As a home educator using the Charlotte Mason method, I have ensured that my children’s afternoons were full of free time, as she recommended. It was during these hours that my children’s interest and skills were being formed and mastered. I have so much appreciation for her wisdom and God guiding me to using this method for my own children thirteen years ago. As I prepare to graduate my second child using this method, I look back with a smile and a warm heart as I see that it was during these precious hours of my older two children’s lives that catapulted them into their choices for their future.
As a veteran homeschooler with two more to home school (one being a preschooler) that I
encourage urge you to encourage free time learning in your own children’s afternoons. I would love to give you a peek into each of my children’s afternoons from the time they were preschoolers to their final year in homeschool.
My daughter, Cassondra is my oldest. She has been an avid reader since she learned to read on her own at age 7. She quickly became my librarian, seeking good things to read because I was running out of resources to keep in front of her and had long stopped trying to read everything before she did, because I couldn’t keep up. Training her with discernment of what a twaddle book and a living book looks like, she was not only helping me but my friends with books for their children. When she wasn’t reading books, she was intrigued with worship dance and music. This lead to teaching herself how to play a recorder, which later manifested into her fixing her gaze on teaching herself the violin and the piano. She enjoyed some handicrafts like knitting, crochet, sewing, beading, card making, stamping and friendship bracelets. As she turned 13, her love of books turned her into a writer in her own right, as she began to pen her own book. It isn’t finished yet, but the amount of research she did to ensure it was historically accurate was astounding to me. I remember many days telling her that she needs to put the books away! Today, she is a blogger at Beyond the Cover, where she shares living books with homeschooler mothers, putting her notebook of books she read into the hands of mothers on the web.
My son, Micah, is my second child but my oldest son. His free afternoons from the time he was really young, consisted of him looking for creatures in our yard. He would always find something, as he searched for his love… snakes! At 7 years old, he was required to memorize ALL the Virginia snakes, because this mama was so afraid that he would find a venomous one and be killed! This enabled him to identify the many copper heads that came into our yard and quickly became my hero when he would kill each one and then bury them for safety. When he wasn’t making habitats for his new finds, he was building forts in the woods, cutting down small trees with his hand ax (yes, this was his physical education) or trying to navigate anything that floated down our creek as his boat. When he came inside, he was busy building all kinds of creations with his bins and bins of legos or creating stop motion animation with his Legos. As he grew, sports became a focus of his free afternoons and he learned about all of them. We had family sports days with friends and they were his highlights! One day, he settled into one sport of his liking… golf. He was one happy boy when we moved from our 3/4 acre property to our 5 acre property. In his high school years, you would see him either fishing in our creek or swinging his clubs. He is already proving to be a great golf competitor and we look forward to seeing how God will bless our son, as he works for his life desire to play in the PGA, as a professional golfer.
Our younger two sons, Mathias (in his last year of elementary) and Manoah (our preschooler) are following well in their older brother’s path. They love building with Legos, playing with army men, reenacting the battles they are learning about in history, climbing trees or knocking them down, learning about golf and other sports, fishing and no doubt learning how to do stop motion animation. They also have a little of their sister in them and I can find them in our library, reading from the great selections that surround them.
If I had to do this all over again, I wouldn’t change anything… well, maybe less snakes!