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    2015: The Best of Afterthoughts

    January 11, 2016 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s always fun to look back through the archives and remember what happened over the past year. This year, I actually learned how to read my stats reports {!!}, and so I can say for sure that these really are the most read, shared, and/or commented on. {Before, it was data combined with something like a guess.} I thought it’d be fun to take one last look at what we chatted about in 2015…

    2015 The Best of Afterthoughts


    What Did Charlotte Mason Mean by "Short Lessons?"

    What Did Charlotte Mason Mean by “Short Lessons?”

    That’s the question we tackled in this first post, the top post from January 2015. At the time, there was a myth floating around the internet that 8th grade boys should still be studying their math lessons for only 20 minutes per day, and that seems a little bit unreasonable, doesn’t it?

    In a lot of Charlotte Mason circles, the idea of 20-minute lessons is discussed without ever mentioning that Charlotte Mason qualifies this as for children under eight. So basically, we’re talking the first two years of school.

    Click here to read the rest.



    How Geography is History's Secret WeaponHow Geography is History’s Secret Weapon

    Because it is, you know. I hated geography in school, and I think that’s because I didn’t get a glimpse of its magic until I became an adult.

    It is so easy to read history as a child and never grasp the significance of geography — all these faceless people and characterless settings we read about. And I tend to be drawn to the ideas of history, it’s true. But at the end of the day, one of the primary ways God has directed history is through creation’s topography.

    Click here to read the rest.



    So You're Switching to Ambleside OnlineSo You’re Switching to AmblesideOnline

    This one is my advice to those of you who came to Charlotte Mason later — or who decided to go with AO later. Either way, there are some usual questions we ask in regard to making the switch, and I suppose you could say I have some opinions.

    It’s this fear of missing something that makes some new users run into trouble. If you’re moving a fourth grader to AO, for example, you might look down years and see all these great books your child never read and then you might even start to feel something like regret or guilt. Why didn’t we do this earlier? you ask yourself.

    Click here to read the rest.



    The Use and Misuse of Charlotte Mason's First PrincipleThe Use and Misuse of Charlotte Mason’s First Principle

    Is it possible to misuse Miss Mason’s first principle? I say yes — and the reason has to do with stopping at the first principle instead of putting it in the context of all 20 principles.

    She then begins to explain what she means by the use of the word “person.” I think this is very important because in America, especially, we tend to think that the words “person” and “individual” are interchangeable. We think of personhood in terms of what makes us distinct from others.

    Click here to read the rest.



    The Summer 2015 Mother Culture Reading ListThe Summer 2015 Mother Culture Reading List

    Because we totally don’t have enough books to read. Can I get an amen??

    So that’s it: thirty minutes a day. You grab the book you can handle, and you spend some time giving it your undivided attention. Summer is a great time to start this habit — or restart it, if it fell by the wayside as the school year went on. Nourishing the mind is a must for all mamas, but perhaps most especially for the homeschooling variety since we have a bunch of young, vibrant intellects sucking us dry depending upon us.

    Click here to read the rest.



    Mothers' Education CourseMother’s Education Course: Summer 2015

    Apparently, the May list wasn’t enough, because this second list was a big hit, too.

    If you recall, Charlotte Mason’s Mothers’ Education Course had four main subject divisions:

    1. Divinity
    2. Physiology and health {with an emphasis on caring for children}
    3. Mental and moral science and education
    4. Nature lore and the elements of science

    For myself, I’m also adding a fifth category: fiction and literature.

    Click here to read the rest.



    2015 Planning Series Post 4 Creating Simple Matrices and Blank TemplatesCreating Simple Matrices and Blank Templates {A Planning Post}

    Wow, this one sounds b o r i n g. Just saying. But it included videos, so that’s something.

    Creating blank templates is a step that has saved me hours and hours of planning time over the years. When I started using Nicole’s matrix idea, moving from the big, detailed matrix to a simple matrix to a blank template was the process I came up with that worked for me, and that’s what I’m sharing with you today.

    Click here to read the rest.



    Do the Work of HomeschoolingI Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will, OR: Do the Work of Homeschooling

    Turns out, this was also the most popular post of the entire year! The only conclusion I can draw from this is that you all needed the kick in the pants as much as I did.

    Whether the stress in your homeschool week is normal life stuff, like birthdays or long to-do lists, or abnormal life stuff, like surprises and emergencies, the fact remains that homeschooling isn’t always easy. It just isn’t. This is because homeschooling is just like anything else: it’s work, and you have to actually Do It.

    Click here to read the rest.



    What's in my toolboxWhat’s in My Toolbox? {Keeping Homeschool Organized.}

    This toolbox is still my indispensable tool. I think every mom should have one, but especially homeschool moms.

    Mystie-My-Pretend-Life-Coach first mentioned a portable command center during her 31 Days series last year. {The concept also fits in nicely with the Declutter Module of the Simplified Organization Course.} Naturally, I paid no heed until I found myself constantly struggling against my temper because my things were never where I left them, and I was having to stop school in order to find them.

    Click here to read the rest.



    Prereading How to Move Beyond Winging ItPre-reading: How to Move Beyond Winging It

    This one was written by Hayley, and it was oh so good. I cannot emphasize enough the value of pre-reading, and if you always pre-read for your oldest child, you don’t have to do a whole lot to prep for the younger ones, which is a total bonus.

    In the beginning of my Charlotte Mason journey, I was not a pre-reader. I did not pre-read for my AmblesideOnline Year 1 student last year. But a dear friend really encouraged me to change that and pre-read this year. She enthusiastically tried to convince me that pre-reading would be enriching for me — not just a benefit to my student.

    Click here to read the rest.



    School is WarSchool is War: Scheduling for Peace Revisited

    The all-time most popular post on this site was written by Christy Hissong in 2013, and rightfully so. It was a game-changer. But it also provoked a lot of questions, and here, two years later, Christy tackled those for us.

    In a CM economy, selections such as Parables from Nature or Trial and Triumph tended to serve as Sunday reading rather than part of the school day. We shared poetry with Dad at supper, and enjoyed artist study and special read-alouds as a family on Sunday evenings. Instead of setting aside time for composer study, we kept the term’s music playing while we ate breakfast, did chores, cooked supper. In essence, we allowed our learning to become part of our life.

    Click here to read the rest.



    On Advent and Christmas Traditions Don't be the White WitchOn Advent and Christmas Traditions: Don’t be the White Witch

    This was just a few weeks ago, so I’m sure you all still remember. Simplifying Christmas is tricky business, because if we’re not careful, we’ll make it just like any other day.

    I’m struck by all the posts and articles wandering about on the Internet arguing that Christmas ought to be simplified. I mean: yes. If Christmas is totally freaking you out, it needs to be simplified. The Incarnation is a great gift, and freaking out isn’t a necessary part of celebrating it.

    But also: I think it’s possible to overdo the simplifying. The Incarnation is a great gift, and it deserves its rightful honor. It deserves a party. It deserves cookies. It deserves hustle and bustle and {dare I say it?} gifts!

    Click here to read the rest.


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    1 Comment

  • Reply Nelleke Plouffe January 12, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Without clicking on any of those links again, I remember them all to some degree. April’s “The Use and Misuse of Charlotte Mason’s First Principle” was my favourite.

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