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I have 6 children 10 and under.  I love Charlotte Mason.  It seems each year I try a new Charlotte Mason Curriculum, hoping that it will be the perfect fit for our family.  I have tried The Alveary, Amblesdie Online, and this year CMEC.  Charlotte Mason may seem light but once you add all the afternoon occupations and leisure reads, it is a lot.  Right now I have 7 hrs of my day scheduled with either school lessons or what my kids should be doing in their leisure time.  I think this is way too much for my littles to handle, because I rarely have time just to be.  We are constantly moving on to the next thing.  I have my oldest two combined for all things but Math and Piano ( we use Hoffman Academy). Besides Charlotte Mason, I have always loved Latin Centered Curriculum and always go back to reading it, but it seems no one else is doing it.  Last year we did Memoria Press for half the year, but that drove me crazy because I couldn't stand all the study guides.  Any thoughts on how to streamline.  I will use what I have bought for CMEC, but I am thinking maybe of cutting some things and combining more.  Piano is a priority for me ( I spend 1.5 hours a day having my kids do a piano rotation.  We did our trial run of school last week.  I have a 7 year old (who is not an independent reader, I suspect dyslexia because it runs in my family, but he is making progress. I have a motivated 8.5 year old who can do almost anything I ask and I have a 10 year old boy that doesn't want to apply himself to anything).  Thank-you

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What are your children doing that is taking them nearly all day?  Assuming grades 2nd, 3rd or 4th, and 5th, in our homeschool those grades take about 2 hrs, 3-3 1/2 hrs, and about 5 hrs total.   

My 2nd graders spend about 30-45 mins on math, 15-25 mins on phonics, 15-20 mins on reading, 15-20 mins on writing.  (I don't do a formal separate history or science with my 2nd graders.)

My 3rd/4th graders spend about 30-45 mins on math, 30-45 mins reading a literature book, 15 mins on spelling, 20-30 mins on writing/grammar, 30 mins on science reading, 30 mins on history reading.  

My 5th graders spend 45-60 mins on math, 45-60 mins reading lit, 15 mins on spelling,  45 mins on writing/grammar, 45 mins reading science, 45 mins reading history.

All of them spend about 15 mins on religion studies.

I alternate their science/history with additional activities like geography, additional reading/writing assignments, projects.  So one the days they are doing those, they aren't doing the reading but the other work.  Art/ nature studies are just part of what they do, so I don't count that separately.  We are always hiking, observing nature, talking about things, etc.  We also watch the CNN 10 min student news during lunch during the months it airs.

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15 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

What are your children doing that is taking them nearly all day?  Assuming grades 2nd, 3rd or 4th, and 5th, in our homeschool those grades take about 2 hrs, 3-3 1/2 hrs, and about 5 hrs total.   

My 2nd graders spend about 30-45 mins on math, 15-25 mins on phonics, 15-20 mins on reading, 15-20 mins on writing.  (I don't do a formal separate history or science with my 2nd graders.)

My 3rd/4th graders spend about 30-45 mins on math, 30-45 mins reading a literature book, 15 mins on spelling, 20-30 mins on writing/grammar, 30 mins on science reading, 30 mins on history reading.  

My 5th graders spend 45-60 mins on math, 45-60 mins reading lit, 15 mins on spelling,  45 mins on writing/grammar, 45 mins reading science, 45 mins reading history.

All of them spend about 15 mins on religion studies.

I alternate their science/history with additional activities like geography, additional reading/writing assignments, projects.  So one the days they are doing those, they aren't doing the reading but the other work.  Art/ nature studies are just part of what they do, so I don't count that separately.  We are always hiking, observing nature, talking about things, etc.  We also watch the CNN 10 min student news during lunch during the months it airs.

I shared a link above

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Hi! I can't reply in depth right now (we've got to start out schedule), but I'm a CM homeschooler so I might be able to help. This is my fifth year (!!!) with the Alveary.

One key is to look at occupations as a structure to help you use time in a meaningful and productive way. If you already are doing so, then you can toss a lot. For example, my girls (ages 11 and 13) love writing scripts that they then film. They edit the films and have a youtube channel of them. I have decided that, because they are productive and creative, that we skip some other occupations. Some afternoon things I do only formally during weeks off and then they can continue on their own during the school year.

We also have a lot of music. Each child practices about an hour per day. We also have two modern languages and more rigorous math than most homeschoolers.

I can be more specific later. Also, ask yourself why you are doing each thing. Is if FOMO? Also, be sure that you aren't doubling up on things that you don't need to. Finally, make sure your child is placed properly. For example, I'm likely cutting grammar from dd11's schedule. It is taking too much time for too little reward. I think she'll have an easier time if I give her another six-nine months to mature. We gave it a good try (four months) and things aren't getting better, LOL.

Emily

 

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5 minutes ago, alexandramarie said:

I shared a link above

The link doesn't work for me.  But, instead of sharing it,  I would step back and evaluate what you are spending your time doing.  You are the one that needs to decide what your priorities are and what you want your children doing every day.  Playing and free-time is a high priority for me with my younger kids.   They have a life-time ahead of them of long days.

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2 hours ago, alexandramarie said:

I have 6 children 10 and under.  I love Charlotte Mason.  It seems each year I try a new Charlotte Mason Curriculum, hoping that it will be the perfect fit for our family.  I have tried The Alveary, Amblesdie Online, and this year CMEC.  Charlotte Mason may seem light but once you add all the afternoon occupations and leisure reads, it is a lot.  Right now I have 7 hrs of my day scheduled with either school lessons or what my kids should be doing in their leisure time.  I think this is way too much for my littles to handle, because I rarely have time just to be.  We are constantly moving on to the next thing.  I have my oldest two combined for all things but Math and Piano ( we use Hoffman Academy). Besides Charlotte Mason, I have always loved Latin Centered Curriculum and always go back to reading it, but it seems no one else is doing it.  Last year we did Memoria Press for half the year, but that drove me crazy because I couldn't stand all the study guides.  Any thoughts on how to streamline.  I will use what I have bought for CMEC, but I am thinking maybe of cutting some things and combining more.  Piano is a priority for me ( I spend 1.5 hours a day having my kids do a piano rotation.  We did our trial run of school last week.  I have a 7 year old (who is not an independent reader, I suspect dyslexia because it runs in my family, but he is making progress. I have a motivated 8.5 year old who can do almost anything I ask and I have a 10 year old boy that doesn't want to apply himself to anything).  Thank-you

I'm glad you posted this, because it makes me feel less crazy : )

I tried to follow Ambleside Online, and I ended up doing a very pared-down version (plus changing some of the books, but that's a separate issue). I spent so much time browsing the AO forum and trying to understand how all those other families got everything done. It's not the actual school work that seems tough -- like you say, it's all the extras. Handiwork, etc. It just seemed like those families were following a set structure all day long, from morning to evening.

I really didn't want to be directing my kids' activities all day long. II can see the beauty of it, it's like how I admire the Benedictine Order, but I couldn't imagine actually pulling it off.

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1 hour ago, alexandramarie said:

You have a lot of read alouds going on. And nature drawing could be twice a week not daily.  I’d consider setting up a morning basket with all your riches and then designate a time to do it.  Around an hour or maybe an hour and a half.  Then I’d just rotate through them loop schedule style and get as far as you get.  
 

 

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First, it is not necessary to do all that any program tells you to do.  It is absolutely ok to jettison those parts that you don't think are worth the time (or that you can't stand!).

I would make finishing all academic work with all kids by lunch a priority.  What would you keep if you absolutely had to finish by lunch?

If it were me, I'd prioritize math, reading, and writing (which would include, depending on the skill level of the kid, handwriting, spelling, grammar, and composition).  Then I'd eliminate all output in the content areas (history/social studies, science, and literature) and just do read alouds (and the occasional science activity).  You could even move the read alouds to bedtime.

I'd try that for a few months and see how it goes.

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Fwiw, when I have too many ideas, I write them out with time amounts and just start CHOPPING till it gets realistic. Sometimes even good things get chopped. Or something goes to every other day or once a week. You may need to get radical. 

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2 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

You have a lot of read alouds going on. And nature drawing could be twice a week not daily.  I’d consider setting up a morning basket with all your riches and then designate a time to do it.  Around an hour or maybe an hour and a half.  Then I’d just rotate through them loop schedule style and get as far as you get.  
 

 

That's what I was going to suggest as well. We have certain things that are always in morning basket (Bible, poetry, a lit read aloud, and almost always some sort of history or geography reading/activity, and some sort of science or nature reading/activity), but the rest will rotate and vary.  I have a running list on Trello of ideas by general topic (nature, art appreciation, composer study, math enrichment), etc., so I can kind of keep an eye on what hasn't been touched on recently.  We can spend 30-60 minutes on that, easily, depending on the day, and that covers a LOT. Then anywhere from 30-60 minutes per child for me to work with elementary kids on individual phonics/reading practice/independent novel discussion, math, and writing. 

