CM 4 Episode #5 The Broad Pageant of History in a Charlotte Mason Education

CM 4 Episode #5 The Broad Pageant of History in a Charlotte Mason Education

Show Transcript:

CM EP 5 Winter

Julie -

Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show, a podcast dedicated to discussing Miss Mason's philosophy, principles, and methods. It is our hope that each episode will leave you inspired and offer practical wisdom on how to provide this rich, living education in your modern home school. So, pull up a chair. We're glad you're here.

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Today I'm going to talk to you today about the pageant of history, which is super exciting for me. History has always been one of my favorite subjects. I grew up in a house where my dad loved history. He was always reading biographies. Our family vacations were always almost to historical sites, like Plymouth Rock. Like, people are like, oh, we went to the beach, or we went to this music park. What did you do over the summer? And I'm like, I went to Plymouth Rock.

And I was okay with that. And anytime we were driving, and we passed the museum, we had to stop. And so I just grew up in that culture and that love for this subject. I actually focused on history for my education degree, and yeah, and part of the reason I love homeschooling is that I get to learn history all over again. It's actually good to learn it way more in depth and way better than I ever did when I was in school too, so I'm sure, probably a lot of you can relate to that as well. Like you're getting your own education all over again.

So today I want to talk to you about kind of how Charlotte Mason approached history and how that's different, probably than how you were taught history, and just to hopefully give you some really practical ways that you can implement that in your home.

So, she says this about history. So, I wanted to start off here. She says next, in order to religious knowledge, history is the pivot upon which our curriculum turns. History is the rich pasture of the mind, which increases upon the knowledge of men and events and more than all, the sense of nationhood. But proper corrective of the intolerable individualism of modern education. And I love that part because, like, you know, this was written in 1920, and if she could only see the individualism in the American culture today, I'm sure it'd be shocking, right?

So, I wanted to start off with why? Why do we learn history? Why is that important? Or why did Charlotte Mason say it was important, right? We all have our different reasons why we think this subject is important, but she said in that quote that it gives the sense of nationhood as a cure for this individualism. And so, you know, we can definitely see that in our culture today. Like I said, we're very rugged, American individualists or those really watching international ??? like this as well. But when we study history, it gives us a sense that we are all connected, right? That we are all God's children, that we can see people differently, from different parts of the world, and we can have a better understanding with them. Or we can also understand ourselves and our country and our history. It gives that sense of a community.

She does talk in here about the fact that history education develops patriotism, which is really important to her, especially...I was just reading to you from volume six, which would have just been written after World War One. And, you know, this kind of pride in their country, and the importance of understanding the history of your own country, for that patriotism.

Another reason she gives for ‘why should we study history’ is that it helps us better understand the present. And she says, I've already spoken of history as a vital part of education. To us, in particular, who are living in one of the great epochs of history, it is necessary to know something of what has gone on before in order to think justly of what is occurring today.

And then she goes on to talk about, like, the League of Nations, which had just formed after World War One, and some other events in history that cut the League of Nations reminds her of these things that have happened in the past. So, a better understanding of history, we can have a better understanding of what is currently happening in our world.

She also says that it develops the moral imagination, which I love. This concept. And empathy. And that is so, I think, lacking in our culture today also just the way that history is normally taught in schools. When I taught 5th grade in public school, I was on the history textbook committee. Or social studies, as it was called. So, it was me and several other teachers from the district and all the big curriculum publishers would come, and they'd show us their books and try to get us to buy them, you know. And they all had, like, all these amazing bells and whistles in, like, you know, all my plans and all these, like, fancy things, right?

And I just remember reading through these and just being so discouraged because they were just so dry and dull. Lots of pictures, and this is for fifth grade, very little text. And the text was very succinct. There was nothing in it that captured my imagination. And I've always been an extremely imaginative person. And even as a child, like I said, we would go on these family vacations to, like, Colonial Williamsburg. And I would just imagine myself, like what would it have been like to have a fancy ball gown and dancing at the governor's ball? And to be a Patriot in the Revolutionary War? That came from the kind of culture I grew up in in my home and the books that I had read as a child. Historical fiction was always one of my favorite genres.

But you know, reading these textbooks that I was helping them choose between, there was nothing that captured my imagination. It was just the basics. This dry kind of facts. And Charlotte Mason says that it's important to develop that moral imagination in our children. That we give them these living ideas. That helps us develop empathy for the people in the world that are with us. We can understand them better. We can put ourselves kind of in their shoes, so to speak.

