Thursday, September 18, 2008

Simply Charlotte Mason Interview

I don't know where I first heard of Simply Charlotte Mason, but I do remember clicking on their website and drooling over the great products-- and spending lots of time reading the wealth of information they offer! I am so glad Sonya and Karen agreed to drop by for an interview so that you guys can "meet" them and learn about the great products they offer homeschoolers. They make an 18th century educational philosophy not just accessible, but doable in the 21st century! Their books on planning, nature study, and habits are all great resources that I highly recommend adding to your collection. If you have always been intrigued by Charlotte Mason and her philosophies, but been unsure how to implement them in your home, check out for a great way to get started.

Hi Sonya! We are so glad you joined us today! I am a huge fan of your products and the way you make the educational ideas of Charlotte Mason more accessible to 21st century moms like us. I love your books and plan to add all of them to my collection!
Can you share with us how Simply Charlotte Mason got started?

A few years ago Karen (my cohort in crime) and I noticed that more and more CMers were asking us for advice and for book recommendations for certain subjects and grades. We thought it would be easier to post that information online for everyone to access at their leisure. And while we were at it, we had an idea for an online planner that was totally different from any that we had seen available. Oh, yes, and then we had some ideas for new resources that would help make CM practical and do-able. . . .
Things just took off from there, and SCM has taken on a life of its own with the forum and teaching posts and live seminars. The best part is that now it's not just us; it's this wonderful community that has come together to share ideas and encourage each other along the way.

What was your first product and what prompted you to write it?
First we published Spelling Wisdom. I'm constantly learning more about CM methods, and when I discovered Charlotte's method of using prepared dictation for spelling I loved the idea. But I was afraid to switch from my curriculum package that promised I would cover the most frequently used words in the English language. What if I missed one of those words when I was selecting dictation passages at random? So I put together a set of dictation passages and made sure all those frequently used words were included. That way I could have the best of both worlds.

What would you say is your favorite product you have produced? (I know that's like asking you to pick a favorite child!)
You're right, that's a tough one! I think I'd have to say Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook. For a long time I wanted a list of the habits Charlotte talked about and what she said about each. Now I have one!

I have found the habits book to be like eating a huge piece of dark chocolate cake-- rich and worth every bite! What has the response from readers been?
It seems like a lot of CMers wanted a list like that. And we're excited that it is proving practical and useful for more than just CMers. The need for good habits is fundamental, and Charlotte addressed that need on a basic level. If you don't get habits taken care of, you'll have a hard time being successful in anything.

Do you have a mission statement for Simply CM? If so, what is it?
We don't really have a mission statement, but we have some core principles that guide us:- Be helpful. Answer some of the questions we had when we were starting out.- Be encouraging.- Show how CM is practical and do-able.- Approach this ministry from a Biblical worldview.

I have a lot of new homeschoolers who read my blog-- what piece of advice would you give them?
Sonya's advice: Figure out which approach works best for you and your family. You have more choices than just using textbooks and workbooks and setting up a little classroom in the basement. If you don't know what the basic approaches are, here's a summary to get you started:
Karen's advice: Relax and enjoy the experience of learning with your kids. You don't have to teach them everything in one day, one week, one month, or one year. They have a lifetime to learn.

What is your biggest antidote for burnout for the homeschool mom?
Sonya's antidote: Make your curriculum your servant, not your master. Don't be afraid to take a day, a week, a month off to do something that is still educational but completely different. As Charlotte wisely observed, "Sometimes a change is as good as a break."
Karen's antidote: Again, relax and enjoy the experience of learning with your kids. Burnout occurs most frequently when we lose sight of the main goal: kids who mature into productive adults. By that I mean, they are able to confidently take their place in society. For boys, they know their responsibility to provide for a family. For girls, they know their responsibility to nurture a family. Plus, both know how to serve others through the church, in their community, and wherever else God may place them.
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Anonymous said...

Thank you, Marybeth, for doing this interview! I have been wanting to get Laying Down the Rails for awhile. Now I want it even more!! And I loved Karen's advice about relaxing and enjoying the experience of learning with our kids. I need to do more of that! Thanks again.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog post! I know it is an old one, but just wanted to mention that Charlotte Mason was in the 19th century, not the 18th... (she was in the late 1800's).