September 2011

The Charlotte Mason Monthly

September 2011
Copyright 2011 Deborah Taylor-Hough
ISSN: 1527-1277 All Rights Reserved


Timeless Ideas for Today’s Homes and Classrooms


— “Dear Readers”
— Charlotte Mason Quote
— Featured Article: My Introduction to Charlotte Mason’s Philosophies
— Featured Blog Post:  Scheduling a Charlotte Mason Homeschool Day
— Guest Article:  Seven Keys to a Successful Homeschool
— Letters to the Editor / Reader Tips
— Assorted Information (books, other resources, disclaimer, etc.)


Our Newest Charlotte Mason Online Resources!


Dear Readers,

Yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you.  The Charlotte Mason Monthly has
returned to publication!  It’s been several years so I imagine that many of
our original subscribers are no longer homeschooling or have moved onto
other seasons of life.  If you no longer wish to subscribe to this e-newsletter
simply send an email to:

But first, perhaps you could quickly forward your copy to a new homeschooling
mom who may not know about this publication?  Thanks!  🙂

By way of introduction (or re-introduction for many of you!), my name is
Debi and I’ve been homeschooling my three kids forever.  At least it feels
that way, sometimes. But in other ways, it feels like we just started down
this road yesterday. How could my oldest daughter be old enough to be in
college AND engaged to be married?  Wow.  Where did the time go?

My son is now 21 and in college studying radio journalism and broadcasting.
My youngest is still homeschooled … but she’s no longer a little one, either.
She’s now a high school Junior and planning on graduating from our home
school early and attending the local community college.

Life changed dramatically for our family a few years ago which is why I
stopped publishing The Charlotte Mason Monthly. It’s a very long story,
but it all eventually led to me becoming essentially a single parent while
continuing to homeschool full-time.  Now I’m back in college, myself, and
working at a local non-profit radio station part-time.

If you’re not aware of what’s been happening in our lives or would like to
read about it again, you’ll find an overview of our journey on my personal
blog —

Life: The Journey

One of the funny things about being back in school is how I continually
find myself writing about home schooling — or about Charlotte Mason —
whenever I’m given my choice of research topics.  Once a Charlotte
Mason homeschooler, always a Charlotte Mason homeschooler. 🙂

That’s actually partly why I’ve decided to start publishing The Charlotte
Mason Monthly again.  As our home schooling years are winding down,
I’m finding myself renewed and reinvigorated with a fresh vision for the
benefits of home education and specifically Charlotte Mason’s ideas. I
realize, too, that there’s a brand new generation of home schooling
parents out there just coming into this new adventure … and I’d like to
be there to help them out however I can.

Unlike many other home schooling parents I know, I’ve never stopped
home schooling, nor sent my kids off to the local high school. So I have
the perspective of having home schooled continuously through all phases
of my children’s lives and education — and even now helping them negotiate
through college as I’m right there doing the same thing!

The first article in this issue of the newsletter describes my introduction
to the educational ideas of Charlotte Mason so many years ago.  I hope
it gives you a glimpse into how a real family fell in love with this whole
idea of living books and a truly living education.

Also, be sure to stop by and “Like” us on Facebook.  Each month we’ve
been discussing different aspects of home schooling.  In August, we
chatted about Nature Study, and now as people are getting their school
year underway, we’ve been talking during September about our favorite
Coping Strategies to help deal with the multiple demands on home
schooling moms.

You can find us at:

Happy home schooling to you and yours!  🙂

Simply Yours,

(Deborah Taylor-Hough)
Editor, The Charlotte Mason Monthly eNewsletter
–Author of the popular Frozen Assets series; A Simple Choice: A
practical guide for saving your time, money & sanity
; and Frugal
Living for Dummies

To browse my books and other resources, go to:



“The parent who sees his way … to educate his child, will make use
of every circumstance of the child’s life almost without intention on his
own part, so easy and spontaneous is a method of education based
upon Natural Law. Does the child eat or drink, does he come, or go,
or play — all the time he is being educated, though he is as little aware
of it as he is of the act of breathing.”

