We just finished our first year of homeschooling with my 5 year old daughter. We used My Father’s World curriculum, and overall it was a good experience. Bailey has learned her months of the year, calendar basics, basic phonics skills, writing and reading simple 3-4 letter words, addition and subtraction up to ten, introduction to the clock, counting to 100 by 1s, 5s, and 10s, basic Bible truths and Scripture, and lots of facts about nature. For the most part, I feel like she is right on track with her peers. Although the curriculum felt somewhat slow to me, we have come out on the other side learning everything that she needed to learn.
Next year, we are going in a bit of a different direction. After learning about the different methods of homeschooling, we have decided on the Charlotte Mason Method. If you want to learn more about the five methods of home education, watch this helpful video.
After watching that video and researching the other methods on my own, I felt pretty confident that the Charlotte Mason Method was for us. I loved her ideas on educating the whole person and learning facts through stories of people. I love that it feels relaxed yet challenging, and helps foster a deep and genuine love for learning. It’s not just about regurgitating facts for a test. Here are some of my favorite things about this method.
1. Habits: Charlotte Mason emphasized developing good habits. Daily chores build character and eventually become just a part of life. This is an area where I seriously struggle even in my own personal life as an adult. I don’t make my bed every single day. I don’t diligently stay on top of my laundry, dishes, and Bible study. Why? Because I haven’t developed that habit. When I do all of these things, the days are much smoother, and there seems to be a rhythm to the day. I’m looking forward to slowly building these habits into my family.
2. Short Lessons: Most of these lessons will take 15-20 minutes a day. With hard work and good attention, a wide variety of subjects can be covered in a short amount of time. This works well with children with short attention spans, and we can do all of our work in the morning, and have the afternoon completely free with NO HOMEWORK! YIPPEE!
3. Wide variety of topics including traditional topics, handicrafts, foreign language, arts, nature, etc: I love that the Charlotte Mason method sees learning subjects like sewing, cooking, life skills, arts, music, and nature just as important as reading and writing. I love the idea of exposing my kids to a wide spread of interests for them to explore and experience.
4. Emphasis on literature and living books: Instead of reading straight facts from text books, Charlotte Mason emphasized living books where facts are learned from narratives in books. To me this seems like it would be easier for children to remember and make connections between different subjects like geography, history, etc. History comes alive instead of dry useless facts of the past. This concept of teaching ideas vs. straight facts is fascinating to me and I believe fosters a deep love of learning.
5. History and geography studies alongside the Bible: I am still so rusty in this area, but I am thrilled to teach history and geography alongside the Bible. I think it will be so helpful to see how Biblical history with the emphasis on characters and people, fits in with world history and the entire story of God and his people. I can’t wait to learn all of this with my children. The more connections we can make intertwining subjects, the better in my opinion, and the more they will remember.
6. Room for teacher led and student led learning: I love that there is plenty of room and flexibility for children to explore their own interests as well as the teacher leading in certain areas. I have a plan for our studies that you will see below, but if there is something that my daughter finds she really likes, we can dwell there longer, find more books in the library, take a field trip, etc. that will encourage that natural love for learning.
Our 2014-2015 Plan for 1st grade
History, Geography, Bible
Using the book: Genesis through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
-Have the child narrate and/or act out what they have learned each day. Map out areas where stories take place.
-Geography concepts: N, S, E, W. Sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Earth is round. Northern and Southern Hemisphere. Equator.
-This is recommended reading from Simply Charlotte Mason, and I will get most of these books from the library:
- Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors by Lorene Lambert
- Exodus: A Commentary for Children (Herein Is Love series) by Nancy E. Ganz
- The Great Pyramid by Elizabeth Mann
- Numbers: A Commentary for Children (Herein Is Love series) by Nancy E. Ganz
- Pharaoh’s Boat by David Weitzman
- The Stuff They Left Behind: From the Days of Ancient Egypt portfolio
- Then and Now Bible Maps from Rose Publishing
- Visits to Africa notebook (one for each student)
- Hungry Planet by Peter Menzel (used with Visits to Africa)
- Material World by Peter Menzel (used with Visits to Africa)
- The True Story of Noah’s Ark by Tom Dooley
I plan to use these two books:
The plan is to also go to the library and explore books on topics she enjoys. I’m going to try to take her lead in this area since it’s an areas she already naturally enjoys. We’ll probably focus on animals, trees, flowers, and birds. She also will be helping in our garden extensively. We will have a nature journal to document discoveries.
Read aloud at night throughout the year and have child narrate back:
The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Reading and Writing
Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons or You Can Read *see below
Copywork to work on scripture memory, spelling, handwriting, punctuation, and capitalization.
Introduce cursive letters and work on spelling name in cursive. *see below
Spanish I haven’t quite worked out what we are going to use to study this. We will probably work on simple nouns, verbs, colors, and numbers this year.
Composers: Bach, Chopin, Beethoven
Listen to their music and read a short biography about them.
Art & Handicrafts:
She also has an art class at church.
Plenty of outdoor play.
Ballet/tap lessons, softball, or whatever sport she wants to pursue.
Work on riding bike without training wheels.
Learn to swim with no floaties.
We have plenty of social opportunities throughout the week. Between dance lessons, play dates, co-ops, church, and just daily life, there certainly won’t be anything lacking in the social department.
I have to admit, when I first started thinking of switching from a boxed curriculum to a “method”, I was completely overwhelmed and did not feel confident. There are SO many resources out there that have helped me make informed decisions and have helped me build and organize our plan for next year.
Simply Charlotte Mason- free website and curriculum
Ambleside Online- also a free website and curriculum
Charlotte Mason Way Explained and her blog: http://teachersofgoodthings.com Awesome information that breaks down the Charlotte Mason method and presents in a form that sounds doable and not overwhelming. She also gives a ton of practical advice on organization, individual subjects, early education and even through the high school years. I love her book and blog.
Ultimate Homemaking Bundle: (affiliate link)
I bought this bundle, and I can already feel some of the stress melting away as I organize and plan for next year. The Charlottle Mason Way Explained was introduced to me through this bundle, as well as her amazing website. Her book is included and it’s such a confidence booster.
There are tons of homemaking ebooks and classes included, but the homeschooling stuff alone was worth it for me. Homeschool planners to keep me organized, preschooler ideas and independent activities for my 3 year old are just some of the resources included. I am also thrilled that a great reading program is included in this bundle, You Can Read, as well as tons of printables for learning cursive. The hard work that I was dreading of making my own printables for sight words and learning cursive is already done for me.
If you have a preschooler or a student in Kindergarten or 1st grade and you are interested in the Charlotte Mason method, I highly recommend purchasing the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. Here is a complete book list that is included in the bundle at a drastically reduced cost. It also comes with some pretty fantastic bonuses, other great homemaking books and printables, and classes.
So that’s our plan for next year and why we chose Charlotte Mason. I would LOVE to hear from you if you are just starting out homeschooling or are a seasoned home educator. I’d love hear your experience! Let’s chat in the comments below.