Session Abstracts


(50 minutes each)

Plenary for Thursday night

Introduction to Charlotte Mason  Kelli Christenberry

Is a Charlotte Mason Education new to you?  Are you using a few ideas here and there but want to learn and implement more CM studies?  Are you wondering if you are doing it all right? What is the Science of Relations? What was the PNEU? Is this a learning style just for young children?  We will discuss these questions and introduce some terms and ideas to give you a foundational understanding as you learn more about Charlotte Mason and her educational philosophy and methodology.

Plenaries for Friday

Language Arts the Charlotte Mason Way Penny Gardner

What is the most natural and effective way to encourage children to write? Charlotte Mason said, “Composition is as natural as jumping or running to children who have been allowed due use of books. They should narrate in the first place, and they will compose, later, readily enough…” We’ll explore the power of narration in this multi-media presentation, and show how narration, along with copywork and dictation, provides a strong foundation for writing.

Breathe Life into Geography, Math, Science, and History via Living Books and Narration Penny Gardner

Practical suggestions abound in this workshop focused on using living books and narration to teach academics. As Miss Mason said, “Composition is not an adjunct but an integral part of their education in every subject…”

Plenaries for Saturday

The Rhythm of our Days LeAnn Burkholder

See the big picture perspective of a Charlotte Mason education and how this beautiful ideal integrates into normal days of home life filled with love, laundry, cooking, babies, unexpected broken appliances, beauty and sickness. I will share thoughts on the reasonable management of details and tips that aid in peace and joy. Let’s talk about how we can aim for the ideal and accomplish real things in the rhythm of our days.

An Outward Focus  Joy Shannon  

Have you ever thrown a stone into the water and watched the circles round it spread? – Charlotte Mason, Ourselves, Book I, p. 81 Mason does not confine her philosophy to “school subjects” but rather also addresses our hearts and minds. She repeatedly calls us from a focus on self to an outward focus on others. This theme is laced throughout her volumes, particularly her fourth volume – Ourselves. We will take a careful look at self-reverence, self-knowledge, and self-control and see how these will aid us toward that endeavor. Come explore how an outward focus could change the atmosphere of our homes, our habits of doing and thinking, as well as our lives and the lives of those around us.



(50 minutes each)

Citizenship and Morals  Vanessa Burhorn

PNEU students had “Citizenship and Every Day Morals” on their schedule. What was it and is this applicable to 21st century students? Economics, Government, Plutarch’s Lives, Character Training, and Current Events are a few of the topics covered under what Charlotte Mason labeled “Citizenship and Every Day Morals”. These subjects are so much more than a unit study or a half-credit course in high school. They are integral to a CM student’s education from Form 2 through graduation. This session will discuss how the PNEU schools covered these and learn how we can ensure that our students of today will be prepared for life when they graduate by including it in our own schools.

Mason’s Influences and Current Research and Educational Practices that Support Mason’s Ideas Shannon Whiteside

Mason said, “Knowledge is passed, like the light of a torch, from mind to mind, and the flame can be kindled at original minds only.” Who are these “original minds” that inspired Charlotte Mason to design her educational theories that are still inspiring teachers and students over a hundred years later? This session will explore the people and ideas that influenced Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy and methods.  Having a greater understanding of the context in which she lived, and the ideas that were contemporary to her time, will enable you to read her volumes with new insight and understanding. It will also help you understand where she stands in regard to other educational theories that are still prevalent today. We will also look at current educational research and practices that support Mason’s ideas. Having an understanding of both Mason’s context as well as our current educational context, will give you the confidence and inspiration you need to implement her life-giving principles and methods with your children.

Narration and How to Use It Shannon Whiteside

Although narration, or telling again, sounds very simple, Charlotte Mason said, “It is really a magical creative process.”  This session will explore the many facets of narration and how it pertains to meaning-making, vocabulary development, originality, and the science of relations. You might not realize how much is going on in the minds and hearts of your children when they are regularly narrating. Shannon will be sharing insights from Mason’s volumes, Parent Review articles, as well as current research and her own extensive research on over 50 narrations that she has collected and analyzed. We will also be getting practical about how to use narration, how to set up a lesson, what to look for in narrations, and the stance we should take as teachers so we don’t hinder their self-education.

Leading Down Winding Trails  Aaron Amstutz

Dads, come hear how breaking free of modern utilitarianism results in a complete reorientation of family goals and educational aims.  As the secondary educator in the family, we implement Charlotte Mason ideas a little differently than our wives. We’ll discuss the practical ways to integrate CM concepts outside of the school day.

Handicrafts: A Beckoning Doorway Amy Fiedler

Have you ever stopped to consider why Charlotte Mason included handicrafts as a part of her

curriculum? As a Mason educator, do you ever feel ill-equipped or unsure when you think about

teaching handicrafts to your students? Let’s take some time to closely examine Mason’s own words on this topic, while also considering them in light of her twenty principles. By digging a bit below the surface, I hope we’ll come away with renewed inspiration and confidence as we continue (or even begin) teaching this vital subject.

