Monday, January 5, 2015

An Invitation :: Keeping Company

There's been a lot of talk about notebooking this past year, thanks to the release of Laurie Bestvater's wonderful The Living Page, companion resources from Jen at Wildflowers and Marbles, Brandy's great December series on the topic at Afterthoughts, and more.

I have gained so much through this increased discussion--a better understanding of Charlotte Mason's principles, a renewed sense of the importance of notebooking as a homeschool and lifelong practice, and a desire to strengthen habits of Keeping with my children.  I know many of you feel the same.

I think the place to go from here is a firm, tangible commitment to make Keeping a habit.  After all, these "forms of vitality," as Bestvater calls them, are only "vital" if they come to life in our own homes.

Brandy provided some wonderful suggestions on how to actually "get it done" last month--how to put those principles into practice.  Another step toward building a habit (or enjoying one that has already formed!) is accountability, and I want to invite you to do that here at Joyous Lessons, in the form of a monthly link-up.

I'm calling it Keeping Company, because I hope we can come together as companions, sharing the Keeping we are doing ourselves and with our children.

I hope this link-up provides a space for us to discuss how we're notebooking in our homes and to hold ourselves accountable to the Keeping habits that are so integral to a Charlotte Mason education.  

The very welcome by-product is that our sharing will form a resource for those interested in what CM notebooking looks like in practice.  I've seen time and time again a request for examples, examples, and more examples!  That's why I began sharing the weekly peek into my commonplace, and it's also why I have posted pages from my nature journal now and then.  I hope to do that more regularly, and I hope you all will join me now too--and link up to it here!

So let's chat a bit about the hows, whens, and whats...

How will this work?

I'm still figuring out the best way to organize this link-up, but here's my current plan:

:: Every first Tuesday, I will post an announcement/reminder for that month.  I hope to spotlight some of the posts shared in the previous link-up as well as provide a discussion prompt for those who like an "assignment."
:: Every second Tuesday, I will open up that month's link-up, which will remain open for a month, until the next link-up is posted.  You can come back to the link-up throughout the month to add your Keeping posts.
:: All the monthly link-ups will be archived together (you can already see the "Keeping Company" tab along the top bar) as an easy place to direct fellow homeschoolers interested in Charlotte Mason notebooking.

And as always:
:: You can get reminders about the link-up by subscribing to Joyous Lessons via email, feed reader, or Facebook.

What kind of posts can be included?

:: A snapshot of your commonplace book
:: Field notes from a recent nature study outing, with or without photos
:: A sketch from your Book of Centuries
:: Your daughters' most recent commonplace selections
:: An entry from one of your Life Lists
:: A look at how you have your Calendar of Firsts set up
:: Your son's most recent math notebook entry
:: Favorite lines from your music notebook
:: A discussion of your weekly Keeping routine
:: Some quotes culled from Miss Mason that are encouraging you in your notebooking

...and that's just a few of the topics you might choose to write on.

And the format is open to your preference as well.  Your post might be just a photo, or a photo with a caption, or just a passage, or a long and fully-illustrated post ...the options are many.

Can I link to more than one of my posts?  Yes!  You are welcome to add any and all relevant posts, current or from your archives.

Do I have to link to a recently-written post?  No, all posts about Keeping within a Charlotte Mason framework are welcomed.

Do I have to write on the provided prompt?  No, the prompt is completely optional, just for those who like something formal to write about.

I'm no expert.  Should I still share?  Yes!  One thing I have noticed about discussions surrounding Keeping is that fellow homeschool moms love seeing concrete examples of how principles get put into practice.  This is one of the reasons I blog, despite being no expert myself. ;)  Of course, I find gorgeous penmanship and lovely dry-brush drawing to be completely inspirational and an absolute pleasure to view.  So please do share, artistic mamas!  But I think we all appreciate seeing less-than-perfect work too.  Process is so much more important than product, and it's the habit that's particularly valuable, not just the beautiful results.  So don't by shy!

Should I share this link-up with others?  Yes, the more the merrier!  Just remember that the goal here is Keeping from a Charlotte Mason perspective.

Can I grab a button for the Keeping Company link-up to share on my site?  Yes!  You'll find it over on the right sidebar.  If you are so inclined, please do include the button on your posts and/or in your blog sidebar so that your readers can also read the many other entries I hope we'll have here each month.  (I am somewhat tech-challenged, but that code should work.  If not, let me know and I will attempt to troubleshoot. ;))

For this month's prompt, let's ring in the New Year!  I have a two-part question with a January flair...

:: How are you planning to commit to Keeping habits for this new year?  A weekly entry in your nature journal?  Reading with your commonplace and a pen by your side?  Working on your Calendar of Firsts once a month?  Sitting down to make a Book of Centuries entry with your high schooler each week?  (And speaking of kids, feel free to chat about goals you have for your children's Keeping as well.)

:: Or for those that already have habits in place: how do you organize or schedule your family's Keeping?  Do you have a method for getting these tasks get done?  Are you past that point, so that it has become a part of our family culture?  Do you have a way of organizing your commonplace that works well for you?  I'd love to know how those of you who have been at notekeeping for a while now have found success.

(And remember, the prompt is always optional--some people like to have an assignment for accountability purposes.  All posts about CM-inspired notebooking are welcomed!)

So that's that!  I'll open the link-up on the second Tuesday of January, one week from today, which is the 13th.  

And please feel free to comment or email with questions.  (My contact information is over there on the sidebar, under my introduction.)

So will you all keep me company here once a month?  I hope so!


  1. Love this! One of my biggest goals in our home this year is a weekly nature outing. I need to do better and I know my children will enjoy it. I haven't blogged in over a year but this might bring me back and hold me accountable!! What a fantastic idea.

    1. I'm so glad--I do hope you resurrect the blog and link up!

  2. Replies
    1. I hope you'll join in, Heather! Your Keepng is particularly lovely. :)

  3. Great idea! Maybe we'll be able to keep up with our nature journals if we have a little accountability.

  4. How nice! I'm going to TRY and participate! :) I have a hard time following through with things, but this sounds like fun and what good motivation!

    1. Yes, I'm hoping it will be good motivation for those that *want* to form those habits but need the friendly nudge of community. ;)

  5. BTW Celeste, your painting of the mussel shells that you used for the Linkup button is beautiful.

  6. I hope to join in. Can't wait to see yours and others posts! :)

    1. Oh, good. :) And I can't wait to see others' either! I think it's going to be a lot of fun!

  7. This sounds wonderful, Celeste! I have been reading your blog and enjoying your photos for some time. It's partly because of your posts that I have started keeping a commonplace book. I only have time once aday to add an entry, but that's a start, right? :)
    Looking forward to this link-up.

    1. Thank you, Lisa! I actually sit down once a week and catch up on all my commonplacing--so you're ahead of me there! :)

  8. Oh yay! So excited to see and share with everyone!

  9. This is such a wonderful idea. I always enjoy having a peek into what others do and find it so helpful and inspiring. I think I'll join you.

    1. Oh, good! I hope you do. :) I love seeing how CM looks in other people's homes--it always gives me fresh ideas.

  10. Great idea Celeste! I hope this will motivate me to pick up my lonely abandoned blog and join in ;-) Notebooking is just one of those CM ideas my family has really grown to enjoy and like your prompt implies: has become a pretty natural part of our lives.

    1. I would love to see you blog more, Jenny, so I hope this kick-starts it! :)

  11. Replies
    1. I'm so glad, Joanie! Looking forward to "seeing" you over here next week! :)