I may come across as a Charlotte Mason purist but I am not. Don’t get me wrong, I love her approach and the majority of it resonates with me as a homeschool mom. It also fits well with both of my children, for the most part.
Honestly, my youngest is 2.5 so all I really do is read toddler board (living) books, include him in nature walks and play, play, play. He is too little to tell what his learning style is yet, so he learns through play and what he observes his sister doing.
My oldest just turned five so we are just beginning in our homeschool journey. I have already learned a lot about how she learns and what is best for her based on that. Much of what she needs in her education is best achieved through Charlotte Mason methods but I realized quite quickly that it needed customized to fit her needs. Here are three things we did a little different.
- We Started Early
My daughter started reading on her own at a really early age. I’ve honestly been doing my best not to do any formal education until she was “of age” (Charlotte Mason advocates for age six). Even our own state doesn’t make school compulsory until age six, so why the rush?
I seriously couldn’t hold her back anymore. She was reading sight words by age two and phonetically by age three. I still dragged my feet until age four, in which I let go and let God. I researched various curriculum to a ridiculous level. She was at this place, somewhere between Pre-K and Kindergarten, what was I going to use?
I finally found MFW kindergarten, it was light in comparison to other kindergarten curriculum. It also had some of Charlotte Mason’s methods incorporated into it. It seemed quite fitting for the educational needs of my then four year old. Over that year I learned it just wasn’t going to work out, so we broke up with MFW.
This is when I really began to delve into Charlotte Mason methods and found ambleside online. I read the components for year 0 and felt that it was enough for her. She is five now, and while she started two years earlier then the CM recommended start age of six, it was what was best for her.
2. We Started Formal Reading Lessons
While the vast majority of the books I read aloud are living books my daughter also wants to read too. We used Bob books and MFW for that as well but since we are not anymore, I needed something else.
For the “how to” aspect of reading lessons, we have since switched to grade 1, all about reading. I am open to the prospect that I may always need to be eclectic. Adjusting to my children’s educational needs as their little minds continue to grow.
I have also incorporated a writing curriculum which is a little different then just relying on copywork. Ambleside online recommends A Reason For Writing, which is funny because I had already pegged them as “the one” before I stumbled upon that information.
Charlotte Mason’s methods predate computers, IPads, and just about every form of modern day technology. I really doubt she would approve of the use of technology or at least in the excess that the majority of children use it. I would tend to agree but I do think in our modern society it has a place.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has newly updated guidelines that are much more specific. They recognize that we are in an era where technology is everywhere but it does need balanced. Children of all ages should not be so consumed with technology that it becomes priority over sleep, school, food, play, or relationships.
The AAP recommends “children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are watching.”
In addition to CM methods and our chosen curriculum for reading, writing, and math, we enrich with educational online programs and apps. In this simple game he matches shapes together.
Everything in life seems to need balance, any one thing can be too much or too little and make it unhealthy. I tend to be a little more eclectic and mix it up a bit. Even with all the nature walks they are exposed to, they may one day be led to do something in software design or computers. They need this exposure to decide. Which is why they are allowed tablets or computer use during free time.
I think one of the best things about homeschooling is the freedom in it. We are able to recognize the individual needs of each child and customize their education to their needs. Do you use Charlotte Mason methods, if so do you mix it up?