Oh, and I'm reading from her volumes, y'all. And I'm going to do this like the whole time because I don't want this to be, like, here's what Julie Ross has to say. If you want to give your kids a Charlotte Mason education, you have to go to what she says. And so, I'm going to put all these quotes in a Google doc, and I will send it out, however, it has to get out to you all. So, don't feel like oh, what page was that on? What'd she say? I will give all these quotes to you at the end, but just, right now, just let em, like, kinda soak in and kind of ponder over those.

In here, she says that these old books are easier and pleasanter than most modern words on history because the writers know little of the dignity of history. They pearl along pleasantly as a forest brook. Tell me about it. Stir your heart with the story of a great event. Amuse you with pageants and shows, and make you intimate with great people, and friendly with the lowly. They are just the right thing for children whose eager souls want to get at the living people behind the world of the history book, caring nothing at all for progress, statues, or about anything, but the persons for his action history is. To the child's mind no more than a convenient stage.

So, she's saying by using these living books, which I'm going to go into about what that means for history, that our children, it spurs in them, caring. I love this, they care or they're friendly with the lowly. And I love that kind of compassion concept that comes from reading history that it gives them, like I said, the title of this talk is, a pageant. And she says that history gives us a pageant in our mind that we can visualize and see these different events with our imaginations.

She says it'll amuse you. It's a great story. It will steal your heart. And I think that's so neat about Charlotte Mason's philosophy that when we're reading these stories, it really does do those things inside of our brains. So, Charlotte Mason, you know, has written, writing her works at the ends of the 1800s, early 1900s. And since they didn't have MRIs, they didn't have all the tests that we have now. But Neuroscience has actually continued to show some of these things that Charlotte Mason has talked about and I'm a total brain geek, so I love this stuff.

But one of the studies I was reading was talking about how they read...these were college students, so they read them, from a textbook, and they have those little neuron mapping kind of things on their heads. And they were measuring, like, what was happening in their brains while someone was reading this textbook to them. And it was very few, kind of, little lights here and there, but not much. And then they read them a story about a historical event and their brains were just like, all these different lights were going off. And then they also tested, like, the chemicals that their bodies were releasing. Which is so interesting. And one of them was oxycontin. Yeah, oxytocin. Whatever that one is. The one that you, like, when you have a baby right? That bonding chemical. And that was released when they were reading these stories, showing that our brains are actually making it possible for us to connect with the characters as we're reading them, make it possible for us to have connection and empathy with those people that we're reading about in history when it is in a story format and not in the textbook format.

And then the last reason that I wanted to talk about for why she says we should teach history is for magnanimity, which is a very fun word to say. Alright, so she says, children so taught are delightful companions because they have large interests and worthy thoughts. They have much to talk about and such casual talk benefits society.

So, I love this. Children who are taught with her living philosophy of education they are delightful companions. They have such a wide feast that they can talk about so many different things and that they do have worthy thoughts because they're actually taught how to think, and not being force-fed everything that they should know. The fine sense, like an atmosphere, of worth knowing and worth living for. That t is which produces magnanimous citizens, and we feel that Milton was right in claiming magnanimity as the proper outcome of education. And ??? generosity, kindness, zeal, and a passion for life, right? We want that as the outcome for our children and the way that she approached history, she says, can lead to these results.

So, let's talk now about how she said that history should be taught. So, in volume six, this is the last one that she wrote before she passed away, she gives a very clear outline of history, but it's also a very good overview of her philosophy in general. So, once again, like, it's not, like, okay, on this subject, you teach it this way, and now there's, this different subjects you're gonna have this whole other way that you have to teach. Her philosophy, it covers all of the subjects. It's all-encompassing. So, if one of your principles works for math, it works for history too.

But she's actually talking about history in this portion, but I think it really does give a good overview of her philosophy that I kinda wanna break down as well. And just kind of review here. She says, our knowledge of history should give us something more than impressions and opinions. But alas, the lack of time is a real difficulty, right? And so, we feel like we have to cover all of human history and all the countries of the world, right? Before our child leaves the house. And I understand that pressure and that fear, but that really is impossible. We can give them little skeleton outlines. That's really what we want. But she talks against that, right? That we want to go deep into history and to make those connections, but how do we do that? We do only have so much time, right?

