I like to share what we are doing for homeschool each year because I think it helps to dialogue with others. As many of you may know we follow a homeschool method call Charlotte Mason which is a more a way of doing life/school than it is a curriculum. It is more about atmoshpere, discipline and living examples of literature and resources (twaddle free) than it is about textbooks and dry facts. Outdoors and Nature are also a big part of the Charlotte Mason method, which can be so lovely, learning about birds and species and the natural world around us. I fell in love with Charlotte Mason’s ideas of how to instill a love a learning in children that never dies and I can already see it in work in my little six year old as she embraces things I was scared of as a child, like Math.
This year our curriculum is a hodge podge of different things, mostly Charlotte Mason friendly, some that I can make more Charlotte Mason friendly. Also, I will recommend something that we are using for scheduling and to keep track of attendance and our daily/weekly schedule. It is an ipad app called Homeschool Helper. It helps me when I am pulling from many resources for school, to keep it all organized and us on track.
We started school two weeks ago and it has already been a lot of fun for Emma who was itching to start back all summer. So far this year these are the things that we have been doing:
Bible: We are continuing forward with Long Story Short which is a 10 minute devotionals that cover all of the old testament, with a following volume that covers the new testament. The lessons are very short, they are meant to do in 10 minutes or less which fits in well with Charlotte Mason’s concept of short lessons no longer than 15 minutes. The lessons give you the corresponding verses to read in whatever version of the bible you choose. We use the ESV for the verses and read from a Children’s Bible as well to tell the story more plainly. There is an accompanying Story Bible, that you can choose to use or not, the Gospel Story Bible, that has all the stories that you will do in Long Story Short. It is an excellent text with wonderful language and beautiful pictures that helps Emma and I really get it sometimes. I highly recommend as it is a beautiful living text that blends well with Charlotte Mason and any style really. This Bible and the Jesus Storybook Bible are two of the best illustrated Children’s Bibles I have seen.
Scripture Memory: We are using the SCM Bible memory guide at a slow pace. As soon as she has one verse down, we move to the next. They have a memory system that you can read about on this page, we are not moving fast enough right now that we have actually utilized much of it yet, but that’s what is great about CM, is that you can move at the pace of a child on purpose.
Character: Last year we did a habits training book but this year I wanted to do something more literature based to discuss with her since she is getting older and starting to grasp these concepts better. We are just reading through Parables of Nature, it uses animals to espouse certain lessons in a story formed way. For example the first story is called Lessons of Faith and it shows us a Caterpillar that learns to have Faith that they will one day become a butterfly, even though it doubts the wise Skylark that brings Her this news. Emma seems to enjoy it so far and it opens a natural dialogue for us.
Literature: We are doing the Literature portion that is lined up for Year 1 from Ambleside Online. The selections are solid classics and you really can’t go wrong with things like Aesop’s Fables, Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories and Shakespeare.
Free Reads: These are books that we read aloud daily through out the year at our own pace. Right now we are reading Alice in Wonderland and it has been a true pleasure. I am actually surprised how much my daughter will sit for considering the language isn’t common 21st century language. Ambleside Online (AO), has great recommendations for free reads as well as Simply Charlotte Mason (SCM). I am incorporating most of their suggestions and adding a few modern twaddle free contemporary selections of my own.
Poetry: Reading selections from A Children’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. We just read poetry daily and talk about it if we are up to it.
Math: Math Mammoth is cost effective and easy and encourages the use of an abacus for a tactile learning experience. Emma has exclaimed that she loves Math now and makes up her problems in her free time, so that sounds like a win for me since Math was always a struggle for me in school.
Reading/Phonics: McGuffey’s Primer, McGuffey’s Primer, McGuffey’s Primer! McGuffey’s Eclectic Primer is the only text that you need initially to teach reading. My daughter calls it the cat book because of the picture of a cat on the front of the lesson notebook. You can spend a lot of money buying reading curriculum or you can spend a little time teaching basics, phonics and occasional sight words one sentence and paragraph at a time. You can find this online for free, it is a tried and true resource for teaching children to read. Modern Day Public Schools have lost the beauty that is Primers and it would really serve them well to move back to Phonics based teaching so that children can build skills that will help them with reading their whole life. Emma gets so incredibly excited when she can read a new lesson all the way through. Here is an example of the text from lesson 2:
The cat has a rat.
The rat ran at Ann.
Ann has a cat.
The cat ran at the rat.
There happens to also be a Mcguffey’s app in the Apple app store that has the same lessons. We are going to use fridays as a slow day for reading lessons and I’ll let her do a lesson in the app for review at the end of the week for a change of pace.
Copywork: We are doing very simple copywork sheets from Classical Copywork based on our Mcguffey’s lessons. Check them out, it’s only a dollar for the set.
History: Beautiful Feet Books has one of the nicest History curriculums out there, I’ve talked about it here before when decided to push it back from K to First Grade because I thought she would get more out of it a tiny bit older than she was last year. We started back at the beginning with Vikings and Leif the Lucky and she is in love with it. The books are living books that you can find in your local library, so you can purchase the Study guide from Beautiful Feet and check out the books or if you have the finances to, you can get the guide and the books in a bundle for purchase on their site. We needed a cost effective method for our non-existent budget so we are doing the first option. I am so grateful that it is even an option and that we are able to still use this quality curriculum. This is a Charlotte Mason approach to History that I have fallen for, I expect to stay with Beautiful Feet as a resource for Emma as long as I can, which is all the way through High School if things go as expected.
Spanish: We are doing a very simple method that I read about in Charlotte Mason texts called the Gouin Series, originally used to teach French, the concept can be used for any language. You simply use dialogue and translate it into the language you are learn each phrase at a time. So far Emma has learned “My Dad is Kenny” (Mi Papi es Kenny) and is learning “He is a librarian” (El es un Bibliotecario). With the help of a native speaker, if you don’t already speak the language, you can choose any simple paragraph that would interest your child such as paragraphs about their favorite shows like Transformers or Avengers, what a great way to hold their attention and learn a language.
Read more here: Fisher Academy
Handicrafts: The plan this year is to use fridays for handicrafts and piano lessons, we have yet to start handicraft lessons but will doing sewing as our main handicraft and cooking as a secondary. We will just be going through simple stitches starting with chain stitch by hand until we are ready to move to a real sewing machine (hopefully we can get her her own for Christmas). Cooking lessons are helping in the kitchen and learning to bake simple desserts.
Piano: We are continuing with the resource, My First Piano Adventures which uses a fun illustrated workbook and audio cd with catchy songs to teach the basics of the Piano. They learn posture and technique from a host of multicultural characters that sing their instructions for the Piano. This one was a no brainer and we will continue with it as long as she doesn’t get bored with it in the higher grades. A great alternative to hiring a piano teacher.
Art, Composer, and Nature Study: This is the thing I am most excited about this year. We are starting a local Charlotte Mason co-op with local moms to do Art, Composer, and Nature Studies. We will pool resources and knowledge to teach these things in a CM friendly way and also have plenty of Masterly Inactivity and Socialization in the process. Emma and I both cannot wait for co-op to start in September.
This has already started to be a great homeschool year and we are enjoying each and every day, I hope this post can be a good resource and makes a lot of sense for those interested. Leave me feedback or let me know what you guys are doing, I’d love to know. I’ll continue to post about the year as it progresses.