Is your homeschool relaxed and inviting? At one time, our homeschool was miserable. We were following all the “rules of school” and enjoying absolutely none of it. School had become stale and boring, and we desperately needed to add a little bit of Enchantment to our relaxed Charlotte Mason homeschool.
There are many different methods of homeschooling. You can take your pick from Classical, Waldorf, Traditional, Unschooling, and so many more. The number one benefit of homeschooling is finding an educational method that works best for your family.
When we started out, we embraced the ideas of Charlotte Mason. But, we found it hard to follow some of the stricter ideals of the “Charlotte Mason Purist.” We had to modify some over the years, but we still held to Ms. Mason’s core beliefs. Soon, I realized that we were evolving into a type of relaxed Charlotte Mason homeschool. This homeschool was one with less stress and more joy. And, it was a homeschool that was easy to add just the right amount of Enchantment to keep everyone excited about learning.
What is relaxed Charlotte Mason homeschooling?
Relaxed Charlotte Mason Homeschooling is what I believe Miss Mason would have envisioned had she lived in the 21st century. Charlotte Mason was a pioneer, a trailblazer, even a trendsetter for education in her time. She looked at education as a lifetime endeavor and children as people who were completely capable of learning and directing their education.
So, it is my personal belief that she would have embraced our technology and used it with gusto. She would have realized that advancements in technology and society should be used to help broaden our knowledge of the world. And, perhaps she would have added a movie day or a plant identifying app to her philosophy.
One of my favorite quotes is from my mentor, Julie Bogart of Brave Writer. She says, “Charlotte, let your bun down.” In a relaxed Charlotte Mason homeschool, Charlotte lets her hair down. She realizes the importance of modern literature and uses tablets and computers to enhance her teaching.
And, she adds some enchantment to her homeschool because she realizes that education is not in competition with technology, but in partnership.
Adding Enchantment To Your Relaxed Charlotte Mason Homeschool Through Literature
There are many different ways to add Enchantment to a relaxed Charlotte Mason homeschool. The idea that has made the most significant impact on our lives has been adding Enchantment through literature, primarily with living books.
What is a Living Book?
The books we choose for our children should be exciting and stimulating to them. They should inform their worldview and instruct their hearts as well as their minds.
Characteristics of Living Books:
- those in which the author has a love of the subject and sparks the imagination and enthusiasm of the topic in the reader;
- books that are written in narrative form;
- ones that widen the vocabulary;
- books that take the reader to faraway times and places;
- they can be classics or modern.
There are tons of living books in many different areas, but today we’re going to focus on adding Enchantment to literature. Before I get into adding Enchantment, let’s talk a minute about Twaddle.
What is Twaddle?
Charlotte Mason said this about Twaddle, “I am speaking now of his lesson-books, which are all too apt to be written in a style of insufferable Twaddle, probably because they are written by persons who have never chanced to meet a child. All who know children know that they do not talk Twaddle and do not like it and prefer that which appeals to their understanding” (Vol. 1, p. 229).
Twaddle is like busywork. It’s boring and serves no purpose.
As C.S. Lewis said, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty.”
I use these as my guide. Some people would consider Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein as Twaddle, but I would disagree. They are two of our favorite authors. Sure, we could read them for a fun read with silly sentences and silly characters, but if you dig a little deeper, they have surprising meanings. They make you think. They make you consider your opinion, and they make you want to be a better citizen.
So, that’s my soapbox about Twaddle.
What is Enchantment?
Enchantment is that little spark that keeps your homeschool from getting boring, stale, and unpleasant. It’s not always a daily activity or even a weekly activity. It is instead that little moment of inspiration, of creativity, of magic dust that you throw into your homeschool when it works for you.
Enchantment can be anything you want it to be, but it must work for everyone — including the homeschool teacher. It can be as simple as adding a snack to your studies like “Science and Smoothies” or as elaborate as planning an end of unit party like our Ancient Egypt Party School.
Some examples might be Poetry Teatime, Party School, Movie Day, Game Day, Book Club, Baking Day, Thoughtfulness Day, and Ditch the Books Day.
What do these terms mean, and how do I incorporate them into our day?
You may be wondering what all these terms mean, and how should Enchantment look in your relaxed Charlotte Mason homeschool? Relax. You can make them what you want, but here are what they look like for us.
Poetry teatime can be as simple or elaborate as you wish it to be. Sometimes we enjoy poetry teatime as a family, and sometimes we meet with our friends and have a more detailed and planned time. The basics of poetry teatime are as follows:
- Gather around the table with snacks, tea (or your favorite drink), and poems.
