We are now in our 19th year of homeschooling. Wow! I just did the math and realized that by the time I finish homeschooling my youngest (Luke), I will have homeschooled for 33 years of my life! :)

We are active in our local Christian homeschool group, where I am one of the coordinators. Our group consists of about 30 families - I like to refer to us as homeschooling family. :) We meet weekly for “gym” as well as for school parties, field trips, co-op classes, science and geography fairs, recitation, and just free play and fellowship.

Our homeschooling style is mostly Charlotte Mason style, with a mix of classical style education. The Charlotte Mason education method is one where children are taught as whole persons through a wide range of interesting living books, firsthand experiences, and good habits.

The following information taken from Simply Charlotte Mason (a great website by the way) explains it wonderfully:

What is the Charlotte Mason Method?

Charlotte Mason was a British educator who lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Her method, the Charlotte Mason method, is centered around the idea that education is three-pronged: Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.

By “Atmosphere,” Charlotte meant the surroundings in which the child grows up. A child absorbs a lot from his home environment. Charlotte believed that atmosphere makes up one-third of a child’s education.

By “Discipline,” Charlotte meant the discipline of good habits — and specifically habits of character. Cultivating good habits in your child’s life make up another third of his education.

The other third of education, “Life,” applies to academics. Charlotte believed that we should give children living thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts. So all of her methods for teaching the various school subjects are built around that concept.

For example, Charlotte’s students used living books rather than dry textbooks. Living books are usually written in story form by one author who has a passion for the subject. A living book makes the subject “come alive.”

She taught spelling by using passages from great books that communicate great ideas rather than just a list of words.

She encouraged spending time outdoors, interacting with God’s creation firsthand and learning the living ways of nature.

You can see many other living methods she used on this methods chart.

Many homeschoolers have adopted her philosophy and methods as they seek to educate the whole child, not just his or her mind.

To learn more about Charlotte Mason and her methods, take a look at these articles:

Who was Charlotte Mason?
What was Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy?
What methods did Charlotte Mason use?


Learning is definitely a lifestyle in our home. It’s hard to define where school ends and home begins because learning is just a natural part of every day. Learning is happening even in the car as we have discussions, listen to CDs, or make observations.

I'm reminded of this Bible scripture when I think of how learning should be going on from the time we get up until we go to bed - and teaching them to live for God's glory.

"Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 11:19 (NIV)

If I had to describe our single most favorite part of homeschooling, it would hands-down be our time reading aloud! I think my kids would agree with that. It’s a bonding time – a time when I get to share thoughts, adventures and noble ideas with my kids. I wouldn’t want to miss out on this! I would say that at least an hour and a half of every day is spent in read alouds (mom reading to children). Reading from living books promotes noble thoughts and ideas.

Narration is used instead of fill-in-the-blanks to show me what they remember. Have you ever noticed how kids love to tell stories or excitedly relay to mom or dad the contents of a good book they read or movie they saw? For us, it works like this: Mom reads aloud a selection (age appropriate portion) and asks the child to tell back what happened in his/her own words. They are getting the chance to meditate and think ideas through. When they are young, mom can write down what they say and type it for them. They are really excited to hear their own words read back to them. When they are old enough, they can write or type their own narrations. Another way that Joy actually prefers is to ask ME questions about the reading we did. I usually tell her to ask me _____ amount of questions. Of course, she’s trying to stump me, so her questions require much thought and reflection and she HAS to know the answer before she can ask the question. Narration helps develop the habit of attention to detail and also in organizing thoughts and presenting them in oral or written form.

These are the main ideas behind the Charlotte Mason method, but again, you can read more about her other methods for every subject here and it will give you a little more info on living books, nature notebooks, picture study, century notebooks, music appreciation, poetry, and short lessons and more.

I highly recommend the following for more info on Charlotte Mason style homeschooling:

Simply Charlotte Mason - Website that includes blog, how-tos, forum, online organizer, and Sonya Shafer's curriculum for purchase that compliments the Charlotte Mason homeschool method.  Lots of helps here!  Great website!