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First -- ((( hugs))) -- That sounds overwhelming! And it is great that you realize this is not working "as written", so you can make changes now and save your sanity! 😄 

My next thought is: Children tend learn much better with consistency and streamlining. This looks like way too many moving parts, so it's killing you schedule-wise, and it's hard on the kids to actually learn and progress with a series of short snippets on many topics during the day, and a different set of topics and snippets the next day. Right now it looks like you have MANY subjects, and MANY books going at once:

Bible
Math
LA
   Reading
   Writing
   Grammar
   Dictation
[Speech -- is this speech therapy? or is this public speaking/presentation speaking?]
Science
Social Studies:
   Citizenship
   Geography
   History: American
   History: British (Our Island History)
   History: Ancients (Egyptian History; Heroes of Asgard; Writing & Stories of Rome)
Foreign Language:
   Spanish
   Latin
Fine Arts
   Poetry
   Music - composer study
   Music - folk songs
   Music - piano
   Art
Electives
   Nature Studies
   Cardboard Modeling
   News/Current Events

 At this age, all you really *need* are Math and LA topics. Every other subject is icing on top.

I'd suggest streamlining to blocks of time with one subject per block (or in the case of LA, group those topics together as one block). I'd also suggest alternating some subjects that really do not have to be done every day (like: History/Geography/Science, and Foreign Language/Nature Studies/Fine Arts) -- or, alternate these subjects by semester, so: 1st semester = History, 2nd semester = Science. I'd also suggest fewer/longer/focused blocks of time for core subjects and whatever doesn't get finished gets looped to the next time that subject is on the schedule. 

Also, I'd suggest dropping down to just ONE foreign language. Even better, maybe NO foreign language, and wait to start until middle school when children's brains are at the prime time for learning and retaining a foreign language (ages 12-14).

Also, I'd suggest streamlining your History and do just ONE History time period at a time. So, stick with Ancients for the year, or just do American History for the year. If you want to cover multiple "streams" in one year, then try doing it more as focused mini-units: 12 weeks = American History & Geography; the next 12 weeks focus on the British "Our Island History"; and then for the last 12 weeks focus on Ancients. Or, if you really want to include Citizenship, then do a 6-week unit on Citizenship, and then 10-week units on each of the 3 History time periods. It's super hard for kids to hopscotch around with multiple history periods with a nibble here today, then a nibble over there the next day, and be able to make any sense out of what's going on. JMO! 😄 

I'd also streamline the Nature Study materials (and also the Foreign Language materials). For example, you have many Nature Study components listed -- maybe do the different components as 1-month units, so that for 4-6 weeks at a time, every time you do Nature Studies you're doing the same book + type of activity. Then once you finish that book, or when the next month rolls around, switch to a different Nature book + activity and focus on getting good at that activity and digging deep into that book for 4-6 weeks..

Below is just one possible idea of scheduling that keeps many of your subject areas, but streamlines into blocks of time rather than scattered snippets, gives children lots of time for imaginative free play -- one of the BEST things for kids ages 10 and under for brain development and problem solving! -- and finishes formal academics by 2:30, and gives mom an hour of rest after all the schooling to re-energize for the afternoon/evening of normal family living things.

Just a thought! BEST of luck in finding what works best for your family at this hectic stage! Warmest regards, Lori D.

7:30-8:30am - block #1 - Bible/together
40 min. = all = Bible
10 min. = all = together time:
    -drill/memorizaton
    -OR-- chose ONE to do per day: a poem, a folk song, a composer, an artist, a fairy tale, or a critical thinking/logic puzzle
    -OR--do a month or 9-12 week units to focus each day in a 10 minute "bite" on one topic: composers, or artists, or poems...
10 min. = break

8:30-9:30am - block #2 - Math
40-45 min. =
   older 3 = math -- all those doing math are around the table at their own level, you bounce from child to child as needed
   younger 3 = educational activities
5 min = drill work
10-15 min. = break and snack -- do 5 minutes of dancing, or other physical activity here

9:30-10:30am - block #3 - LA
40 min. =
   older 3 = LA block -- 10 & 8yo = writing, spelling,  grammar; 7yo = phonics, reading, handwriting (again, all together around the table)
   younger 3 = free play
20 min. = snack + short nature walk/walk as a family for fun & physical activity (does not have to include a formal educational aspect)
[If more time is needed for LA, then drop a walk (or do it informally on weekends, and just take a 10-min break here with a snack]

10:30-11:30am - block #4 - mom + youngers / olders solo
10:30-10:50 =
   older 3 = piano instruction with mom
   younger 3 = educational activities that lead into work with mom
10:55-11:30
   younger 3 = pre-K/Kinder work, their special picture books/short read-alouds, work with mommy -- help get lunch ready
   older 3 = piano practice, solo reading and/or other solo work and/or free play

11:30am-1:00pm - block #5 - lunch + play + quiet time -
   11:30-12:30 = lunch + play --  for 20 minutes while eating lunch, everyone can listen to the news, or to an audiobook read-aloud
   12:30-1:00 = quiet time -- everyone quiet on their own bed, either napping or doing a quiet activity, or reading, or listening to an audiobook

1:00-1:30 - block #6 - Science/History block
   older 3 = ** 2 days a week = Science / 2 days a week = History / 5th day = Geography or finish up any left over Hist/Sci
   younger 3 = continue to nap and/or free play
[** = or, instead of doing 2 days/2 days, one semester (18 weeks) = Science and the other semester (18 weeks) = History & Geography]

1:30-2:00 - block #7 - Foreign Language/Art/Nature block
   older 3 = 3 days week = Latin / 1 day week = Art / 1 day week = Nature Studies
   younger 3 = work along with olders where they can --OR-- educational activities

2:00-2:30 - block #8 - "finish up" block
   older 3 = CHOICE  of one activity -- free reading, gardening, handi-craft, educational game/video/supplement, personal interest pursuit, etc.
   younger 3 = mom reads aloud to them, finish any 1-on-1 schooling

2:30 -3:30 - mom = rest time / all children = free play time (can continue with choice of activity from previous block)
  (?) 7yo = speech therapy (or may in the next time block of family living and needs?)

3:30-7:00 - relaxed time for family living and needs (activities outside the home; errands; chores; dinner; clean-up; showers; etc.)
You can rotate through the children and have 1 per day be "mom's helper" making dinner, setting table, going to the grocery store, etc., to naturally fold children into learning chores and cooking.

7:00-7:30 - evening family read-aloud (not every day; maybe 3-4x/week) -- keep it fun/relaxed and NOT about school!

Edited by Lori D.
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I could be mistaken since it has been awhile since I have read through Charlotte Mason's Home Education Series but I am pretty sure that one thing her method emphasized was that lessons were kept to the morning hours and afternoons were set aside for the children to play or work on their hobbies. She was a proponent of what she called "masterly inactivity" which was giving children lots of time to be on their own without a parent or teacher directing their activity. You can read more about that here: https://www.amblesideonline.org/CMM/topicalmasterly.html

One of the things I don't like about Ambleside Online and other Charlotte Mason curriculum is that they try to do way too much. If you look at what was done in Charlotte Mason's schools you will see that they scheduled fewer books each term and in many cases only scheduled a portion of each book. Here is one example of what was scheduled for the First Form (grades 1-3) https://www.amblesideonline.org/Programme93I.shtml 

 I was very inspired when I discovered Charlotte Mason. I read all six volumes of her Home Education Series. I tried really hard to implement an Ambleside Online type of homeschool. I have also tried being a classical homeschooler and tried using Memoria Press for awhile. But in my 27 years of homeschooling what I have learned is that less is more. The years that we kept curriculum minimal (usually due to lack of money to buy everything) were our best. 

So over time I have fallen into a very minimalistic type of homeschooling and it has worked really well. We focus on the basics: math and phonics until around 3rd/4th grade then math, spelling, and grammar. Everything else is just reading good books and living life. 

Susan in TX

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Lori, the Speech is me doing speech therapy with my seven year old.  Writing is actually copywork; are not using a writing curriculum.  The line between each half hour block is showing what my older two are doing while I work with my 7 year old.  I really like your ideas and am going to take them all into consideration!  

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7 minutes ago, Susan in TX said:

I could be mistaken since it has been awhile since I have read through Charlotte Mason's Home Education Series but I am pretty sure that one thing her method emphasized was that lessons were kept to the morning hours and afternoons were set aside for the children to play or work on their hobbies. She was a proponent of what she called "masterly inactivity" which was giving children lots of time to be on their own without a parent or teacher directing their activity. You can read more about that here: https://www.amblesideonline.org/CMM/topicalmasterly.html

One of the things I don't like about Ambleside Online and other Charlotte Mason curriculum is that they try to do way too much. If you look at what was done in Charlotte Mason's schools you will see that they scheduled fewer books each term and in many cases only scheduled a portion of each book. Here is one example of what was scheduled for the First Form (grades 1-3) https://www.amblesideonline.org/Programme93I.shtml 

 I was very inspired when I discovered Charlotte Mason. I read all six volumes of her Home Education Series. I tried really hard to implement an Ambleside Online type of homeschool. I have also tried being a classical homeschooler and tried using Memoria Press for awhile. But in my 27 years of homeschooling what I have learned is that less is more. The years that we kept curriculum minimal (usually due to lack of money to buy everything) were our best. 

