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omishev

Charlotte Mason style curriculum

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We are hopefully going to be homeschooling next year. My kids will be in 2nd, K and preK. I don't know that much about the different styles but I took a couple online quizzes about which style of homeschooling we should try and both led me to Charlotte Mason. I know this site is focused on Classical so let me know if this post is out of line! So far I have looked at the websites for the actual Charlotte Mason curriculum and My Father's World. Does anyone have experience with either of these or are there others I should consider?

I don't know how long we will homeschool so I want them to be able to jump back into regular school after a few years and still be on track. And we may transition into something more structured (if that's even the right word??) as the kids get older but I want to begin with something fairly loose.

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There are several out there that follow CM principles.
Simply Charlotte Mason
Ambleside Online
Wayfarers
Wildwood
Build Your Library

We love the CM approach to writing/language arts, but you may find it easier to look at significant turning points to see how the method compares to public schools.  There is not much writing (and very little independent) in the "learning to read" years of 5-8.  That is very different from a public schooled approach to K-3rd.  I don't think a CM approach will hinder a child, but it will be something to prepare for if you decide this isn't for you.

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36 minutes ago, HomeAgain said:

 There is not much writing (and very little independent) in the "learning to read" years of 5-8.  That is very different from a public schooled approach to K-3rd.  I don't think a CM approach will hinder a child, but it will be something to prepare for if you decide this isn't for you.

Would writing be easy to add on? Either with a supplemental curriculum or something I could just make up if I knew what the goals were for each grade

Thank you for your input! I will check out those other curricula as well!

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7 minutes ago, omishev said:

Would writing be easy to add on? Either with a supplemental curriculum or something I could just make up if I knew what the goals were for each grade

Thank you for your input! I will check out those other curricula as well!



I don't know. 
In CM style, writing starts first and foremost with copywork.  Well, it starts first with oral narrations, so the child understands how to form a complete thought.  Then copywork.  Prepared dictation is added.  Eventually, written narrations are added, first writing parts of their oral narrations that were dictated to the parent, then eventually moving to writing it out themselves.  There is much less writing in the early years than is required in schools, partially because of the lack of worksheets, partially because the standards are different.
You could add a writing book by, say, Evan-Moor, but I think that would mess with the structure of CM.  In CM, it's quality, not quantity, that matters.  To do something well counts. 
I think if you did decide to go a different direction or send them to school you could do one of the Summer Bridge workbooks that are popular before they are officially in class in September.

 

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Ditto'ing the above. Read CM for yourself. The books are available for free online, printed cheaply on Amazon (and maybe at Rainbow Resources??), and printed in a nice, big edition from Simply Charlotte Mason. 

The Delectable Education podcast is absolutely lovely and put out by CM purists. It's very elucidating, whether you end up going whole-hog with CM or not. The Mason Jar podcast from the Circe Podcast Network is another one you may enjoy. 

With your kid's ages, I think the book Know and Tell by Karen glass will get you going more efficiently than anything else. You'll have to choose a math program, and some books. But Know and Tell will help you figure out what to DO with your books. 

When I first started out, reading through curriculum helped me wrap my head around things, so that now I can handily educate without a curriculum if I choose, though. To that end, I will say that the CM-based curriculum that appeals to me the most right now (I have not used it) is A Modern Charlotte Mason

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If I were considering reentry to public school I would do a traditional math, a phonics primer, and English program then add in some Charlotte Mason additions.  I personally love love love MFW Adventures and the Kindergarten.  I love everything about those programs, but the K program is gentle so it can be done with an advanced preschooler or an advanced Let if you turn the phonics into spelling and begin using a phonics primer.  

Brenda

I think MFW is full enough in its own...so while tempting to add other things that may be fun...I would wait as burn out happens quickly😉.

Edited by homemommy83
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I can't encourage enough to do MFW K with the 2 littles and Adventures with your 2nd grader.  I would only add the phonics primer that you choose to Adventures as it is beneficial to continue into 2nd and I feel that is the only thing MFW should have added as an option.