- Let your kids pick their favorite poems or choose a theme for your teatime.
- Read poetry and then write some of your own.
The point of this time is to introduce different types of poetry and authors to your children and create a nurturing atmosphere for a love of the poetic form.
Poetry teatime can be simple or elaborate, but party school is over-the-top. I always say, “There is no such thing as too much when it comes to a party school.” But, understand, that over-the-top doesn’t mean terribly expensive or extremely stressful. What I mean is that this is a time to get your creative juices flowing and think outside-of-the-box. Stretch your imagination and come up with ideas that will excite your children and inspire them to love education. Here are some ideas for party schools:
- Celebrate finishing your latest read-aloud, novel, or unit study with a party.
- Choose foods and decorations that are inspired by your book or unit study.
- Dress up as the characters, the culture, or the time-period.
- Plan hands-on activities to bring the unit study or book to life.
Miss Mason was a firm believer that children should spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors in nature study. We enjoy nature study that is inspired by a picture book. The book doesn’t have to be strictly about nature. It can be a whimsical, fun book. Nature study can be as simple and fun as following these steps:
- Choose a nature book or picture book and head outdoors.
- Read the book. Talk about aspects of nature, such as the weather, setting, or characters.
- Take out your Nature Journal with you to record your observations and sketch what you see.
If this still seems overwhelming, don’t worry. You can use some of the ideas we have in our nature book clubs. We meet with our friends once a month for a nature adventure.
Other Enchantment Ideas:
There are so many fun ways to add Enchantment. Here are some that can get you started.
- Maker Monday: Let your kids explore hands-on activities. This could be crafts, art projects, woodworking, or sewing.
- Tinker Tuesday: Tinker Crates, STEM projects, coding, or robotics.
- Baking Day: Get in the kitchen with your kids and do some baking, cooking, or cake decoration.
- Thoughtfulness Thursday: Plan a community service project or outreach this day.
- Fieldschooling Friday: Go on a field trip!
- Movie Day and Ditch the Books Day: Don’t get out the books these days. Find ways of learning through movies or other non-textbook ways.
How do I add Enchantment?
The first step to adding Enchantment starts with your children. Think of what inspires your children. What
- interests them;
- makes them feel creative and energized
- might give them a little boost?
Next, decide how you can feed their interests. What activities can you add that will bring joy to your day? Do you have supplies for those activities? Will this plan keep you from feeling exhausted, stressed, and overwhelmed?
Then, choose one thing. Choose one thing you can add to your day that will add a little magic dust. Don’t try to add everything you thought of all at once, or you will become overwhelmed.
Slowly add in one or two things at a time. Feel free to change those inspiring things up each week or month. Also, feel free to drop things that don’t bring joy or cause too much stress. Do what works best for your family.
Lastly, choose a time that you know is best for you. When do you have time to follow a rabbit trail? When can you spend all day making “a mess” and not be stressed? What day do you have free to go on an adventure? Choose a time that will allow you to explore without worrying about deadlines or schedules.
What if this is still overwhelming?
I understand. Implementing Charlotte Mason was difficult for us in the beginning. I loved the philosophy, but it was foreign to me. The same can be said for implementing and adding Enchantment to a Relaxed, Enchanting Charlotte Mason homeschool. If you are a purist, then this may feel like heresy, or it may be freeing.
But, here are some easy tips to get you started.
Start with our Enchantment Planner. This planner guides you through the steps I just mentioned. It also provides checklists, enchantment ideas, and planning sheets that will help you to easily incorporate one or two ideas at a time, so you aren’t overwhelmed.
Enroll in one of our free courses. We have them available for elementary up through high school. This will help you get started. These courses have enchantment activities planned with ideas for how to implement them in your literature studies.
Lastly, don’t get overwhelmed. Do one thing. Enjoy what you are doing, and let your children’s interest guide you.
Start your enchanting homeschool today. Make memories and enjoy the journey.
Hi, I’m Dachelle. I’m a homeschooling mom of 3 in the South. I love chocolate and have been known to hide it from my children. I can often be found reading a good book (or even sometimes just an okay book) and enjoying a jar of Nutella — don’t judge. I blog, here, at HideTheChocolate.com when I’m not creating book clubs and making lists…lots and lots of lists (it’s an addiction). Learn more…
Shay Kemp says
I am the administrative assistant for Julie Ross, author of A Gentle Feast curriculum and the host of The Charlotte Mason Show podcast. Julie is interested in having you read this blog post as an audioblog for an upcoming podcast. If you are interested, please email me and I can send you some details! Blessings!
Thanks, Shay. I’m sending you an email.