So, I love this. She says the method I'm advocating has this advantage. It multiplies time. And when I read that I was like, that's so cool. I always want more time in my homeschool. I never feel like we have time. So, Charlotte Mason says my philosophy actually multiplies time. She says, each school period is quadrupled in time value, and we find that we get through a surprising amount of history in a thorough way, in the same time that most schools only afford a skeleton of English history alone. And I'm going to talk to you about the different types of history includes, so she's not just including English history. She's including more history, and she's able to go way deeper.

We know that the young people are enormously interested in the subject and give concentrated attention if we give them the right books. So, this is going back to this idea, and I'm sure people have talked about this before me, of Living books and the importance of choosing the right books. Because if we choose the right books, the children are interested. They have fixed attention and were able to cover more. She also says we are aware that our own discursive talk is usually a waste of time and a strain on the scholar's attention.

Ouch. You know? When I was like? I mean, I went to school to be a teacher and I thought for years before I started homeschooling my kids, I thought what I had to say was super important and that my kids would just sit and listen to me expose all of my wonderful worldly wisdom to them every day. And all that didn't really happen. And like she said, it was kind of a waste of time. So, by limiting our talk and by putting the children in touch with these living minds, with these living books themselves, and having them do the work of self-education, we're able to cover a lot more.

It also helps, and she says, we're giving two things. Knowledge and a keen sympathy in the interests that is aroused by knowledge. It is our part to see that children's know and can tell by the way of oral narration or written essay. And I'm going to talk a little bit more about narration in a second. But this is her primary method of teaching. Living books put...given to the children, and then narration, either orally or written, and because of that, there's not a whole bunch of other things, right? There's not, fill out the blank worksheets or crossword puzzles, or comprehension questions or things that take up so much more time in your day. And that's another reason why she's able to cover so much.

In this way, an unusual amount of ground is covered with certainty that no revision is required for the examination at the end of the term. Again, we're going to multiply time here in order to cover history, which is cool, cause history is, you know, all about time. And the way that we're going to do that is we're going to do a single reading. That means reading it one time or having your child read it one time.

So, she says a single reading is a condition insisted upon because a naturally dilatory habit of mind leads us all to put off the effort of attention as long as there's a second or third chance of coping with our subject is to be hoped for. And that was a really convicting thing for me as well, because, you know, coming from a public-school mindset and I helped start a private school. I helped start a Homeschool Academy. I had very much the traditional mindset of homeschooling my children at first. And I realized that I was actually training my kids in the habit of not paying attention by allowing them to go back and read something over again. So, you know, I would assign them their reading and I would get them their little questions that they're supposed to fill out after they have finished reading. Well, what do you do when you are reading something, and you have a bunch of questions and you don't remember the answer? You go back and you read it again. So, you're not going to pay that much attention the first time there, cause they're...I don't know about you, but like in school, I learned the trick, like, if I just don't find the questions, right? That I can just even scam and try to find the answers that I've been reading the whole entire thing.

So, I was training my kids in the habit of not paying attention. But when our children know that we're going to do something one time, and then we're going to ask them to tell it back to us at narration part, that increases their habit of attention. So, then we can have shorter lessons. So, the history lessons being in the younger, early elementary grades, be like fifteen minutes. In high school, being 30 to 45 minutes. But much shorter than the typical school period would be for that subject. And if you give your children, like, a, kind of like a traditional history book, the amount that they're supposed to read and then answer questions about or do activities for wouldn't fit into that short time period that Charlotte Mason said.

So, that single reading in that short lesson trains children in the habit of attention. We're going to talk less. They're going to be able to pay attention cause they're interested in the subject. Like I was telling you about that brain research and some of the chemicals. They were saying that one of the chemicals that our bodies release when we're really engaged in the story is cortisol, which is like the stress hormone, which is normally like, people my age, that's a bad thing. But in little doses, it's that kind of, like, adrenaline rush. It's like, oh, I don't know what's gonna happen, right? And so we want that. That helps us pay more attention.

And then, they're going to narrate. They're going to tell back to us, or write back to us, what they got out of the history reading. Another way that she said we had, and I'll go into narration a little bit deeper in a second, but one of the other things she advocates for teaching history is that we need to slow down. We cannot get through all of human history in one year, okay? That's covering too much. And so we want to go deep and not necessarily super fast and why?

She said, the fatal mistake is the notion that he must learn outlines or a baby edition of the whole history of England. This is too much covered the geography of all the world. Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly...I love that word, pleasantly...this is pleasant. This isn't rushed.

