Category Archives: News/Updates

A Long-awaited Book

I don’t know that anyone else has been waiting a long time, but I have! I began writing this book in 2019 and now it’s 2024. Many things have happened since I began, and of course I wasn’t working on this book all that time. That’s why it’s taken so long to finish! I had to keep putting it off to take care of other, more pressing things, including my share of working on Six Voices, One Story which was published last year. However—at last—my little book is nearly ready to venture out into the world.

Much May be Done with Sparrows is a collection of essays—educational meditations based on nuggets of wisdom gleaned from Charlotte Mason. Her volumes are littered with little gems of wisdom—idea-seeds that sprouted and grew into these reflections.

Have you ever heard of a chapbook? It’s a little collection of an author’s writings gathered together and published in a small format— quite often poetry, but it can be prose as well. (This is prose!) I hope you’ll find it a nice size for tucking into a day bag, to be pulled out when you’ve got a minute to sit down with a nice cup of coffee or tea. In these pages, we won’t be wrestling with big philosophical ideas. Instead, we’ll take a nice pocket-sized piece of Charlotte Mason’s genius, turn it over and and over in our hands and thoughts, and appreciate how precious the little things in life can be.

All teachers need to refresh their hearts, souls, and minds at intervals, and this is especially true for homeschool moms. This is a book for homeschooling parents.

I hope that the thoughts and reminders here will keep your heart focused on the things that are truly important. I hope you will pick up a useful idea or two, like a stray gift, that will ease some part of your teaching work.

I hope, most of all, that as you enter into the little things I’ve written about here that you will find the joy of your work renewed and strengthened. Yes, homeschooling is a large and important task. Yes, the days can grow long and tiresome. Yes, sometimes we get weary and disheartened. But in the end, teaching is not a drudgery. The joy of learning that we want to preserve and encourage in our children is our joy as well. Here is a little passage from the title essay:

We would do well to apprehend the truth that our lives are made up not of years or months or even weeks, but only moments, one after the other. We have only today, this crumb of time. What are we meant to be doing with it? What life-giving blessings have been poured into it for us? If we pay attention to the blessings at hand—whatever they are—this moment will be a moment of nourishment, joy, peace, or labor. Whether we are washing dishes or picking up toys or changing a diaper, that is not a wasted or worthless moment. Those tasks are a sign that we have been blessed with food to eat, a home to live in, and children to love.

from Much may be done with sparrows

I’ll have to keep you updated about the exact publication date, but I’m hoping it will be available in June 2024. We’re in the home stretch with this little book and I’m so excited to show you the cover and talk about it. I hope it will be a blessing to you as you take a break from the 23/24 school year and get ready to dive in to 24/25. Home educating your children is a big job, and sometimes you just need some encouragement. That’s what this book is for.

In Vital Harmony book study

Hosted via the Beautiful Teaching website, I’m going to be offering another in-person online book study for In Vital Harmony. Over six weeks, we’ll meet once per week on Thursdays for live lecture and discussion. This time, there will also be some study notes available ahead of time and discussion space outside of class time to interact further with each other and the ideas we’ll be covering.

Class will run from September 22 to October 27 (with lectures available to view for one week if you have to miss a live class). I did a session of this a few months ago for the first time ever, and I’ve made several improvements. I got great feedback from the last group, and I’m hoping the experience will be better than ever this time around.

If you want to understand Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy in a comprehensive and cohesive way, this course will walk you through all the parts while keeping the larger picture in view. Join me! I look forward to seeing you there. (Space is limited for the sake of discussion, so register soon.)

A sneak peak at a new book–coming very soon!

I know my blog has been quiet for a good while, and my website definitely needs the cobwebs brushed out of the corners and freshened up a bit, but regardless of all that, it’s finally time to share a project I’ve been talking about (vaguely) for a couple of years.

