I began in two ways. First, I asked around. Having people or a place to go with my questions has been incredibly valuable to my learning and encouragement. I am blessed with friends who are experienced CM’ers and live nearby. I got involved in our local CM book study. I also became a member of this online support network, which I’d highly recommend especially for people who may not have a group nearby to get involved with. There are people from all over the US, even the world on here! I’d venture to guess that without these places to go with my questions I may have given up on CM pretty quickly. After all, the language in her original texts is not the easiest to get used to
I am a list lover. I like to know exactly what I am supposed to do, and check it off when I am done. God is teaching me that life isn’t always laid out like that, and I need to follow His leading, list or no list. But I did get slightly excited when I heard that Mason had put together a List of Attainments for a child of age 6. This was something I could work towards! My friends who were sending their kids to public and expensive private preschools were getting a list in the mail from their child’s school. I had seen those lists before. They said things like, Buy these supplies, and How to know if your child is ready for school. Make sure they can hold a pencil, kick a ball, play with other children, count from 1 to 10, recite their colors and abc’s etc. When I looked at Mason’s list I saw a few similarities and some stark differences.
Here it is, copied from Ambleside Online’s wealth of information.
"A Formidable List of Attainments for a Child of Six", a reprint of a curriculum outline from a CM school in the 1890's.
1. To recite, beautifully, 6 easy poems and hymns
2. to recite, perfectly and beautifully, a parable and a psalm
3. to add and subtract numbers up to 10, with dominoes or counters
4. to read--what and how much, will depend on what we are told of the child
5. to copy in print-hand from a book
6. to know the points of the compass with relation to their own home, where the sun rises and sets, and the way the wind blows
7. to describe the boundaries of their own home
8. to describe any lake, river, pond, island etc. within easy reach
9. to tell quite accurately (however shortly) 3 stories from Bible history, 3 from early English, and 3 from early Roman history (my note here, we may want to substitute early American for early English!)
10. to be able to describe 3 walks and 3 views
11. to mount in a scrap book a dozen common wildflowers, with leaves (one every week); to name these, describe them in their own words, and say where they found them.
12. to do the same with leaves and flowers of 6 forest trees
13. to know 6 birds by song, colour and shape
14. to send in certain Kindergarten or other handiwork, as directed
15. to tell three stories about their own "pets"--rabbit, dog or cat.
16. to name 20 common objects in French, and say a dozen little sentences
17. to sing one hymn, one French song, and one English song
18. to keep a caterpillar and tell the life-story of a butterfly from his own observations.
My first impression was, “Wow! This is so refreshing to read!” I felt like she saw my child as a person, with a wide variety of capabilities and possibilities. He had a place in God’s big beautiful world and could appreciate nature and not just learn to read and count. His purpose was not being viewed as one who was only expected to output a slim slice of knowledge, or to behave and fit into a classroom group, to stand in line, sit quietly and raise his hand to be called on or overlooked because time ran out before bathroom break. Ok, maybe I didn’t get all of that just from reading this list. My background in the classroom may have influenced me just a little. But either way I was encouraged by the thought of doing and learning some of these things alongside my son. After all, could I even name 6 birds by hearing their song? What a fun challenge!