Okay! We’re back from our huge, amazing, highly educational road trip across the country (you can read all about it here), and after two weeks of readjusting to normal life in a house in the same place day after day, I think we’re ready to start school. Yipee!
History, Bible, and Science
If you’ve read the homeschooling posts on my blog at all, you know that I follow the Charlotte Mason method for education in our home. For the past couple of years I’ve pieced together my curriculum from three CM sites, Ambleside Online, Charlotte Mason Help, and Simply Charlotte Mason. This year I’ve decided to go with a pre-set, pre-packaged curriculum (still CM) from My Father’s World. We’ll be studying “Exploration to 1850″ this year, a unit which integrates history, Bible, and science. (My 8th grader will do her own science using Rainbow Science , 2nd year. (Click on the picture on the right to view the rest of MFW’s curriculum.)
Maybe it’s because I felt overwhelmed with life after getting home from our trip, but somehow the ease and convenience of having each day planned in advance (the teacher’s guide is fantastic!), and having all the resources already put together really appealed to me. We actually spent our first year homeschooling with this curriculum, and I still remember stuff we learned, (amazing, I know) doing the unit “Exploring Countries and Cultures.”
Some may say the curriculum choices are not as rich as those of the book lists on other CM sites. Maybe not; however, the teacher’s guide comes with a fabulous library list for each week’s study. Reading those books alone and narrating from them would give my kids a great education this year, I’m sure. But I’m planning to go with the chosen history and science “spines” and keep a basket of library books to use as supplemental reading on the various topics we’ll cover this year. The suggested schedule in the Teacher’s Guide includes a 1/2 hour slot for reading, during which I plan to have the kids read historical fiction, literature, etc. and narrate from their reading.
So I’m confident that this year will be a great year, and I’m satisfied with how I can use this curriculum as my base, with the majority of the planning work done for me, and fill in with other CM subjects such as:
I’m moving forward with Life of Fred Math.
I’ll still use dictation and copywork to teach spelling,
And narration, both oral and written, to teach composition.
My 8th grader will be continuing a 2-3 year serious study of Grammar (Analytical Grammar) and my 3rd, 5th, and 6th graders will be using Queen Homeschool’s Language Lessons, a CM style Language Arts curriculum that introduces English/Grammar concepts gently and naturally with short lessons in parts of speech, punctuation, word usage, as well as copywork and dictation.
By clicking on the above pictures, you can read more about each subject and how we do them in our homeschool. And for those of you that are interested in what our schedule looks like this year…..
7:30 – 8:30
Bible, Scripture Memory incorporated into our family devotions right after breakfast.
Clean up kitchen, tidy bathrooms
8:30 – 9:00
M - Art Appreciation; T - Nature Study; W - Music Appreciation; TH - Habit Training
(You may wonder why we’re starting our day with the “extras” which many consider to be optional. Shouldn’t we start with a core subject like Math or English or something, you know, while the kids brains are still fresh? Well, for one thing, having something enjoyable to begin the day with is just more inviting, and for another thing, that half hour slot after breakfast sometimes gets shortened if our breakfast and chores get started late, or lengthened for some reason. These “extras” can be very flexible; I can shorten them to fit into whatever time we have.)
9:00 – 9:30
Math (my 8th grader will most likely need more time, but I’ll have her move on with the rest of us and come back to her math later.)
9:30 – 10:30
History, including note-booking, narrating, reading from the book basket. (MFW includes supplemental history books for 2nd and 3rd graders to make history come alive through books geared for younger kids. I’ll let Jeff–3rd gr.–listen as I read to the older kids or browse through the library basket if he’d rather. Then while the older kids are reading from the library basket, I’ll read his history books.)
10:30 – 10:45
10:45-11:15 (at this point Allison–8th gr.–will go on her own until lunch for science, grammar, and piano practice.
11:15 – 11:30
11:30 – 12:00
8th gr. – Latin, Spanish; reading/narration
5th, 6th gr. — piano practice, typing, Latin
Now, I realize that most of you have your curriculum planned for this year already. I’m a bit last-minute here, but if what you have isn’t working, check back here again in a few weeks to see updates for how this year’s curriculum is working out for us. You might want to try it. Even if you bought just the teacher’s guide (you could even check Ebay for a used copy, or borrow one from a friend) and used the books from the library list in the back, you could get a good feel for what a literature-based, CM style curriculum is.
UPDATE (10-28-13): I said I’d update you on how our curriculum plan worked out.
Well, I found myself looking at the supplemental book list as well as other CM booklists more and more, trying to make up for the lack of rich literature in our school day. It became more and more time-consuming to figure out how to include these books so that they would fit in with the chronology of history we’re studying.
I finally decided that perhaps it would be much less effort to go back to the $10 curriculum guide I had purchased as an e-book from Simply Charlotte Mason at the end of last school year in preparation for this year, one which scheduled those books right into our school day.
Instead of trying to change MFW curriculum to include more living books, I decided to use SCM’s curriculum guide.
There are a few things that I’m saving from the MFW curriculum, though.
- Bible in this year of MFW is a study of the book of James, including a challenge to memorize the entire book! We decided to take the challenge and have the entire first chapter memorized so far.
- The book Then Sings My Soul is scheduled for music. It is a collection of hymns that includes the music as well as a short story of how the hymn came to be written. We learn a new hymn every two weeks, reading the story and singing the song as part of our family worship at breakfast.
- Notebook pages to accompany the history lessons were included in the student sheets I purchased for each of the kids. These pages have a picture to go along with the topic of the lesson as well as space for writing a short summary of the reading (or a long one, if I use it as a written narration assignment for one of the older kids). I’ve found that the kids really enjoy having something to color while I’m reading (even my 8th grader). We’ll keep on with note-booking, which is something I had hoped to include in our school day anyway after reading I Have No Greater Joy’s post about how they do note-booking in their homeschool.
- Answers in Genesis science is scheduled for 3rd-6th grade. We’re really enjoying The World of Animals, so we’ll keep using that.
We’re still using the same curriculum as we started the year with in everything else: math, grammar, language arts, dictation, as well as all the “extras.” So I guess really the only thing we’ve changed is history.
The benefits I hope to reap from our switch to a more CM style for this year’s history studies are:
- More engaging, well-written books instead of text-books, particularly for history.
- Reading that is more easily narrated (and thereby remembered) because of it’s literary style.
- A teacher’s guide that does the work of finding living books to go along with our history reading for me by scheduling those books right into our day.
After switching to reading our history chronology from Stories of America and Stories of the Nations, my almost-eight-year-old wanted to write the story of William Penn himself, even after I offered to write down what he narrated to me. That showed me that the story was indeed engaging. He had no trouble writing down 5-6 sentences.
At the start of this year I thought a ready-made, across the board, boxed curriculum looked like the easy option, but I found out that I just can’t do school without using the CM method, particularly having the kids read well-written books in narrative style for each subject and having them narrate back to me either orally or in written form what they learned.