Our First Week in Charlotte Mason Exams
First, we discuss what Charlotte Mason exam week is. Second, we explore the significance of why to use this different method of examinations. Next, I write a list of living books we used this term. Then, I offer some exam questions we used. Finally, I include Charlotte Mason exam resources.
Charlotte Mason Exams
Since this spoke true to my heart, I want to open with this passage from a Parents National Educational Union (PNEU) article:
“First in Charlotte Mason’s mind, and heart, came insistence upon the Person in each child, however young. To her, this was sacred…each young person was invited and enabled to develop, as a flower unfolds, according to his nature; yet with such direction as would fit him for his work in life. Teachers and parents are strongly urged to think about the all-round person in each child, and to comment upon his development in school and out.” (Examinations in the Parents Union School, archive.org)
Characteristics of Charlotte Mason Exams:
- oral and written narration (to child’s ability)
- no review of previous material
- follow the timetables of typical lessons
- lasts for one week, at the end of the term
- meant for the child and mama to see what he knows
- an atmosphere of joy
- about two or three questions are asked for each subject
Since my son is very young, I asked him to narrate his responses, and then I wrote them down. I recorded his answers on my phone, so that I could write them in full detail. Also, I used a piece of white butcher block paper spread out on the table. I have seen other mamas do this as well, and it was a fun way to accomplish our exams. My son enjoyed drawing in narrations after telling me verbally.
Why Implement a Charlotte Mason Exam?
“As Mr. Ruskin has said, ‘they cram to pass, and not to know; they do pass; and they don’t know.’ Knowledge, as an abiding joy, comes only to those who love her for her own sake, and not to those who use her to get on in school or in life.” (Ourselves, Vol. 4)
Some parents are concerned about public schools placing heavy emphasis on standardized testing. I recall completing my volunteer teacher hours in a kindergarten class. Unfortunately, three things stuck out as unnatural to me:
- No recess period.
- There was nightly homework.
- Finally, standardized testing began with these five and six year olds!
There were large bifolds around each child, so they wouldn’t cheat. I remember the children had a certain amount of time to complete the answers. Also, it felt like a long time to sit still, and complete this serious task!
Now, this is not a comprehensive basis for all kindergartens. I am confident some do not have these elements listed above. However, since I am fortunate enough to homeschool my boys from the beginning, I sought out completing exams, therefore, in a manner that made sense to all of us.
Living Books We Read This Term
- Bible: King James Version Bible and The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible
- Writing: Home Education and chalkboards and composition notebook
- Literature: Aesop for Children and Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Blue Fairy Book
- History: Apache Indians and Lief the Lucky and Columbus and And There Was America
- Geography: Elementary Geography and Children of Many Lands
- Natural History: Plant Life in Field and Garden and Tommy Smith’s Animals
- French: Hachette’s Illustrated French Primer and the French Experiment
- Math: Charlotte Mason Elementary Math Bundle
- Picture Study: Winslow Homer Artist Prints
- Drawing: Brush Drawing Course and Watercolor Tubes
- Handicrafts: Chinese Paper Folding and Candle Making and Finger Knitting
- Music: Peter Tchaikovsky
- Recitation: Bible and a Poem from A Child’s Garden of Verses
- Reading: Discover Reading and moveable letters
- Music (piano): His Daddy listened to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which he taught him.
- Singing: My son sang a french song and a folk song he learned this term. I used spotify and youtube.
Examples of Charlotte Mason Exam Questions:
There were often choices given to the child for an exam question. While there are many resources you can pull from to create your exam questions, here are sample questions I came up with:
- Bible: “Tell the story of Noah and the Ark or the Tower of Babel.”
- Writing: “Write the letters of the alphabet in upper case and lower case.”
- Note: For this term, we used copywork directly from a school book. “As the sun begins to warm the earth you may look out for spring flowers.”
- Literature: “Tell the fable of the City Mouse and the Country Mouse.”
- History: “Tell me a story about Christopher Columbus or Lief the Lucky.”
- Geography: “Draw mountains or rivers with chalk.”
- Note: During this term, we had questions like, “Why do we never come to the end of the world?” and “How do we know the shape of the earth?”
- Natural History: “Tell me about snakes or frogs.”
- Note: “Tell me the story of the lazy snail.”
- French: “Tell me the french words for these pictures.”
- Math: “Answer three math problems and then write it down.”
- Picture Study: “Describe your favorite picture.”
- Drawing: “Draw a butterfly or a twig.”
- Note: This term, “Draw an oak tree and an animal you have observed.”
- Handicrafts: “What handicrafts did we complete?”
- Music: “Hum your favorite song by Peter Tchaikovsky.”
- Recitation: “Recite a poem or Bible passage to Dad.”
- Music piano: “Play a tune you learned to Dad.”
- Singing: “Sing a french or folk song you learned to Dad.”
GENERAL CHARLOTTE MASON RESOURCES
- Charlotte Mason Soiree Educator Courses (free and amazing!)
- Charlotte Mason Soiree Facebook Support/Discussion Group
- Home Education Volume 1
- Volume 2 Charlotte Mason’s Parents and Children
- Charlotte Mason’s School Education Volume 3
- A Delectable Education Scheduling Cards
- Another Delectable Education Curriculum Templates
Charlotte Mason Exam Resources
- Examples of Charlotte Mason exam questions – amblesideonline
- PNEU Examinations elements – archive
- Examples of PNEU exam questions – archive
- A Delectable Education (ADE) Exam Planner
- ADE Podcast Episode on Exams
- Morning Tide to Even Tide Homeschool Journal with Exam Planning
I’m sharing some of the living books we used this term because these are my son’s FAVORITES. He always asks for more when we pick these books up!
Also, check out these previous blog posts in the series:
- A Charlotte Mason Nature Study Lesson
- A Charlotte Mason Summer
- 29 Charlotte Mason Inspired Preschool Books
- Early Years Guide (New!)
Thank you so much for checking in! Finally, please stay tuned for the next ‘A Charlotte Mason Subject Lesson’ post.
One stop shop for all of our favorite resources:
All of the quotes mentioned in this blog post, come from Home Education by Charlotte Mason. The Living Press published my favorite version of her books. Finally, I TRULY recommend any parent read Charlotte Mason’s books! They are truly treasured words I believe I will be reading and re-reading for many years to come.