A Charlotte Mason Education: the ‘extras’ that sometimes get left out in high school

The week before last I had a phone call from the Symphony Manager of the orchestra my daughter is a part of. Her son and two friends had entered an Eisteddfod competition and the cellist had just pulled out due to sickness. She asked if Miss 17 could play in his place – the only thing was the competition was the next day. Miss M had never participated in an Eisteddfod and hadn’t ever played the piece they had chosen, a Beethoven arrangement for piano, violin and cello. Much to my surprise my daughter said that if she could have the music emailed that day and have a practice with the others sometime beforehand then she’d do it.

We organised a practice that evening for about an hour and a half and then turned up the next evening for the event, ‘An Open Age Chamber Ensemble’ and they received a ‘Highly Recommended’ certificate. So what has this got to do with Charlotte Mason & high school? Well, I’ve noticed over the years with all my kids going through high school, especially the upper years of it, that so many of their friends dropped out of activities such as music and other commitments to pour all their energy into academics. The be all and end all is getting into a certain degree if they possibly can, and everything else takes a back seat to that end. I’ve had friends say to me that in high school they never did anything related to daily life & domestics as their mothers thought that their schooling was more important. Reading for pleasure (or without having to dissect it to bits) was unheard of for many of them, and when looking after a home, motherhood, financial budgeting etc. came later on they were totally unprepared and unready.

High school devoured most of their time and crowded out the less tangible. It allowed them no margin to do anything spontaneous. Making time for handicrafts, nature study, quiet contemplation, folksongs, life skills, learning a musical instrument or reading just for enjoyment, is just as important to our high school aged children as preparation for university. They need to be prepared for life and they need to flourish.

We continue to look our two grandsons, aged 3 and 18 months, every Tuesday at our place. While the littlest is having an afternoon sleep, Missy & I take the three year old for a bush walk. Yesterday we took him to a new spot. He’s a little Trojan and keeps up a good pace.

Aunty & nephew

Last week we met them at a National Park nearby with their Mum and another friend and took them on a walk there. We saw some Black Cockatoos and an Eastern Whipbird – a bird we hear but don’t often see.

Another activity we do with the boys when we look after them is baking and sometimes painting – I should say that my daughter does those things with them. I read to them or get out my guitar and we sing some songs & my husband, who mostly works from home, often takes the eldest outside to help with things in the garden or other small jobs.

Missy & I have been doing some sewing this week. I decided to make a needle & scissor holder out of necessity. I carry bits of sewing around with me and keep getting stabbed by needles poking through my handbag. Missy decided she’d make a needle holder also. I’ve put links to the tutorials/instructions for each of them below but we didn’t follow them exactly. They are quite fiddly so M decided to increase the size of her hexagons. For the main linen piece she used a two and a half inch hexagon and for the flower a half-inch size. I’d use a bigger size for a younger child.

Hexagon Needle Book Tutorial

Hexagon Scissor Case

Books for interest and enjoyment – there are some books that I’d like my daughter to read as part of her ‘home school work’ but I’ve decided that it wasn’t necessary for her to narrate. I suppose they are classed as ‘free reads’ but I still consider them as part of her schedule. ‘Darwin’s Black Box’ by Michael Behe and ‘The Case for Christ’ by Lee Strobel are a couple in this category.

Just for pleasure reads include:

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow – ‘a good read but a bit sad at first.’

Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart – a favourite author at the moment. She started Stewart’s Merlin series but prefers the author’s other romantic suspense books.

Various books by Australian author Jackie French and whatever she can find of Louis L’Amour, usually on Kindle.

5 thoughts on “A Charlotte Mason Education: the ‘extras’ that sometimes get left out in high school

  1. Everything CM is wonderful. It’s so natural a teaching or learning method, but I have noticed as they get older, they become more distracted and lose that natural curiosity (like being outdoors, observing nature, handicrafts, and music). I should say, they focus more on only one or two extra things. I miss the younger years when they loved doing a little bit of everything.

    P.S. I never read Darwin’s Black Box, but I always wanted to. Maybe someday…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ruth, always good to hear from you! My daughter isn’t that keen on sewing and would rather do her art work so I was surprised when she decided to join me. I think it’s wise to keep some breadth in their learning in the later years – you never know if they’ll change their mind about what they’ll pursue later.
      M said that the Darwin book gets quite technical & a bit beyond her but it’s still interesting.


      • Exposing them to nature and art and music and crafts is like training them up in the things of the Lord. When they are old they will not depart from it. In other words, they will return to these things that they knew. My oldest likes to talk about the things we used to do; if he had kids, he may want to implement those same ideas with them. Who knows!!! So it is worth it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fun post! It is a joy to this (homeschool) mother’s heart to hear about your daughter’s confidence to jump in at the last minute — that must have been greatly satisfying to her.

    I am very sad when I hear about the pressure in some public schools here in the U.S. Locally, one kindergartener was told by the school that he was “behind” all year because he hadn’t gone to Pre-K. If he didn’t finish a craft project at school he was required to take it home and finish it and bring it back. In the afternoons he was always too tired to engage in any activities with his parents. Thank God, he is going to be homeschooled this coming year.

    My own children were able to continue progressing with their music study, because I had them do all their practicing in mornings before any academic work. I’d heard from too many parents that once their children got to high school, they had no time or energy left to practice their instruments. That was one of the things I was most thankful for, about homeschooling — and also being able to have music flowing through the house for hours every day!

    Liked by 1 person

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