Episode 6: The Role of Dad in Home Education: An Interview with Andrew Pudewa

Andrew Pudewa has graciously agreed to come on the How To For The Early Years podcast and we are so excited to talk to him about the role of the father in home education. Andrew is a father of seven children and grandfather to soon to be nine kiddos! He is the Director for the Institute of Excellence in Writing and is passionate about "addressing issues related to teaching, writing, thinking, spelling, and music".  Andrew and his wife homeschooled their children, particularly their youngest child, using the Charlotte Mason method.

In Episode 6 of the How To For The Early Years podcast, Andrew speaks about the father as the guardian and protector of home education and also outlines three ways dads can be a support to mothers as home educators.  In this episode, Andrew also mentions a talk he gave on nurturing competent communicators.  You can find that here or in our show notes.

We are so excited to have Andrew as a guest on our show! Listen below or subscribe in iTunes so you don't miss an episode!

Spanish Fairytales for Littles

We don't do a lot of screentime in our family but in seasons of change (new baby, moving day, etc) or sickness, we've had to rely on it. I absolutely love the Salsa videos for kids.  My boys pick up so many new words (and use them correctly!) just from watching these videos.  Although some may be modernized or slightly re-written, Three Billy Goats Gruff for example,  each video is a fairytale they already know and love.  Head to the Salsa website to check out the full list of videos.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Little Red Riding Hood

Three Clever Goats (Three Billy Goats Gruff)

Little Red Hen

These videos also cover topics on manners, friendship and more! Enjoy

3 Great Family Read Alouds About Ponds

One of our favorite places to go for nature study is a little pond down the street. It's beautifully shaded by pine trees, oaks, and maples and has a quaint wooden bridge perfect for dangling little boy feet into the water. 

If you live near a pond or lake, you'll love this list of living books about ponds. Enjoy!

Among the Pond People- Clara Dillingham Pierson

This book is available by Project Gutenberg for free as an ebook, pdf or other downloadable file. There is a whole series of "among the ______ people" and all of them feature rich and lovely language and stories. We don't often use e-books but it's nice to be able to carry an ipad or kindle down to the pond and read aloud, it's much less heavy and gives me lots of options to choose from depending on our read aloud mood. Download it (and others!) here

Beyond the Pond-Joseph Kuefler

This book is geared toward younger kids, in my opinion.  My two and four year old love it! The illustrations in this book are just beautiful- deep colors and inviting scenes that promote imagination! My boys love this book especially because the little boy in the story, Ernest D., is joined in his adventures by a doggie companion. You can look inside the book when you find it on Amazon here. 

Mossy-Jan Brett

I can't tell you how much I love Jan Brett's books! You can download them for Kindle, but don't miss out on the gorgeous and intricate illustrations of the real thing! This book is about a darling turtle and we actually have that species in our neck of the woods, so it is extra special to us.  Mossy combines a sweet story and such beautifully detailed illustrations; you can pick this one up as a boardbook for littles but the larger sized book is so lovely! Also, prime shipping when you order it on Amazon!


Charlotte challenged moms to keep their kids out of doors for 5-6 hours each day.  With nap times, daily tasks, errands and appointments, this can seem daunting to a family in the 21st century.

I've challenged our family to a day out of doors (4 and 2 year old included!). We've set the day for next week and I'm already considering supplies, plans that must be in place, and other prep that comes with spending five to six hours outside, as Charlotte Mason suggested.  It takes a lot of strategic planning to stay outside for that many hours with young kids! I've created a little list of tips to help me remember everything! To download this list for your day out of doors, simply right click and "save as" to your computer.

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Perhaps you have a friend who has said this, or perhaps even you yourself have uttered these words. So often I hear the question "I'm just starting out researching the Charlotte Mason method. What should I read first?"

There are so, so many great book options out there about how to educate your child, what philosophy you should use, books about how to teach, curricula comparisons and more.  There are even books about what books to read!

As Charlotte is our muse and as we seek to implement a Charlotte Mason inspired informal education while our kids are still little, I'd first suggest reading her own words.

1.Charlotte has a six volume series, The Original Homeschooling Series, which can be purchased individually or as whole set, and can be found on Amazon, Ebay and even Barnes and Noble.  You can also find individual books and sometimes the whole set on buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook. Be sure to look for the unabridged set! 