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I think that a "true" CM approach would not transition well back to public school.  I learned a lot from A Delectable Education, and Karen Glass's Know and Tell is helpful, too, and we did a semester of Ambleside Online, and realized that CM isn't for us, though I do love many of the principles.  Mostly, while my seven year old could do great narrations, she really wasn't able to recall the specifics (she could tell about Washington crossing the Delaware, for example, but couldn't remember any names, dates, or locations whatsoever) and after much searching and trying out of many different curricula, my husband and I are in agreement that, frankly, there are just some things we want them to know, plain and simple, before they graduate.  CM was a little too "take what they will from this" for us.  Everyone has many, many, many different opinions; I just wanted to share our experience. :-)

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My kid with a processing problem has been more or less taught with Charlotte Mason methods and he has always done extremely well on standardized tests. With zero test prep, ever. I think if for some reason I had to drop him into public school tomorrow, he'd be a little aggravated with the busy work and he would need to build up those writing muscles to do more physical writing than I make him do, but otherwise he's be completely fine. 

When there's something specific I want my kids to know, I just tell them. That's true whether it's my leans-classical kid or leans-CM kid.  

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You might check out the Ambleside forums too and poke around in some of the threads. I agree with @OKBud 100% on all her posts here. I think starting with Know and Tell might let you dip your toes in without being overwhelmed. To me, Karen Glass has a way of making CM very practical and doable. She's to the point and not overwhelming at all and has btdt with her kids to know what works and what didn't. 

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On 12/26/2018 at 8:09 PM, omishev said:

We are hopefully going to be homeschooling next year. My kids will be in 2nd, K and preK. I don't know that much about the different styles but I took a couple online quizzes about which style of homeschooling we should try and both led me to Charlotte Mason. I know this site is focused on Classical so let me know if this post is out of line! So far I have looked at the websites for the actual Charlotte Mason curriculum and My Father's World. Does anyone have experience with either of these or are there others I should consider?

I don't know how long we will homeschool so I want them to be able to jump back into regular school after a few years and still be on track. And we may transition into something more structured (if that's even the right word??) as the kids get older but I want to begin with something fairly loose.

 First of all you'll find that most on here blend methods, so don't worry about the CM aspects. Also, there are some overlaps between CM and classical, anways.

So, if you want pure CM, then you won't want My Fathers World. My Father's World (as well as Heart of Dakota) are loosely Charlotte Mason inspired, but are far from a pure CM method. That may not matter to you, but just throwing it out there.

That said, I absolutely adore My Father's World for grades K-3 (basically their K program through Exploring Countries and Cultures), and I especially love grades K & 1. Largely because they keep the focus more on emotional, social development, than academics, which is more appropriate at that age. It's a very sweet program that my son really enjoyed. You could combine your youngest two in MFW K and use Adventures with your oldest. That said, you could easily combine your 2nd, K and preK, in the MFW K program, and just add in more advanced math/phonics and some oral narration for your oldest. MFW will always be my #1 curriculum pick for those grades.

However, if you want more of a pure CM approach, then you'll need to remember that she doesn't advocate for starting any formal academics until grade 1 (age 6 or 7). Instead she just focuses on habit training and read alouds, and having the child join in on picture, composer, nature studies etc... with their older siblings.  For true CM curriculum choices there are:

Wildwood
Simply Charlotte Mason
A Modern Charlotte Mason
Ambleside Online
A Gentle Feast
Alveary

Of those my top picks would be Simply Charlotte Mason for the ability to combine students, or  A Gentle Feast.


If you are truly planning to put them back in school in a couple/few years, I think you'll be happiest with My Father's World.

Edited by mshanson3121
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1 hour ago, FireweedPrep said:

I think that a "true" CM approach would not transition well back to public school. 

 there are just some things we want them to know, plain and simple, before they graduate.  CM was a little too "take what they will from this" for us.  

Thank you for sharing. Maybe I could order the curriculum used at their school and try to cover the same material in a little more CM way...? 

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Your kids are very young. You have time to play around with methods, even if it's absolutely garunteed that they're going to go back to school.  If you're going to homeschool, do what you love!! If you love the ps materials, then by all means use them. Otherwise, take full advantage of what's SPECIAL about homeschooling! 

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12 hours ago, omishev said:

Thank you for sharing. Maybe I could order the curriculum used at their school and try to cover the same material in a little more CM way...? 

That might be difficult. 
A few things we have run into with public school materials:
-they're written poorly.  K-2 has an emphasis on sight word training in the language arts programs, but math is often okay.  Social studies and science are miserable.
-they're hard to schedule.  There are 46 units in the science text I have, meant to be taken at 1 a week.  I could leave the last units off (and an entire branch of science) if I were to use this book, or take out a few during the year, or cram them in..every schedule I have seen using this text just leaves off about 3/4 of the way in the book.

