Charlotte Mason: How Our First Year Went and Future Plans

Dear Reader,

It has been just about a year since I first started seriously looking into taking a more Charlotte Mason style approach to our homeschooling. Now at the end of the school year, I think things are finally beginning to fall into place. I look forward to being even more faithful to Miss Mason’s philosophy in the coming year.

Sadly, a family we had done nature walks with moved away a year ago. We didn’t end up being very faithful with nature study on our own this year. Spring allergies took a bad toll on my boys and that didn’t help. But we have tentative plans to do nature walks and journals with another family for next year. So I am really hoping that works out and that it will keep us on track.

We did science this year using Real-Science-4-Kids which I like. But next year I think we are just going to read through living science books (and do our nature studies of course).

We made some attempts at composer and picture studies. I was not regular enough with them. Towards the end of the year we began using The Story of the Orchestra along with Harmony Arts Ancient art guide (see here). Next year I think we will attempt both picture and composer studies just picking a few artists/musicians.

Just the last few months I feel like narration has begun to take hold. Initially, I think my older children just didn’t see the point or understand what I was wanting from them. Then I found a used copy of Aesop’s Fables. With that, it seemed to fall into place. I had heard that the fables were a great way to start narration but it really is true. The children love to narrate the stories, they are manageable chunks, and the morals are great. I also printed out some notebooking pages. So we will read four fables aloud, each child narrating after one, and then they get to pick one to draw a picture for and do a written narration. The younger two dictate to me. I know Miss Mason would say my five-year-old is too young to have to narrate but she wants to do what the older kids do.

Geography is one area I am pretty pleased with. We didn’t get things down till mid-year with that. We have been reading through Hillyer’s A Child’s Geography. I started out doing two chapters at a sitting but have since cut it down to one followed by a notebooking page as our means of narration. The younger children dictate to me again and then draw a picture. The older two do their own written narration and illustration. We have also begun map drills. I am impressed by how much they can take in here.

By about December (or was it November) we finished our study of American history and went back again to start with ancient history. The quality of this has varied some with my ability to find good spine books. Egypt went well. We used the Greenleaf guide and their recommended book Pharaoh’s of Ancient Egypt by Elizabeth Payne. I found a few good things on Mesopotamia. One treasure was Babylonia and Assyria by Louise Maud Mohr (published in 1928! A big clue to the fact that it is good). But nothing so comprehensive as the Egyptian book we used. I am disappointed with a lot of the resources I have found on other cultures like the Hittites, Canaanites, Moabites, etc. Having studied such things, I hate to neglect them. But there is not much out there for kids.

The older two have been doing some copywork. I think I need to make more of a point of having them really look at what they are doing though, noticing the punctuation and spelling. We don’t have a very good system for that yet.

So that’s where we are so far. I do think we have made a lot of progress, but there is still a lot to do.


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