2.Laying Down The Rails  is a book compiled by Sonya Shafer full of quotes from Miss Mason about habit training.  This book is helpful because it lists all of Charlotte's thoughts about specific habits in orderly chapters.  This book is sold on Simply Charlotte Mason. 

3. The next book I would suggest is not fully Charlotte Mason inspired, however I think it still deserves a spot in this lineup.  For The Children's Sake is a fantastic book on home education. Susan Schaefer McCaulay writes from a Christian perspective on how to integrate the parent child relationship with home education and daily life.  For me, this book was key in my decision to homeschool my children.


Charlotte Mason quotes William Wordsworth's poem "Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood " on p. 11 of Volume I, Home Education. The context of this quote is that children are not simply "a tablet to be written on, a twig to be bent or wax to be molded. No, they are so much more than that. As we will see from the poem below, they belong to a higher estate than ours.  

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere in its setting,
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But in trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

* * * * * * * *

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy soul’s immensity;
Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage; thou eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read’st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind
Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!
On whom those truths do rest,
Which we are toiling all our lives to find
Thou, over whom they immortality
Broods like a day, a master o’er a slave,
A presence which is not be put by;
Thou little child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven born freedom, on they being’s height––
— William Wadsworth

Note: The above quote is an excerpt from the poem in its entirety. You can find Wordsworth's full ode here.

Episode 4: Interview with Veteran Homeschooling Momma, Debi.

I'm so excited to share with you Episode 4 of the How To: The Early Years podcast! On this episode we meet Debi, a homeschooling momma of 16 kiddos! (yep, you read that right!). Debi has much wisdom to share with us from her over 20 years of homeschooling using the Charlotte Mason philosophy.

Three fantastic pieces of advice we learned from Episode 4 of the How To Early Years podcast:

1. Cut yourself some slack during the hard and/or crazy times!

2.Snuggle your kids; nothing else is more important!

3. Read Charlotte's own volumes!

Some of the resources mentioned in this show are The Original Home Education series by Charlotte Mason and Educating the Wholehearted Child by Sally Clarkson.

Debi's favorite quote from Charlotte Mason is about the large room, and is also biblically based.  A few corresponding Bible verses to this Charlotte Mason quote are 2 Samuel 22:20, Psalm 18:19, 31:8; and Psalm 118:5.

Want accountability, community and even free stuff as you implement Charlotte Mason's habits in your own life? 


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Perhaps you're like me and either yourself or your kids bring home something new from your nature study regularly?  Last week we found an animal bone on our nature hike, the week prior it was "seaweed" from our local lake.  Once, we studied an avocado pit and it set on a shelf for several weeks until it started decaying. (Don't make that same mistake we did! Gross) The images below provide inspiration on how to organize your own nature study artifacts in a pleasing (and less messy!) way.

Organizing objects and/or specimens in frames keeps them up and away from tiny hands while still allowing you to study them closely.  Frames can be taken down and studied then put back up out of reach. Additionally, keeping an eclectic mix of natural objects sparks the imagination, bringing them back again and again.

Organizing objects and/or specimens in frames keeps them up and away from tiny hands while still allowing you to study them closely.  Frames can be taken down and studied then put back up out of reach. Additionally, keeping an eclectic mix of natural objects sparks the imagination, bringing them back again and again.

I love the neutral colors here!  In this image the objects are grouped both by color and in open baskets.  Numerous pieces of each object are within every basket which would allow for a larger scale nature study (perhaps with a group or if you have more than one child).

I love the neutral colors here!  In this image the objects are grouped both by color and in open baskets.  Numerous pieces of each object are within every basket which would allow for a larger scale nature study (perhaps with a group or if you have more than one child).

Keeping objects out invites curiosity.  You are literally spreading a feast before the children.  Handy drawers like these can keep objects grouped together.

Keeping objects out invites curiosity.  You are literally spreading a feast before the children.  Handy drawers like these can keep objects grouped together.

How do you organize your nature finds? Do you leave them out for littles to feel and observe? Do you switch out your finds regularly? Show us your nature study collections on Instagram using #theearlyyearsnaturestudy! Can't wait to check it out!