Karen Andreola - Love everything about Karen and her books!  She is my favorite resource for Charlotte Mason ideas and philosophy.  Her style is simple, gentle, soothing, sweet, and a breath of fresh air. Karen's writings are simply delightful!  I especially love her book, A Charlotte Mason Companion:  Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning.  Also love all her other books:  A Pocketful of Pinecones, Lessons and Blackberry Inn, Beautiful GirlhoodA Charlotte Mason Companion is my single most favorite homeschooling book!  I re-read it every summer and it's about worn out from all the turned back pages and highlighting!  I know Karen and I would definitely be friends!  Here's Karen's personal blog, Moments with Mother Culture.  You can also visit her site Homeschooling Highlights.  She is a wonderful source of information for the Charlotte Mason lifestyle!  You can read reviews by Karen and her family here on their website, Charlotte Mason Research & Supply Co. 

I also enjoyed reading the shortened version and explanation of Charlotte's methods in Catherine Levinson's books.  You can read more about those here on her website:  A Charlotte Mason Education.

Ambleside Online - Another source of information on Charlotte Mason style learning.


Okay, now the big question.....most everyone now wants to know, so what curriculum do you use?  So here's our line up for the 2012-2013 school year.  This is definitely not a complete list but an overview, as we are constantly adding living books and resources as the need arises or as they become available.  And occasionally, we get started on something and find that it just doesn't work for us.  But here's the outline(for now):

Joy - (Our 13 year old daughter in 8th grade)

Sonlight Core H World History Part Two - (History, Geography, Literature, Writing, Poetry & Bible)

Answers in Genesis -  Science (God's Design and Wonders of Creation + DVDs/books), Bible

Math-U-See - Algebra I

Sequential Spelling & Spelling Wisdom - Spelling and dictation

Bravewriter (online classes because Joy LOVES to write & Jungle Writer), Story Starters by Karen Andreola, Blogging, Journaling, and Letter Writing - Writing/Creative Writing

Bright Lights - Bible, Character Study

Easy Grammar Ultimate Series 8 - Grammar

Simply Charlotte Mason - Picture Study and other miscellaenous

Nature Notebooks and Living Books - Nature/Science

Chinese Language School weekly classes - Foreign language

We will be working on homemaking skills as well. 

Luke - (Our 4 year old son in Pre-K)

Reading is our priority this year for Luke.   He already recognizes all his letters and knows most of their sounds.  We still need to work on those letters that make multiple sounds and then we're ready for beginning reading - starting with those short vowel sounds.  So I have a variety of curriculum that I will draw from on this. 

Play-N-Talk - Love it!  Have used it with my oldest, Colt, and Joy as well.  In my opinion, it's the best out there!  I like to use it along side Explode the Code.

Explode the Code - Workbooks that practice the phonics sounds.  Good to make sure you're not missing out as they learn naturally (as Joy did).

Delightful Reading - This is my first year to do this, so will definitely be giving more information on this later, but I'm excited about it.  It comes from Simply Charlotte Mason by Sonya Shafer.

Alpha-Phonics - Again, like their way of beginning reading.

We'll be using lots of living books here at home and from the library!

We will begin working on writing letters informally, in sand, with sandpaper, mostly done in fun games to get those fine motor skills down!

Timberdoodle - Love this company.  We have several of their hands-on activities for preschoolers and will be using them for learning tools - Purplelinker and Imaginets just to name a couple!  Also love them for their thinking skill books!  Check them out!  Great stuff there!  The kids are learning and they don't even realize it!  It's play and and learning rolled into fun!

Christian Light Education - Preschool workbooks.  Just because Luke wants to "do school", I purchased these.  He will feel like he's doing school like his sister.  These seemed to be easy, gentle, and fun.

We also have some thinking skill books that we will pull out too.

Oh, and for math, we will be working with the games from Right Start Mathematics Kit A and begin Math-U-See Primer if or when he's ready.

I may also pull some living books from Queen Homeschool Supplies.


Just for your information - A couple of particular posts on homeschooling from my blog that may be of interest to my readers:

A Typical Homeschool Day at Our House - This is an older post.  Luke hadn't joined our family at this point!

Answering Your Homeschooling Questions - Candid answers to candid questions


That's an overview of our homeschool!  I love meeting fellow homeschoolers and I'd love to hear from you!  You can email me here.

Happy Homeschooling!  :)

1 comment:

Sarahsworld said...

WOW! 19 years. I can't wait to read more about homeschooling from someone who's been doing it successfully for so long. I'm always looking for new ideas.