After 22 years of homeschooling, I feel like I am starting all over again! Oh the blessings of having babies in your later years! I have 3 adult children who have graduated and begun their lives. I have a young teenager beginning in high school work. My 9-year-old has focused mostly on core subjects these past 2 years due to specific needs he had. And now, my 5-year-old daughter will begin her Charlotte Mason Education.
We have used CM’s “methods” for many years in our approach to learning. Yet, I don’t feel like we have ever fully immersed ourselves in a true CM education until now. I guess you could say we have slowly grown into her ways. My plan is to blog my way through our journey starting with Years 0-1. Partly because I, as a mother and teacher want to delve in deeply to the CM way of life. I also want a keepsake of sorts for my girls as they grow up in this community.
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The Goals for the Year
I am so excited because this is such a natural way to learn. I am looking forward to being more steady in our approach to learning. Make sure to check out the free printable checklist for Year One below!
While researching on a typical program for a child of 6 in Charlotte’s day, I found that there is some variation between homeschoolers. The following ‘list of attainments” seems to be what most choose to work on in the first year. I also plan to follow along with the book lists for year 0 and year 1 found on Ambleside Online.
Charlotte had a list of “need to knows” for children of 6 years of age. While some have thought this list is to be obtained BY the age of six, I actually hold to the belief that the child is to start actively learning these things AT the age of six. Meaning, after a child’s 6th birthday, we can begin to pursue these goals.
My little Miss will be 6 in August. And, because we homeschool year-round, we will begin working on some of these things this summer. The following is the list and in a purple text is how we plan to learn each of these goals:
Charlotte Mason “A Formidable List of Attainments for a Child of Six”
(A reprint of a curriculum outline from a CM school in the 1890s. from Summer 93 Parents Review pub by Karen Andreola)
1. To recite, beautifully, 6 easy poems and hymns – I have several poetry books that I will need to look through, but I will be seeking ones that are more suited to younger children. The Child’s Garden of Verses will likely be our top choice for choosing poems to memorize.
2. To recite, perfectly and beautifully, a parable and a psalm – So far, I am thinking the Good Samaritan will be the first parable we memorize. I found this blog on Psalms children can easily memorize, so I think we will go with one of these.
3. To add and subtract numbers up to 10, with dominoes or counters -my lil Miss can already do this, so we will most likely review and continue to advance her math skills.
4. To read–what and how much, will depend on what we are told of the child -We are already working on this using 100 Easy Lessons. After she completes this book, we will begin Phonics Pathways to master reading.
5. To copy in print-hand from a book -She is surprisingly good at copywork. My boys never wrote this early on, so it has been fun. I would like to see her do longer sentences by the end of the first term this year.
6. To know the points of the compass with relation to their own home, where the sun rises and sets, and the way the wind blows –Daddy will probably give us a few short lessons on this because he loves this kind of stuff. I plan on purchasing a compass for each of the kids and letting them practice using them in our yard and on walks.
7. To describe the boundaries of their own home – I am assuming this is simply narrating what their home looks like, how many rooms there are, to what point does our yard end and begin and such…
8. To describe any lake, river, pond, island, etc. within easy reach We will live very close to a busy commercial canal, so some visits and freighter watching is in our near future. We are also very blessed to live near many beaches, so this will be very natural for us to learn.
9. To tell quite accurately (however shortly) 3 stories from Bible history, 3 from early English, and 3 from early Roman history (my note here, we may want to substitute early American for early English!) -These will be covered by our readings from our book lists- we will focus on American history as well.
10. To be able to describe 3 walks and 3 views -We have a new town to explore and new views to see this year!
11. To mount in a scrapbook a dozen common wildflowers, with leaves (one every week); to name these, describe them in their own words, and say where they found them. -I will be ordering a few flower press books and we will begin our collection. We plan on sowing a wildflower garden with the kids on our property. I am sure will provide lots of opportunities for study.