Note: These images are not my own nor do I claim them.  Not all of these images are based off of Charlotte Mason's methods but are used as inspiration and a foundation point for your own collectibles and organization.

Nature: The Great Teacher

"Watch a child standing at gaze at some sight new to him...In his early years the child is all eyes; he observes, or, more truly, he perceives, calling sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing to his aid, that he may learn all that is discoverable by him about every new thing that comes under his notice...The child is at his lessons...far and near, large and small, are ideas he has yet to grasp.  The child has a great deal to do before he is in a condition to 'believe his own eyes'; but Nature teaches so gently, so gradually, so persistently, that he is never overdone, but goes on gathering little stores of knowledge about whatever comes before him.  And this is the process the child should continue for the first few years of his life".

-Charlotte Mason, Volume 1 p.66-67

Episode 3: Interview with Catherine Levison

In Volume 1 Charlotte Mason wrote "I venture to suggest, not what is practicable in any household, but what seems to me absolutely best for the children; and that, in the faith that mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them". {Vol. 1, p. 44}

In Episode 3 of the How To: Early Years podcast, we meet with Catherine Levison, author of many books on the Charlotte Mason method and veteran homeschooling mom.  In this interview, we cover the fleeting moments of childhood and how to best build a love of learning in our children before their formal education and the importance of the mother's role in working wonders for her children. 

Be sure to also check out our Q+A with Ms. Levison, and find more information on her website.

Free Charlotte Mason Inspired Booklist


Escape to the rainforest, visit France with Madeline, learn about planting a garden, or explore the Prince Edward Island coast with Anne. Books take you to places you never could have imagined! A backbone of a quality Charlotte Mason inspired education is living books.  Below we've compiled a list of older and modern living books and authors for kiddos under age six.  Enjoy our free booklist from How To For the Early Years below.  Download it and print it off, hang it on your refrigerator or fill up that Amazon cart.  These books are available at your local library and other places where books are sold. Additionally some may be found as audiobooks on Librivox or as e-books on your Kindle app.

Note: for your more advanced readers or for your family read alouds, we've added some longer chapter books. 

Fill out the form below to download your free booklist!

Happy reading!

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An Interview with Catherine Levison, author of A Charlotte Mason Education

I have such a fun treat for you today! Catherine Levison, author of A Charlotte Mason Education, has graciously agreed to a little interview prior to being a guest on our podcast.  In Episode 3 of the podcast (releasing early April) we will be discussing with Ms. Levison what a Charlotte Mason education looks like in the early years.  Today's Q&A will be focused on the basics of a Charlotte Mason education. There is so much amazing information that we even had to limit our questions! I have bolded some important thoughts that I want to keep fresh in your mind as you mull over this post in the coming days. Keep reading below.

Question One: Can you summarize a Charlotte Mason education in one short paragraph?

Answer: A Charlotte Mason education is based on the humanities or you could say a "liberal education" which gets a bad name and is easily misunderstood. I explain exactly what the Liberal Arts are in my second book (more information on Ms. Levison's books are listed at the end of this post). But, to be brief, if we substituted the word "liberal" with the word "generous" then you'd be on the road to a Charlotte Mason education. It's a wide, broad, generous education in which you cover all of the normal stuff any school would but you add to that poetry, classical music, the finest artwork, nature appreciation, sketching and you throw grades and testing right out of the window and instead rely on narration. The children "get" to tell you all about what they now know about the topic, even if it is math. If they can tell you all about how to divide fractions and show you how that is a better test of what they know than a set of math problems. If they can tell you every detail of Beethoven's life that too is a better use of your time because they retain the knowledge. Charlotte Mason also has a better way to learn how to spell, learn history & science too. Having said all that Charlotte Mason is not only a Liberal Arts education, it's more than that because she took all that she liked from that and other methods and created her own method based on how children learn. She had an extraordinary love for children, thought that childhood was too short and wanted well-educated students who really knew their stuff but had a lifelong LOVE for learning. Anyone can teach you with a "you'll thank me later kid" attitude. This method is completely different. It is a superior education to most and yet it is a wonderful balance between some of the very hardcore systems and unschooling. The days feel good. Many classic books are read and we never read a book we do not like.

Question Two: How old are your kids? How long have you been homeschooling?