So over time I have fallen into a very minimalistic type of homeschooling and it has worked really well. We focus on the basics: math and phonics until around 3rd/4th grade then math, spelling, and grammar. Everything else is just reading good books and living life. 

Susan in TX

Yes, that is true about morning lessons, but after Form 1 all the handcrafts, nature work, and leisure reads are added to afternoon hours.  She also had things like composer study and playing the piano on her program and other works of literature that did not fit into the morning timetable.

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We also do Bible over breakfast.  Thank you everyone for your input!  My older two actually love Latin and it is one of the only things my son looks forward to.  I do think we need more time for math, although Charlotte Mason would only have 30 minutes spent on math at this age.  Piano does take about 1/3 of my attention.  I love the idea of doing one subject a day as stated in LCC and then having an hour of family reading and some independent reading.  Maybe only have the older two do one content book in depth daily and notebook, but this isn't the Charlotte Mason way.  My 1 year old is my last, so I know the chaos of littles won't be forever, although I am not rushing it because I love it!  

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50 minutes ago, alexandramarie said:

...I do think we need more time for math, although Charlotte Mason would only have 30 minutes spent on math at this age...
...
I love the idea of doing one subject a day as stated in LCC and then having an hour of family reading and some independent reading.  Maybe only have the older two do one content book in depth daily and notebook, but this isn't the Charlotte Mason way. My 1 year old is my last, so I know the chaos of littles won't be forever... 

Meaning this gently -- don't let the curricula or the homeschool philosophy drive the bus, no matter how much you love the basic ideas of the program or the method. If you want to make sure you arrive at your destination (which is your goals for your children's education, and your overall "mission statement" for your family) -- with your sanity intact -- YOU drive that homeschool bus -- which often means having to drop/change/tweak things in the curricula or the homeschool philosophy/method so that it fits your unique children and how they best learn, plus your family's unique circumstances. Curricula and methods are a whole lot more bendable, "droppable" and "tweak-able" than children are. 😉 

So if what you said in this quote above (i.e., doing only one subject a day + reading, and drop to just one content book) will bring peace and  joy into your family's learning, and do a better job of getting you to your educational goals for your children -- go for it! As you say, this is for a short time and season -- you can always tweak again in another year or two as your children change, and as your circumstances change. 😄 

Edited by Lori D.
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49 minutes ago, alexandramarie said:

Yes, that is true about morning lessons, but after Form 1 all the handcrafts, nature work, and leisure reads are added to afternoon hours.  She also had things like composer study and playing the piano on her program and other works of literature that did not fit into the morning timetable.

JMO 😉 : There is no reason why all of those things can't be in the free choice basket as part of 30-min. time block at the end of formal academics. For example: in my schedule above, block #8 is followed by free time -- so children might select something from the free choice basket in that time block #8 -- and keep on working on it out of personal interest right on into their free time which immediately follows. They might really get absorbed in their choice of handcrafts or nature work or leisure reading and keep going after the "scheduled" time.

No reason that you have to oversee all of these Charlotte Mason extras, or that all these extras MUST be done. You are providing learning opportunities in many areas for self-discovery, while overseeing the core subjects that really DO need to get done. That is the best of both worlds -- children learn how to learn through self-discovery, and you expend your limited supply of energy wisely on the core subjects that are necessary -- and no one is burned out/over-extended trying to check off every single book and activity on the Charlotte Mason list. 😉 

Edited by Lori D.
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59 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

Meaning this gently -- don't let the curricula or the homeschool philosophy drive the bus, no matter how much you love the basic ideas of the program or the method.

My homeschool life got so much better when I finally internalized this concept.

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2 hours ago, Lori D. said:

Meaning this gently -- don't let the curricula or the homeschool philosophy drive the bus, no matter how much you love the basic ideas of the program or the method. If you want to make sure you arrive at your destination (which is your goals for your children's education, and your overall "mission statement" for your family) -- with your sanity intact -- YOU drive that homeschool bus -- which often means having to drop/change/tweak things in the curricula or the homeschool philosophy/method so that it fits your unique children and how they best learn, plus your family's unique circumstances. Curricula and methods are a whole lot more bendable, "droppable" and "tweak-able" than children are. 😉 
 

I strongly encourage you to listen to Lori's advice above.  Your link is now working for me, and just looking at it made me want to shut down and cry.  There is no way I could ever maintain that type of schedule and instill joy and love of learning (and I would have burned out yrs ago.)

This is my 27th yr homeschooling.  I've graduated 6 kids from our homeschool and have 9th and 5th graders of my own this yr and my 4th and 3rd grade grandkids joining us.  While I haven't spent all 27 yrs CM-focused, my approach to homeschooling is probably more CM than any other method.  I can share that too many moving parts is going to suck the joy out of learning and just leave everyone mentally exhausted and disillusioned.  Your kids will retain things longer and develop a stronger appreciation for what they are learning if you can spend time relaxing and enjoying what you are doing and spending time with ideas vs. constantly shifting gears.  

In addition to the part of Lori's post I quoted above, I also 100% agree with her that at these ages you are establishing a foundation.  That means focusing on math and language art skills.  Reading.  Music, art, geography, foreign languages, crafts......they do not ALL need to mastered now and more importantly, they don't all need to formally scheduled.  Pick a composer  and study just that ONE for a while. Then, switch to something else (either another composer, an artist, or geography, etc) and focus on that for a while.

In terms of languages, I do not recommend Latin at the ages of your younger kids.  It drags out Latin over way too many yrs and kids will ultimately get bored with it and want to drop it.  Waiting until 6th or 7th grade, you can cover more content in a more interesting way that keeps them engaged and wanting to progress.  Latin grammar and translation gets complicated and being older with a stronger grasp of concepts enables them to handle it vs. progressing so slowly in order to avoid the complexities.  (I have had multiple kids take  4 or more yrs of Latin.  One of my dd's graduated from high school with 15 foreign language credits (Latin, French, and Russian).   She started French younger (I would say she dug in around 5th.) SHe took her first Latin course in 6th (and she is gifted, otherwise I would have waited at least another yr).  She didn't start Russian until 9th.   

Crafts they pick up on their own time.  Free time is a HUGE thing.   I protect my kids' free time fiercely.  I believe that free time is WAY more important for young kids than anything I could do academically with them.  They learn to self-entertain. Self-regulate.  Explore ideas and experiment with real life concepts through play (don't underestimate how much kids learn through observing what happens when they are playing.)

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
mistyped 6th instead of 5th
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It’s not “the answer” but one more tool for your box:

When I was a kid in a private school, we were set on a 6-day rotation.  So, instead of a M-F schedule, we had A-day, B-day, C-day, D-day, E-day, and F-day.  

Monday would be A-day and Friday would be E-day, but then the next Monday would be F-day and now *Tuesday* would be A-day, etc.

The benefit of that is that you can spread subjects over an even number of days.  So instead of trying to think “I’ll do Science 3 days a week and History for only 2...”. You can do Science for 3 days a cycle and History for 3 days a cycle.  

I implemented that in my homeschool when I had a whole bunch of little subjects I wanted to get to each year and was struggling to divide them into 5 days.  

Some things were done 6 days a cycle (like math).  Some were done 3 days a cycle (history/science.). But some things were only done once or twice a cycle.  For example, I wanted us to officially take time to “study” etiquette, but that’s certainly not something you need to spend a lot of time on, so it was just once a cycle. We studied logic twice a cycle. 

Using 6 days instead of 5 allowed me to touch on subjects in just the right amounts—not too much/not too little.

Note: I didn’t do that for high school, but it was great from 8th on down.

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2 hours ago, Susan in TX said:

But in my 27 years of homeschooling what I have learned is that less is more. The years that we kept curriculum minimal (usually due to lack of money to buy everything) were our best. 

I think I needed to hear this today. :wub:

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OK, back to add some of my take-aways from being in the Mason world for the last five years.

First, there is a LOT of pressure to do everything. I know I've heard the phrase, "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts" more than a few times, and that makes cutting things very scary!

Secondly, what makes a Mason education run LONG TERM is personal and family habits of learning, life, and exploration. You have a lot of little kids and this is where your focus needs to be (and I say that as a very academic schooler). What I mean is that you need to cut back on occupations and extras and build up bit by bit as habits are developed that make the education work.

Thirdly, look at things that you are doing in life and don't need to be taught via a curriculum. We cut most music related stuff because we play instruments. We do less nature study than others because we naturally have a science bent. I schedule a certain amount of personal school reading each day, but I only have my kids have one book going at a time.

Looking at your schedule, you have a lot of things that double up. Either do drill etc OR walk. If you walk on a day, skip garden time. Delay Latin until you've stuck with a curriculum for a few years. Is Nelms learning to read? If not, he has PLENTY of reading time without an extra reading slot. Can you take things that are scheduled "daily" and make them every other day? Cut either evening or afternoon read aloud. My kids would have rebelled if I had read aloud that much, though... It looks to me like you have a TON of readings.