Over the history of a single man. A short period, until he thinks the thought of that man is at home in the ways of that period. Though he's reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he's really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age. So, by not feeling that we have to cover everything, and we have to cover this whole outline of history, we can slow down. And so, you know, in her rotation, sometimes they were only spending like a hundred, in the course of a year, three terms, it would only cover like a hundred-year time period. That allows me the time to really go deep to, you know, read these biographies about these people and to get into their thoughts and to feel like you're in that time period.

So slow down. And then we're going to add an additional layers of history. And I'm going to explain that in a little bit. Now...not right now, but just you know. So that's another way she talked about how history should be taught. And another way that she talked, and I used this in the quote there at the beginning, was that even though history is the pivot around which the curriculum turns, she's not advocating for a unit study. In a unit study is where everything correlates surround one topic or idea and example...where is it? Okay, so, in Parents and Children, she gives this example where there's a whole unit study on apples. Like, they learn about apples, they make apples out of clay. They go to an apple tree. They, you know, are brush drawing apples. All things that, like, are good things that she would have in her curriculum, I think they were even, like, selling something at one point. But your question is what's the informing idea behind that?

She says, this apple course is most instructive to us as emphasizing the tendency in the human mind to accept and rejoice in any neat system which will produce immediate results rather than to bring every such little course to the test of whether it does or does not fit either or both of our educational principles. So, you know, we can learn all these, like, things about an apple right? And we can do all the subjects about an apple. Why are we doing that? She's asking, what is that idea behind that?

And, she talks also about how our, we love to put together puzzles. Like, when you put together a puzzle, you're like, yeah! Right? I'm terrible, I have terrible spatial skills, so, like, for me to put together a whole entire puzzle is like a miracle, even, like, my little kids, little big for puzzles. But when I put it together, I'm like, yay! I did it, right?

And so, our brains like to do that. We like to take information and find information that goes together and that feels good. So, as a parent or a teacher, it's really, it feels really good to kind of try to put together this unit study where all these things are fitting together, but we're robbing our children of the joy of doing that for themselves. And that was really convicting for me because I used to be a teacher and when I went to college, like, my final projects were, unit studies. Like, that's what I was trained on how to create and you know routing through her philosophy, I had to let some of that go. It doesn't mean that things don't correlate with history though, because she does say that. What she's talking out against or kind of these arbitrary connections that don't naturally go together, and also the tendency for us to be doing all that work and not letting our children do it. Your children are going to naturally make connections with what they're learning about in history. And it might be something that you totally would have never connected, right? But because their brains are doing it, that's going to stick with them. Rather than me trying to make the connection and force it on them, my kids are like, well, how does this go together? I have no idea what she's talking about.

It might be fun, and they might love making or doing X-Y-Z, but we're robbing them of that joy of making those connections themselves. Just to give you an example, we read about Benjamin West who was an artist during the American Revolutionary time period, and the biography that I read to my kids had the story of him pulling out his cat's fur from his tail and making a paintbrush out of it. Cause they were Quakers, and they didn't have money for him to have art supplies. So, I read that to my kids. A year and a half later, I was reading my kids a biography on Sitting Bull and Sitting Bull caught a bird, and he was using the bird's feathers to paint with. And my daughter's like, that's just like Benjamin West. And I'm wondering, I was like, what on earth is she talking about? Because in my mind, that was like whoa, way long ago. I totally forgot about it, right? She's like, no, don't you remember the story? Like, she made that connection. She owned that material for herself and I could like give you a bajillion examples of that where my kids do that kind of thing all the time. But it's because I'm allowing those ideas to grow inside of them and not trying to make all those connections for them.

But she does say that history, again, is that pivot, so what does connect with history then? She says that, and here's just giving an example of, like, the Spanish Armada. And if you're learning about the Spanish Armada, like, you don't need to do math lessons to calculate how much food you would need to have for all sailors on the Spanish Armada. But she does say we should read such history travels in literature which would make the Spanish Armada come alive in their mind.

So here you see, history goes really nice in geography. And an understanding of the people and cultures of that time period. And then literature as well. And she does say that again about literature and history, being kind of entwined together. So, it's totally fine that you're reading, you know, this literature book that's also with the time period, because that makes that time period come alive and it is so much richer.

So, that's not what she's talking against. Again, she's talking about making these kind of arbitrary connections feeling like us as the teacher have to do all the work to make everything connect for our children, rather than putting them in touch with these living ideas through these books, and letting their brains make the connections for themselves.