Answer: I have 5 children ranging from 23 to 37 years old. Two are in their 30's and the other 3 are in their 20's but I have vivid memories of homeschooling. We started in the 1980's and my youngest child finished his four year University degree one year ago. I have a 14 year age span from the youngest to the oldest. That is why I am well aware of how it feels to be pregnant while homeschooling, watching toddlers while homeschooling, having children in the high school age range and still having younger children.

I had to learn how to occupy my toddlers and babies while teaching. There is a section on that topic in my 2nd Charlotte Mason book titled, "More Charlotte Mason Education" which is a great deal longer and more in-depth than my first book, "A Charlotte Mason Education."  (find more resources and info about Ms. Levison's books at the end of this post).


Question Three: What is your favorite thing about being an educator of Miss Mason's method?

Answer: This method rescued me from burnout. You do have to be burning to burnout, and I was. Back when I began in the 1980's I tried to have school at home using textbooks and with my personality to overwork myself I ran headlong into a brick wall doing about 300mph. I didn't like homeschooling one single bit. When I found this method there were no websites or Google so I had to learn from Charlotte Mason directly, only problem ... she was dead. There were no "how-to" books, that is the reason I wrote the first ones in print. I wrote what I wanted to read. I also loved learning along with my children. You see, you will get tired of teaching your children how to divide fractions and tell time and what a participle is; if you have a lot of children. But you will thrive if you learn 5-6 new things, yourself, everyday of your life. I loved that!! Every night at bedtime I had learned more about the world than I had known that morning. That helps fight off burnout. You always want to avoid burnout if you can rather than get into it and then have to find a remedy.



Books by Catherine Levison

A Charlotte Mason Education and More Charlotte Mason Education

A Charlotte Mason Education is better for parents with less experience homeschooling or using CM's methods. More  Charlotte Mason Education is better for those who have read at least something on Charlotte Mason or have been doing it for a while, but the two books do not overlap one another. They both concentrate on "how" to do the CM method in current day homes that do not have nannies, cooks, governesses, butlers and it is written for very busy people. The sentences are short and "practical application" is my goal.

A Literary Education

In my 3rd CM book I took the time to write a "book list" book so you could concentrate on "what" to buy, it's titled, "A Literary Education." It is an Annotated Book List explaining enough details about each book entry to persuade you as to why each book would help you to have well-read children and what age it might best serve a child. It contains many of Charlotte Mason's personal favorites, classic literature, and other books that came out after she died in 1923.


Find out more about Catherine Levison below.

Catherine Levison, mother of five, began homeschooling in the 1980's at a time when this option had only recently been legalized in her state. She recognized the need for both materials and a philosophy in a relatively new field. Check out her books and more information here on her website.


Episode 2: How To Do Nature Study When Your Day Is Already Over-Scheduled

Nature study can be a bit overwhelming.  The purpose and values of nature study were such a core tenant of a Charlotte Mason style education that Miss Mason herself advocated six to eight hours a day of out of doors time for children.  As mothers with an unending to-do list, nature study such as Charlotte Mason suggests seems an insurmountable obstacle.  

But rest assured, sweet Mama, nature study for kids under age six does not have to be such a terrifying prospect.  At this age it's all about the foundations of nature study.  We've got a short podcast (listen below or in iTunes) and a FREE e-book for you to download that is FULL of resources to aid in nature study at home. Enjoy!


Our free e-book, Nature Study with Littles offers five chapters worth of information about how to implement nature study with your kiddos. Additionally, it also features a reading list for your mother culture: books for you to research as you form the habit of nature study in yourself and your family.

Fill out the form below to get your free e-book.

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Episode 1: Chief Duties: What is Necessary for a Charlotte Mason Education for Young Children?

Charlotte Mason said a parent’s chief duty is “to form in his child right habits of thinking and behaving is a parent’s chief duty…[and]to nourish a child daily with loving, right, and noble ideas we believe to be the parent’s next duty” (Vol. 2, p. 228)

Our inaugural podcast focuses on what is necessary for homeschooling in the early years.  Three main aspects we will focus on are reading aloud, nature study and habit training.

Subscribe in iTunes  so you don’t miss an episode or sign up for our newsletter to have every episode delivered to your inbox!