What I did for elementary was use the World Book Typical Course of Study as a backbone.  I made a spreadsheet with the various points covered in K-3.  When they were mastered for the grade level, I checked it off.  Even doing a CM-style program, we hit many of the points easily.  Some of them I decided were not important (like in K, 'explore digital tools to produce and publish writing') and I didn't stress them.  Others, I assessed where he was at, looked at the path I had plotted in my head, and determined that he was meeting sufficient goals and working well along that path.

If I was to put mine in school next year, I would spend the summer with him on targeted fine/gross motor skills and a small bit of writing each day.  That way he'd be prepared for the increase of writing in school.

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1 hour ago, OKBud said:

Your kids are very young. You have time to play around with methods, even if it's absolutely garunteed that they're going to go back to school.  If you're going to homeschool, do what you love!! If you love the ps materials, then by all means use them. Otherwise, take full advantage of what's SPECIAL about homeschooling! 

I agree.  I find that most materials designed for schools are boring, watered-down, and hard to tailor to and implement with one student as opposed to a group.  (The exception would be Singapore math; I have heard of more and more schools using that, and it is a very popular homeschool curriculum as well.)

In your shoes, I would take advantage of the flexibility that homeschooling offers.  Really, truly, "education" does not have to look like school work at all.  At those ages, an entire grammar lesson can be accomplished in 2 minutes by stopping in the middle of a read aloud to talk about how much you like the author's use of a particular exclamation point.  Have everyone try repeating the sentence in a vibrant, exclamatory tone.  Then pretend the sentence ended with a period and try saying the same words in a dry, sedate manner.  What about a question mark?  Can they turn the sentence into a question with just their delivery without changing any words?  Wrap up by reminding that all sentences need to end with either a period, an exclamation point or a question mark and get right back to the read aloud story.

Right there you have covered one of the foundational grammar concepts, and you did it quickly, enjoyably, and spontaneously with no plan or curriculum.  OR, you could spend an entire unit in a textbook and workbook learning "How Sentences End" and slogging through endless multiple choice and fill in the blank and matching exercises that try to convince the child that the only reasonable ending for the sentence "Mary is on the swing" is a period, even though I can clearly think of examples where an exclamation point or question mark would be a stronger, better suited choice.

Wendy

Edited by wendyroo
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Coming back to add that I think one of the fundamental aspects of the Charlotte Mason method (and the antithesis of what is done in most schools) is authentic, "living" learning as opposed to meaningless, contrived learning.

Charlotte Mason emphasized learning through enjoyable, enriching, purposeful activities.  You read a well-written, entertaining story, and then you and the student talk about it.  You go for a nature walk and draw and learn about what you see.  You learn handicrafts because it is a fulfilling activity that allows the student to make practical and beautiful objects.   

I think it would be very difficult to tackle most school texts in a Charlotte Mason fashion because they are so divorced from real life activities.  A language arts textbook is often filled with excerpts or short stories written specifically for the book that are included not because they are great literature, but because they are good examples of the prescribed textbook topics.  They are then followed by comprehension questions that focus on checking if the student read the story and remembers what color hat the main character's father was wearing rather than helping a student learn to delight in and connect with well-written stories.

Similar problems arise in science and history and math, etc.  The school's goal is to check boxes and ensure that all students superficially demonstrate a minimal level of fact regurgitation.  There is very little emphasis on understanding, making connections, following rabbit trails to learn about things that spark your curiosity, etc.

If your goal is to ensure that your children don't fall behind their public school peers, I think there is a better, easier way that trying to use public school books.  I think most states publish online their school standards by age and subject.  I'm betting you could find a document that told you exactly what skills a second grader in your state "should" be developing in each subject.  For example, in Michigan, for literature, a second grader is expected to have skills such as, "Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text."  I don't think you would have any problem reaching that goal with any Charlotte Mason (or pretty much any other type) of curriculum.

Wendy

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4 hours ago, wendyroo said:

Coming back to add that I think one of the fundamental aspects of the Charlotte Mason method (and the antithesis of what is done in most schools) is authentic, "living" learning as opposed to meaningless, contrived learning.

Charlotte Mason emphasized learning through enjoyable, enriching, purposeful activities.  You read a well-written, entertaining story, and then you and the student talk about it.  You go for a nature walk and draw and learn about what you see.  You learn handicrafts because it is a fulfilling activity that allows the student to make practical and beautiful objects.   

I think it would be very difficult to tackle most school texts in a Charlotte Mason fashion because they are so divorced from real life activities.  A language arts textbook is often filled with excerpts or short stories written specifically for the book that are included not because they are great literature, but because they are good examples of the prescribed textbook topics.  They are then followed by comprehension questions that focus on checking if the student read the story and remembers what color hat the main character's father was wearing rather than helping a student learn to delight in and connect with well-written stories.

 

Thank you! I think it was probably one of your Babywise posts that originally got me started on the idea of living learning and once the switch flipped in my brain it was amazing how many opportunities arose during the day. We can usually get in a bit of world geography when we read our randomly-selected library books by locating any places mentioned in the book or where the author is from. Sometimes a little history back-story slides right in. Often times we can discuss ethical matters and emotions as well. Math word problem arise throughout the day and kids naturally have science questions. There are a million practical ways to practice handwriting or combine it with other subjects so it isn't deathly boring. I am trained as a scientist so I love the lab notebook and plan on giving the kids each a special notebook to record observations and experiments, ask questions, write down research notes related to our science and nature studies, most of which happen spontaneously. 

Telling Daddy about things we did or read during the day is a great exercise on so many levels. Not the least of which is providing us with some pleasant dinner conversation 🙂 

They are in Christian school (generously funded by my parents), the school I attended and where both my parents have worked for 25 years so I know the place inside and out. They put a lot into curriculum development and I believe it is much better than the standard public school curriculum but we still have our reasons for wanting to homeschool. Point being, I will try to find a list of skills by grade so I can make sure to sneak those in as we go. 

I loved your example of the exclamation point, that is such an easy thing to organically weave into your day in a fun way and yet they kill it with worksheets. 

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7 hours ago, OKBud said:

Your kids are very young. You have time to play around with methods, even if it's absolutely garunteed that they're going to go back to school.  If you're going to homeschool, do what you love!! If you love the ps materials, then by all means use them. Otherwise, take full advantage of what's SPECIAL about homeschooling! 

Thank you for the encouragement! I don't expect to love the school materials, but I would like to track with the topics they are learning.  And YES! Just having them home on break we have gotten to do so many special things! Not the least of which was playing with siblings 🙂 

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k12 as an independent will track exactly with schools. They run an online private school as well as public charters.

Oak Meadow is another one you should check out. You can buy the books without enrolling from them or check eBay.

Edited by Paradox5

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We are in our 8th year of homeschooling and we switched to Charlotte Mason style education this past year. I love it soooo much!!!! We always incorporated a few of the things, but this is the first year we went all in. Such a huge difference in our year.

Don't be worried about the writing aspect. We always did very little writing and focused more on reading. My 12 yr old can read at a college level and he is starting to write well too. He is currently writing a science fiction novel and I'm amazed at the originality and grammar he has picked up just from reading and narrating.

I also recommend "Know and Tell: The Art of Narration" by Karen Glass. By and far, the BEST homeschooling book I've read. It was a game changer for me. 

We pick and choose books from the Ambleside Curriculum, and sometimes Build Your Library. Things I find appropriate and interesting for each child, from various levels. This is working out splendidly for us.

For math we do Saxon, for science we also use CPO science textbooks but I approach science with CM style too. Narrating, illustrating, nature studies etc. I follow the topics in the science book but add in my own stuff that's more CM focused.

Don't let anyone tell you CM isn't rigourous. If you check out the Ambleside books for each grade level you'll quickly see how advanced it really is! Try narrating passages from the books on your own. It's not easy to do. It's a good kind of challenge though. It's challenging in an enjoyable way. My kids don't fight having to do their schoolwork anymore cause learning from living books is just so much fun.

 

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Honestly, I would not worry too much at this age about tracking with the school.  If you are really keen on CM, it's kind of integral to realise that being developmentally appropriate is pretty foundational. THe reason she doesn't do much written composition and starts academics a bit later is because she believes that is most appropriate and also has the best academic outcomes.  You won't improve the method by trying to add written composition or grammar earlier.

At that age, I think if you are doing something along the lines of traditional CM, with copywork in limited amounts and lots of oral composition, our kids will be as well served if they go back to school as they would have been if you'd been pushing written composition. In my experience written composition by young kids in public school  just isn't all that great anyway.

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