So, let's talk a little bit about these books, then, that she says are so vital and important that we need to happen. I love this quote about the imagination. She says, now imagination does not descend full-grown to take possession of an empty house. Like every other power of the mind, it is the merest germ of a power to begin with. That little living idea. I love this, the picture she's saying here, and grows by what it gets in childhood, the age of faith is the time for its nourishing. The children should have the joy of living in far lands, in other persons and other times, a delightful double existence. And this joy they will find, for the most part, in their storybooks.

Their lessons to history and geography should cultivate their conceptive powers. If the child did not live in the times of his history lesson, being at home and declines of his geography books describes why these lessons will fail of their purpose. But lessons do their best in the picture gallery of the imagination, is poorly hung if the child has not found his way into the realms of fancy.

So, again, these living ideas, these little, tiny seeds, right? And the more that they are fed, the more that they grow, and our children can put themselves into these lands, and they have kind of this understanding of the world, and they're able to make further connections as they keep growing.

So, she starts off, and I'm going to kind of talk about some of these layers I was talking about, of history, and how she approached those. And then some of the books that I love and use with them. So, maybe that will give you some ideas to get started as well.

So in first grade she talks, in her program, she had students learning about, again, they started with the history of their own country. I don't know if I said that already. But, so, in first grade, they would start with the history of their own country. Which, for them, was England. And the reasoning kinda behind that, and you see this principle a lot in some of her other subjects like geography as well, that they're starting with what they know and then they're moving out from there.

So, you know, young children, they do not have a concept of time. I don't know about you, but, like, my kids would be like, so yestermorrow when I went to the.... And they told me something that they did, like, two weeks ago. I'm like, what? Yestermorrow? What's that? You know? Or, 'member, 'member yesterday when I went to grandma's house blah blah. But that, like, happened a year ago. Like, their concept of time is so different than ours, right? So, children can understand the concrete. What's in front of them right now, which is their own country, right? They can see statues. They can go on field trips. Like I said, I did that as a child. They can connect to those things because they can understand them better.

So they're starting with the history of their own country. And she said to start with these myths and hero stories, which I just love because it goes into that quote I was talking about. That tiny seed is that imagination. And the book that she used is Our Island Story, which is amazing. And yes, I love my copy of this book. I did order it all the way from England. Because I love really old books and it's big and beautiful, but you can buy new paperback versions of it.

But here, especially like, in the beginning of England, you know, you have, like, King Arthur and the Knights and these Giants and kinda these myths before, like, real, actual history was written down. And we have that somewhat in our own country as well. We think of, like, the Native American myths. And there's several resources for those. You can find a ton of picture books about the different Native American myths. And, also, I think of, like, American tall tales because, you know, like, some of these were real people like Johnny Appleseed and Davy Crockett. But it's kind of, like, King Arthur might have been a real person, right? But it's like these larger than life. It's this capturing of their imagination. So, I really like ???

Again, this isn't really, like what you would call history, right? This is just kind of warming their imaginations. And then, starting in second grade, they're still learning about the history of the country. She talks about adding in biographies to start exposing them to the thoughts of the men and women of that time period. So for form one, which is grades one through three, some of my favorite biographies are these step-up books and they have this little lion on it, and they are written at, like, a third grade reading level and my kids just devour these. And they learned so much about the people that are in these stories. They're able to connect with them and see into their world.

There's also, y'all, there's so many amazing picture books and things out there these days, it's incredible. And one of the things I hear about, like Charlotte Mason is like, oh she, you know, you can only use old books that were written, you know, a hundred years ago. And that's not true at all. Like, there's so many great living books that are continuing to be published and we have so many more books at our fingertips than Charlotte Mason ever dreamed about for children.

So, at that young age, I still just love picture books. So this is one on Sitting Bull. And my kids just really connected with this story and just had a lot of empathy for their struggle. And some really good tough questions too, which is really neat. And so also with hero stories. There's a couple other ones. This is American Hero Stories, by Eva March Toppan. And America First by Lawton Evan. So both of these are kind of that story about individuals, mostly. These ones are older, so they're mostly men. And again, these are older too, so you have to kind of read it and edit as you read it. But they're those stories that do capture the imagination.

I do have a free course called the Feast of the Charlotte Mason Method. If you go to my website and you click on the learn more button, you can get this free course. I know you probably have, like, had Charlotte Mason overload the past couple days, but if you want to dive in deeper, you can get that free five-day email course as well. But in that, I read from this book, America First, of the story of Andrew Jackson. And I tell her my son just absolutely, that just totally captured his imagination. Because in that story, a British officer. Well, the British soldiers are staying in Andrew Jackson's house. And one of the officers asked Andrew Jackson to clean his boots. And, Andrew Jackson says, I am not your servant or slave. Clean your own boots. And the officer took out a sword and slashed him, and that's why Andrew Jackson has that scar, which I never knew.

