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    Educational Philosophy, Home Education, Mother's Education

    Growing Vibrant Charlotte Mason Communities

    July 3, 2018 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]I[/dropcap]t was autumn of 2008. I had done two amazing things (if I do say so myself): I’d brought a brand new human into the world, and I’d started AmblesideOnline Year 1 with my oldest child. I wasn’t feeling so amazing, though. There were the external issues: learning to homeschool while juggling two toddlers and a newborn, plus the overwhelming fatigue caused by losing half my blood supply during delivery. More importantly, there was the internal issue: I was lonely.

    In 2008, it wasn’t nearly as cool to homeschool as it is now. People raised eyebrows at us, yes they did. But more than that, even when I met other homeschooling moms, they were completely different from us. They were doing public-school-in-a-box through a local public charter school, and I felt like what I did all day mystified them as much as it did everybody else.

    I remember that I prayed for just one friend. Just one friend, Lord, I groaned on a regular basis.

    The Lord answered that prayer, and continues to answer it, with such beauty that when I really think about it, I am astonished.

    It started when He brought me one friend. She was ready to leave her public school checklist behind and try her hand at something different. We started chatting about Charlotte Mason, and she took to the philosophy like a fish to water. Another friend started asking us some questions, and so we offered to read through a Charlotte Mason volume with her. A couple months later, an older friend called me and asked if her daughter-in-law could join our reading group. (We have jokingly referred to this as the time her mother-in-law arranged for us to have a play date!) And finally, my original one friend, the first of many answers to my prayers, invited an acquaintance.

    And thus began our group of five.

    There are many things I could say, many details I could give, but I think the most important thing is that this group has been my lifeblood over the years.

    They encouraged me (and took my mind off my troubles) when my husband almost died. They’ve caused me to read when I would have given it up. They’ve kept me thinking when I wanted to be lazy. They’ve gotten me out of the house when I would have stayed in. The list goes on.

    Every study guide you find here in the shop, every encouragement I’ve ever given you to find a group, make a group, read together, build a community — it’s all born out of what my group has meant to me.

    It’s been almost ten years, and my group has changed. Out of those original five members, you know who is left? Only me. And that’s okay (even though I mourned each time someone told me she was moving away) because the Lord has faithfully brought in new people. We’ve been as large as 35, as small as 5, and the camaraderie has always been fantastic.

    As you know, Dawn Duran also has a heart for Charlotte Mason groups. Hers are fancier than mine (which, when I think about it, is emblematic of the difference between Maryland and California), but both of our communities have been a blessing to us and to their members.

    She and I have both tried things and failed. We’ve pushed our limits and had to pull back. It’s been a journey, but we’ve never loved Charlotte Mason communities as much as we do now.

    And that’s why we designed something I’m so excited about! It’s a one-day event called Growing Vibrant Charlotte Mason Communities!

    Growing Vibrant Charlotte Mason Communities -- Online Event July 28, 2018


    This is a three-session online event for all of you. Whether you’re a leader or member of an existing local group, or you’re still a dreamer with a prayer request who needs to make a plan, this will give you the inspiration and encouragement you need.

    The first session is called The Seed: A Vibrant Charlotte Mason Study Group. It’s as you’d expect: all about building and nurturing core groups like the one I described above. The second session is The Branches: Vibrant CM Community Activities. This is where you’ll get all the amazing details on extending your core groups into other areas like Shakespeare clubs, co-ops, and more. The final wrap-up session is Adding Mulch: Q&A Session. This is where we’ll address many of the questions and concerns that come up throughout the sessions — we’ll keep track of them as they pop up in the chat box!

    Both sessions also come with printable PDF guidebooks to lead you through the processes and procedures we’ll discuss in the sessions. These are designed to help you put the lessons into action right away!

    We cannot wait to meet with you on Saturday, July 28th at 8:00 am PDT and start nurturing your Charlotte Mason community.

    Are you ready to sign up? Click here!


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  • Reply Su July 14, 2018 at 4:14 am

    Do I need to be on Facebook for this event?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 14, 2018 at 9:08 am

      Oh! Good question, Su! And the answer is NO. No you do not. There is no Facebook associated with this event (other than an announcement on the Afterthoughts page). For the live event, we are using a service called Crowdcast. If you are using the replays, they will be embedded right here on Afterthoughts.

  • Reply jessica.perteet July 9, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    This looks wonderful! I was wanting to watch this with two other friends. Do all three of us need to register for the event or can I just register? We can’t watch it live but are planning on watching the replay later together.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 9, 2018 at 2:08 pm

      Hi Jessica!

      It is great for you guys to register now even though you are going to use the replays because the early-bird pricing is the best deal. 🙂 With that said, those are individual tickets we’re selling, so please have each person register individually. Thanks! ♥

      • Reply Jessica Perteet July 12, 2018 at 1:18 pm

        Ok thanks!

  • Reply Angie C. July 5, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    I’d love to join this session, but I won’t be available that day. Is it ok to register and then just access the recordings? Do you think it will be as beneficial as attending live? I’m about to start a CM reading group this fall, reading through the volumes, and would love some advice. This course looks perfect. Thanks!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 5, 2018 at 9:17 pm

      Hi Angie! We knew a number of people would be traveling that time of year, so while being live will be super fun, we made sure to set it up so that replays will be available shortly after the event is over.

      Since you won’t be there to do the Q&A, feel free to send me any questions that are on your mind (or leave them here in the comments). That way, if it’s not something covered in the sessions, we can try to cover it in the Q&A and you can watch it later. 🙂

  • Reply Dawn Duran July 3, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    That’s funny, because I’ve always thought of California being far more glamorous than any other place that I’ve lived!

    Regardless – I am super excited about this!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 3, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      Ha. We are oh so casual — sometimes painfully so — as a general rule. I have a distinct memory of telling my husband when we were younger that I could NEVER move to an area near you because I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to dress or act!

      • Reply Melissa Scott February 28, 2019 at 4:12 pm

        Is there a way to watch this now?

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