Just after I wrote In Vital Harmony, I began to reread Charlotte Mason’s Home Education. I was deeply immersed in the principles, and keenly aware of every turn of phrase that made reference to them. As I read through Home Education, I could see the wonderful connections and related parts that I had just written about, and I thought—wouldn’t it be wonderful to read Home Education with a study guide that would ensure the principles were highlighted?

MindToMindCoverFrontShadow After I abridged A Philosophy of Education as Mind to Mind, I had kind of promised myself not to abridge another volume. But a different idea emerged as I pondered highlighting the principles in Home Education. What if there were a study version? What if the material was broken up into manageable readings followed by study questions that called attention to the principles? What if you kept a copy of the principles at hand as you read and referred to them often?

And so A Thinking Love: Studies from Charlotte Mason’s Home Education was conceived.

It’s taken a long time to get to delivery, but here we finally are!

And there’s more!

Home Education began as a series of eight lectures delivered to parents. Eight. If you open any contemporary publication of Home Education, you will find only six. But the other two lectures are still out there. In 1905, Home Education was updated with a lot of material related to teaching lessons. In order to make room for the new material, lectures seven and eight were moved to a new volume—Formation of Character. Yes, that strange, eclectic volume that not many Charlotte Mason enthusiasts find time to read in the year of our Lord 2022. (But if you want to explore it further, I collaborated on a good overview of it in the Take the Fifth blog series a few years ago.)

With the removal of those two lectures, Home Education became a book about the education of children up to age nine, but that’s not the spirit of the original eight lectures. Charlotte Mason presented her principles, and then discussed their implications from birth to young adulthood. Those last two lectures are a treasure not to be missed (even if you never read the rest of Formation of Character), and they belong with the other six.

So I put them back in.

Charlotte Mason took them out in the first place to make room for new material, and I made room for them by leaving out other things–beef tea, wool clothing, coal fires, and Victorian-era science about the brain—and full-time nannies, as much as I could. The things you really want from Charlotte Mason—her educational principles, her practical advice, her wisdom and encouragement—that is all still here, presented in short readings that can be finished in as little as ten or fifteen minutes. Each reading is followed by three points for discussion, further thinking, or practical activity to help you get the most out of the material. I think it will work well for those who want to read and discuss in community. (If you do that, let me know how it goes.)

I’m so excited to finally be sharing this project with the world, and I’ll be letting you know that the book is available (paperback and Kindle) very, very soon.

I get to speak at a conference, and you’re invited!

This is kind of funny after I’ve been writing about the PNEU conference I learned about at the Armitt. I want to invite you to a conference I’ll be joining. I’ve had the privilege of speaking at a few different Charlotte Mason events—some larger, some smaller. I love the chance to connect with educators who are as interested in learning and exploring as I am, pretty much like those young ladies from a hundred years ago. I’ve had one speaking engagement cancelled in 2020 so far, and others may be in jeopardy. Maybe there’s a silver lining? I was invited to speak at an online event last year, but my summer was busy with ministry and preparing for camp and travel. I had to refuse because there just wasn’t room in my schedule. So, they invited me to speak again this year, and like everyone else, I have a pretty empty calendar, and I stay home most of the time, so yes! I can do that! And I’d love to see you there.

It’s the Charlotte Mason Inspired Online Homeschool Conference. This is an online conference to begin with, so they haven’t had to cancel or postpone! It’s five whole days of speakers on a wide range of Charlotte Mason topics. I don’t know all of them, but I am familiar with several, and it’s good company. I hope you’ll consider joining us. You can sign up here.  (Full disclosure—that’s an affiliate link.)

I’ll be speaking about “A Few Broad Essential Principles,” and if you’ve dipped into In Vital Harmony, you can probably guess the principles I have in mind. However, I’ll also be discussing the way that the core principles affect the various parts of a Charlotte Mason Education. If you’ve been a little glum because summer events, conventions, and conferences have been cancelled or postponed, this might be just the ticket to brighten things up a bit. It’s a lot of content for a great price, and attendees will receive a virtual swag bag of “cool stuff” and be eligible for all kinds of great giveaways. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you can join me.

