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Homeschool students performing a Shakespeare play.

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Observation and Delight

The distinguishing part of a Charlotte Mason education —

it becomes a lifestyle and not just something limited to the classroom


Born in South Africa, Thania and her husband came to the United States in January 2000. Both their children were born here. Thania was unfamiliar with homeschooling, but when her oldest daughter was about three, she was introduced to homeschooling and eventually found out more about a Charlotte Mason education and Ambleside Schools International. Thania and her children joined two other families and began the Ambleside Homeschooling Mentor Program. Together, the three families delighted in learning more about the Charlotte Mason method of teaching. The children thrived while enjoying rich texts and an atmosphere that fostered learning.


Thania described a Charlotte Mason education as rich, inspiring, and life-changing. Not only did it change the way she viewed learning as a homeschool mother, but it truly instilled a joy of learning and the desire to become lifelong learners in herself and in her children.


Thania attended an internship training at ASI and received regular guidance from her mentor, Shannon Seiberlich, and the other two mothers in their group. She was struck by the difference in her past public school and university education experience and the Charlotte Mason method of teaching.


While teaching a Composition class, Thania was impressed by the effectiveness of the teaching method — after reading through a challenging essay, the children narrated the content, their eyes lighting up with wonder and delight as they discovered the rich ideas from the text. The children loved the lesson and did not want to stop. It inspired them and ignited a desire to start writing their own essays. In a regular learning environment, students would get lost in the ideas and the difficult text, but when the teacher takes the time to tell the story or explain any difficult vocabulary, the ideas come to life.


Shakespeare plays were another highlight for all the children and parents in the group. Together the children would read and narrate the text and then memorize their individual lines to put on a play at the end of the school year. Their performances reflected that they truly had an understanding and love of the text.


The homeschool group also did many nature studies together. Exploring the local creeks and beaches, discovering plants, trees, insects, and animals together was a phenomenal experience. The children became more observant, noticing intricate details and nuances that would otherwise go unnoticed. More importantly, they would truly see how wonderful creation is and how marvelously our Creator designed it.


Thania’s oldest daughter is now in university and often tells her mother how well ASI and the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education has prepared her. Her daughter mentioned how well the habit of attention has especially benefited her. She is able to remember many details without having to cram or memorize fervently for exams. Her daughter states: “I regularly observe children around me – hungry for truth and rich ideas — and I wish they could have been educated the way I was.”


The relationships between different subjects, between students and books or with nature, make a Charlotte Mason education all the richer. These inspire growth in both the teacher and student. Thania’s daughter also wrote the following about her education: “As I was educated in a welcoming environment that fostered growth and joy, I developed habits that still benefit me today. My mind grew accustomed to thinking deeply and forming relationships with various areas of knowledge. Recently, I read about John Wycliffe, who was known as ‘The Morning Star of the Reformation.’ While reading, I recalled observing Venus, colloquially called ‘The Morning Star,’ through a telescope for Astronomy around sixth grade. As I contemplated the contrast between the brightness of the morning star and the darkness before dawn, I remembered observing Rembrandt’s painting technique, chiaroscuro, in Picture Study. At the same time, echoing in my mind was the tune of Handel’s Chandos Anthem No. 10, ‘The Lord is my Light,’ that I heard during Composer Study several years ago.”


Thania emphasized how much you grow as a teacher and mother as well when using Charlotte Mason’s method. It requires a lot of preparation in order to facilitate classes effectively, but this promotes growth in the teacher to enable them to guide the students. In Thania’s words: “It’s not something you do just out of duty, you do it because the children love it. One truly becomes a lifelong learner as a parent – and it is lovely. It opened up a whole new world for our family and we will forever be grateful for it. It has been life changing to be part of Ambleside.”


Thania Wiechers

Ambleside Homeschooler

Ambleside Magazine