— Charlotte Mason, Home Education

Special Featured Article:

Copyright Deborah Taylor-Hough
Used with permission.  All rights reserved.

As time goes by, I’ve come to appreciate the numerous methods
Charlotte Mason used with her students. But when I first became
acquainted with the name Charlotte Mason, I really wasn’t aware
of many of the details.

I was initially drawn to Charlotte Mason’s ideas after reading Susan
Schaeffer MaCauley’s delightful book, For the Children’s Sake:
Foundations of Education for Home and School
 (FTCS). This gentle,
insightful book opened my eyes to the joy that I could find within our
family and our homeschooling endeavors. I’ve read and re-read FTCS
many times, and each time it refreshes my soul and restores my
vision for what homeschooling can be about.

Since I was already committed to home education when I first read
FTCS, the book helped to cement my dreams and visions for our
family, and gave me reassurance that I, as my children’s mother,
could provide not just an adequate education but a rich and full
educational experience for my children.

I remembered all too well the long hours spent idly during my own
childhood sitting in school reading dry-as-dust textbooks, studying
only to pass the test, learning to play the “game” of pleasing the
teacher, and always feeling that there was so much more out there
in life to learn about, ponder and experience.

I wanted so much more for my own children. I wanted them to feast
their hearts, souls and minds on fine literature, awe-inspiring art,
majestic music, and great thoughts.

I wanted them to learn how to think — not just learn to pass a test. I
wanted them to be prepared spiritually, intellectually, morally and
academically to pursue wholeheartedly whatever passion God laid
on their hearts for the future, whether in the field of medicine, art,
missions or homemaking.


They are not possessions, nor a cog in the machine, nor simply a
warm body to feed and clothe. They are individuals with a spark of
life all their own — their own dreams, desires, spiritual hunger and
giftings. Children have capable minds to be respected, not devalued
with “twaddle” or dumbed down literature.

I remember as a child being frustrated by Sesame Street when it
first came on the air back in the sixties. I was only about seven or
eight at the time, but I can remember sitting in front of the television
with my two younger next-door neighbors and feeling horrified by
the twaddle being paraded in front of my eyes. Why should I watch
something ridiculous like that when I could curl up with Beatrix
Potter or any number of favorite authors and have my imagination
encouraged and my heart enlarged?


Play is an important — no, essential — part of childhood. A quote from
FTCS: “One of the saddest things I know is to watch students at L’Abri
look at a group of children, involved for hours in satisfying play, and
comment, ‘I’ve never seen children playing like that.’ No? Then weep.
Even childhood is robbed of the richness of humanity.”

I remember the long afternoon hours of play on our street where I grew
up. Mud pies were the feast of the day, impromptu races of various
sorts kept us active and healthy, relaxed ball games that included
everyone (even the youngest or least coordinated of the children),
building forts, driving our “motorcycles” (ie: tricycles), and even acting
out our own made-up scenes from Gilligan’s Island with the neighbor-
hood children playing their favorite characters. I know I could rightly
argue that watching Gilligan’s Island in the first place was a rather
non-educational event, but the natural play that occurred as we
acted out our roles was important.

I always wanted to play the Professor. He was one of my childhood
heroes. Any man who could make a radio out of coconuts and spend
his day surrounded by test tubes and beakers, never losing his logical
take on life, was someone after my own heart (I was a rather odd kid!).

Odd, maybe. But I was me — totally individual in my thinking and make
up. And I think that takes us back to the idea of children being born
persons. Fortunately, no one came and interrupted our well-developed
game and said that I couldn’t play the Professor since I was a girl (this
was in the 1960’s, you know). I was allowed to give free reign to my
imagination and fully explore, through the simple joys of play, what I
thought it would mean to be a scientist as an adult (by the way, as
an adult I did end up working in a medical laboratory — surrounded by
test tubes and beakers!). Maybe playing Gilligan’s Island seems a
bit silly, but we played with all our hearts and it was a game totally
of our own devising, no adults telling us what to do or how to do it.

