Homeschool Heart Beat radio interview coming up

Homeschool Heart Beat

I just heard from the producer of the radio program, Homeschool Heart Beat (from HSLDA).  Later this month they’re going to re-air an interview I did with Michael Farris about studying Shakespeare with children.  How exciting!

The airdates will be September 29–October 3, 2014.

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Teaching Elementary Science with Great Literature

Booksby Sheila Carroll

How do you teach a fact-heavy subject like science with great literature? First, science is not fact-heavy, or, at least it ought not to be. British educator, Charlotte Mason called science the study of “the great scheme of the unity of life”.

Abstract concepts become easy to picture and understand when they are experienced in context. A picture-packed, glitzy book filled with facts cannot teach “the great scheme of unity of life” but literature and hands-on experimentation can.

Charlotte Mason felt that the only sound method of teaching science is to combine field work and great literature. Ms. Mason saw that the teaching of science in our schools has lost much of its educative value through a fatal and quite unnecessary divorce between science and the humanities.

Why use literature in a study of science?

Charlotte Mason wrote of the unnecessary divorce of the sciences and the humanities: “It is through great literature that one gets at great thoughts, not through dry, ‘dumbed down’ textbooks.” (A Philosophy of Education).  Mason was not opposed to textbooks, only to their exclusive use and that they are too often “dry and dumbed down”.

What if I don’t have a strong background in science?

Learning along with your child is one of the delights of homeschooling. However, if the concern is that you will miss something of what a child should know in a science curriculum, consider this. If your child can name every scientific term, define it, and still not have a sense of wonder or a curious mind, you will have failed. If you want to be sure you haven’t missed anything, borrow a science textbook and study the topics as a guide.

Where can I find good science books?

Look for living books in both non-fiction, fiction and biographies. Study the book choices of high-quality curriculum companies that use literature extensively. Go to your library and ask to see the science section. If the book has too many high graphics, and is not of a strong literary quality, leave it there.

Here are five titles that you can find through inter-library loan or a Amazon, the online bookstore:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Sheila Carroll helps homeschooling parents use living books and Charlotte Mason’s methods to produce outstanding results in learning.

Article Source: Homeschool Science – Teaching Elementary Science With Great Literature

Reprinted with permission from

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First Western Washington CM Meeting was great fun!

smileyJust arrived home from the first Western Washington CM Meeting and I thought it was great fun! My hope for the first meeting was that a core group of people would come, and that relationships would start to be built.  Success!

For anyone who might be interested in attending the next meeting, we don’t have a time or date yet but I’ll keep you informed via this blog and my Facebook page.  It’ll be in about a month, probably late October or early November.  When looking at a map of the greater Puget Sound area, Bellevue is smack dab in the middle, so we’re going to try sticking with the same location (the Bellevue Library).  At the meeting tonight we had people from all over … Auburn, Seattle, Kirkland, Issaquah.

At the end of the meeting, I gave out a handout with some ideas of where to nbegin if someone’s brand new to Charlotte Mason’s ideas and wanting to start implementing some of her methods into their current homeschooling.  For a PDF of the handout, click here.  We decided as a group that we’ll all read For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer MaCaulay for next time.

So even if you weren’t able to make it to the meeting, you can still have the parents’ homework.  ;-)

At the meeting, my oldest daughter (27) had come along to help me set up chairs, etc.  She’d planned on just hanging out in the library and reading during the meeting, but ended up joining with us.  I think her input to the discussion as a now grown CM homeschooled child (from PreK-thru-High School) was a wonderful benefit to the moms who had questions.  They were able to ask her what CM homeschooling was like from the child’s perspective who’d been raised narrating, taking nature walks, doing picture study, etc.  I hope she tags along to future meetings.  :-)

Twaddle-Free Education™ Workshops

Due to popular demand, I’ve been putting together a series of Charlotte Mason related workshops.  If your support group or local homeschooling convention is looking for a speaker, here are some of the topics I’m currently prepared to speak about (more in the works):

  • A Twaddle-Free Education™:  Charlotte Mason in a Nutshell
  • Homeschooling with a Rock Bottom Budget
  • Are All Homeschooling Methods Created Equal?
  • Habits: The Twaddle-Free Education™ Secret to Success
  • Coping Strategies to Avoid Home School Burnout
  • Nature Study:  Becoming a Homegrown Naturalist
  • Reading and Writing in a Charlotte Mason Home
  • Art Appreciation, Poetry, and Shakespeare
  • An Interdisciplinary Approach to Home Education
  • Twaddle-Free Education™ for Preschool and Kindergarten
  • Early Elementary Twaddle-Free Education™
  • College Prep for the Home School
  • To Schedule or Not to Schedule?
  • Writers Write, Right? (for any group, not just homeschoolers)

I can also put together an all-day Twaddle-Free Education™ seminar or retreat based on Charlotte Mason principles covering many of the topics above (or your choice of CM-related topics).  I’m located in the Seattle/Tacoma area of Washington State.  If you live outside of the Puget Sound region, travel expenses and lodging will be required, as well.  Contact me to discuss details at:

Looking forward to speaking with you about your groups’ needs.  I’m also available for one-on-one mentoring/consulting for home educators via phone, email, or in-person (if you live locally).


