Disclaimer: Information and research shared on this page and within CMI settings are available to the public either online or through the library system. Ideas presented on this website are never intended to represent or be construed or received as professional advice in matters of mental health. Charlotte Mason Institute encourages everyone with mental health needs to work closely with a mental health provider that fits their unique needs. Ideas here are intended to assist community members as they integrate advice from their personal mental health providers into this educational paradigm. Ideas here are copyrighted by Charlotte Mason Institute and may not be reproduced elsewhere in any format without the expressed written consent of the Institute.


What is the Blue Orchard Bee?

“Take heed that ye OFFEND not – DESPISE not – HINDER not – one of these little ones.” – Home Education p.12

While honeybees are what everyone thinks of when they consider the “typical” bee, the rise of colony collapse has brought attention to the diversity of bees and the need to understand and nurture that diversity. The blue orchard or mason bee is a less well-known, native bee. Scientists are just now learning to understand the place of this bee in the ecosystem. Rather than living in hives, blue orchard bees live in solitary cavities, forming cocoons to overwinter. They do not make honey, but are essential spring pollinators and beautiful creatures in their own right. They are “atypical” in a honeybee-loving world and they have their own unique requirements for life.

It seems fitting to consider that some people are like blue orchard bees living in a honeybee-loving world. These people may have a diagnosis or they may just seem different. Nothing seems to work. Everyday activities are frustrating for reasons you can’t quite understand. Even when there is a diagnosis, the challenges can be difficult to adequately address. This is in part because environments and methods are designed for those with neurotypical development even though our world is neurodiverse. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work very well for those with neuroatypical or neurodivergent development. This would be like a blue orchard beekeeper raising their bees in a honeybee hive that is surrounded by summer blooms.  Neurodivergences can include various combinations of learning differences, ADHD, autism, anxiety, and more. These differences are often invisible and may be misunderstood as character flaws. If you only knew honeybees and came upon a blue orchard bee, you might think something was terribly wrong! Contrary to this misunderstanding, however, is the awareness that the world is naturally neurodiverse, that each part has a purpose, and that each individual has gifts and challenges that are particular to their identity. To properly steward these gifts and challenges, however, they must grow wholly and relationally. Therefore, the manner in which we guide their education must wholly and relationally consider their differences.

Mason said that in order to guide a child’s whole person, we must fully understand what it means to offend not, despise not, hinder not. Other aspects in the field of education might evolve over time, but this vocation is absolute. The Blue Orchard Bee is the location of CMI’s online resources for those living out this vocation with neurodivergent students. Consistent with the model of the PNEU, CMI will build community, support the observation of the children, navigate current research, and reflect on our vocation. We are excited to share this journey with you, as we learn how to relate to our blue orchard bees.

Learn

TRAINING

Scaffolding for Parents and Educators

This self-study video program was designed for caregivers by self-advocates and Mason scholars.  We assume that participants have some background knowledge of Mason, but it can also be done alongside your study of the volumes.  The course provides the historical context, current scientific knowledge, and personal experience that is essential for applying Mason’s philosophy in either a neuroatypical or neurodiverse setting.  During the course, caregivers should watch each video segment (10-20 minutes each) in order and then take some time to reflect, narrate, and make connections before continuing.  If your child has challenges that are not specifically included here, please take the time to research those needs.  We have included ADHD and Processing Differences as examples because information about them is frequently requested and that is where our knowledge lies.

Freedom of Stewardship

Image Broken and Restored

Understanding Meltdowns

Threat and Shame Hinder Stewardship I

Threat and Shame Hinder Stewardship II

Assessing Mason’s Theory of Habit Formation

What About Rewards? I

What About Rewards? II

What About Rewards? III

Recognizing Obstacles

Obstacles Originating in the Belly

Obstacles of Structure and Function

Developmental Differences as Obstacles

An Eye Toward Relationship

Ready to Observe

Responding to Observations Part I

Responding to Observations Part II

ADHD and Rewards I

ADHD and Rewards II

ADHD and Rewards III

Habits, Oppositional Behaviours and Coercion theory

Rewards and Coercion

Sensory Processing and Autistic Differences

Sensory Processing and Autistic Differences 2

Sensory Processing and Autistic Differences 3

Providing for Differences 1

Providing for Differences 2

Providing for Differences 3

Providing for Differences 4

Providing for Differences 5

Providing for Differences 6

Providing for Differences 7: a student interview.  To protect the student’s privacy, this session is in audio/text only.

