Our Charlotte Mason Homeschool, Fall 2020

I am happy to share our homeschool plans for this coming year!

We are not homeschooling because of COVID 19. Actually, we had made the decision to homeschool the kids last fall. Grayson was in a public school and Luke was in a preschool. I wanted them to finish their year out and then bring them home. I never in my wildest dreams could have predicted that so many people would be homeschooling (or, rather, “distance learning”) due to a worldwide pandemic. It’s totally crazy. We decided to homeschool the kids going forward, really, because I wanted to preserve their childhood. Lots of outdoor time, books and just the chance to be KIDS without being chained to a desk all day. Grayson has rather severe ADHD and did not do well in a classroom setting. I knew he would struggle immensely in a traditional school environment so I decided to take the kids education into my own hands. I threw myself into researching the system of education, all of the different styles of homeschooling and the pros and cons. I am not an expert, nor due I have an education background, but I am an expert on my own kids. So I thought we would try this and see how it works – one year at a time!

So, like I said, I researched all of the different homeschool pedagogies and once I “found” Charlotte Mason, I knew I had it. The more I read about her educational philosophy, the more it resonated with me and I just KNEW I was all in. Miss Mason was a 19th century British educator who believed children are born persons (amongst lots of other things!) and taught using “living” books, which are rich books of literary value — not textbooks. Actually, there are NO textbooks, worksheets or homework involved with this particular homeschool style. All we I do is read to Grayson and he narrates back. Lessons are SHORT (10-20 minutes, max) and varied. Everything is done first thing in the morning, thus leaving afternoons free for play and just being a kid. Lots of time is spent in nature!

I can’t go into the entire philosophy of Miss Mason on this blog post, but I urge you to do your own research if you’re interested. She wrote six volumes about her style of education and the book For the Children’s Sake is a wonderful place to start. The purpose of this blog post is to just explain what we are doing this fall. 🙂

One of the hallmarks of a Charlotte Mason education is how many subjects are taught. We are meant to give the children tastes of all these subjects because it’s impossible to know what will resonate. So here is what I will teach Grayson in the fall:

Math, Literature, American History (we will study 1000 – 1600 this year), Geography, Poetry, Drawing, Handicrafts, Bible, Singing, Recitation, Composer Study, Art Appreciation, Copywork, Reading and French.

If that seems like a ton, know that we won’t be doing all of those subjects every single day — and, like I said, each subject is only 10-20 minutes long. Our entire school day is actually only two hours! The year is broken up into three terms, each lasting 12 weeks. Our fall term will begin at the beginning of September and end at the beginning of December. I plan to take all of December off of school to focus on the fun stuff with Advent and Christmas – then we will start our second term at the beginning of January.

I decided not to use a boxed curriculum and instead put it together myself. I could never have done this without the help of A Delectable Education! I purchased their scheduling cards for only $5 and then it’s easy to piece together your daily schedule. I can’t show you our exact schedule because it would be a copyright breach since the ladies at ADE worked so hard to create the cards. But, listen to their podcast and see if its something you may be interested in!

When I first discovered the Delectable Education podcast last year I totally binged and listened to all of the episodes. That was the start of my obsession with Charlotte Mason. lol. I scheduled a consultation with them and they totally helped me put together our schedule for the coming year. They even helped me pick the books and laid it all out. After my consultation call I felt totally prepared and ready!

For math, Grayson will be starting Book 1 of Elementary Arithmetic and I’ve heard really good things. It is all oral math with LOTS of manipulatives such as play money, buttons, pipe cleaners and beads.

Grayson cannot read independently yet and we will be using this primer for our daily short reading lessons. I also bought a big box of moveable wooden letters to aid in this.

What’s in the envelopes you ask? Cut up nursery rhymes! I already did all the prep for the fall and typed out and then cut up easy nursery rhymes so he can learn to read by sight and then put the rhymes back together like a puzzle. We will see how it goes – I will report back!

Like I said earlier, the history period we will be doing in Form 1B is American History from about 1000-1600. It’s very important to me to create an all inclusive history program for my kids and we plan to focus on the first Americans (various Native American tribes) before white people came. This fall, we will be reading through a biography about the Sioux, as well as the older book America Begins (our “spine” for the year and I will supplement with biographies). We will end our year by studying various explorers and their impact on America, positively and negatively. I absolutely love history so I am most excited for this!

