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All Day Charlotte Mason Seminar on DVD (with workbook) Review by Heidi Shaw

Sonya Shafer
Simply Charlotte Mason
PO Box 892
Grayson, Georgia 30017-0892

Yes! I am so excited that SCM is offering an all-day seminar on DVD. No more feeling deprived or frustrated because I can't get to where the discussion is happening. Support groups nationwide will love this resource! Whether you are a fan of CM's philosophy or not--if you are homeschooling your kids, you will benefit from Sonya's seminar. I really believe CM's combination of living books, first-person narratives, outdoor time, and short, varied lessons is the perfect roadmap for a successful homeschooling journey. It's the challenge of implementing it all that tends to muddy the waters. Sonya has done a superb job with this seminar in that regard, and those who watch it will have the confidence to take on the "best" for their family. For CM fans this seminar is like a full, multi-course buffet. You will feast on the many wonderful tidbits Sonya has to share. You will have a full quota of "aha" moments and finish feeling well prepared. For those who are new to, or curious about, a Charlotte Mason education, this seminar will inspire, educate, and liberate you to try something that will likely be the best thing that ever happened to your educational adventure!

Let me give you a little taste of what's inside. Session 1 lasts 34 minutes and includes a basic overview of who Charlotte was, her place in history, how she impacted education, and her mottoes and methods. Session 2 goes on to her basic principles that apply to all subjects and homes. Sonya then takes each subject area one by one, going more in-depth and showing how to apply Charlotte's methods and philosophies. History, geography, art, handicrafts, life skills, poetry (including lists of suggested poets and resources), Bible (which includes Sonya's very cool Scripture memory system), spelling, and math are all included in Session 2, which lasts about 78 minutes. The accompanying workbook has many great quotes, hints, lists, etc., as well as lots of space to take notes as you watch the DVD.

Session 3 includes a plethora of narration ideas--spoken, written, drawn, and otherwise. Narration is a cornerstone of CM's methods, so a lot of time is spent here. Narration cements the foundations and shows your students ways to express themselves and "own" what they are studying. Foreign language, science, music, nature studies, literature, and grammar finish this session, which is 71 minutes long.

The workbook contains a wonderful bonus session that is a big help to both newbies and veterans of homeschooling. It is a mini version of Sonya's longer DVD workshop "Laying Down the Rails." This session will help direct you in your efforts to establish good habits and self-discipline in your children. Just as a train reaches its destination by staying on track, so our children can reach their ultimate best by having learning to follow the "rails" of good habits. Charlotte Mason says, "The Mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children." I couldn't agree more, and I was so pleased that Sonya included this session in her seminar. She has included habits worth working on, tips for cultivating those habits, and lots of other treasures. I actually started with this session before my friends and I listened to the DVD sessions. It cemented in our minds the necessity of taking the time with our children, thus saving us all time in the end.

This seminar can of course be viewed and used many different ways. The support group I belong to was unable to work out a full day when we would all be available, so we watched it over a course of a few months, once a month, at our regular meetings. It was wonderful! I had already viewed the whole seminar myself, but seeing it through the eyes of others was so encouraging. It gave us a focus for our meetings, helped moms who had been struggling by giving them hope and a vision, and generally just blessed us all! Try Sonya's seminar on your own or with a group, and then watch it again part way through the year. It will bless you all over again. If you are curious about Charlotte Mason, please check out the website at and visit the forum. The ladies there are an absolute joy and a help in so many ways. I couldn't recommend this resource higher if I tried. I think it should be called Home Schooling 101. Enjoy!

Product review by Heidi Shaw, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2009