Charlotte Mason in Children’s Ministries  Rachel Fitch

Do you desire to take what you’ve learned from Charlotte Mason about the Divine Life of the Child and apply it in Sunday school, children’s church, or VBS at your church?  We’ll talk about the process of transitioning from a program based on worksheets, entertainment, and crafts to a sacred time of worship and inspiring ideas of God, especially when the church leaders have never heard of this Charlotte Mason.  We’ll consider are how to best spend the limited time we have with the children. What inspiring ideas about God do we present? What books and materials do we use? Join us for a discussion on how to bring Charlotte Mason’s ideas, philosophy, and methods into Children’s Ministry settings.  

A Mason Education in the Upper Years Joy Shannon

How does a Mason education differ when we get to the middle and high school years? How does it stay the same? Join me as we discuss some of Mason’s educational truths that are especially helpful to keep in mind when approaching this season.



(40-50 minutes each)

Italics  Penny Gardner

Learn basic and cursive italics, a simplified calligraphy, while getting tips on teaching italics to early elementary children or older children whose handwriting skills are poor. Learn italics for yourself.  Bring lined notebook paper (wide and/or college ruled) and pencils. No pens allowed.

Family Solfa with “Mrs. M” Alison Meuth

Learn how to teach Solfa to all ages.  In this talk you will be presented with ideas and techniques to teach Solfa to your entire family.  We will delve into the what, why, when and how of teaching this sometimes misunderstood subject.

Curwin Piano  Kelli Rummel

Join me as I pass on some of my excitement and profound discoveries of Curwen’s philosophy of teaching piano.  I plan to spend much of the time talking about the beginner facets of learning piano. What age should my child begin piano?  What books should I use? Are finger exercises really necessary? How do I teach the grand staff? Is interval training really covered within the first two lessons?  How do I explain quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes? How can I teach notes and note names so my child remembers them? While I plan to spend the majority of the time on how to teach a beginner, I will cover a few more advanced subjects as well.  How do I teach key signatures? Is ear training an important part of piano? How do I begin incorporating scales into my child’s learning? What about tonic, subdominant, and dominant? Are they just for college? If you have found yourself teaching piano, let me show you how to avoid step by step lesson books, disinterested students, lessons that seem to never end, and stagnant learning. I want to share my stories of seeing progress, improvement, and simple yet beautiful repertoire in each of my beginner students.

Plutarch Vanessa Burhorn

So you found out that Plutarch’s Lives should be included (starting in Form 2) but perhaps you aren’t sure where to begin? Do you want to find out how to teach it? Come and sit in on a Plutarch lesson as a student. This immersion will present a Plutarch lesson appropriate for Form 2 through Form 6 (high school) and will allow you the opportunity to gain the confidence to implement this important part of Citizenship training into your school.

Brush Drawing Catherine Mattern

Need a little instruction on brush drawing? Come learn from a highschooler who has been educated with a Charlotte Mason philosophy.  We will talk about brushes, papers and then get started brush drawing on our own!

Poetry Monica Watson

The use and delivery of words through Poetry speaks to each of us in a way that no other text does. And, its use in a Charlotte Mason education and life is a daily must.  Find out why as we explore what makes Poetry so essential. We’ll immerse ourselves as students and see what a Poetry study looks like, as well as eliminate any fears and unanswered questions as to how we as educators put it before our scholars.

Folk Dancing Susan Unsicker

Have you wanted to incorporate folk dance in your week and don’t know where to begin?  Come join Susan in dancing. Learn some tips and resources to get your kids up and out of their chairs!

Living the Liturgical Year Steve Mattern

This discussion will focus on aspects of Charlotte Mason’s understanding of and practical orientation to the Christian’s life as seen journey through liturgical seasons and cycles of grace year over year.  Extracts of Ms. Mason’s writings about these topics will be provided along with a basic, foundational orientation to the engagement of the liturgical seasons and spirituality within the family.

A Dynamic Duo: Nature Journaling & Art Appreciation Penny Gardner

Discover why Charlotte Mason thought nature study ‘is amongst the highest faculties of human intellect’ and a ‘source of delight.’ We’ll discuss the practicalities of making nature journaling a rewarding part of your homeschool traditions. Visual examples abound in this multi-media presentation, including using the journal for science, travel, vacations, fieldtrips, current events, copywork, art, and writing.

Cultivate your child’s sense of beauty with art appreciation. We’ll cover all the steps of Picture Study and creating a family Art Appreciation Notebook in this visually delightful presentation.

This workshop will include a drawing exercise and several writing activities that work well for both subjects. 


Round Table Discussions

(50 minutes)

Education as Atmosphere Jessica Feliciano

If “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life,” what role does the environment play?  In this session, we will look at the difference between atmosphere and environment, touch on habits that are essential to maintaining a successful environment, and discuss practical ways to set up an environment for multiple children without bringing the world to the “child’s level.”

Mother Culture  Teri Meyers

As our children’s education must be gradual in order to be thorough, so must be our own lifelong learning! Charlotte Mason spoke very highly of mothers and believed that we are divinely qualified to take up the profession of educating our own children. But where shall we begin? Whether we feel our own education was inadequate or we’ve just become stagnant amongst all of life’s other demands, we must always have something going to grow by!

So, what is Mother Culture? Why is it so essential? How and when can we make it a priority in our already busy daily lives? We will explore how Charlotte Mason aimed to educate and support mothers to teach our children while simultaneously growing our own mind, body, and soul as well as discuss some practical ideas to make it happen in today’s homeschool.