Now-a-days, the myriads of organized sports and outside activities
that children participate in from preschool on up (I know elementary
age children carrying Day Planners to keep track of all their activities),
seems to be almost the antithesis of that healthy, hearty, spontaneous
and child-directed play that goes into shaping the character, dreams
and thoughts of an individual, growing person.


One of the most valuable activities in our home is reading often and
at length from good books, “living” books, chosen carefully for their
literary value — interesting, educational and pleasurable to read.

I remember my grandmother baby-sitting me often when I was quite
young. Each night she’d read one of the Beatrix Potter books to me.
Those moments curled up, warm under the covers with Grandma sitting
on a chair beside the guest bed reading delightful stories about Peter
Rabbit, Tom Kitten and Benjamin Bunny are some of the warmest
and fondest memories I hold dear from my childhood. Even now,
reading those books to my own children evokes happiness in the
deepest part of my being.

I started reading aloud to my children when they were just days old. I
know they couldn’t understand what I was reading yet, but I knew that
the love and care communicated to them by being held in my arms
as I read softly to them was a gift beyond measure. By the time my
children were about three years old, they were all able to sit and listen
to chapter books like Charlotte’s Web or Winnie-the-Pooh (not the
twaddly Disney versions of the Pooh books, by the way, but the
original A.A. Milne classics).

I think I’ll probably keep on reading aloud to my children for as long
as they’re living in my home. And then I hope to be able to read to
my grandbabies someday, as well.

Once my children are reading fluently on their own, they do their
school work from their own books, but we still continue our family
read aloud times just for the fun of it. I think all the reading aloud
in our home has done wonders for our family. It has served as a
treasured family activity, a foundation for a love a great literature
in the children, a means for developing a stronger command of the
language, and an avenue for increasing listening skills.


Narration is essentially just retelling what you’ve heard, seen or
experienced — thus cementing the learning process. The whole
idea of narration made sense to me right away since I saw how
natural it was to want to tell someone about a good book or a fun
movie, and then in the retelling, the story seemed to come alive
all over again, living in the memory in a new way because of the
retelling. I also saw clearly that if someone knew they would have
to retell something they’ve read or seen, they’d listen intently.

Well, that’s the “in-a-nutshell” version of what first drew me to
many of Charlotte Mason’s methods and philosophies. But the
more I learn about her methods and the more of her ideas I apply
with my own children, the more convinced I become that many
of these ideas are the right method for our family. The application
and adaptations of her methods are solely mine, and I don’t
claim to speak for Charlotte Mason.

One thing I’ve discovered with homeschoolers in general, is that
we tend to be a pretty independent-minded group. Since each
family is made up of a group of unique individuals, it makes
sense that my applications of these ideas in our home would
be different from someone else’s applications. As Catherine
Levison so humorously states in her seminars, the “Charlotte
Mason police” won’t be showing up on anyone’s doorstep.  So
I feel the freedom to educate my children with the combination
of methods and philosophies that we prayerfully decide are best
for our home.

I want to be sure to give Charlotte Mason full credit for being a
such great inspiration to me. Our family’s home education efforts
have been greatly enhanced by many of the methods and ideas
revealed through Charlotte Mason’s writings.

–Deborah Taylor-Hough (long-time homeschooling mother of
three) is a free-lance writer, editor of The Charlotte Mason Monthly
email newsletter,
and the author of the bestselling book Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day
Eat for a Month
 and A Simple Choice: A Practical Guide to Saving
Your Time, Money and Sanity
 (SourceBooks). Visit Debi online at:



“Scheduling a Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Day”

This was originally written 12+ years ago. As time went by, our amount
of scheduling vs non-scheduling varied considerably from one year to the
next. Also having kids that were 4 years apart kept them all working at
different levels continually so we always got to be creative about how we
approached things. This particular glimpse into our family’s homeschooling
life was probably the most steady of our various schedule fluctuations.