How cool is that right? And so my seven-year-old boy is, like, acting this out with his sword and you know totally connected to it. But it's again that story concept, right? You could've just read a book, Andrew Jackson was the President of United States from blah blah blah.

And he did duh duh duh duh, you know, rather than having a story that they can connect with, so that later on, when he does read some more kind of meaty, factual information about Andrew Jackson, he'd be like, oh, I remember that guy, right?

It can have those ideas to connect the facts too, and Charlotte Mason talks about that too, like, these pegs, these ideas. And then we learn that information, we're able to connect them cause we can relate. We can have that, again, that compassion, that empathy, that connection with these characters. So, when the facts come, we understand that and we know those people.

Today's episode is brought to you by A Gentle Feast. A Gentle Feast is a complete curriculum for grades one through twelve that is family-centered, inspired by Miss Mason's programs and philosophy, and rooted in books, beauty, and Biblical truth. You can find out how smooth and easy days are closer than you think at

All right, and then in form two, they would, so this is like in fourth through sixth grade, they would continue with the study of their own country. So that's something they never stopped doing. So from first grade through twelfth grade, they were studying British history. They're adding on these layers in these extra parts of history. But you think about what a deep understanding they're going to have a British history for having studied it for that long. And again, different time periods. It's not like we're studying every year they're studying all of British history, all British history, right? That would be a little boring.

But they're adding on different components. So, if form two, grades four through six, they're still studying their own country, and then she added...says, you know, we're gonna be...if we only study our own country and our own people, we're gonna be very insular and very narrow-minded. And so, we need to broaden and understand other countries as well. We're not gonna be able to understand every country in the whole world, understand the complete history of every people. So, she talked about learning about the history of a close neighboring country. And for them, that was France.

So, starting in fourth grade, they would start learning about France and then they would kind of keep that going somewhat. Sometimes the countries would change, and it would eventually, in high school, go to all of Europe. So again, starting with what you know and kind of broadening out. So, by high school, they're studying world history.

And then in fifth grade, she added an ancient history. She used a book called the British History Museum for Children, I believe, and I'll link to that as well. So, if you're a really big Charlotte Mason geek like I am, you can actually go on, which is an amazing website and I spend way too much time on it. But on, you can actually see Charlotte Mason's programs. So if you were, you know, living during her time and you wanted to homeschool, or you had a governess and you wanted to use her programs, every twelve weeks, so every new term you would get in the mail, it kind of looked like a book list. And it would have the subjects, and it would have, you know, read this many pages in this book, this many pages for the subjects. And at the end of the term, you would get an exam that went with it, and you would send it back to them. And then they would give you the next term. And so on you can actually see the Charlotte Mason programs. I think the farthest one back they have this program 90, which was in 1921. Charlotte Mason died in 1923, so you don't wanna go too far. I mean probably...I went to, like, 1930 in my studies, where people that took over after she passed away were still very very knowledgeable on her philosophy. But it keeps on going. But there are some differentiation there.

But you can actually see, okay, what was she using for history? You can actually find most of the books that she used on, and that's free. So, if you really are like, you know, why do the Charlotte Mason philosophy? But you're like I can't afford all these books? A lot of them are free on and you can do the exact same thing that she was doing as well.

But is it really good for me? That's how I kind of developed my curriculum for Gentle Feast, was by going in there and saying okay, she used this book and this book in this book and then, you know, the following year, what was she covering in terms of historical time periods? And what were those books kind of like and is there anything similar out there today?

But then you continue then, those three layers. So, the history of their own country, the history of a neighboring country or world history, and then this ancient. And the British History Museum for Children is an amazing book. Like, y'all, I've been to the British History Museum. It is amazing, and if I have that to study ancient history, I would have thought it was way more interesting than I actually kinda do because there are so many neat things there.

So, it walks you kind of room through room through the museum. And it talks about different artifacts and kind of like the history behind them. So, like, I mean, the Rosetta Stone's there, and Cleopatra's money and they have all these, like, amazing statues and it's incredible. So, if, like, I've got to learn ancient history that way, that's so cool. But that's how she kind of started off. And then in the older grades, you know, they were reading more of an in-depth book of ancient studies.

