Emma is beginning Kindergarten in the Fall, and I’m planning on homeschooling her. I was homeschooled myself as a child and believe wholeheartedly that learning at home can be wonderful and that there are many benefits to being taught at home by a loving parent – nowadays there are even more resources at our fingertips than there were back when I was doing school!
So my original plan was to use aBeka’s 5-Year-Old Kindergarten curriculum, which I remember using when I was a child. I loved all of the stories in the readers and was sure Emma would, too. I hadn’t purchased anything yet… I was planning on it but I AM Miss-Last-Minute, not Miss Get-It-Done-Early. ;-) For once I’m glad I am such a procrastinator!
The “Aha!” Moment
About a month ago I happened upon an article in a homeschooling magazine app I downloaded to my iPad that really made me think. The title is “Four Reasons Why a Charlotte Mason Education is Better Than a Workbook-Textbook Education” and it shares the experience of a homeschooling mom who was knocking herself out trying to give each of her three children a quality education; despite this, the children were unhappy and “hated school” – the whole homeschooling experience was exhausting and not fun at all. Why was this? Because that mom thought that to homeschool the right way was to “bring school into the home”.
You’ll have to read the article yourself to find out how things changed for the better after the mom switched to a Charlotte Mason education, which is literature-based and focuses on narration and writing instead of test-based memorization (memorizing for a test and then promptly forgetting what you learned as you move on to memorize for the next test), copywork, hands-on learning, getting outdoors into nature more often, and reading lots and LOTS of good literature, or “Living Books“ – in fact learning subjects such as geography, history, and science by reading and doing. It is suggested that doing mapwork (finding the places you’re reading about on the globe or wall map) and keeping a timeline or Book of Centuries are very helpful for cementing knowledge.
Basically, you focus on learning to really learn instead of learning to remember so you can simply write the correct answer in a book. Here’s a great article with more information on Charlotte Mason’s methods of teaching if you’re interested!
Meet Miss Mason
So who is Charlotte Mason? She was a teacher who lived in England and wrote a series of books about educating a child at home in the late 1800s, early 1900s. These books are full of wonderful wisdom and useful advice for raising and homeschooling your child. You can find her books online where you can read them for free. I haven’t quite finished reading them myself but can definitely recommend them, especially the modern English version.
The Charlotte Mason way of homeschooling really resonated within me because the highlight of my homeschooling years was all of the reading my mom allowed and encouraged. I learned more about life, history, and geography from reading good literature (and regular Christian historical fiction) than I did from textbooks. I remember memorizing facts, the names of historic people, dates, and doing well on my tests but I can’t recall most of them… except for anything involving the Civil War because I was SO fascinated with that period and the historical events surrounding it that I read anything and everything I could get my hands on that happened around that time.
Yeah, I was kind of a nerd. I even regularly browsed the library autobiography/biography section because I loved to hear about different time periods from someone who was actually there. I read only autobiographies, not biographies (which I feel are hearsay and are not the same as discovering what someone thought or felt at the time first-hand.
I Know What I Want to Do Now, But How To Get Started?
The article I spoke of above actually was encouraging readers to look into a particular curriculum that you could purchase based on Charlotte Mason’s way of educating, but I was a bit discouraged by the price and so decided to see what other options there are out there.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are quite a few different Charlotte Mason-based homeschool curriculum and ideas online! AND many of them are free, containing booklists and schedules that guide you into creating your own curriculum.
Here is a list of the most popular ones – keep in mind that some of these combine different methods:
My Fathers World (full curriculum package, paid)
Heart of Dakota (full curriculum package, paid)
Simply Charlotte Mason (curriculum guide and sample schedules, free)
Living Books Curriculum (full curriculum package, paid)
Ambleside Online (curriculum guide and schedule, free)
Tanglewood School Curriculum (curriculum guide, free)
I have looked over each of these in great depth and finally decided upon…
*Continued in Part 2 – Click the link to find out what “curriculum” I chose and how we plan to implement it. ;-)