Charlotte Mason {in Church}

Exciting news… Charlotte Mason has entered our Children’s Church ministry at our church! I was asked to take over the ministry this year as the previous director was burnt out on time and energy. After much thought and prayer, I committed and started looking at curriculum, but quickly got discouraged.

Then, I realized I should just make up my own, using Charlotte Mason’s ideas and methods! I knew I wanted to read the Bible stories, learn a hymn, and perhaps do some narration via flannel-graph or acting out scenes with play people, etc.

I also knew I needed to explain this new method and way of thinking to these dear people who have served the children for many years. I was pretty intimidated at thinking about how I would do justice in communicating CM’s love and respect for the children, as well as her methods. This is a pretty radical departure from so many programs and even curriculum that tend towards spoon-feeding the children knowledge and making sure the teacher is doing the work for the children. I feel like sometimes teachers think they have to do a song and dance each Sunday to engage the children and don’t quite give them the chance to do the hard work of learning and engaging with Scripture. Charlotte Mason relied on and trusted the Holy Spirit to use the Word of God in the souls and minds of the children and she knew that Jesus commanded the little children to come to Him unhindered!

Anyways, as I was alone working on our AWANA room one day, listening to a A Delectable Education Podcast (which I often listen to), lo and behold, this sweet mom starts talking about how she has started a Charlotte Mason Sunday School program at her church and goes into great detail about what that looks like for them. I truly believe it was the Holy Spirit working for me and confirming what I had already been leaning towards. I was so thankful for the podcast and immediately told Steve that he should listen to it, too. He did and encouraged me to pursue it.

So, practically, what are we doing??

We are reading from Genesis and Matthew for this first year (as CM recommends- alternating weeks) so as to cover the major stories of the OT and NT (Jesus!). The Bible passages will be read aloud in the ESV. {I am taking this woman’s advice and purchasing a beautiful new Bible for them to instill a greater sense of reverence and awe of the Holy Scriptures.} After reading, the children will narrate to me what they remember. Longer passages will need to be broken up for the sake of attention.

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Charlotte Mason says,

…It is a mistake to translate Bible stories into slipshod English, even when the narrator keeps close to the facts of the narrative. The rhythm and cadence of Biblical phraseology is as charming to a child as to his elders, if not more so. Read your Bible story to the child, bit by bit; get him to tell you in his own words (keeping as close as he can to the Bible words) what you have read, and then, if you like, talk about it; but not much. (Vol. 2 p.110)

After reading, we will be doing a Picture Study- looking at a picture from the masters so the children can have in their minds pictures of goodness, truth and beauty- related to whatever Bible story we are currently reading. They will also narrate what they see after looking at it silently for 60 seconds.

Charlotte Mason says,

“But let the imaginations of children be stored with the pictures, their minds nourished upon the words, of the gradually unfolding story of the Scriptures, and they will come to look out upon a wide horizon within which persons and events take shape in their due place and in due proportion . By degrees, they will see that the world is a stage whereon the goodness of God is continually striving with the wilfulness of man; that some heroic men take sides with God ; and that others, foolish and headstrong, oppose themselves to Him. The fire of enthusiasm will kindle in their breast, and the children, too, will take their side, without much exhortation, or any thought or talk of spiritual experience.” (Vol.1 p.249)

After Picture Study, we will be singing one hymn each month from Keith and Krystin Getty’s Kid Hymnal. We have some instruments to play along with and the idea is to expose them to great hymns with the goal of learning them! We hope these hymns will become meaningful to them and something they can recognize when they hear it played in the services or elsewhere.

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After singing, we will be working on memorizing Psalm 139:1-16 over the course of the school year, 2 verses each month. They will be encouraged to practice at home by reading through the verses with their parents (this will be good for the parents and the children! 🙂 ) We hope to hide God’s Word in their hearts through simple repetition.

And after recitation, we are going to be doing some Nature Study. The teachers are responsible to bring in on nature object each week so the kids can paint it and consider God’s creation. We will keep their artwork in the room until the end of the semester and then give them to the parents in a bundle. We hope to bring some of God’s creation in for greater consideration and for the children to develop their observational skills. This will open their minds to care for His creation, maybe encouraging better stewardship of the earth from the children of His Body.

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Yesterday, I had a meeting with my teachers and it was truly wonderful to explain a little of Charlotte Mason to them and see their excitement for something new take place. By the end, they were looking forward to a different approach and very willing to try. I was so thankful. I shared some quotes with them and they asked for more info and more about who CM is, so I promised them that I would send them some articles and things to read about her, her methods and some articles from the PNEU, and then we will talk again in November about how teaching has gone and what they have learned through the readings.

This morning, we started Children’s Church and had six children attend. It went really well and the children were all engaged, excited and enjoyed the different parts- they narrated better than I could have hoped for (as first-timers!) and loved the painting time (I had brought in a woolly caterpillar). It was so encouraging to see after so much planning and prayer!

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