Announcing a new book!

At the recent AmblesideOnline Camp Meeting 2019 (#AOCM2019), where I was privileged to speak to 400 women about Charlotte Mason’s principles, I shared this announcement, and now I want to share it with all of you.

After studying and thinking about  Charlotte Mason’s twenty principles very purposefully over the last several years, I realized that the two most vital principles are Children are born persons and Education is the science of relations. If you listened to the audio seminar, Principles at the Helm, you already heard a bit about that.

However, realizing which were the two primary principles made me want to understand how all the principles related to each other. They are not twenty individual things—they are part of the “science of relations” themselves. In Consider This, I devoted quite a bit of time to understanding synthetic, relational thinking, which helps us explore the ways in which “all things are bound to all other things.” Charlotte Mason understood the connected-ness of all things very well, and described her philosophy as “having a central idea, a body of thought with various members working in vital harmony.”

Therefore, I want to introduce my next book, In Vital Harmony: The Integrated Principles of Charlotte Mason:

You see, what I learned was that all the principles do have a relationship to each other—shaping themselves around the two primary principles—and understanding those relationships makes the whole philosophy cohesive and comprehensible. Charlotte Mason wanted her principles to be understandable and accessible to all parents, and so do I, which is why I’m going to share them in a way that relates them to our own time and culture. Charlotte Mason said:

That system which shall be of use to practical people in giving purpose, unity and continuity to education, must satisfy the following demands:—It must be adequate, covering the whole nature of man and his relations with all that is other than himself. It must be necessary, that is, no other equally adequate psychology should present itself; and it must touch at all points the living thought of the age. (emphasis added)

Notice how the “adequate” philosophy of education covers 1) the whole nature of man [children are born persons] and 2) his relations with all that is other than himself [education is the science of relations]. Those two principles are the keys to the rest! However,  the thought of our age is not what it was during Charlotte Mason’s lifetime. Principles don’t change, but sometimes the way we need to think and talk about them changes because the  ideas that drive our culture do shift.

Does that second principle about good and evil make you a little uneasy? Do you grasp how the authority and obedience principle which is “natural, necessary, and fundamental” gives purpose to education? Do you know how the Way of the Will and the Way of Reason relate to the two primary principles?

What if I could show you—graphically, all on one page—how everything fits together?  And did you know that Charlotte Mason essentially gave us her educational philosophy “in a nutshell”—just one sentence that covers the whole ground? It’s not unlike Jesus’ summarizing the law and the prophets as “love the Lord your God, and your neighbor as yourself.” Yes, there are details, but that’s the essence. Charlotte Mason did the same thing for her entire educational philosophy.

In Vital Harmony will give you a strong, clear grasp of the philosophy of Charlotte Mason, but that is not all. If you read Know and Tell, did you find that the “why” behind the practice of narration made the details of “how” much more understandable? In Vital Harmony is also going to help you connect the philosophy to many of the practices that are part of a Charlotte Mason education. It’s an (easy-to-understand) philosophical book with a practical twist.

And the big question—when will it be available? I don’t have an exact date set, but I hope it will be ready before the end of 2019. In time for Christmas, maybe? Let’s hope so! I’ve been very excited as I’ve anticipated sharing the news about In Vital Harmony (and my cover!) with you, and I hope you’re looking forward to reading it.

Just for fun—which principle do you wish you understood a little better?

Happy Valentine’s Day

Have you got a bit of the winter blues? February is a month that seems to drag on forever while we anticipate spring. From today through Saturday, the Principles at the Helm seminar is on sale for 20% off. It’s an encouraging reminder of the vital principles that bring a living spark to our educational efforts—just the thing to combat the gray days of late winter.

Use the code “lovetolearn” to get your discount.


Blog series—Take the Fifth!