Another quote I've heard from a CMer is, "It is a feast. Take the parts that will nourish your family, but don't give everyone a stomach ache." I know my older kids (11, 13, 15) have picked up a lot of their skills and passions because of free time. If you need hyper-scheduled afternoons to crowd out bad habits, I think the large number of occupations can be great. But if your kids are building forts, reading, cooking, building imaginary worlds, playing instruments, etc in their free time, you don't need the scaffolding of strict afternoon occupations.

Emily

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7 hours ago, EmilyGF said:

OK, back to add some of my take-aways from being in the Mason world for the last five years.

First, there is a LOT of pressure to do everything. I know I've heard the phrase, "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts" more than a few times, and that makes cutting things very scary!

Secondly, what makes a Mason education run LONG TERM is personal and family habits of learning, life, and exploration. You have a lot of little kids and this is where your focus needs to be (and I say that as a very academic schooler). What I mean is that you need to cut back on occupations and extras and build up bit by bit as habits are developed that make the education work.

Thirdly, look at things that you are doing in life and don't need to be taught via a curriculum. We cut most music related stuff because we play instruments. We do less nature study than others because we naturally have a science bent. I schedule a certain amount of personal school reading each day, but I only have my kids have one book going at a time.

Looking at your schedule, you have a lot of things that double up. Either do drill etc OR walk. If you walk on a day, skip garden time. Delay Latin until you've stuck with a curriculum for a few years. Is Nelms learning to read? If not, he has PLENTY of reading time without an extra reading slot. Can you take things that are scheduled "daily" and make them every other day? Cut either evening or afternoon read aloud. My kids would have rebelled if I had read aloud that much, though... It looks to me like you have a TON of readings.

Another quote I've heard from a CMer is, "It is a feast. Take the parts that will nourish your family, but don't give everyone a stomach ache." I know my older kids (11, 13, 15) have picked up a lot of their skills and passions because of free time. If you need hyper-scheduled afternoons to crowd out bad habits, I think the large number of occupations can be great. But if your kids are building forts, reading, cooking, building imaginary worlds, playing instruments, etc in their free time, you don't need the scaffolding of strict afternoon occupations.

Emily

You have alot of good points, thank you! The reading is for my son who just turned 7, he still is not reading fluently and has speech articulation issues, so the reading is for him.  My older two read independently and then I have them each read me a poem a day so I can address any pronunciation issues.  The quiet read is independent silent reading for my older two.  It is a lot of reading though. 

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7 hours ago, EmilyGF said:

If you need hyper-scheduled afternoons to crowd out bad habits, I think the large number of occupations can be great. But if your kids are building forts, reading, cooking, building imaginary worlds, playing instruments, etc in their free time, you don't need the scaffolding of strict afternoon occupations.

Emily

If I don't schedule my kids afternoons, they end up fighting and or isolating themselves in their rooms.  My ten year old with play legos or take care of his pet in his room and then he tends to get depressed from being alone; I am trying to figure out how to handle a ten year old boy.  If I don't schedule my daughter, she wants to be scheduled and entertained.  I guess I struggle, because I don't schedule chaos happens and fighting.  Maybe I am doing something wrong.

I should add we just moved to a new state and my kids don't have any friends.  We did join a pool, so for now I am cutting few things and trying to get to the pool 1-2 hrs on nice days.  

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1 hour ago, alexandramarie said:

If I don't schedule my kids afternoons, they end up fighting and or isolating themselves in their rooms.  My ten year old with play legos or take care of his pet in his room and then he tends to get depressed from being alone; I am trying to figure out how to handle a ten year old boy.  If I don't schedule my daughter, she wants to be scheduled and entertained.  I guess I struggle, because I don't schedule chaos happens and fighting.  Maybe I am doing something wrong.

I should add we just moved to a new state and my kids don't have any friends.  We did join a pool, so for now I am cutting few things and trying to get to the pool 1-2 hrs on nice days.  

Moving is hard.  We have moved so many times in our kids' lives that none of them know how to answer, "Where are you from?"  One of our moves was international with 5 between the ages of 10 and 1.  Under normal conditions, finding base groups for friendships has been a priority for me, but making friends during Covid is definitely not easy.  Our last move was under a yr ago and 2 of our kids still at home were 17 and 14.  Moving with teens is incredibly hard bc it is just a harder age to fit into already formed friend groups.  They had just started connecting with groups when covid shut down our state.  Maintaining fledgling friendships virtually when the other kids already had strong friendships was pretty much beyond difficult.

So, that makes me wonder, are the above behaviors normal for your kids, or are they the result of covid quarantining and a new move? The answer to that question is key from my perspective. Self-entertainment (which requires self-regulation) is the most undervalued life skill in our society.  In our modern society, the norm is to schedule children from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed almost from infancy (day care routines, camps, sports, after school art/music/drama/choir.....the list goes on and on.)  Children having to just find something to do on their own that is productive (not destructive) fun, self-generated entertainment is rare. Neighborhoods are quiet during the afternoon, weekends, and summers bc kids are scheduled.  The lament is that kids don't know what to do without having things scheduled and they whine, cause problems, etc, so they need to be scheduled.  Again, this is just my perspective and my goals for my children, the opposite, helping them learn to self-entertain and self-regulate, should be the goal bc that will last them a life-time.  At some pt, life is not scheduled by an outside force from the waking to bed.  Owning your life and knowing the what's and the how's of self-determination will last a life-time beyond what handicraft skills were scheduled to be completed on Mon vs Wed.  (One of our kids is a disabled adult autistic.  The main skill that allows him to function as independently as he does is that he can self-regulate.)

FWIW, I agree with most of Emily's posts. I just want to clarify that she is not the only poster who is an academically-oriented homeschooler or expects high levels of mathematical achievement.  On these forums, that tends to be the norm.   So, enabling our children to be the best "them" they can achieve is the motivation behind every reply you have received.  We might all take different paths to get there, but our end goals are providing our children with excellent educations.  (Even taking the approach I posted in my first post, I have had a student graduate from high school having completed 4 math courses beyond AP cal BC and 5 in-major college physics classes.  Yes, he is gifted, but he is also severely dyslexic and didn't read on grade level (and even then he read very slowly) until 5th grade.  It didn't take making his childhood all-day school.  He spent approx 1 hr /grade level on school work (so about 1 hr in 1st, 3 in 3rd, etc until middle school.  6th-8th is approx 6-8 hrs per day (depends on the student and and the day) and high school is about 7-9 hrs per day (again, depends on the student and the day.)   

Anyway, that is a long way of saying that I would help your children work through their struggles without scheduling specific activities.  I hope you settle into your new location and your children make friends soon.

 

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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2 hours ago, alexandramarie said:

If I don't schedule my kids afternoons, they end up fighting and or isolating themselves in their rooms.  My ten year old with play legos or take care of his pet in his room and then he tends to get depressed from being alone; I am trying to figure out how to handle a ten year old boy.  If I don't schedule my daughter, she wants to be scheduled and entertained.  I guess I struggle, because I don't schedule chaos happens and fighting.  Maybe I am doing something wrong.

I should add we just moved to a new state and my kids don't have any friends.  We did join a pool, so for now I am cutting few things and trying to get to the pool 1-2 hrs on nice days.  

Moving is hard. But even if you'd stayed where you were, your kids would probably not have much time with friends given COVID. At least, that's the case where I am.

When my grandmother retired, my grandfather drove her crazy. He'd expect to be with her all day and she was too independent of a woman for that. She figured out a solution, though. She would drive around the corner, park on the next street, and read a book for fifteen minutes. By the time she got home, he'd be productively building in the wood shop or have left the house to spend time with a friend. Like my grandfather, I think children often need a certain amount of boredom before they can learn to use free time productively. You can also schedule "areas" and not activities. The area can minimize fighting while giving the child a choice in the activity.

Alternatively, maybe you need to think more about scaffolding independence in using free time well. One CM mama I know has her kids choose three occupations to work on each afternoon, which they write on a white board. Then the kids have freedom on when and how to do them. That's a process, but at least the children are learning to use their own time instead of being shuffled from activity to activity. They would still need your support (for a while), but over time, you'd find that they were doing things on their own because they got tired of waiting for you to come. So an afternoon might have the list: "History reading, paint in your nature journal, weed the tomatoes." But the child has a choice in the list and takes initiative in when things are done.

It is interesting in my family because how my kids structure their time differs so much from one to another. When I took the times off our schedule, my kids' personalities came out (and my kids are older than yours, so of course this doesn't transfer one to one). DS8 gets up at 6:15 every morning so he can get math and foreign language practice out of the way before breakfast. DD11 gets everything done in a super-efficient way. She also got into my weekly spreadsheet and added a few things on that she wanted to get done in her personal life but was having a hard time remembering to do. DD13 was having a hard time at first, but once I started strictly enforcing that we finish everything on Saturday that isn't done during the week, she started finishing her lists very efficiently. The other day, DS15 was working hard on a chemistry AP summer assignment. I asked him why and he said, "Because I got it assigned today and don't want to worry about it in September." LOL.

