Let me start off by stating that there is not one ‘right’ way to homeschool. There is only ever what is ‘right’ for your family and that can be an ever changing thing! There is a wealth of information about every type and aspect of homeschooling out there and I am not here to try to convince you to choose our way of doing things. Our way changes over time given where we are and what is working for us.
After many years of research and countless stops and starts, nights spent questioning myself, pushing too hard or not hard enough, feeling overwhelmed and lost at times, I have finally come to a method of homeschooling that seems to work well for all of us. Though hard to define, I would attempt to describe our homeschooling method as eclectic semi-secular Charlotte Mason inspired.
Rather than spend time defining Charlotte Mason education – there is an abundance of information already out there for both secular and non-secular families using her methodology. Instead, I will highlight the main websites I use to develop our lesson plans/yearly schedule.
“…a free homeschool curriculum that uses Charlotte Mason’s classically-based principles to prepare children for a life of rich relationships with everything around them…”
AmblesideOnline is the main resource I use to develop my homeschool lessons. I use their history ‘spine’ – as they describe it – and remove things we are not teaching our children while adding in some other lessons such as Canadian History, Indigenous Education, more in-depth Science and Language Arts. Canadian users should check out the AmblesideOnline Canada Page.
The main concept of a Charlotte Mason education involves using what is termed ‘Living Books’ as opposed to text book style learning. Another term commonly used with a Charlotte Mason education is ‘Riches’. This term is used to convey the ‘extras’ included within this style of teaching – composure study, artist study, folksongs and handicrafts are all considered ‘Riches’.
AmblesideOnline is a wonderful resource for anyone considering this style of teaching. As stated on their website in an Introduction to AmblesideOnline:
What is the One Most Important Thing I Should Do To Make This Work?
Have your child narrate, or tell back, what has been read. As your child mulls over the material, decides which parts to tell and what to leave out, what order to tell things, tries to remember names and places, his mind is actively engaged and he is learning.
If you are looking for classical living books and do not mind either reading them online or downloading them and converting to PDF format ( I use Calibre to convert epub books to PDF) I highly recommend checking out:
Project Gutenberg is a library of over 60,000 free eBooks
Choose among free epub and Kindle eBooks, download them or read them online. You will find the world’s great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired.
I would also like to take a moment to tell any homeschooling family – or anyone considering homeschooling for their children – the single most important thing I have learned when it comes to choosing a curriculum”
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO CHANGE, DELETE OR ADD TO YOUR CHOSEN CURRICULUM!!
Some of the websites I use to help develop our lesson plans include:
A K-5 homeschool curriculum.
‘…seeks to provide homeschooling families free, convenient, and ad-free online access to music, art, narrated poetry and prose, time-proven texts, helpful teaching guides, and printouts for subjects such as copywork.’
Under the Home is a resource that is fairly new to our homeschooling and one that I wish I had found much sooner. It is simply wonderful. I feel anyone could easily use this curriculum for their K to grade 5 children very successfully. I use this curriculum mainly for Monkey, our 5 year old, for K level phonics, prose (Literature) and mathematics. This summer (2021) I will also be doing the K level Art Studio, Art History, Music and Poetry for both Monkey and Goose (age 9) – but more on that in a future post (stay tuned!).
‘…excited to bring you a modern day secular curriculum based on the original works of 19th century educator Charlotte Mason that can be used by all families.’
Wildwood Curriculum is a great resource for alternatives to the living books and riches used in AmblesideOnline. Though I enjoy their suggestions, I do find their website harder to use, especially if you are new to Charlotte Mason and are trying to develop a basic lesson plan outline for your day/week/year. I use AmblesideOnline for the main outline/schedule and replace or add various components of the Wildwood Curriculum as I choose. At the moment, I use Wildwood mainly for the song suggestions, folk music and their fantastic Canadian section.
We have chosen to use Singapore Math with our children – which can found quite often on used homeschool websites (many homeschool families sell their used curriculums on various Facebook groups) or through their website:
‘Singapore consistently ranks at the top in international math testing. The intentional progression of concepts in the Singapore math approach instills a deep understanding of mathematics.’
We have also used the free online resource Khan Academy for mathematics – especially for their quizzes, tests and preparatory lessons. Khan Academy also uses short narrated videos to go over concepts. These videos are especially helpful when one of our children is struggling to understand a concept. Sometimes simply hearing it from another person/perspective makes all the difference. Khan Academy has a wealth of information and lessons other than mathematics and is worth a serious look, especially if you are needing a quality free resource.
‘Our mission is to provide a free, world‑class education for anyone, anywhere.’
These are the main resources I use to develop our lesson plans and yearly schedules. The one thing I do know, no matter how you choose to homeschool, is that it changes over time. As I become more comfortable adding in, deleting, changing and as my children grow – so too do my schedules. I have to remain somewhat flexible and know that I can adjust things depending on how well my children are understanding a concept/book etc.
As a homeschooling parent, it is easy to feel that we have to do-it-all, that we somehow have to develop lesson plans based on every interest our children have – but since I have read through more of Charlotte Mason methods, I truly understand that this is not our responsibility as parents and as teachers.
‘The students in the schools she founded read and discussed living books written by excellent authors on various subjects, took daily nature walks and recorded their observations in notebooks, enjoyed art and music, cultivated and maintained good personal habits such as attention to detail, focused attention and consideration to others, and learned foreign languages. And, by using short lessons, they accomplished all of this (and more) by lunchtime so that they had their afternoons free for their own individual worthy pursuits.’AmblesideOnline -FAQ
In the next homeschool post I will delve deeper into our individual lesson plans, yearly schedules and what our weekly lesson plans entail. Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment, send us a message, question or suggestion. We always welcome your input. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive new posts direct to your inbox every Monday.
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