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Guest Article:

Copyright Michelle Cannon
Used with permission.  All rights reserved.

The joy and power of a successful homeschool journey cannot
be overstated. Every parents who chooses to homeschool wants
well-rounded children with whom they have a close relationship.
They want to enjoy homeschooling and the many adventures it

Unfortunately, there are times when things just don’t seem to go
as planned. Moms hold the key to success in their homeschools.
Moms also hold the power to overwhelm themselves and sabotage
their homeschool. Here are 7 Keys to a Successful Homeschool.
Use them wisely. 🙂

Key #1 – Develop Good Habits

If you find yourself hunting down school books, pencils and pens;
if the children have no clothes to wear because your laundry has
piled up; if you have no food in the refrigerator … then you have no
systems in place. It’s time to work on your habits.

“The power to distinguish what must be done at once, from what
may be done, comes pretty much by habit. At first it requires
attention and thought. The person whose mind has the habit of
singling out the important things and doing them first, saves much
annoyance to himself and others, and has gained in Integrity.”
– Charlotte Mason

Using the Key: Get into a routine. Pick one day that you buy
groceries each week and stick to it. Do one load of laundry each
day. Make it a habit! On Sunday afternoon, make sure all of your
books, pencil boxes and other materials are ready for the week.
Good habits will help things run smoothly and be a great example
to your children!

Key #2 – Train in the habit of full attention and timeliness

Some children work more slowly than others. However, dawdling
is more likely to be the problem if they seem to take “forever” to
do their lessons.

“Never let the child dawdle over a copy-book or sum, sit dreaming
with his book before him. When a child grows stupid over a lesson,
it is time to put it away. Let him do another lesson as unlike the
last as possible, and then go back with freshened wits to his
unfinished task…the lesson must be done, of course, but must be
made bright and pleasant to the child.” – Charlotte Mason

Using the Key: Make sure that you are giving your children short
lessons and alternating activities. Short lessons prevent dawdling.
Alternate types of lessons. A lesson which requires reading should
be followed perhaps by a hands-on project or a written lesson, but
not another reading lesson. This causes boredom and the brain
becomes weary.  By giving short lessons and alternating activities,
you are keeping the brain awake and stimulated. This will discourage
dawdling, train in the habit of attention and the habit of working in
a timely manner.

Key #3 – Give the gift of balance to your children

Children and moms can both experience “homeschool burnout.”
When this occurs, not much is accomplished and it’s difficult to
re-motivate anyone back into the desire to learn!

“… why, it is a real satisfaction to do the day’s work in the day,
and be free to enjoy the day’s leisure” – Charlotte Mason

Using the Key:  Exercise the entire child. Spend 1/3 of the day
on academics (Mind); spend 1/3 on chores and hands-on activities
(Body); and 1/3 on spiritual, behavior and moral training (Spirit).

Key #4 – Turn off the Idiot Boxes (TV and Computer)

Use of the TV and computer on a daily basis causes a dumbing
down process in the brain due to the wrong kind of stimulus. The
child forgets how to entertain themselves. Imaginary games and
creative play fall to the wayside.  Although their bodies are not
receiving as much exercise, they grow more tired which leads
to a kind of laziness.

“There is no habit so powerful to man or woman as that of personal
initiative. The resourcefulness which will enable a family of children
to invent their own games and occupations through the length of a
summer’s day is worth more in later life than a good deal of knowledge
about cubes and hexagons, and this comes, not of continual
intervention on the mother’s part, but of much masterly inactivity.”
– Charlotte Mason

Using the Key: Give your child productive activities. Bring them into
your activities to set the example!

Key #5 – Get enough rest!

Burned out moms cannot give 100% to their children. Housework,
work, running to play-dates and field trips and co-op classes can
equal burnout.

“If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their
children when these are overdone, we should have happier households.
Let the mother go out to play!” – Charlotte Mason

Using the Key:  Set aside time for things you enjoy: reading, gardening,
a hobby, a soak in a bath. Get to bed early so that you can get up
before the children and have a bit of a head start. (I love an hour or
so in the morning before the children rise, to have my coffee, see
what bloomed overnight, or just sit on a quiet porch!)