@8FillTheHeart Sorry that I wasn't clear about my math comment. I was comparing myself to CM homeschoolers and homeschoolers in general, not WTMers! 🙂

Emily

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One other thing I forgot to mention for poetry is tea time.  We have tea parties on Friday afternoons.  The kids memorize a poem or a song or a piece if they want to perform their instrument or more than 1 category and present during our tea party.  It is a ton of fun and a family affair.   Last week, my 2 college kids and 3 grandkids joined my 5th and 9th graders.  3 sang songs, 4 recited poems, 1 played the violin, and 2 sang a duet.   They drank lemonade in wine glasses or tea, ate fruit and veggie sticks, and had a dessert.  My 8 yr old grandson worked incredibly hard at having the absolute best manners and was awarded an additional treat for such exemplary behavior.  (The week before my 6 yo grandson tried incredibly hard--normally he has atrocious manners!)  Bc they are performing in front of everyone, they really try to do their best and choose things they are proud to share.

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6 hours ago, alexandramarie said:

If I don't schedule my kids afternoons, they end up fighting and or isolating themselves in their rooms.  My ten year old with play legos or take care of his pet in his room and then he tends to get depressed from being alone; I am trying to figure out how to handle a ten year old boy.  If I don't schedule my daughter, she wants to be scheduled and entertained.  I guess I struggle, because I don't schedule chaos happens and fighting.  Maybe I am doing something wrong.

 

You aren't doing anything wrong. With children chaos and fighting are to be expected. One thing that I learned is that if I left the kids alone to work out their problems there was less fighting. I don't allow violence or name calling, but if they are just arguing I let them be.  Over time this resulted in less arguing and bickering. The other thing is that I do not play referee. If I have to break up a fight all parties are disciplined. (It is rare for there to be one instigator and one totally innocent party.)

It is difficult for kids who are used to being scheduled to learn to entertain themselves. So if you choose to do less scheduling there will likely be complaining at first. It may take awhile, but if you let them be they will find a way to entertain themselves.  

Susan in TX

 

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One thing I've noticed lately with bickering - my kids get along fine if there are any TWO of them, most of the time. Add in the third, and it goes badly quickly. 

Can you occupy them in such a way that two have free time at once, but not more than that? 

You can also have time that they do "independent free time" and "group play time" where they get some time together but also breaks?

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Thank you ladies for taking time to consider my post.  You all gave me things to consider.  Lori I am going to take your schedule into consideration.  I do think I need more intentional times with my littles.  Every year I feel like I should do my own thing, but then I go ahead and follow a curriculum plan.. Maybe this will be my last year.  Like I said, I do love the Latin Centered Curriculum model (minus classical writing and possibly just rod and staff with written narrations).  I also love Hunters rainbow curriculum and I have always had that bookmarked.

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34 minutes ago, alexandramarie said:

Thank you ladies for taking time to consider my post.  You all gave me things to consider.  Lori I am going to take your schedule into consideration.  I do think I need more intentional times with my littles.  Every year I feel like I should do my own thing, but then I go ahead and follow a curriculum plan.. Maybe this will be my last year.  Like I said, I do love the Latin Centered Curriculum model (minus classical writing and possibly just rod and staff with written narrations).  I also love Hunters rainbow curriculum and I have always had that bookmarked.

Up-thread, you mentioned about the difficulties that arise when the children aren't scheduled for every minute. Part of that is just really rough right now with the pandemic shut-down, but I do think that you can give them afternoon time blocks with choices, so they can start moving towards figuring out how to entertain themselves. In past threads by @wendyroo , she has mentioned how she gives her older children a list of free choice activities. Perhaps try starting with a list of half a dozen choices, and after 4 weeks, rotate some choices off the list and replace with new ones.

Also, I was thinking about trying to get the speech therapy in there for your 7yo... Maybe in the afternoon, have the 10yo and 8.5yo each "assigned" (lol) to one of the 2 youngest siblings to read to/entertain them for 30 minutes while you work with the 7yo?

(((alexandramarie))) -- hugs and best wishes! It can be hard to make change when you feel like you're barely making it through the day with what is being used at the moment. And change is scary. But I think if you pare things down to what YOU feel are the essentials, and streamline the rest, and save some of it for later, in a season of life when the children are a bit older and don't need so much of mom all the time, you're going to all really enjoy things more.

BEST of luck in finding what works best for your family, and wishing you all a wonderful year of learning, whatever that ends up looking like! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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8 hours ago, mms said:

I am going to suggest something and I only have five kids and have only been homeschooling for six years so feel free to ignore since I have nowhere near the experience of some of these other ladies (who are, in fact, my heroes): Simply simply simplify and stop chasing after a unicorn.

We are heavily Latin and language oriented here and what I have discovered is that if my children do their language and math studies well, they get such an intense work out that there is not enough mental energy left for all the rich extras that I want to do. What I thought was lack of application was overwhelm! And never were they so overwhelmed as the brief period during which I tried AO against my better judgment.  I also learned the hard way that if I am doing the basics well and I try to add in extras, I become stretched too thin and other areas of our life suffer.

Here is what works for us:

Math is a given and we spend anywhere from 15-60 minutes on it depending on age and stage.

Once mine can read cvc words and know how to form their letters (we do cursive first) all English language arts are covered via dictation, copywork and narration. This takes 15-30 min per day depending on the child and attention span. We cover our heritage language studies similarly. In addition, each child had daily memory work of poetry, speeches or Bible verses (note: only one selection at a time!). We use the SCM memory box system for review. The exception is my oldest who uses Apples and Pears for spelling instead of dictation from literature.

We start Latin at six or seven using the methods of Ella Frances Lynch, add in a textbook like Getting Started With Latin around nine or ten and First Form after that is completed. Until the child is ready for First Form, Latin takes 5-10 minutes max.

During the school year, we do some group work over breakfast and/or lunch: catechism, some content read alouds, audiobooks) and my husband reads the Bible and a longer novel in the evenings year round.

Even Eldest has only 4.5 hrs scheduled this year in sixth grade.

So where does that leave the rest of what CMers call “the feast?” (Note, I am most definitely not a CM homeschooler lol.) Because they end up with so much free time they pursue those things on their own and spontaneously. Not always daily and certainly not in neat little boxes on a schedule, but: hours and hours outdoors (more than any official CM homeschool I know), handicrafts, nature journaling, hours of reading about every subject under the sun and then discussing it with each other and with DH and I. Oh the beautiful conversations we have had. My children dive deep into topics that interest them, but only if I do not even hint at the fact that it is part of their school work (shhh don’t tell!). And over the years they have covered quite a breadth as well. 
 

I used to get really green eyed over the blogs of women who did AO and whose children produced works of art in their notebooks. But, that’s not us and that’s alright: my children love to learn and they do, even if they don’t notebook about it. Also, CM was not writing for the mother who did all her own housework, nursed her babies and cooked all the meals 🙂 

Nota bene: this sort of spontaneous learning only started happening after a period of deschooling from previous manifestations of our homeschool and only after I let go of my expectations that they should do those things. I spent over a year full of nerves because they did not seem interested in stuff like I expected!
 

Have you ever followed any of the Ella Frances Lynch threads? I highly recommend them and your children are just at the right ages for her methods. Also, I can not recommend this series enough:

 

I give a lot of credit to you for doing your own thing.  I have always wanted to, but I feel it would be easier just to follow what someone else has planned.  Deep down this would be my plan.  Math, copywork, and latin daily. (How do they spend only 15 min on latin?  Last year my older two did Latina CHristiana which they enjoyed, but we spend 30-45 min a day).  Rod and Staff English and then written narrations for writing.  I would then have them notebook and study 1 content area a day on a rotation, for exmaple Modern History, Geography, Science/ Nature Study, Classical History, Classical Literature in depth.  We would do Bible and Memory work over breakfast as a family.  I would then have 1 hr of family learning a day where we would add in riches, arts, poetry and a read aloud following the same area of content for the day.  They would have 15min-1hr of free choice independent reading a day.  30 minutes of piano.  I would keep one family read aloud for enjoyment going at night.  I would also possibly get mcguffey readers so I could test their fluency and we could use them for dication and spelling.  Would this work

7:30Bible over breakfast

8:30
45 min math
30 min Rod and Staff ( I don't have this for the year, I have the Charlotte Mason grammar which is really only two days a week.  So I could alternate this with dictation)/ Reading Lesson with 7 year old
45 min Content with written narration, notebooks, maps,  timelines, ect.  (I would read to my 7 year old)
30 min Latin older two/ Read Picture Book Littles
30 min copywork, mcguffey readers

11:30
Lunch, break, family walk

1:00 1 hr family learning

2:00 1 hr quiet time With independent reading
 3:00 Snack
Free time and find 30 minutes for piano (I spend time with the littles)
6:00 Dinner
Read Aloud

+ I save deep cleaning  for Mondays on my husbands day off.  We school tuesday- saturday.  We practice hospitality every Saturday night, my kids love this!  Can I mention I have 5 boys and 1 girl, so there is a lot of energy and gross motor movements happening.

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7 hours ago, square_25 said:

Yeah, I absolutely agree with you. I'm a big fan of unschooling a lot of things that aren't fundamentals and watching their actual passions develop. There's no way DD8 would read as much or create nearly as many things if she didn't have a ton of spare time. 