12. To do the same with leaves and flowers of 6 forest trees -We are going to stay close to home for our tree study, I have a couple of field guides for trees and wildflowers set aside and I also plan on using our art time to reinforce what we learn in nature by journaling, drawing, painting, etc…
13. To know 6 birds by song, color and shape –We have some bird feeders and I’m hoping to snag a couple of bird baths at a garage sale this year. The boys are going to build some birdhouses for us and we will study the ones that visit our ‘welcome center” for them. We also have a huge migration of birds that visit our state beaches every year to feed and mate. It should be fun to delve into the world of birds.
14. To send in certain Kindergarten or other handiwork, as directed – Charlotte encouraged ‘handicrafts’ among children- but not just any old craft- it had to be useful. This was meant to be a slower process of learning a useful skill with the intention of mastering it. Back then, students would send in their completed projects for grading. Obviously, we will just do ours here at home. We’ve already begun learning to sew, embroider and crochet here and there. I may switch to cross stitch for a full project for an official project for the first term.
15. To tell three stories about their own “pets”–rabbit, dog or cat. -She has already done this naturally without any leading from me.
16. To name 20 common objects in French, and say a dozen little sentences -With Fancy Nancy debuting on Disney, she now has an interest in French. I am currently on the lookout for a formal program. It made sense for Miss Mason’s students to learn French back then, but any language will do.
17. To sing one hymn, one French song, and one English song -She already sings, so I will focus mostly on a hymn for her to memorize and something in French for her to sing.
18. To keep a caterpillar and tell the life-story of a butterfly from his own observations. We’ve done this with her older brothers and it was so much fun! I will order a kit soon and plan on learning how to find our own eggs to continue hatching and releasing them through the Fall. We also have a Monarch migration each Fall at a nearby preserve that I plan on taking the kids to this year to observe.
As I said before, I will continue to follow the book suggestions from Ambleside Online. In the past, I’ve checked many titles out of the library because I wasn’t sure if we would like them or not. I have a good idea of what our family will love now and since I’ve been building our permanent home library with classics already, it now makes sense to purchase them to enjoy more than once.
Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter, Little House, Burgess Books, Aesop’s Fables… and so much more will be enjoyed this year! The great thing about Charlotte Mason’s approach is that it is literature-rich. There is no shortage of good, wholesome material from which to feast. I am thankful that my daughters will grow up with ideas that will lead to a deeper appreciation of learning and life.
Charlotte Mason Habits
Throughout all of this, my goal is to also help form good habits in Lil Miss. Charlotte Mason encouraged particular habits to be formed in a child as a strong foundation for learning. Obedience, Attentiveness, Observation, Routines, Consistency, Excellence… all of these will be encouraged as Lil Miss is learning and living life at home.
The Daily Schedule (To see an example of our old schedule, click here)
We have a pretty good routine that has works for us that I should only need to tweak a little. We are a slow-moving family in the mornings. Typically, we prepare breakfast and settle in the living room for our Morning Time.
Morning time consists of: (an example of an older morning time schedule can be found here)
Bible Reading– Ambleside has a list of suggested stories that we will follow.
Memorization and Recitation practice– this is where we will practice hymns, poems, bible stories, etc…
French word or phrase of the day
Current Literature Selections and Narration (Because I have older students, I do have selections for their levels. My plan is to read younger level selections first, and then move to the higher levels) The children all have sketchbooks that they are allowed to use during reading time. We stop every little bit for narration. For my daughter’s readings, they will be very short with her narrating to me very short amounts.
My older children’s readings are a little longer and so their narrations take a little more time. Between literature and corporate lessons, I don’t want to spend any more than 120 minutes total, if possible. The girls will likely be allowed to play if they get bored while I finish up readings with their brothers.
