do have a big library of wonderful books – however, I guess I always felt it may not be enough especially with science – your words have helped me feel differently and I am encouraged as I know neither daughter wants to be a scientist. I studied History and Geography in college, I did it the boring way, but I love it none the less and I will enjoy digging into whole books with the girls on that, so that should work well. I will take all your suggestions on board and I hope to read the chapter in your second book soon. Many, many thanks for offering all the sound advice – I do very much appreciate it and I am sure my daughters will as well. Sincerely, L L