I think that's another thing I strive for -- to make lessons something that may come in handy in the pursuit of their passions. It's convenient to be able to write if you want to make menus for an imaginary feast 😉 . It's convenient to know math if you want to calculate something. (It's convenient to know binary if you want to make a secret code, lol, on a more idiosyncratic note!  😉 ) That way, it's not that their passions become their schoolwork... it's that their schoolwork helps nourish their passions. 

My son is super interested in reptiles right now.  HE just got a gecko.  I am trying to take advantage of this.

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10 hours ago, mms said:

So where does that leave the rest of what CMers call “the feast?” (Note, I am most definitely not a CM homeschooler lol.) Because they end up with so much free time they pursue those things on their own and spontaneously. Not always daily and certainly not in neat little boxes on a schedule, but: hours and hours outdoors (more than any official CM homeschool I know), handicrafts, nature journaling, hours of reading about every subject under the sun and then discussing it with each other and with DH and I. Oh the beautiful conversations we have had. My children dive deep into topics that interest them, but only if I do not even hint at the fact that it is part of their school work (shhh don’t tell!). And over the years they have covered quite a breadth as well. 
 

I find the feast a useful way to expand my children's horizons. For example, dd11 draws all day long. Ds8 hates drawing and opposes nature study. But when we go outside, and he gets out the paints, he has a good time. Yesterday, for instance, we went outside and were painting some flowers from our backyard (this is a kid who really really struggles with drawing) and he saw a bumblebee come. He was so excited and was telling me why bumblebees are his favorite type of bee. Then, while painting, he noticed a shed cicada shell (?) and started telling me about other cicada shells he's found. Being mindful about a wide feast has allowed him to make these connections and relationships that he wouldn't have otherwise because he's not inclined towards it.

So, while I don't follow the "feast" religiously, I do find it really useful for expanding kids' horizons; you can't be interested in something you don't know exists. Also, the short lessons means I can drag my kids into things they find really hard or even say they hate, knowing that they don't have to do it for a long time. And, in my experience, over time, they come to enjoy or at least value the exposure.

Emily

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I think it's important to consider historical context as well with CM.  Writing at the turn of the century, it is entirely possible and probable that school books were the only books her students had regular access to, same with art supplies, and perhaps even time out of doors.  For a modern homeschooling family, opportunities to read across all content areas and interests, opportunities to engage in art projects... are all natural, normal parts of unscheduled time.  

I think the biggest take home message from CM is that habits matter.  Cultivating habits is our number one job as parents and educators.  You've got a lot of small children, and investing time upfront in sibling harmony will pay huge dividends later.  Put school aside if necessary and really dig in to where the friction points are.  Could the rooms be assigned differently so that bookworm kids are grouped together and lego maniacs are grouped together?  Can spaces be designed to meet more needs with less friction?  Does early morning exercise help to get the wiggles out and result in more peaceful concentration and play in the house?  

CM wasn't infallible.  She was innovative and thoughtful, and most importantly, she looks kids seriously.  But you don't have to be reading a US history, Bristish history, and World history curriculum simultaneously.  At your children's ages, that would be nearly impossible for anyone to sort through and understand.  You also don't need to limit yourself to vintage materials.  There are wonderful, engaging books that have been written more recently.  

You've gotten some great ideas here!  Break free of the labels and embrace your family and meet them where they are!

 

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I've just skimmed through this thread so forgive me if someone had already mentioned this, but one scheduling method that allows for lots of subjects without making any given day too long is a loop schedule. The way I implement this is to have just two or three daily subjects--math plus whatever else is highest priority for your family, maybe music practice and reading/speech articulation? Everything else goes into the loop, which is just a list of subjects you want to cover. On Monday, you do your daily stuff, then work for two hours (or whatever time you decide) on loop subjects. You get through whatever lessons you get through. The next day during loop time you pick up where you left off. If there are some things in the loop you want to do more often than others you can put them on the list more than once.

This takes some flexibility and willingness to not schedule lessons precisely by week; depending on what your loop looks like you might get through the loop three times in a week, or maybe not finish the entire loop in a week.

Whatever you do, remember that curriculum is your tool not your master.

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16 minutes ago, mms said:

 

I want to gently point out something about your new schedule: you have a lot of boys! Keeping them working from breakfast till lunch without a significant outdoor break might not be in your best interests. Only one of my boys is school aged and I have been unable to keep him on task with good focus for more than thirty minutes - and that is on good days. I would much rather have his undivided attention for fifteen minutes at a time and a good attitude about school than to fight all day long. I used to see that as giving in and not being strict enough, but at the end of the day he makes more progress with this set up than when I try to impose more. And he is a very obedient little man and not defiant, but he is very much a little boy. But even my girls benefit from time outside in the mornings and I will often send them out (with a timer) to jump on the trampoline or ride their bikes as a break from school work.

 

I agree with this 100%!

My kids need a LOT of physical activity to be happy. When hours outdoors isn't a good option (really hot summers or really cold winters) we've done a combination of indoor active play (six foot trampoline in the living room, gymnastics bar in the basement, etc.) and extracurricular activities like tumbling, Irish dance (awesome energetic dance form for boys and girls) and martial arts.

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4 hours ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

CM wasn't infallible.  She was innovative and thoughtful, and most importantly, she looks kids seriously.  But you don't have to be reading a US history, Bristish history, and World history curriculum simultaneously. 

 

Following three streams of history at once isn't even something Charlotte Mason advocated. It is something Ambleside Online did because those putting it together were living in the US and didn't want to do just British history but they didn't want to not do British history. And World history as we know it didn't really exist in Victorian England, but they had to cover that too because we aren't living in Victorian England.

I stumbled upon this schedule from The Parents Union School (which is the school Charlotte Mason started). Notice that for the first two classes (which would be like our grades 1-3 and grades 4-6) all work was done between 9am and noon. Even handi-crafts and brush drawing were fit into that time. They did school six days a week, but even taking that into account, they only schooled 18 hours a week. Also not every subject was done every day. 

I am not a Charlotte Mason purist (I don't even consider myself a Charlotte Mason homeschooler but I am a fan) so I don't think anyone needs to do exactly what Charlotte Mason did, but I don't like to see people burdened by trying to follow Charlotte Mason when what they are doing isn't anything she practised or advocated.

Susan in TX

Edited by Susan in TX
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35 minutes ago, Susan in TX said:

 

Following three streams of history at once isn't even something Charlotte Mason advocated. It is something Ambleside Online did because those putting it together were living in the US and didn't want to do just British history but they didn't want to not do British history. And World history as we know it didn't really exist in Victorian England, but they had to cover that too because we aren't living in Victorian England.

I stumbled upon this schedule from The Parents Union School (which is the school Charlotte Mason started). Notice that for the first two classes (which would be like our grades 1-3 and grades 4-6) all work was done between 9am and noon. Even handi-crafts and brush drawing were fit into that time. They did school six days a week, but even taking that into account, they only schooled 18 hours a week. Also not every subject was done every day. 

I am not a Charlotte Mason purist (I don't even consider myself a Charlotte Mason homeschooler but I am a fan) so I don't think anyone needs to do exactly what Charlotte Mason did, but I don't like to see people burdened by trying to follow Charlotte Mason when what they are doing isn't anything she practised or advocated.

Susan in TX

Yes.  That schedule is an important reminder. Also, when looking at their schedule, you see that the Class 1 kids (under 9) don't study Latin, but French.  Here is a description of Class 2:

Quote

–In Class II. the children are between nine and twelve, occasionally over twelve. They have twentyone 'subjects,' and about twenty-five books are used. They work from 9 to 12 each day, with half an hour's interval for games and drill. Some Latin and German (optional) are added to the curriculum. In music we continue Mrs Curwen's (Child Pianist) method and Tonic Sol-fa, and learn French, German (optional), and English songs. But I cannot here give details of our work, and must confine myself to illustrations from seven of the subjects on the programme. Children in Class II. write or dictate, or write a part and dictate a part of their examination answers according to their age. The examination lasts a week, and to write the whole of their work would be fatiguing at this stage. The plan followed is, that the examination in each subject shall be done in the time for that subject on the time-table.

Here is a blog post written by someone who attended a PNU school as a child (states French started at 9 and Latin at age 11.)

https://www.harvestcommunityschool.org/memories-of-a-mason-style-school.html

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46 minutes ago, mms said:

@alexandramarie

You mentioning the Rainbow Curriculum made me look into the archives and I remember some of your older posts now. May I gently suggest that before you do anything to change your schedule or decide on curriculum you do some serious reflection on what you think is the purpose of education? 
 

The thing is, CM, LCC and The Rainbow Curriculum are all excellent approaches to education. But they are all very different, even in opposition to each other. Spread a feast is pretty much the opposite of multum non multa and both are very different from Hunter’s radical focus on the 3Rs.

That’s not to say that you can’t pick and chose bits and pieces from this or that. But, for your sake you need clarity about your abilities, your weaknesses and those of your children, and what your goals are for them.


