Curriculum. This is where homeschooling parents seem to get into trouble. I’ve seen so many intelligent, rational, well-balanced parents become panicked and obsessive people who are suddenly unable to make a decision. Truly, it doesn’t need to be this hard. Children in one-room school houses without enough books for each child to have their own were able to produce children who were much better educated than most public schooled children today. Contrary to the assertions of some homeschoolers, God has not ordained one particular curriculum as THE one to use. That being said, we do have some amazing resources at our disposal. Just be calm and wise, and all will be well. 🙂
When I described my homeschooling philosophy to a friend, she said, “Oh, so you’re doing a combination of Charlotte Mason and TJE.” Huh? I had no idea what she was talking about, but she was right! What we came up with is something similar to the Charlotte Mason method for the early years, morphing into the Thomas Jefferson Education method as the children become older. Since they are so similar to what my hubby and I had envisioned, I’ll start with resources related to these. Please note that, although you will see book lists (many of these can be found at the library or a secondhand bookstore), you will not see a particular curriculum. You don’t even have to use the books from the lists; they are just suggestions.
The things we love about the Charlotte Mason Method are that children are given an atmosphere conducive to learning, observation of and learning from God’s Creation is practiced often, comprehension is evaluated by the child narrating what they have learned (rather than taking quizzes and tests), books are “living” books. “Living” books, unlike most text books, are written by somebody who is passionate about the subject and they are often written in the form of a story. The facts and ideas are made real and exciting to the children. Children are taught tons of “handicrafts and life skills“, which I love! Too many children get done with school and have learned nothing useful for real life.
The only part of the Charlotte Mason Method that we do not care for is that she seemed to be very rigid and strict about what she called “discipline”. That doesn’t refer to child-training, rather it was a huge list of “good habits” that she thought every child should have. The list is full of excellent things, but we prefer to look to the Bible for how to live. My concern is that making a list like this a part of “school”, Christ-likeness would become a legalistic work, rather than a true state of the heart. Other than that, the Charlotte Mason Method is a great resource!
- You can learn the basic history of the Charlotte Mason Method here, and then check out a chart for each subject and explanations of the methods.
- Here you can find book lists (check them out at your local library for free!) for children ages 3, 4 and 5.
- This page has the book lists for Kindergarten through 12th grade. Don’t quit reading together when your children get older. Have “family reading time” every evening or a few times a week. Let the older children take turns. It’s wonderful family time and it will improve their reading, spelling and presentation!
- If you are interested in her list of “disciplines” you can find it on page 32 of this document.
- Here is a list of the “handicrafts and life skills”. Don’t make this complicated. You can go down the list and learn one thing a week, or you could write each topic on a scrap of paper and put it in a jar to pull out when you’re ready to tackle something new. Fun!
In Part 2, I will focus on the Thomas Jefferson Education and other resources.