But don't get overwhelmed with that. I know some people are like, oh, I don't understand all these different layers and how that has to work. I think the key is really starting with the history of your own country. Adding on more depth to that. And then studying some other kind of history, whether it's world or ancient or the history of a neighboring country. Whatever it may be, did not just have that one linear history.

And again, you're gonna have short, varied lessons. So, history is every day of the week, but Monday might be British history, and Tuesday might be ancient history, and Wednesday might be British again. So, you're getting that kind of variety that also helps sustain our attention. And you might be like well, how does a kid keep track of all that right? I mean, that's like huge different time periods. So, once they started adding on that ancient in fifth grade, they do something called a book of centuries. So, I cannot find ours that had writing it, so I'm just gonna show you one that I bought for next year already, that's like.

But basically, it's like a timeline in a book. So, it starts out, these are very big time periods, here, like a thousand, a hundred years. And basically, what the purpose of it is is that they would draw pictures of kind of the architecture, the clothing, the tools people had in that time period here. And then you would write the important events and people on these kind of lines. That's just a way for them to keep track. So they're studying, you know, creation and the Israelites, but they're also studying, like, the Vikings, they can flip back and forth with this and add people to it so they can...again, so this is for older children. And that's the thing that can help them kind of visually keep track of those different strands of history.

But really, I mean, my kids, like, it didn't faze them. They're not thinking, like, Abraham Lincoln fought in the Peloponnesian war. Like, they're able to differentiate what's happening over here and what's happening here and what's happening back then because we're doing this when they get to be older and have that time.

So, again, let me just jump into narration here cause I'm running out of time. I love to talk. Okay, so, like she said, we're going to read them these living books and we're going to try to get out of the way and put them in touch with those thoughts. And we're only going to read it once, and when you're first starting out, you're not going to read them an entire chapter of Our Island Story, and then ask them to tell you back what it was about. That's too much. Narration is hard. If you've never done it, I encourage you to do it. She actually says this in one of her volumes, where it would be a benefit to the mom to read, like, a Jane Austen book or Dickens, and then tell back what it was about and go to bed. Which I was like, I love that she just tells us to go to bed cause we need to hear that, right?

But you could try that. If you have any Austen or Dickens or whatever else you're reading at home, you know, read it, tell back what you know, and then go to sleep. And her thinking behind the sleeping part was, you know, yeah, A, we need some rest. But, B, that's when our minds are able to kind of process those ideas even more. We need that time alone. And so, anyway, just say it really is hard, so you're developing that skill. It's a muscle and so, you're not going to go to the gym and lift, like, fifty pounds right away, right? You're gonna start with a little eight-pound weight and then work your way up.

And that's the same with narration. So, you just want little, small snippets. Okay, what happened? Okay, now I'm gonna keep reading. And then the next day when you come back to that book, be like, okay, so you remember yesterday? Again, brief talking here, but I might just say okay, remember yesterday when George Washington crossed the Delaware River with the soldiers, and they surprised the British and they won that battle? Okay, so today we're going to, we're gonna, you know, pick up where we left off. That's it. I'm gonna read to them, and I'm gonna ask them so, George Washington crossed the River or whatever happened at the beginning of that story, and they're going to pick up and tell me what it was about.

So that's oral narration. That's talking. And Charlotte Mason says that is a natural human process. Human beings like to talk about things that they're thinking, things that they're learning, right? I mean, your child, when they were little and like going over a friend's house, they come home, you're like, what'd you do? And they're like, oh la la la la la la la, right? Or, oh that, you went and saw that movie with Dad? What was that really about? And they can go into all kinds of detail about the movie, right? It's taking that natural process and putting it towards school. And at first, I mean, your kids will be know, kinda freeze up there. But they will do it naturally if you allow them that, you show them that you're interested, and you give then that freedom.

Then you're going to move to written narrations. Oh, wait, I forgot something. So, your children can draw their narrations. She talks about that in her volumes for history. Talks about them drawing, like, Julius Caesar, which I can imagine would be very interesting drawings. And she says, like, these are not gonna be works of art. This is just a way for them to express what they got out of the story. So drawing is great.

Playing is so important for little children. Give them time in their day, and again, this is why those short lessons are so important so that we're done by lunch with my little ones and they could spend all afternoon playing and I'll hear them in the backyard, you know, pretending that they're George Washington and they're going to go on this battle now and they had this whole bag battle plan. They're playing those ideas that they learned about. Like, this year we did modern times, and one day I came downstairs and my kids were all dressed up and I'm like, what're y'all doing? And my one daughter was Adolf Hitler and the other one was Freda Kaylo and then the other one was a governess from this story that we were reading.