Also, from having been there done that, please be careful about adding more to school because you feel limited in other areas of your life. When things are in a flux, it is easy to daydream about the perfect homeschool. And I get it: sometimes the school part of homeschool may be the only thing over which we can exert any control. But, those are also precisely the times when imposing new expectations (esp unrealistic ones) may hurt our relationships the most because others’ inability to meet those expectations can be perceived as sabotage.

 

This is actually the best advice anyone can give someone who is rooted enough in homeschooling to develop an educational philosophy. You know your family and your children's individual needs.  We don't have to step out of one mold (traditional school) and into another.  We can do what works and change what doesn't.

FWIW, one thing to ponder might be how a feast is meant to be leisurely enjoyed and not eaten like a drive through restaurant, while multitasking and on the way to another activity.  How do you find that balance that brings that peace.

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2 hours ago, mms said:

@alexandramarie

You mentioning the Rainbow Curriculum made me look into the archives and I remember some of your older posts now. May I gently suggest that before you do anything to change your schedule or decide on curriculum you do some serious reflection on what you think is the purpose of education? 
 

The thing is, CM, LCC and The Rainbow Curriculum are all excellent approaches to education. But they are all very different, even in opposition to each other. Spread a feast is pretty much the opposite of multum non multa and both are very different from Hunter’s radical focus on the 3Rs.

That’s not to say that you can’t pick and chose bits and pieces from this or that. But, for your sake you need clarity about your abilities, your weaknesses and those of your children, and what your goals are for them.


Also, from having been there done that, please be careful about adding more to school because you feel limited in other areas of your life. When things are in a flux, it is easy to daydream about the perfect homeschool. And I get it: sometimes the school part of homeschool may be the only thing over which we can exert any control. But, those are also precisely the times when imposing new expectations (esp unrealistic ones) may hurt our relationships the most because others’ inability to meet those expectations can be perceived as sabotage.

 

Thank you for this; you are right.  I know the things I don't want; I am not sold on a classical writing program, I do not want my kids memorizing facts without their informing ideas.  I want an education based around living books and for my kids to to be able to narrate, discuss, and notebook after reading those books.  We do enjoy Latin and I do see the benefit of it.  Where we just moved there are a lot Spanish people, so I do see the benefit in learning spanish for conversational purposes, we are doing this as a family.  I want good relationships with my children, and right now I feel that going from thing to thing is effecting the atmosphere of our home.  What draws me to the Latin Cenetered curriculum is the simplicity of it ( drew also suggests an hour a day of family reading and then working kids up to an hour a day of independent reading.)  I love the hoffman academy.  We love poetry, art, and music as a family.  I do not like the Charlotte Mason way of teaching my kids to read, but prefer phonics ( I actually like 1st start reading).  I enjoy talking about scripture each morning and singing a hymn as a family ( although my older two just started clocking out of hymn singing).  My kids LOVE nature, it is actually my goal to get them outside two hours a day.  With LCC I would not do study guides.  I like the rainbow curriculum because I like the idea of tutoring my kids each day in reading and math and then giving them individual book baskets and me possibly picking some read alouds.  I  guess I don't know what I want.  I want children that love Jesus and others and value relationships.  I want children that have read deeply and been shaped by what they have read.  I want children that can express their ideas well.  I love that my daughter loves sewing and can play the piano by ear and has made a quilt by the age of 8.5.  I love that my son catches every animal and bug he can get his hands on.  I love that my oldest son was reading the Golden Bible to my two year old today and explaining to him about what Jesus did on the cross.  I have read the Latin Centered Curriculum many times, I have read Charlotte Masons volume 1 and 6 at least twice a piece.  I listen to Charlotte Mason Podcasts, Sally Clarksons Podcasts, and follow Mom Delights.  So I guess I have so many messages I constantly doubt what I am doing.  Above all I want peace and the fragrance of Christ to reign in our home.....

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What you have described is beautiful, and most importantly DO-ABLE!  You know what you want your days to look like, you just need the confidence to embrace it and align your schedule with your priorities.  

I still think there is too much here.  Is citizenship really something that needs to be explicitly taught?  Most aspects of citizenship will come up naturally with your history and book discussions.  There is very little transition time.  On Thursday, you have a science reading, experiment, and an older child doing his own thing (if I'm reading correctly), all to be set up, done, and cleaned up in 30 minutes.  Not realistic, in my opinion.  You have a half hour nature walk, but that slot will include getting shoes, hats, coats, etc, possibly including quite a bit of assistance for babies and toddlers.  Then taking it all off again, putting away, potty break...

 

These are just a few suggestions to further simplify:

Others have mentioned loop scheduling, and here's where I think it would come in handy for you, as opposed to a MTWThF schedule.  Life happens, OFTEN, when there are babies and toddlers and pre-schoolers in the house!   If you need to change a diaper and clean up a spill during the Heroes of Asgard block... you suddenly need to double up the next day, run late on the schedule, not see Asgard again for a full week, or. .. ?  With a loop, you just do it the next day, no big deal.  

For your afternoons, I would do loops like this:

12:30-1pm: Nature walk (Keep your ideas for observation on an index card in your pocket if you like, but don't insist on them.  Nature doesn't work on a schedule, so you don't need to schedule certain observations for certain days of the week.)

1pm-1:30: handicrafts (The other advantages of loops is that kids sometimes really get on a roll.  When my kids are in a clay modeling mood, they are in it all week, or even 2-3 weeks in a row.  They would NOT be happy to have to put aside a clay project and not touch it again for a week.  With loops, you can stay with something until the kids are ready to move on to another thing, or you can simply explore a particular handicraft for 4-6 weeks, the move on.  This greatly reduces the number of supplies that need to be available and put away each week, especially since this is only a half hour slot on your schedule.)  Also, I cannot imagine doing handicrafts in 30 minutes.  It would take my family of  four relatively independent kids 5-10 minutes to take out and distribute supplies and 10-15 minutes to clean up, depending on the material.  

1:30-2:15: Spanish sing along and picture book basket.  (Again, put those books on a loop, rather than scheduling them by day.  Take advantage of natural interests in the kids by staying with a high interest book, rather than putting it to the back of the basket until the following week.  As a child and adult, I would go absolutely bonkers having to wait on a favorite story for a full week!)  

2:15-3:00 : Quiet time and history basket.  As above, being on loop avoids any feelings of "We missed a day!" when a child is unwell, misbehaving, or baby has kept you up all night.  

3:00 : Snack and music.  I'd drop any "learning" here.  If you want them to absorb some music in the background, great, but snack should be a moment when the mind can wander.

3:30 Piano

7pm : Bedtime book basket loop.  Again, when there is a spark of interest, run with it.  Read Shakespeare for the whole week if that is what happens to catch the children's interest this week.  

 

I see you have a note on unfinished work.  There is no unfinished work at these ages, when the lesson is done, the work is finished, unless you are dealing with a behavior issue that involves a child refusing to do age-and-level-appropriate work for an appropriate period of time, in which case finishing something up could be a very short term form of natural consequence.  If it doesn't result in immediate behavior modification during the next day's lessons, it probably isn't going to be an effective consequence, so forget it and find something else.  

 

None of this is meant to sound dictatorial, just trying to help you out with additional ideas.  I am going to try to link a spreadsheet that has my schedule on it for my four school aged kids, who are vaguely the same age as your oldest kids.    

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, alexandramarie said:

i edited my schedule

I just studied your new schedule.  I don't know how high energy you are, but I am a high energy person and I know that your schedule would have completely burned me out of homeschooling.  As the kids got older and I had 6 school-aged kids instead of 3, I would have felt torn in 100 directions and never settled.  Instead of homeschooling my kids through graduation, I would have farmed out my older kids' educations in order to keep all of the balls in the air without crashing. Kids alow have natural rhythms and energy levels.  For example, most kids are more productive early in the day and by afternoon, academic productivity is lower, so reading and writing in the later afternoon is working counter to their natural productivity levels bc writing is a high focus task at those ages.

The schedule, with students in a physical classroom and not with a mom with babies, toddlers, and in her own home, might have some positives worth considering.  In a school where children actually move to a different teacher for some of those subjects, maybe slightly even more so.  But in a home, where 1 person is responsible for all things for all people, constantly shifting gears is really counterproductive.  Separating every subject out into its own specific category is unnecessary.  Copywork can be used to teach grammar and writing.  Writing assignments can come from the subjects they are studying.  Poetry, myths, geography can be incorporated into their content subjects to intertwine and expand on the areas they are learning about.  Education can be organic bc it is growing within your home and around your children. Your recognize something you want to expand on or include, so you do.  