Corporate Subject lessons I have a history curriculum that I am using for American History this year, the readings are nice. Lil Miss will probably learn about people the most here, while the older ones will learn other aspects of history. I am not yet sure if we will do the assignments in it, but I selected it more for the readings. Science- I am going to be focusing much more on Nature Study this year, but I do have a couple of books that I want to read some selections from. I am researching Living Science books right now and will probably purchase those as needed.
Independent/Work with Mom work After our corporate lessons are finished, I will send the older children to do their math and personal work that I have scheduled for them. Next, Lil Miss and I will work on phonics,/reading, writing (copywork) and math. These will be very short lessons.
Art and Poetry
Once a week, we will enjoy a lesson or reading on poetry, hymns, art, and music. Fridays will probably be our poetry/tea time or art art time as it has been in the past. Lil Miss loves a more formal tea time, so this fits in beautifully for us. For art, we will choose an artist to study and will also focus on drawing/watercolor for nature study.
Composers we study will be played in our home for the times that we study them. This will be really informal. For example, if we are learning about Mozart in a term, I may play pieces by him during our chore time. The point at this young age is for her to be exposed to great things, people and ideas.
Then, we will head outside until lunchtime to study nature or to work on our list of attainments that require us to be outdoors. Again, this is very informal learning. My job as a teacher is to be well-read and ready to teach. The Handbook of Nature Study and various field guides will be my sources. For Lil Miss and my boys, it is simply a time to play and discover. And to ask questions if they are interested in something. There will be times when I will gently guide toward a specific subject like, mushrooms or something.
Charlotte Mason says in her volume School Education: “On one afternoon in the week, the children (of the Practising School) go for a ‘nature walk’ with their teachers. They notice for themselves, and the teacher gives a name or other information as it is asked for, and it is surprising what a range of knowledge a child of nine or ten acquires. The teachers are careful not to make these nature walks an opportunity for scientific instruction, as we wish the children’s attention to be given to observation with very little direction. In this way they lay up that store of ‘common information’ which Huxley considered should precede science teaching.”
My older boys may choose to find a subject to draw or capture pictures with the camera while outside. I plan on working on my own Nature Journal this year as a mother culture project. For her wildflower project, I will just gently guide her in finding flowers to press.
Once a week we will focus on learning and fine-tuning our skills. If she wants to practice more thru the week, I will allow for it.
The thing to keep in mind with a Charlotte Mason education is that lessons are short and unforced.
While there appears to be a lot of work because of the diversity of subjects, there really isn’t. We are reading good books and talking about them. This style of education involves observing the world around us and talking about it, drawing it and playing in it. We are learning how to create beautiful and useful things.
Charlotte’s vision was to present a feast to expose the child to ideas. However, she never intended to force feed the child. I imagine my daughter will take a liking to certain flowers over others, that’s okay. We will naturally study those more in-depth. My 9 year old may become fascinated with all species of dragonflies. My job is to be keenly aware of what is sparking their interest and build upon it.
Some Charlotte Mason Key Resources I know I will be referencing often this year are (aff links):
Of course, I am always gleaning from these books by Charlotte. Living Press is now reprinting these treasures for new generations of parents to enjoy. My goal is to read through all 6 volumes this year!
A Charlotte Mason Companion is such a helpful resource when you struggle to wrap your mind around CM’s words. I like to use it to spark ideas for our homeschool.
This one is a compilation of all that CM spoke concerning habits. Habits are categorized for quick reference, which will make them easier to teach.
This is a new one for me, I’m hoping it will help enrich our time outdoors.
Excellent resource for Nature Study, we use this one often.
The Burgess Bird Book is going to be our “front porch read” this year. I’m hoping to attract many birds to our property to observe and study.
Finally, this one is for just ME. I am SO looking forward to delving into this book about nourishing myself right along with my children.
I’m so excited about our first year of Charlotte Mason!
Sharing this beautiful style of education with my children is such a joy for me. Hopefully, I have inspired you to check it out! Don’t forget to subscribe for your free printable checklist for Year One and check in often as I will be updating on our progress right here on the blog!