Charlotte Mason had young children study Geography and the first year was mainly spent making maps of their local surrounding and studying how other children in different parts of the world lived. We will be using one older book and one new book for this subject – as well as working on making a map of our backyard and then neighborhood.

Now, “recitation” was new to me and I had to do a lot of research about what it actually meant. Charlotte Mason wanted children to be able to learn to read beautifully and with passion – memorization isn’t the goal but probably will be an outcome of reading the same piece over the course of the term. I picked one poem, one psalm and one prayer for us to work on. I printed them all out and put them in a clear menu so Grayson could have something to hold and it wouldn’t get dirty. 😉

Grayson actually picked his poem for this term, which is Happiness by A.A. Milne. We will be studying Milne all term and I let him page through the poetry book until he came upon the “special” one he wanted to work on reciting. It’s such a cute poem!

Like I said, A.A. Milne will be our poet for the fall and so we will be reading through his works every day. The boys are borderline obsessed with Winnie the Pooh so I think they will really love this. I plan to end our school day everyday with poetry.

Art Appreciation and Composer Study are subjects we only do once a week, but not to be missed! Basically, it’s just all about having your child experience beauty in the form of music and art — having them gaze upon beautiful pictures and listen to beautiful music. Literally, all we do for the 10 minutes once a week for composer study is just sit, be quiet and listen to Tchaikovsky (our composer for the term). Our artist for the term is Botticelli. I will be using Simply Charlotte Mason’s artist prints and they look lovely.

I chose French for our foreign language because that is what I know. 😉 I’m not fluent but with the help of Cherrydale Press, I think I’ll be able to do it. Really, for the first year it’s all about just HEARING the language spoken. We will listen to audio recordings and songs for this. We will see how it goes!

For Literature (or, as Miss Mason called it – “Tales”) we will be reading two fairy tales in their original form, as well as two fables. Again, I’m just reading tiny bits and Grayson is just narrating back. I believe I picked Puss in Boots and Sleeping Beauty as our fairy tales for the fall. I have a very old copy of Lang’s Blue Fairy Book that I’ll use. My boys LOVE fairy tales!

Let’s see – what else? For our handicraft we will be learning origami together, which is totally new to me but I’m excited to learn.Every day we will spend 20 minutes on it. “Drawing” is actually brushdrawing, which is actually watercolor. Haha! So twice a week, we will be doing watercoloring together.

I haven’t mentioned Bible since it’s pretty self explanatory. I will just be reading portions of the bible and Grayson will be narrating back. We will be alternating between the old and new testiments. This will likely take some getting used to because my children are used to a storybook version of the bible and not the “real thing”. The goal and scope here is that the child reads through the entirety of the bible every four years.

Oh, and copywork! Every day, we will work on writing – and to start, just having Grayson learn to write perfect formed letters on his chalkboard. Grayson has some gross and fine motor delays and instead of jumping to copy whole paragraphs, I want him to go back to the basics and just work on writing every letter perfectly. Using chalk instead of a pencil or pen helps the hand muscles “memorize” the moment of the letter. After we go through that, he will choose pieces of poems from his poetry book or bible verses to copy in his notebook for this subject.

Okay so now that I’ve broken down what we will be doing for all the subjects you probably are wondering about my other two kids, right?! In a Charlotte Mason education, school does not start until six. No formal education or teaching before then! Luke and Brooks are welcome to listen in if they want, but for right now I will only have one student and that is Grayson. I won’t be doing any preschool “curriculum” with the other two children. They are free to listen if they want or just go play. My kids really love free time outside so my guess is that they will be playing with playdoh or in the backyard for most of our school days.

So I think that covers it! Kudos to you if you’re still reading this post. I think my hand has a cramp! A LOT of prep has gone into this coming up school year for us. Like I said, I have been studying and planning for it for almost a year now. And I’m still learning every single day! It is a lot, for sure, but I believe God will help me in this daunting and weighty task of educating my children. If you have a question, shoot me an email or find me on instagram — that will be much easier than me responding to comments on this post.

And, finally, I want to say however YOU CHOOSE TO EDUCATE YOUR KIDS IS RIGHT FOR YOU. There is no one size fits all or right way for everyone. You do YOU. What is right for us, a family with three young boys – one with severe learning disabilities – may not be right for you. And that is okay. Public school is great, private school is great, distance learning is fine — we are in a weird moment in history and everyone (teachers and parents) are just trying to do our very best. So please be kind, that’s all I ask.

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