My out-of-print book is still available used online

41PHNNMTM8LAlthough it’s now officially out-of-print, I just discovered you can still find used copies of my book, A Simple Choice: A Practical Guide to Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity, on Amazon.

Get it while you still can!  :-)


“People who long for a life beyond chasing time and money will appreciate the hope A Simple Choice offers.” — Karen Jogerst, author of If I Could Just Get Organized! Home Management Hope for Pilers and Filers!

A Simple Choice offers new insights, refreshing common sense and the author’s firsthand experience…” — Linda Breen Pierce, author of Choosing Simplicity: Real People Finding Peace and Fulfillment in a Complex World

“This book describes how to successfully pursue both the simple and frugal lifestyles. — Jonni McCoy, author of Miserly Moms

Fine Art Resource: Cezanne Block Puzzle

When my kiddos were small, they had a block puzzle made up of Peanuts character pictures. It was one of their  all-time favorite toys/puzzles. I wish we’d had something like this Cézanne block puzzle, however. Fine art and puzzle play, all in one. :-)

A block puzzle featuring six reproductions of paintings by Paul Cézanne. Pomegranate block puzzles are composed of twelve 2 in. square blocks which may be flipped and turned to form six different artworks.

Twelve 2 in. laminated cardboard blocks in a decorative box.

Puzzle size: 6 x 8 in.
Box size 6 ⅜ x 8 ⅜ x 2 ¼ in.

The works of art in this puzzle are:

  • Bottle and Fruits (Bouteille et fruits), c. 1890
  • The Large Pear (La Grosse poire), 1895—1898
  • Ginger Jar (Pot de gingembre), c. 1895
  • A Table Corner (Un coin de table), c. 1895
  • Still Life (Nature morte), 1892—1894
  • Still Life (Nature morte), 1892—1894

Other block puzzles of interest:

Timeline of Art History

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has an online Timeline of Art History.  What a wonderful resource!

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Free Scope-and-Sequence from World Book

World Book has a free scope-and-sequence (PreK thru 12th “Typical Course of Study” by grade levels) that’s available on their website. I know of many CM home educators who’ve used it to outline their projected studies each year.  And the price can’t be beat!  I always like “free” the best.


Puget Sound Area CM Meeting UPDATE!


I’m in the process of setting up a regional meeting for Western Washington Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers in the greater Seattle/Tacoma area.

The first meeting is set for the Bellevue Library (Meeting Room 1) on Thursday, September 18th from 6:30pm-8:30pm.  The meeting room is the first door on the left as you enter the building from the parking garage entrance.

Here’s the information about the first meeting for Western Washington Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers:

September 18th, 2014 – Thursday
7:00pm – 8:30pm
Bellevue Regional Library
Meeting Room #1

The meeting itself will begin promptly at 7:00pm, but the meeting room will be open and ready to go by 6:30pm for anyone who’d like to arrive early, mingle a bit, get to know each other, etc. There won’t really be time after the meeting for much visiting, so plan to come early if you’re hoping to meet people informally.

We’ll need to be out of the room and cleaned up by 8:45pm (the library closes at 9:00pm), so anyone who can stick around for a few minutes to assist with stacking chairs afterward would be appreciated beyond measure. :-)

Bellevue Regional Library
1111 – 110th Avenue NE
Bellevue, Washington 98004
For a printable map and directions, click HERE.

All are welcome regardless of current educational philosophy, family make-up, religious affiliation, etc.  Adults, older teens, and nursing babies only, please.

I see this as an inclusive place where CM-inspired homeschoolers from all over the Puget Sound region can come together every-other-month (or maybe quarterly?) to connect with each other and receive instruction, inspiration, and ideas about Charlotte Mason homeschooling.  Eventually, I hope to see smaller local groups forming for more frequent meetings in different cities for book discussion groups, support groups, co-ops, nature study, etc.  One step at a time, however.

This is an idea I’ve been planning for a number of years, but needed to wait until I finished my BA at the University of Washington and had more time available.  I’ll be starting Graduate school this fall.

Hope to see you there!   If you want to let me know you’re coming to the meeting, or if you have any further questions, feel free to email me at:


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An Interview with Debi about Homeschooling

IMG_1152 (3)Over the years, I’ve been interviewed several times for various online and print publications about our homeschooling journey.  I recently pooled together my responses from several different interviews because people kept asking for “my story” about how we homeschooled and why.

So, for those of you who were curious, here you go.  :)

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