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?


  1. Your post is very encouraging. The variety of interests you describe here inspires me even more than the wide array of occupations.

    What a blessing to Sophia to have met other "Charlotte Mason kids", especially in that difficult process of finding a new church.

    I always enjoy the photos you share, but your grandsons' chandelier decoration is a winner!


  2. Thank you, Karen! I so needed that cup of cold water today! Love the slinky hanging from the chandelier (I'm a mom of 3 boys, so I can relate)!

  3. Karen Thank You for this post. Sophia and her family are blessed to have friends who share their values. I love the photos. Eloise's quilt is beautiful. You are very talented. The photo of you and your girls is precious.

  4. Dear Karen,
    Your first story was such a reminder to me of God's faithfulness and a reminder that he does direct our paths! I am so happy your daughter could be encouraged this way especially during the challenge of moving and finding a church.

    My cousin recently surprised me with all of the volumes of The Original Home Schooling Series! They are lovely books and I am reading the first. I am home teaching my three daughters. My seventh grader is enjoying the Simply Grammar book this year. Just to add, we just finished the Railway Children yesterday. What a wonderful story! It was in a box in my basement...I had read it years ago during a Children's Literature class in University. I pulled it out and read it aloud to my girls and had such joy reading it now from a mother's perspective. The mother in the story does have such courage.

    Thank you for your continued encouragement,

  5. Karen, I love this post! I love the story of Sophia being encouraged by that sweet grandma who turned out to be the mother of the other friends! Homeschooling is work, but it is a blessing and a joy too!

    I love to see my children thriving, and finding out what they love, and are interested in.

  6. What a wonderful story! I am sure it was truly a blessing to your daughter to see the Lord's hand in this situation.

    The label you made for your quilt is lovely! The "Little House" line of fabric is one of my favorites. I sewed my little girl a pioneer outfit from one of the "Little House" fabrics last month.

    Congratulations on winning two blue ribbons! Your little dress and jacket are adorable. The trim on the dress is the perfect touch!

  7. Thank you for showing your appreciation for this post with your comments, Ladies. It is good to hear from you. Leigh, that same detail that Sophia shared about the dad's wide interests was conspicuous to me, too. Oh, good, Claudia, you recognized the slinky was tossed in the air and not part of Grandma's decor. Marion, Sophia is blessed with meeting two mothers in her areas who teach with the Charlotte Mason method. She had a get together at her house to encourage the home teaching moms she has met. You've noticed too, Heather, that reading a children's book later in life will bring things to our notice that were only on the back burner before. Oh, Sarah, I didn't sew the two first places. Dean photographed them for me because I thought them cute and thought my readers would like to see them, too. I will add a note to the post. I cut my label from a yard of what is part of the Little House fabric line that is all labels - just the thing for quilters - or the seamstress. I used fine line waterproof felt pens. How neat to read that you sewed a pioneer outfit for your little girl with this same fabric line. I will have to stop by your blog and have a look. Thank you for visiting me in the blog neighborhood, Ladies. Karen A.

  8. So encouraging, Karen, to hear the lives of those mothers and children who are continuing on their learning throughout their lives. I loved the story of your daughter meeting fellow kindred CM spirits! As always, the photos are so sweet and inspiring!

  9. Thanks so much for this encouraging post, Karen. Hearing these success stories is such a confirmation for me - that the CM philosophy does work! And thanks for your encouragement via email, as well.

  10. What a delightful (and true) story of connections made across the years, through philosophy, experience, and faith! It is so exciting when the Lord orchestrates such opportunities for fellowship!

    Eloise's quilt is beautiful, and I love the label. She is sure to love it as she gets older.

    I love the 1987 photo of you with your girls! Oh, how time does fly...

  11. Dear was your book that inspired me to teach both my sons, who are now in college, the Charlotte Mason method. I'll be honest and share that I never read it :D, but it was through a friend of mine that did, that I was introduced to this way of teaching. Thank you Karen... mari

  12. Hello Karen.

    My husband and I often wonder about all the lovely connections we will find with our previously unknown to us brothers and sisters in Christ when we arrive in eternity. It is thrilling when we are given a taste of what is to come.

    How good to know that there are now second, or maybe even third, generation homeschooling families. Can you imagine the delight of NOT having the decision to homeschool your children be considered weird and reckless by grandparents or great-grandparents?!

    Happy October,

  13. What a lovely story about your daughter's new friends! I am so glad to have your book on my shelves, also. (I also love stories about the lives and impact of books...)
    What a great feeling for you to know you influenced so many lives, and in such a wonderful way.

  14. Hi Karen, I loved this article. I used your book as a guide for many years as well. My oldest is an elementary school teacher who works specifically with immigrant children who don't speak English, my second teaches ballet, my third is in College studying sports management with a minor in coaching and is on the football coaching staff as a player/coach, My fourth is still in high school but plans to attend college as well and major in strength and conditioning. He loves anything that deals with health. Just thought you might want to add to your list.
    Thanks for the encouragement!
    Michelle Starling