I read this post at Simply Charlotte Mason's website (I'll abbreviate SCM) and am evaluating, processing, filling online shopping carts with homeschool books dependent on which direction I decide to go. The Cincinnati homeschool conference was amazing, refreshing, challenging and encouraging (and also exhausting). And now I am left with many ideas and very little processing time. I am very drawn to CM methods, and love how they are gentle, nature and arts-focused, and relaxed. It also scares me with my traditional school background, because what if there are GAPS?
On the SCM forum, I got much encouragement and support to my confused post. They said there are always some gaps, even in public schools (I think maybe even more so there because they do not have the same teacher/school every year!). But instilling a love for learning instead of burning them out on it means they can discover and learn about any "gaps" that matter, that truly interest them, in high school and even as adults. History and grammar study were my main questions--the arts and unique science study and beginning reading stuff were just so exciting to me.
So with history, Charlotte Mason-style does 2 rotations instead of 3 like classical ed. That is one of the main differences with history it seems--more in depth and taking more time the first time around. I wasn't sure about this, because of wanting to COVER MORE and MORE until our brains are fried, haha. But it has been my tendency all year, to slow down, digest, really understand what we are learning. Maybe it's just my style. But it makes figuring out where to go with history next year complicated. Module 1 in SCM starts with ancient history, including Egypt but includes some neat resources we didn't use this year. And it has a recommended biblical history alongside. But we did A LOT on Egypt, Mesopotamia, China this year, and it might seem like overkill to start over? I thought of starting with Module 2 (Greece). SOTW could be read alongside it very easily, which would mean I would stop for the year because we're into Greece now and exactly halfway through the first book.
I've also thought about starting with American history, so she is learning more about the world immediately around her (we can do world focus with Operation World, missionary stories etc.). That isn't until Module 5 in SCM, but they have 2 cool new books out that cover America and the Nations alongside each other, and a study on the Epistles. I'm just too excited with all the good stuff out there.
Here are a couple more articles comparing classical education to Charlotte Mason:
For grammar, I decided to use one book I already have (First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise) and get Writing with Ease by Susan Wise Bauer from a friend. They are both oral, and I want to do more concentrated writing technique than CM recommends. I was always stronger with creative writing/Opinion essays (imagine that!) and feel kind of weak with Grammar. So I want them to have a better base with it. I think I might add in some lessons from this, since they are short and simple.
I know I plan too much in, so I like her challenge to keep lessons to 15 minutes or so, including narration. I will use less of the subjects in Five-in-a-Row (right now we talk about almost all of them, and they love the story, then I see their eyes glaze over when I pull out the book) and keep it short. I'm thinking of how to break the narration down further, so she is not as overwhelmed with summarizing the whole book (often with word-for-word reciting interspersed). Poetry, arts, living books, narration, copywork and nature (and circle time, with guitar music/dancing with scarves, puppets, bean bags, Bible focus, picture books about Jesus/The Bible) have been the best parts of our year, so it is encouraging that all of this is contained in CM methods and philosophy. Well, not "circle time" persay, but the arts/Bible focus of it.
There are some things I had never seen before that SCM recommends. After this year, I wanted to keep a "nature around us" focus with science (we studied bugs and birds so far this year in our Apologia book). Next year the co-op is doing astronomy for her age group, which is very abstract, and about as far away from the world around us as possible. :) But Clare has loved the connections with other kids, and I have liked the lunchtime chats with other moms. But it is crazy, and we are recovering all afternoon, behind in the evening, and even feel "out of touch" with school Tuesday because we haven't had sight of it since the previous Thurs or Fri (sometimes we take Fridays off if we've had a good week). The art class has been wonderful, and science class has helped us both understand the material better. :) We saw a wasps' nest this past week, which we wouldn't see at home (hopefully). I have appreciated having something for Charlie there, but sometimes he is the only boy and it is not as structured. Next year the art class is too late in the day next year for us to attend at that time. So it would just be going for a music class, but if we do a Sun. night home group, they would do choir at church. I'd like to try a Montessori class that meets on Mondays and has a "nature study" session twice a year...can you tell which way I'm leaning?
I thought about trying to find a couple CM-focused people and figuring out a way to get together a couple times a month, maybe for composer/art/dance/nature study. Could be neat, and help fulfill the high need my kids have for interaction with other kids and ease my guilt with how ecstatic they are just to be in public! Haha. I am glad we are home-centered, but now that the spring is springing, we are coming out of hibernation more. The co-op was a good way to make sure we saw others each week, and with a combo of the Montessori class, and maybe organic (naturally happening) CM co-op, we might be OK.
Do you think we'll be OK? Do you think we'll make it? :) I can tell that God is so a part of this, that He just loves that we're homeschooling and trying to honor Him with our kids' education. It is definitely the right fit for us!! I could really talk about this for hours, it is just so interesting to me, and I realized hey, if I blog about it, I may be talking to myself, but it'll feel like I've processed at least!
My next question--does homeschooling feed my book habit??? I *love* homeschool curriculum, and am so so grateful to all the vendors who want to help me integrate Jesus, creation, biblical history and worldview, even theology into our homeschool. We are truly blessed with awesome materials these days!! Now to get "homeschool curric" into our budget...