*These series were originally published in a more continuous format, but have been broken into shorter segments at the request of participants and with Andy’s permission.

CULTURE

Ideas to Consider for Parents and Educators

Available in SoundCloud

Feature Track

audio only, subtitle text

Stories from the Community – Danielle: audio only, subtitle text

Stories from the Community – Molly: audio only, subtitle text

Stories from the Community – Anonymous: audio only, subtitle text

Stories from the Community – Kristin: audio only, subtitle text

Stories from the Community – LeAnn: audio only, subtitle text

Stories from the Community – Savannah: audio only, subtitle text

Stories from the Community – Erika: audio only, subtitle text

Stories from the Community – Rae: audio only, subtitle text

Following the Method: audio only, subtitle text

The Child is a Born Person: audio only, subtitle text

Personhood and Curriculum: audio only, subtitle text

Science of Relations: audio only, subtitle text

Ross Greene’s CPS Model, parent review with Molly Gribble: audio only, subtitle text

Educational Therapy with Jennifer Talsma: audio only, subtitle text

School Advocacy with Kristin Cooke: audio only, subtitle text

Nature Journaling Challenges with Jack Laws, Part 1: audio only, subtitle text

Nature Journaling Challenges with Jack Laws, Part 2: audio only, subtitle text

Mathematics Challenges with Suzanne Bazak: audio only, subtitle text

Representation in Literature with Amber O’Neal Johnston: audio only, subtitle text

Teaching Self-Advocacy with Mary Goss: audio only, subtitle text

High School Planning with Kerri Forney: audio only, subtitle text

Reading Challenges with LeAnn Burkholder: audio only, subtitle text

CMI Conference Speakers on Neurodivergence: audio only, subtitle text

Neurotribes: audio only, subtitle text

Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up: audio only, subtitle text

Build Community

ONLINE COMMUNITY

The Pollinator

By requesting membership to the Pollinator through the link below, you agree that you:

  • are a caregiver of a neuroatypical child with or without a formal diagnosis.
  • will respect the privacy of other members by not sharing their names or experiences with people outside the group.
  • understand that this community cannot provide a diagnosis and will seek qualified medical support as appropriate.
  • understand that we are all here as thoughtful learners.  This means that you will listen to others with the intent to understand.  You will check your posture, so as to avoid a defensive stance or a flippant tone.  You will share your own perspective based on your knowledge and experience, respecting that others will have different perspectives based on theirs.
  • will respect the entire Mason community.  This means that you will not name other practitioners, organizations, or curricula, but will focus on ideas.  For example, “Curriculum XYZ is not good for my autistic child – what is the best curriculum for autistic children?” could be more thoughtfully worded, “My current curriculum does not support my child’s challenges with writing and composition.  It is both an issue of the physical act of writing and the organization of thoughts.  What strategies have you used or found to support a child with these challenges?”

Link to the Pollinator on Mighty Networks

POLLINATOR TUTORIAL
SMALL GROUP STUDY

School Education

Volume 3 Webinar Package through the CMI Store

 

or

 

CONTACT US

Send us an email!

To collaborate on a Blue Orchard Bee episode or for private inquiries and suggestions, please use the form below:

    YOUR NAME
    EMAIL ADDRESS

    Facilitators

    Danielle Merritt-Sunseri

    Danielle was first exposed to several of Mason’s principles through the guidance of many gifted science teachers and professors (even though they didn’t know who Mason was!).  Danielle graduated with a B.S. Chemistry from Saint Francis University in 2000 and an M.S. Chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University in 2003.  After doing pharmaceutical research for a number of years, she and her husband, Jay, began looking for an educational alternative for their children.  She stumbled upon Home Education!  The text immediately resonated and it was a natural switch from research chemist to Charlotte Mason educator.  She and Jay have established their school on a little homestead in North Carolina.  When she isn’t raising food or learning alongside the children, she can be found researching neuroatypical development or family genealogy.  Danielle serves the Mason community as an autistic advocate and a science curriculum consultant.

