Friday, September 30, 2016

A Generation of Charlotte Mason Kids

A Generation of Charlotte Mason Kids
My daughter's family is between churches. They moved an hour from where they used to live. Visiting new churches carries with it a certain apprehension.

One Sunday, this summer, Sophia was standing at the back of the sanctuary holding her one-year-old Eloise, trying to keep her quiet while listening to the sermon. The baby was fussy. It was normally nap time. But she wouldn't fall asleep in my daughter's arms and began to feel very heavy.

Therefore, Sophia walked down the hall to the little nursery. There she chatted with the nursery worker - a grandmother. "I have two boys who are in the sanctuary with my husband," my daughter said to answer a question. Then she ventured to add that she was home teaching both boys this year.

"I homeschooled my children," the grandmother said, "using the Charlotte Mason method."

Sophia couldn't help herself. She had to say, "My mother wrote a book on the Charlotte Mason method."

"Oh really? What's her name?"

"Karen Andreola."

"I can't believe it. You're her daughter? I heard her and her husband speak at Sandy Cove, Maryland way back in the nineties. That weekend my husband and I sat with your mother and father at the same dinner table. I have your mother's Charlotte Mason Companion." My daughter smiled.
The label I placed at the back of the quilt using "Little House" fabric.
After a few Sundays of visiting another church Sophia, her husband Andrew, and their three children, were invited to supper, by a young mother of four. They were cheered by the hospitality. Observing how happily the children of both families played together in the expansive backyard, Sophia was pleased (and relieved) because she has boisterous boys.
A first Nature Notebook entry for the schoolyear - poisonous frog.

During the meal the host/husband brought up a wide range of topics. "He has so many interests," Sophia told me, impressed.

Afterward their host showed my son-in-law, Andrew, around the house. He pointed out his various projects. Apparently both dads are good with a computer and in their free time like building things with their hands. 

A family photo displayed on the dining room buffet caught Sophia's eye. "Is this your mother?" she asked the pretty hostess.

But it was the husband who spoke up. He said, "That's my mother. Do you know her?" Sophia explained that they met earlier in the summer at a church across town.

"Your mother met my mother at a conference. She also told me she brought up her children by the Charlotte Mason method."

"Yup. That's me. I guess you can call me a Charlotte Mason kid." He laughed. Sophia laughed, too. How often does one meet up with another Charlotte Mason kid who is in his 30s with children of his own.
Landis Valley - This September

"God places people in our path, or places us in the path of people," I told my daughter when the story was related to me over the telephone. When I hung up the phone I silently thanked God for His Providence.   

The Early Years
We grandmothers remember. There was so little to go on in those early years of home teaching.

Since Dean and I published The Original Homeschooling Series I’ve been in touch with folks. For those who wished instinctively to avoid the "grammar school grind" we had lots of questions. We searched for answers.

However awkward Charlotte Mason's writing style may have seemed at first, this old series of books proved to be a treasure-trove, a source of guidance, wisdom born out of decades of experience.
Sophia, Yolanda, and I, 1987 (My Laura Ashley Edwardian with lace collar).
We stepped forward in faith in those days. (My young readers are doing this today.) Each nugget of an idea had to be cracked open one by one. Not knowing exactly what we were doing with these nuggets of gold, and not knowing (in person) anyone else who was home teaching this way, we felt like odd balls. Extended family members were concerned for us. Some were more than puzzled at our behavior. They were embarrassed or speechless.

Cobbler, leather worker, Landis Valley
Following our conscience, wanting to bring up strong Christian children, we kept our eyes on the goal. Feeling a little wobbly in the confidence-department in the beginning, we placed our trust in the main points of Miss Mason's philosophy. We carried the nuggets of gold around in our apron pockets. We half-understood the details really, until we saw how they worked-out in the lives of our children. Little by little we gleaned practical aspects of Miss Mason's ideas. Day by day, we applied them.

This old building once sat in Lancaster City, to house a tailor/seamstress.
Since the early days of my Parents' Review, 28 years ago, I've kept in touch with long distance friends, then by paper letter, today by email. Our children are mature adults. Some are married and home teaching their own brood of children like the "Charlotte Mason kids" above. Through my correspondence I’ve been hearing about a generation of students. What has come to my notice is so encouraging I should have told you about this sooner. 
The other side of the seamstress room as it might have been.
More Recently
Those who attend college do well. Some live at home and commute to a local university. Others attend a Christian college, away. Still others, do distance-learning at home toward a degree. Their competence is no surprise. In his formative years, the student learned how to deal directly with books. He developed the habits to digest them. As a mature student, when faced with the dry material of a conventional textbook he can pick out key facts and principles. Nurtured by years of narration, narrating books of fact and fiction, he became a critical thinker and essayist. If he is going to learn something he wants to learn it thoroughly and perform it well.   

Dean's grandfather (right) in 1925, Elizabeth N.J. He was a "hair dresser" is whole life. 25cents is on the till. 
Look at this wide range of studies and vocations, some volunteer, most professional. Here are college majors and/or occupations personally brought to my notice.

Our door and pent-roof professionally painted.
business major working for a national construction company,
children's program director at church,
church receptionist/secretary,
creative writing grad student,
diesel mechanic,
farm manager,
financial planner,
homeschooling mother,
horse handler,
hospital doctor,
La Leche Leader,
mathematics support,
musical theater actress,
musical composer,
music teacher,
nature photographer,
orthopedic doctor,
owner of a landscaping business,
pastor's wife,
Pilates instructor,
professional blogger,
restaurant manager,
speech therapist
theater lighting technician,
veterinary school,
website designer,

I admired the work and talent of those who created these two pieces of clothing I spied at the country fair. All the needlework at the fair is displayed behind plastic.
First place sewing at our country fair - cute/handsome.

First place sewing at our country fair - cute/pretty.

Well done my friends.

Thanks for keeping in touch all these years.

Karen Andreola
Can you tell my active grandsons came for a visit?