Key #7 – Focus on YOUR family

A friend of mine told me yesterday that the best piece of advice she
ever received was “Don’t worry about what other kids are doing; worry
about what your kids are doing.”  It is so easy for a mom to compare
herself to other moms and compare where her children are academically
with where other children are.  This is the greatest discouragement
of all! And we do it to ourselves.

Eccleciastes 3:1 states: For everything there is an appointed time,
even a time for every affair under the heavens

Using the Key:  Perhaps you’ve just given birth and an in-depth study
of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is simply impossible.
Perhaps you have children with special needs who work more slowly.
Just remember that your family is unique. Don’t try to be like someone
else. It only hides the beauty that is YOU!


Michelle Cannon has successfully homeschooled three children and
is currently homeschooling the last two, ages 8 and 13. Michelle’s
blog, The Holistic Homeschooler, is dedicated to sharing ideas, tips
and resources on homeschooling in general and the Charlotte Mason
method, specifically.


Feel free to forward this newsletter to your homeschooling friends. 🙂


We’d love to hear YOUR tips, ideas, and thoughts on Charlotte Mason,
home education, and living the homeschool life. Send your comments
and tips to:

Debi, So glad you are back. This will be my first year in 12 to NOT be
homeschooling. However, I will still look forward to your newsletter
in order to help others new to homeschooling!  God Bless!
– Vicki in Pensacola, FL

Congratulations and welcome back!!!
– Georgia from Athens, Greece

Soooooooooo glad to see you back again Debi!!!!! I was just talking
about you the other day, with another dear mom friend going through
a similar circumstance here in the DC area.  So much love to you
across the miles and many blessings to you and your children!
– Jan E.


Available at

Basics of Inductive Bible Study
Print: Was $7.99 – Now $5.99 (you save 25%!)
Download: Was $4.99 – Now FREE!

Habits: The Mother’s Secret to Success
Print: Was $11.99 – Now $9.99 (you save 25%!)
Download: $4.99 – Now FREE!

These newer books by the editor of The Charlotte Mason Monthly are
available only at:


As always, a special “Thank you!” goes out to Gary Foreman
and the friendly folks at The Dollar Stretcher for making this
mailing list possible!

== ==

Books and resources by Deborah Taylor-Hough
Editor, The Charlotte Mason Monthly eNewsletter



Charlotte Mason:
Personal Website:
Cooking Ahead:
Cheap Eats:
Personal Blog:
Kids’ Books:



Throughout this newsletter and on my blog and Facebook page, you’ll
sometimes see links to for various books and other resources.
To try to supplement my family’s income, I’m an “Amazon Affiliate” which
means if you click on one of my links and buy that product, a small
portion of the sale (1 to 6%) will be sent to me from Amazon.  It won’t
effect the price you pay or add to your bill in any way.  It’s essentially
Amazon’s way of thanking me for sending a customer to them.

If you’d like to help our family a little financially, anytime you enter Amazon
through one of these links, it will keep track of anything you order and I will
receive a small Affiliate payment from Amazon.  So if you’re going to be online
shopping anyway, this is a simple way to help our family make it through this
difficult time in our lives as we struggle to keep afloat as a single-parent
homeschooling family.  Thanks in advance!

And just to be completely transparent about my affiliation with Amazon, the
last check I received from them was for just under $100 and that was for
three months worth of sales. So it’s not a lot, by any means.  But every
little bit helps. 🙂

~Debi, Editor, The Charlotte Mason Monthly eNewsletter


Please feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone you think
might be interested. This is a private mailing list which isn’t sold
or shared with anyone else. Tips and articles are printed for
entertainment purposes only.

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Copyright 2011 Deborah Taylor-Hough. All Rights Reserved.
3840 A Street SE, Ste 105-119, Auburn WA 98002
Contact us at:


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