12 hours ago, alexandramarie said:

Thank you for this; you are right.  I know the things I don't want; I am not sold on a classical writing program, I do not want my kids memorizing facts without their informing ideas.  I want an education based around living books and for my kids to to be able to narrate, discuss, and notebook after reading those books.  We do enjoy Latin and I do see the benefit of it.  Where we just moved there are a lot Spanish people, so I do see the benefit in learning spanish for conversational purposes, we are doing this as a family.  I want good relationships with my children, and right now I feel that going from thing to thing is effecting the atmosphere of our home.  What draws me to the Latin Cenetered curriculum is the simplicity of it ( drew also suggests an hour a day of family reading and then working kids up to an hour a day of independent reading.)  I love the hoffman academy.  We love poetry, art, and music as a family.  I do not like the Charlotte Mason way of teaching my kids to read, but prefer phonics ( I actually like 1st start reading).  I enjoy talking about scripture each morning and singing a hymn as a family ( although my older two just started clocking out of hymn singing).  My kids LOVE nature, it is actually my goal to get them outside two hours a day.  With LCC I would not do study guides.  I like the rainbow curriculum because I like the idea of tutoring my kids each day in reading and math and then giving them individual book baskets and me possibly picking some read alouds.  I  guess I don't know what I want.  I want children that love Jesus and others and value relationships.  I want children that have read deeply and been shaped by what they have read.  I want children that can express their ideas well.  I love that my daughter loves sewing and can play the piano by ear and has made a quilt by the age of 8.5.  I love that my son catches every animal and bug he can get his hands on.  I love that my oldest son was reading the Golden Bible to my two year old today and explaining to him about what Jesus did on the cross.  I have read the Latin Centered Curriculum many times, I have read Charlotte Masons volume 1 and 6 at least twice a piece.  I listen to Charlotte Mason Podcasts, Sally Clarksons Podcasts, and follow Mom Delights.  So I guess I have so many messages I constantly doubt what I am doing.  Above all I want peace and the fragrance of Christ to reign in our home.....

You can have the bolded even if you let go of every single other person's ideology.   Focus on what YOU want and then tune out all outside influences until you have found an approach that works inside YOUR home and doesn't leave you with the red.  

You can combine some of your goals and make them uniquely yours.  Read scripture and discuss it.  Maybe have them learn hymns or prayers in Spanish and Latin and incorporate that into your morning time. Make it something they want to do.  Let them pick which one.  Maybe have one of them lead.

 Pick prirority subjects instead of attempting to maintain so many varying strands altering from one to the other.  For example, math, LAs (writing, grammar, spelling/phonics), a single strand of history, a nature study topic.

For example, next week I'm starting a pond life study with my 10 yr old dd and my 9 and 8 yr old grandkids.  We will be hiking into various bodies of water, collecting water samples to look at under a microscope at home, sketching the various shorelines and making lists of what we see, taking pictures of plants and bugs to identify and research, etc.   We will be doing all of the outdoor traveling and collecting next week during our week off.  Then our identification and research will be done during our regular school days.  During a typical school week, science and history take no more than 20 mins each for the younger kids or 30 mins each for my 10 yr old. (We do both daily....but 1 single strand going at a time.)

WIth my grandkids, their language arts is spelling, reading, and then writing-- 

  • the 9 yr old writes an independent summary from her story and then illustrates a scene using art techiniques we spent 10 mins discussing one day  earlier in the week (whether perspective, shading, shapes, etc).   I then use my writing book with her to discuss grammar and simple writing concepts. 
  • My 8 yr old grandson does copywork from his literature book (right now that is Charlotte's Web) and then illustrates a picture. I review mechanics and grammar concepts contained within his copywork. 

For writing my 10 yr old is doing Killgallon's Sentence Composing for modeling sentences and we have been discussing pre-writing skills for longer report writing. She will start working on her first major report (selected from her other studies (science or history) after our break next week. (We started our school yr the end of June.) During her report research and writing, she will stop that subject and focus just on the writing of the report during that subject's normal time.  

Daily we pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet together, read a bible story from a children's bible, and sometimes (when there is info) read from a book that offers bible facts about what we are reading.  

On Monday they pick a poem to memorize and perform at tea time on Friday.  My older girls (9th and college freshman) have been performing songs.  (My 9th grader loves musicals and has been singing through her favorites from Hamilton.)  My college sr has even been joining in reciting poems she memorized in her childhood (She recently did Wynken, Blynken, and Nod bc it was a childhood favorite) or sometimes reads something to them in Russian. Whatever they want to do.  I don't get involved in the decision making other than if they haven't prepared, they can't perform.  They all love it bc we make it fun and just socialize (hence why even my college kids have been joining us.) My 22 mo old granddaugther dances around while they recite and my 7 yo grandson joins us and has been reciting nursery rhymes.

My 10 yr old plays the violin, so she practices about 30 mins a day and also plays a piece at our tea party. (whatever song she wants.)  She will be studying Russian this yr as well.

During lunch, we listen to the 10 min News.

But.......everything I do with the 10,9, and 8 yr old (including violin practice) is done before lunch most days.  If anything gets bumped to after lunch it is violin.   My afternoons are reserved for finishing with my high school student.

ANyway, I shared all of that to give an alternative perspective to how to achieve all of the bolded parts without the red negatives.  My kids read about science topics they want to study.  We study history themes that we have selected together. (No history cycles.  No predefined by any outside source what history we are going to cover.)  And it is a rhythm. Not a schedule.  And it conforms to no one's plan or focus other than what I decided I want to do.  It doesn't matter if it doesn't work for other families.  It doesn't matter if I don't cover what other people think is important bc I really don't care.  It is OUR homeschool and the only family's needs it has to satisfy are ours.

But more importantly, some things aren't scheduled or regimented but just part of our family culture. I read bedtime stories every night. We love to hike and talk about what we see. My dil and my college sr are avid bird watchers, so we have bird feeders that we are always watching. Audiobooks playing in the background when dd is playing with Legos. Music (not classical, but soundtracks like LOTR) playing in the background during math.  Tea time is family culture, not school-perceived, etc.  Those things just are part of our life. Homeschooling doesn't have to be school at home.  It can be a lifestyle, not a PNU implemented inside your house.  It can simply be yours to define.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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Edited, see following posts...

E&I are my 8th and 6th grader and do language arts and history together.  R&J are my 3rd and 1st grader, and do some LA, history, and science together.  

The three oldest each have a checklist with daily math drill (computer), typing practice (computer) and map work to do and check off, plus a weekly book list to work through and the two oldest have a small amount of independent writing on their checklist as well, which will then be brought through revision with my during writing blocks.  MANY small topics are covered in their reading lists, which is great about middle school aged kids, and yours will be there soon!

Kids do German with dad in the evenings, as well as read-alouds by dad, purely for the pleasure, chosen by the kid.  

Edited by Monica_in_Switzerland
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1791134992_ScreenShot2020-08-15at14_22_27.png.28deccb897a75183bc911f9c028afff2.png

Hopefully this works ok.  Meetings include discussing the week's checklist work (preparatory on Mon, review/discussion on Friday, and Bible study with oldest).  History for the two oldest is a major subject for us with multiple resources.  History for the littles will be a family timeline, A Little History of the World, and perhaps picture books to correspond from our own bookshelves.  The big kid spelling block will become Latin in 6 weeks.  

Small, consistent steps add up.  My children are fluently bilingual, AND learning German, and Latin.  but to make that happen, we had to sacrifice.  You don't see handicrafts or nature walks on our schedule.  But my kids are FREE, really FREE, from 3-6 each day.  And during those three hours, they go outside, do crafts, play imaginatively indoors, read, draw comic strips (Each has their own "series" they have created and add to regularly), etc.  My little kids have additional large blocks of freedom in the AM and PM.  

As 8 has said, many subjects can simply be family culture.  My DH does German with the kids in the evenings.  He also reads to them each evening from all sorts of books.  We like to watch documentaries on the weekends, or classic TV shows in French.  We don't own a car, so we talk and observe nature every single time we leave the house to walk to the store or a friend's house.  The kids routinely read aloud to each other, which is truly the delight of my heart.  

Anyway, I'm sorry I've talked your ear off.  Give yourself SO MUCH GRACE.  Just keeping 6 kids healthy, happy, and fed is a big deal and it will get easier with each year.  

Edit- one last thing.  The only reason this works is because we have built habits, over YEARS, that allow my little kids to go off and play without disturbing us when it isn't their turn, and my big kids can go off and work without supervision when it isn't their turn with mom.  Without those two behavior patterns, I don't think homeschooling would be possible for us.  We were able to achieve this with small steps, every day, from toddlerhood onward.  I'm not a harsh or punitive mom, just a mom who greatly values peace and quiet, and is willing to play the long game to get it. 🤣  

Edited by Monica_in_Switzerland
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34 minutes ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

 

Edit- one last thing.  The only reason this works is because we have built habits, over YEARS, that allow my little kids to go off and play without disturbing us when it isn't their turn, and my big kids can go off and work without supervision when it isn't their turn with mom.  Without those two behavior patterns, I don't think homeschooling would be possible for us.  We were able to achieve this with small steps, every day, from toddlerhood onward.  I'm not a harsh or punitive mom, just a mom who greatly values peace and quiet, and is willing to play the long game to get it. 🤣  

I think this is probably the best part of CM that a homeschooling family can adopt--the training of habits.  I'm right there with you.  This is the only thing that has allowed me to homeschool for as long as I have.  Training of the will, instilling respect for our family culture and routines, creating an atmosphere where learning is a life-long objective and not "school".....those things endure and form the person.

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