Transitioning from Textbooks
I’ve been doing a lot of research on Charlotte Mason and her ways of educating a family and making it an atmosphere!! How refreshing – this is our second year of home schooling – we spent last year doing [textbooks] and it was just like taking the school room into our home. Although I’ve learned a lot about CM and her ways – I am having a hard time grasping it and nailing down a starting point. I have 3 children – 2 of which I will be home schooling – GR 3 and GR 1 my other child is 2. I know that I can incorporate most of the subjects with them together – my problem is understanding what each needs to know for their grade level. Sure, we love to read, but how do they learn their grammar, writing, spelling and math. Is this something I must supplement with workbooks? I am having a hard time with this! I really do hope you can help!!
You’re a lot like me when I first started in the 80′s. I had one student my first year, one toddler and one newborn. I did textbooks the first year and didn’t like it at all. It caused me to burn out on home schooling the very first year. I almost put my oldest back in school but I never got the “peace” to do that so I muddled on.
How I got going with Charlotte Mason was to read all I could and then I had an all Charlotte Mason Summer School. I had nothing to lose because any thing I did was just extra. It was the best summer ever and we all learned more than we had ever learned before.
You ask about the 3 R’s. Reading, writing, and arithmetic. Those are skills and need to be taught individually and geared for the age level of each child. Exactly what is taught grade by grade is detailed in the closing portion of my third book, “A Literary Education”. There I have painstakingly gathered scopes and sequences for the USA and boiled them down to an easy to read, easy to use guide to “what” to teach for each grade. From your question I gather you’re writing from Canada and even though I did attend school in Canada as a youth I do not know exactly what is covered grade by grade as well as I do for the States.
Then as to “how” to teach grammar, spelling, and writing those three topics are covered in my first book, “A Charlotte Mason Education” which you can read in a few quick minutes.
I have also written before about whether to use workbooks or not in the 2nd book, “More Charlotte Mason Education.” I can see a few reasons to use them on occasion. One would be if/when you are extremely ill or caring for someone who is. Another would be when you simply “find” the perfect workbook for the some subject and it just fits well for the situation. Lastly, if you had a particular child who thrives in workbooks and children like that do exist. Even if you have one of those I wouldn’t throw a pile of workbooks in her direction and call it good. I wouldn’t rely on workbooks for anything other than math. But, the occasional workbook can be good idea at certain times.
Let me say one last thing. Sometimes the best way to get going with the Charlotte Mason method is to not jump in with both feet. Meaning, try one or two CM techniques at a time. Try art appreciation or try the nature notebook or the book of the centuries but keep at textbook/workbook system running along side in order to keep abreast of “what” all the other 3rd grade children are covering. As you gain confidence in the Charlotte Mason style and in exactly “what” subject matter you ought to be teaching then you can forego the workbooks and textbooks. Referring to them to whatever degree is a good way to know “what” to cover but don’t stay with only the textbook. Use its information to cause you to check out real books, living books on the same topic and then incorporate field trips to also augment.
I knew I couldn’t answer these questions without at least beginning to rewrite all that I’ve written before. Without sounding like a salesman let me point you toward reading my books because I am sure they will help you. I base that opinion on your questions.
I hope the very, very best for you. I hope you enjoy homeschooling as much as I do—and I really do enjoy it. Thanks for writing and let me know if I can do anything else for you.