Seaside Cottage School relentlessly pursues books which are unabridged, written in vibrant language, by original authors. Most of these books were were written in the Nineteenth Century to about 1925. About that time, “school books” began to turn into “textbooks,” written by committee, stripped of all beauty, and stuffed full of dry facts and dates. We believe, as Charlotte Mason did, that it is better to know much about a few things than very little about many things. The “inch deep but a mile wide” curriculum does not inspire a person to pursue a deeper study of some aspect of it — as no relationship can be formed by so rapid an introduction.
Forming a relationship with a person from the past, or an idea in the present, or a beautiful sonata, or a landscape painted in the Dutch countryside, or a robin’s wing inspires a child to pursue these things outside of the classroom. He seeks out a deeper understanding or maybe just mulls them around in his head as he walks or rides. Beautiful ideas fill his head day and night.
Constantly reading and searching out the very best books and materials for such a goal is an arduous task, but we are obsessed with it. We have seen the results and there is no going back to the ordinary.
If we study Schumann alone for two months, we may miss the opportunity to study eight other Composers, but we form a real relationship with Schumann. A child studying one Composer for so long may seek to hear Schumann’s music his whole life or he may decide that he does not prefer that style of music and avoid similar compositions. The child decides because he is unique, uniquely formed by his Creator to take in the world around him in a new and different way from any person who has come before him.
Likewise with biographies, history books, Plutarch’s Lives, geography studies, and literature, the men and women in these books are placed in the context of a story. The Bible is written in stories, showing us examples of men and women who made good decisions and bad decisions, and more importantly, the consequences which come from each type. As the child collects these stories in his head, he also collects these historical figures and characters in his head.
When the child becomes an adult, he will be presented with some tough decision and can draw upon these historical figures and characters as guides; they have been with him so long now that they have become his Friends. He can “ask” these Friends what they would do in his situation. Imagine being able to ask Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Pocahontas, Winston Churchill, and Alexander the Great to opine on your personal circumstances! Such an opportunity awaits a student of a Charlotte Mason education.
Topics, Subjects, and Books
Seaside Cottage School chooses Topics and books which we believe match closely with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. The Topic list appears lengthy, but these are really things that fit as smaller parts of what contemporary schools call “subjects.”
A typical Christian school will have subjects with names like these: Bible, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Foreign Language, Music, and Art.
Our Topics fit into these general subject categories in the following way:
“Bible“ is Bible, Habits (character development), Christian History, and Biography of Great Christians, and Repetition Parable. Christian schools also have Chapel with worship time, like our Hymns.
“Language Arts“ is Reading, Writing, Composition, Grammar, Dictation, Literature, Copywork (Handwriting), Repetition Poem, Shakespeare, and Poetry.
“Math“ is Numbers, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Math Lab.
“Science“ is Nature Study, Natural History, Botony, Physiology, Geology, and Lab Science.
“Social Studies“ is World History, American History, English History, French History, Plutarch’s Lives (Citizenship), Current Events, Biography, Timeline Work (The Book of Centuries), and Geography.
“Foreign Language“ is French, Latin, German, Sign Language, and Spanish.
“Music“ is Composer, Hymns (fits here also), Sol-Fa (handshape notes, a cappella), and Folksongs.
“Art“ is Picture Study (Artist study), Handicrafts, Brush Draw (observation-watercolor painting), and Drawing.
“Physical Education“ is Swedish Drill, Dance, and “Play.”
Our curriculum is drawn from a standard booklist we use every year. As we discover a better selection, we may replace a book. The set of books we have used in the last few years is listed below.
The Bible, King James Version.
The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos.
Laying Down the Rails for Children
Old Baptist and Methodist hymnbooks using traditional arrangements.
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
Word Mastery book by Florence Akin.
Classical Phonics: A Child’s Guide to Word Mastery, a reprint of Word Mastery, by Cheryl Lowe.
First Start Reading, based on Word Mastery, by Memoria Press.
Primer by Free & Treadwell.
First Reader, Second Reader, Third Reader by Free & Treadwell.
Fourth Reader, Fifth Reader, Sixth Reader by McGuffey.
Writing Strands series by National Writing Institute.
Spelling Wisdom series by Sonya Shafer.
Primary Language Lessons and Intermediate Language Lessons by Emma Serl.
Tales From Shakespeare (children’s narrative) by Charles and Mary Lamb.
Plays by William Shakespeare.
Singapore Math, U.S. Edition.
Apologia series science.
Our Island Story by H.E. Marshall.
French History for English Children by Sarah Brook.
A Child’s History of the World by Virgil M. Hillyer.
Our Little Spartan Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles.
Viking Tales by Jennie Hall.
Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin.
Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans by Edward Eggleston.
A First Book in American History by Edward Eggleston.
The Children’s Plutarch: Tales of the Greeks by F.J. Gould
The Children’s Plutarch: Tales of the Romans by F.J. Gould
Our Young Folk’s Plutarch by Kaufman.
Speaking Spanish with François and Miss Mason
Speaking French with François and Miss Mason.
Prima Latina, Latina Christiana, and First Form Latin by Memoria Press.
Song School Latin 1 and Song School Latin 2 by Classical Academic Press.
Seabird, Minn of the Mississippi, Paddle-to-the-Sea, Pagoo by Holling C. Holling.
Columbus, Pocahontas, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington,
Abraham Lincoln, Buffalo Bill, Lief the Lucky by D’Aulaire.
Literature books we have recently assigned include the following: