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Reviews and Comparisons of CM Curriculum Options?


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I am trying to decide which CM Curriculum to use.  I have spent a lot of time researching Ambleside Online, A Gentle Feast, The Alveary, Simply Charlotte Mason, and A Modern Charlotte Mason.  I would love to hear some opinions and comparisons from experienced users.  I have 2 daughters - Grade Levels 2 and 6.  I have been reading and studying CM's philosophy for a few years now, and I would like to go "all in" - except for Math...  I prefer a schedule with some "hand-holding", but I would also like it to be flexible.   I also prefer to have physical books and plans rather than having to rely on my computer or tablet.  If you do have experience with one or more of these, could you please share your opinion on how easy it is to manage a schedule with 2 different forms/years, what are the average costs for the year?, and basically what you liked and did not like.  I appreciate your feedback.  I haven't been able to find many real reviews.

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Just a thought about AO vs. SCM, the reading level of AO books will be much higher.  If that's a concern,  you can either start a child in a lower level or read aloud to the child longer (into higher levels) than you might have thought.  Also, SCM will allow for more combining than AO if that's helpful.  I think there is a person here who has used Gentle Feast and really liked it.  I know the search function is not always the best here, have you tried searching the forum?  If I have time later today I can try to find some of her posts about using GF.  I never tried Alveary, but if I remember correctly, when it first came out the price was outrageous.  It might be better now, I don't know.  But I was very turned off by CMI's attitude toward Karen Glass's book Consider This.  First impressions can be wrong, so check out Alveary for yourself.  But, you can always take elements of AO and SCM and figure out your own plan.  

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We used 3 levels of AO one year.  I'm actually a big fan of the CM method (I even read some of her series) and that year turned out great.  We basically left AO (and the CM method) out of fear.  My oldest was starting high school.  After that, some of my kids used MFW and some used SL.  I can't keep affording MFW and SL, so this year, we are back to putting it all together ourselves.  *sigh*  

So, keeping in mind that my kids are older than yours...I was having the High School Freakout.  

I was very worried that all these little components were going to be impossible to translate onto a transcript.  Also, there seemed to be NO ONE out there in the universe who used the CM method with high schoolers.  Somewhere on here, there is an old thread of mine about using the CM method in high school and there was basically one person who posted that they followed CM in hs.  No blogs...no BTDT...  The AO forum actually had the most support for high school, but even there - most of the posters had younger kids.  Also, another thing that was worrying/frustrating was science.  I actually like Integrated Science, but that also worried me at the high school level.  No one does that.  And it kept me scrambling for labs.  

Another fear at the higher levels - writing.  Yep, I worried it wasn't enough writing.  On the blog someone above linked (Charlotte Mason Help), she actually has a great post about CM writing at the high school level (and is it enough, etc).  If that lady would've continued blogging and working on her curriculum, I probably would've stuck with the CM method.  She has a lot of great info on her website and her blog posts were pretty encouraging.  And her book selection is different from AO's.  If I remember correctly, she spends an entire year studying the Eastern Hemisphere.   

AO - some of the books are very, very good.  A handful of the books are strange.  The picture/composer studies are awesome.  The "Lite" option in the higher grades is awesome.  The books were easy to find.  There is a huge focus on England in the upper levels (the entire program is very England/US - focused, IMO).  There is very little writing guidance in the upper levels.  Like I said, I was scrambling for labs.

I probably wasn't very encouraging, but I hope something out of there helps.  

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So, I know I posted the link to AMITL already, but I've been using some of their publications this year for my 8th grader - mostly history -  and I've been very happy with the writing requirements and prompts.  There are also extensions for HS students and I think they are as good as anything I've seen for that level.  

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2 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

So, I know I posted the link to AMITL already, but I've been using some of their publications this year for my 8th grader - mostly history -  and I've been very happy with the writing requirements and prompts.  There are also extensions for HS students and I think they are as good as anything I've seen for that level.  

Which resources are you using? 

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4 hours ago, Nam2001 said:

Which resources are you using? 

 

I've been using  the texts to accompany the Middle ages and Greek history.  Now, they don't teach writing per se, but they do give a very good sense of how narration can develop into substantial writing beyond just "tell it back".

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  • 2 weeks later...

We switched to AO this year. I'm thoroughly impressed with it!

Some background info... I have a grade 7 kid and a grade 4 kid and we've been homeschooling from the beginning. I've been drawn to CM methods for years but didn't go all in until after reading a bunch of CM books over the past summer. Prior to this I've done some WTM, and some piecing together my own mostly literature based curricula (so not all that different from AO, but less organized).

Most of the AO books are available online for free so that helps. They are also very high quality. There have been a few that I've decided to skip, but for the most part they have surpassed by expectations. I found a link where someone has organized and reformatted most of the AO books as free Ebooks (the ones that are not copyrighted), and they are GORGEOUS! Even though I prefer hardcopy books, this helps with me being able to pre-read the books ahead of time to see which ones we want to use.

I'm a major researcher... I've been pre-reading all the AO books over multiple levels. While I may have to do a few substitutions here and there, (probably for science, as both my kids are very set already on heading towards science related careers some day so I prefer using a traditional science curriculum), as a whole I think it goes above and beyond any other curriculum - and I've tried a LOT of different curricula over the last 8 years of homeschooling!

The reading level is definitely advanced. I don't look at the levels as grade levels. My grade 7 kid is a very advanced reader and I have him doing mostly level 6 AO books this year. I would just put the child in whatever level fits them the best. I know they say you can jump in at any time without backtracking and doing the books you missed, but there are so many treasures in the years we missed that I've been working on a catch up plan to include a lot of them. So far it's going well and it's been worth it.

As far as price goes, I haven't had to spend very much this year. I think on books I've probably spent a couple hundred dollars. Maybe $300? I'll probably make another big order this year yet, but the cost hasn't been bad. Though I'm really wanting to get "A Child's Geography" by Hillyer and that was is $$$. It's not one of the necessary books though, they have alternatives which are available for free.

My grade 7 kid does Saxon for math and my grade 4 kid does Montessori math. We use CPO Science for middle school science.

For questions about CM style writing and whether it's "enough", I *highly* recommend the book "Know and Tell: The Art of Narration" by Karen Glass. 

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4 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

It might be interesting to have a discussion about science and CM.  I am of the view that the CM type approach is actually much stronger than traditional science curricula for elementary and middle school.  Maybe that could be a discussion at the CM club group?

I would be very interested in this discussion as well.

Spin-off thread?

 

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