I mean, it was the most interesting combination of people, right? But they're playing with those ideas in those characters. What would they have acted like? What would they have thought? What would they have said? How would they have interacted if they really had met these people? So, play is so important for the little kids for narration. And you might think they got nothing out of the lesson. There have been so many times where I was like, well, that went... And then days, even months later, I hear my kids playing and talking about that person in their play or in the story that they're creating. So, relax. It does get in there.

Another thing that you can do, so, for my little ones they will draw pictures sometimes and I will write their narration. So, once a week I do this kinda keeping time, where my kids, we do our narrations. And so these little blank books. You can see that. You can buy these at the Target dollar bin. They also, you can get ‘em on Amazon or the Target dollar bin right before school starts. And so if we're learning about, like, this is Colonial America. We did one in the Civil War. We did one World War Two. Kind of big historical events. I'll take their narrations that I'll put em into this little book. So, they'll draw the picture and then they'll tell me what their pictures about and I'll just write it down for them. We add a little table of contents to make it, like, legit.

So, this is my daughter when she was in second grade, I think. And she just finished fifth grade, so I wanted to show you kind of the progression there. So, this is one of her narrations from fifth grade. So, there is...we were talking about the space shuttle. And there's all that she told me about it. So again, she was just telling me a little bit in second grade, but it grows and it's this process where you kinda have to trust cause it does take time. It does take consistency, which is one of the things I was not good at at first with narration. It every day, about everything that I want...if I want em to know it, they gotta tell it back to me. We gotta have our narration for it.

And then they keep doing that even in high school. So, this is my tenth grader's book. So, this was geography, history, she put all of those different layers I was talking all in here. So, we have ancient, we have modern. She drew maps in here and so this is a written narration on Paul Johnson on a history reading. So, Paul Johnson's a history of American people, very small light reading.

And she didn't always write, you know, that, she would still orally narrate. That never goes away. So, depending on time she might voice text me her narration instead of writing it down. So, it just kind of depends on the day, you can, you can still keep doing both of those. So those things, those things never go away. That narration is such a key. And even in high school, you could add more composition to their narrations. So that's one of the other things I do. So, like for this year she did a narration on Stalin, she did a narration on Hitler. And then I said, okay, give me a narration where you compare and contrast them. Or give me your opinion of. Or describe this event. So, they're able to go a lot deeper into their narrations. You can even kind of give them a focus for that, that will help them naturally translate the composition.

And I could go on about that, but Ann is telling me I'm out of time. Cause narration is such a huge component of the Charlotte Mason education. But I'm just giving you a little snippet of it so that hopefully that can give you, get you started. But it is such a key component to history because you have those living books in this living ideas, you want them to take root in the child's mind. So, you're not going to ask them a bunch of questions about it. You're not gonna give them a bunch of worksheets to fill in or a bunch of things to do, because that kind of squashes that idea from growing and taking root. You're going to do a narration. She says the know and tell. If they can't tell, they don't know.

And think about it, like if someone asks you, what did you think about that movie and you're like, I don't remember, right? If you can't tell them what it was about, you don't know it. Right? But if you read a book and you call your best friend, you're like, oh my goodness, this book is so amazing. This happened, and this happened, you know that information. That's yours. And so that's what we want our children to deal with these history ideas. We want them to make it their own and have it stick with them. And she talked about how they don't need to review before examinations. And they don't. Because if those living ideas are a part of them, and then at the end of the term you ask them, tell me about Sitting Bull. And it might be weeks since you finished that book on Sitting Bull. But if your child has been able to tell you about it all along, then they should be able to go, oh yeah, Sitting Bull. And they should be able to tell you again, and sometimes more things will come out because they've had that time to grow and take root inside their minds.

So, I hope that has given you a little taste of the Charlotte Mason idea of history. I'm going to, again, give you that Google doc, but one of the things on that is a link to a blog post I wrote all about those different layers that kind of explains it a little bit more. Again, I also have that free course. If you go to and click learn more, that goes more into her philosophy. And I think there's a discount code too, so I'll put that in the comments too.

Thanks for watching.

Thank you for joining us today on the Charlotte Mason show. I'm your host, Julie Ross, and I would love to meet you in person. All of the Great Homeschool Conventions have been rescheduled to 2021. Go to to find a convention near you.

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