First thing on the agenda for 2019 is a new blog series! I’m excited about this one because it’s about my favorite of Charlotte Mason’s six volumes and because it’s a joint venture with my friend and colleague (at AmblesideOnline), Anne White (author of Minds More Awake and The Plutarch Project volumes).

I did an informal poll in the AmblesideOnline Facebook group last year, asking people which volumes in the six-volume Charlotte Mason series they had read. I wasn’t surprised that volume five, Formation of Character, came in dead last in that poll. It’s never going to be the first or most important book to read, but there’s really excellent material—some of it a bit surprising—in there. We want you to have a taste of it, so get ready for our “Take the Fifth” series!

The four-week series will begin Monday, January 21. We’ll be posting three times a week—Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—so it’s going to be full of good things. Anne will posting on her blog, Anne Writes; I’ll be posting here; and the Friday posts will be interesting excerpts to whet your appetite for further reading. We’ll be cross-reference everything, and I’ll add links to this post each week so you won’t miss anything. Even if you don’t have time to read Formation of Character yourself in 2019, you’ll end up with a good idea of what to expect when you do get a chance.

We’re really hoping that this glimpse between the covers of volume five will give you a desire to pick it up and read it.

Join us as we…

All posts in this series:

  1. Why we do what we do (The Formation of Character)
  2. Part I—Forming habits with older children
  3. Quote: Wisdom from Volume 5: No Shortage of Love
  4. Quote: Words of Wisdom from Formation of Character, Part I
  5. Volume 5, Part II: “Education is the Maker of Character”
  6. Part II–So many things to think about!
  7. Quote: Wisdom from Volume 5: Too Many Cooks, Not Enough Facts.
  8. Quote: Words of Wisdom from Formation of Character, part II
  9. Part III—Delight in Knowledge
  10. Volume 5, Part 3: “Young Maidens at Home”
  11. Quote: Words of Wisdom from Formation of Character, part III
  12. Quote: Wisdom from Volume 5: A Place for Home-Bred Daughters
  13. Part IV—Sowing the Seeds
  14. Volume 5 Part IV: All About Pendennis
  15. Quote: Words of Wisdom from Formation of Character, Part IV
  16. Quote: Wisdom from Part IV: A generous zeal for education.
  17. Anne’s closing post for the series
  18. Last chat about Formation of Character (with audio recording!)

Know and Tell is available!

I’m so excited to share that Know and Tell: The Art of Narration is available at last. I’m especially happy to report that I made it before the end of January, as promised. Whew!

I’ve been working on this book for so long, it’s hard to believe that it’s finally going to venture into the world on its own. I fervently hope it will do what I want it to do—give readers confidence in the very effective method of narration. I’m looking forward to your feedback!


In the home stretch…

Now that it’s January, I have been flooded by questions about when, exactly, Know and Tell will be available, and that is perfectly fair because I said January, right?

When I said that (in October), I was hoping for earlier rather than later in January, too. However, I should have known better because holidays, winters, business, baking, illness, and etc.

However, I spoke with my formatting editor (i.e. husband) last night and he assures me January is still on. We are that close. Allowing for as-yet-unforeseen complications, we’re committed to having Know and Tell available before January 31. I wish it were sooner, too. I want it to be the very best I can give you, though, and meeting that deadline is going to keep us pretty busy. Back to work for me!

Exciting News

I have exciting news—at least, it’s exciting to me, and I hope it will be to others. I’ve been working on a big project—another book!—for over two years. This one isn’t directly linked to Consider This in any way. Instead, it’s a book about a topic that I care passionately about—narration.

Know and Tell: The Art of Narration is almost ready for publication, and I’m excited to begin talking about what I’ve included in this book. You can read more about it here.

I hope you find this announcement as exciting as I do—narration is a long process, and sometimes it can be discouraging. I’m hoping Know and Tell will give teachers some resources and encouragement to make the task a little easier.

Best wishes!