    Andra Smith

    Over the decades, Andy’s work outside the home has included teaching English as a Second Language to adults, training children and adults with vision problems to get around their communities, planning CM conferences, and helping with curriculum. Her work with visually impaired students from preschool to high school took her into regular and special ed classrooms in 20 or more school divisions in three states. Seeing so many kids disengaged and bored with worksheets, she would come home and groan to husband Carroll about how much an educational revolution was needed. She is so thankful the ideas and methods of Charlotte Mason are gaining wider acceptance and practice.During her children’s younger years, Andy tried to homeschool her two children with CM methods but, to her overwhelming disappointment, found that “air traffic controlling” all those layers were beyond her personal limits.  At the time, she did not understand her attention deficit issues, and she knows how dealing with executive function deficits can be mistakenly attributed to moral failure. When she started exploring attention issues, she did not fit the typical ADD profile generally understood at that time,  and she was told by a special education teacher, “You can’t be ADD because you have a master’s degree.”  So she began self-educating by reading everything she could find on ADD. In her forties, God brought her insightful, competent people who understood attention deficit disorder and helped her make radical, life-nourishing changes.  Introduced to a relationship with Christ in college, Andy is grateful to God for the tremendous stability and blessing that walking with Christ has brought to all of life. In learning to steward the neurochemistry she has been given, Andy is also grateful to God for the added blessings that understanding and applying executive function strategies bring.

    Community Liaisons

    Jennifer Swearingen

    Jennifer is an almost-retired homeschool mother of three who is married to her high school sweetheart and has traveled the world with him during a 21 year stint in the United States Air Force. She is passionate about her family, health and fitness, and a Charlotte Mason education for all.  Jennifer is ever pursuing a relationship with her Savior, endlessly reading and researching, as well as relishing deep conversations. She is presently on an insatiable quest for the perfect dairy-free, grain-free cheesecake that will entice her friends and satisfy her own sweet tooth. Jennifer graduate from the University of Nebraska with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education a very long time ago.

    Molly Gribble

    Molly has a long history of working with neurodiverse people.  Her first job was as a Community Exploration Guide at Easter Seals, taking clients around the community to learn life skills.  She also worked as a math tutor for college students with ADHD.  She went on to earn an AAN from Gardner-Webb University, a BSN from Western Carolina University, and an MSN from Yale University.  As a nurse she worked in oncology, neurology, medical-surgical, and camp nursing.  She was a camp nurse for Camp Horizons, a camp for neurodiverse people of all ages.  Molly also volunteered at Yale’s student-run free clinic. After receiving her MSN, she worked with both adults and children in a Community Health Center in New Haven, CT.  Molly has four children (5, 7, 9, and 11) and lives on a small homestead north of Atlanta.  She has been homeschooling her kids for three years using the Charlotte Mason philosophy and the Alveary curriculum.  She is pursuing education in the Collaborative and Proactive Solutions model and in neurosensory reflex integration.  She enjoys hiking, swimming, and rock climbing.  She also loves animals and has a pet pig, chickens, and a dog.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the expected publication schedule?  

    This year the Blue Orchard Bee will have new posts from September through November and will return in February.  New posts will be provided every other week.

    How can we find postings?   

    Postings will be made on this page on the CMI website.  You will be able to find the link to each new post by coming to this page or listening to the SoundCloud playlist.  Notifications are sent to Pollinators.

    How can we follow-up together?

    We would love to meet in the Pollinator community!  Alternatively, you can drop us a line using the Contact Us form above.

    Disclaimer: Information and research shared on this page and within CMI settings are available to the public either online or through the library system. Ideas presented on this website are never intended to represent or be construed or received as professional advice in matters of mental health. Charlotte Mason Institute encourages everyone with mental health needs to work closely with a mental health provider that fits their unique needs. Rather, ideas here are intended to assist community members as they integrate advice from their personal mental health providers into this educational paradigm. As such, the ideas here are copyrighted by Charlotte Mason Institute and may not be reproduced elsewhere in any format without the expressed written consent of the Institute.