Charlotte Mason, Homeschool

Getting Ready for Charlotte Mason

Our homeschool will officially start on June 4th with Form 1B, following the Charlotte Mason philosophy.  This will be our first year with a packed curriculum covering a full range of subjects, year-long focus, and more priority on academics.

FORM WHAT? Welcome to the world of Charlotte Mason. Form 1B is equivalent to 1st grade.  Form 1 is comprised of Form 1B and Form 1A, covering grades 1 through 3.  Kindergarten is considered Pre-Form, as this academic philosophy delays formal instruction until at least 6 years old.

Let me just say, I was a bit overwhelmed to start planning Form 1B. Up until now, we’ve been pretty informal.  We work on academics as interest guides us. We have focused on only a few subjects, such as scripture study, math reasoning, thinking skills, self-guided letters/writing/phonics, and literature.  I’ve also continued to study the Charlotte Mason philosophy, engaging in conversations online and reading Miss Mason’s own volumes of work.

HOW DID I START PLANNING?

The best resource for me is A Delectable Education podcasts. I’ve known about them for a while, but I’m not really a “podcast” person.  I much prefer to read information, which better fits my lifestyle and my mode of attention.  But the information contained in these podcasts are so valuable that I decided to find time to delve in.   Their website is simple to navigate and I found their Subjects By Form section to be the most helpful.  This page is probably the most helpful resource out there, also breaking down the major topics and books needed for each subject.

It was best for me to sit down with a blank notebook. I organized it like a bullet journal and just start listening by subject.  History came first, which seems to be the subject that requires the most preparation.  These helped to understand history rotations and how Form 1B differed with its focus on “Heroic Age.”

OTHER RESOURCES

Along the way, I pulled information from several Charlotte Mason resources.  They were used to compare subjects, book lists, and schedule.  I found many variations and ultimately decided to move forward with a plan that I felt best represented the intentions of Charlotte Mason.  This plan is a mix of several resources.

SCHEDULING

Staring at all of these schedule charts was not helpful at all.  It was a little difficult and time consuming for me to put the information into a format that worked for me.  What I wanted to know, and what I feel everyone else seems to want is HOW LONG and HOW OFTEN for each subject?  Here is my compilation!

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In order to create a schedule, I needed to make sense of this.  It was obvious that there were several subjects that weren’t covered every day of the week, so I wanted to try and see if subjects could alternate in the same time slots during “classroom time.”
The other thing I noticed was that most sources say that Form 1B should be 2.5 hours long.  I’m not sure how that ever all fits into 2.5 hours, and I made a few adjustments.  I subtracted 5 minutes from Math and moved Literature to Tea Time.

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The final schedule takes into consideration the TYPE of mental work that is being done.  Charlotte Mason made it a point that children need to vary the type of mental work being done and alternate activity between the parts of the brain.

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Taking that sentiment into consideration, here is our final schedule to follow during “classroom” time.
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“OMG!  Did you say ‘unit’?!”  Calm down, those aren’t “unit studies” or “coordinated subjects” to which Charlotte Mason speaks of with disapproval.  Prior to learning about Charlotte Mason philosophy, I created subject studies.  Instead of letting that effort go to waste, I looked over the lessons I had against what needed to be taught for Natural History.  They fit in very nicely, my daughter enjoys these types of activities, and I will keep it!  I simply expanded Natural History to round out and fill 5 days, instead of 3.
On that note, I highly recommend reading excerpts on Unit Studies, compiled by the wonderful team from Ambleside Online.  This is one area of CM academics that draws a lot of conversation.

THE BOOKS

Charlotte Mason model of homeschool is NOT a book list. We understand that “Education is a life” and that “the mind feeds on ideas, and therefore children should have a generous curriculum.” (CM Principle #8) It is our duty as educators to provide the feast, and selecting the living books ultimately resides as our responsibility.

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So what will be in our curriculum basket this year, for Form 1B?  Drum roll please…

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If anyone tries to tell you that Charlotte Mason lacks content in curriculum, you can politely respond with an exasperated eye roll.  Putting together our plan for this year was a labor of love.  I learned so much regarding the philosophy, history rotations, living books and twaddle, what can be achieved in short lessons, and how exciting home education can be.  Input from seasoned CM friends has been such a valuable resource as well.

I will borrow as much as possible from the library and download ebooks. Only items that I can’t find and that will be used for multiple years will be purchased. I thought that I would like to own the entire curriculum, but as I made this list it became very clear that owning everything just wasn’t economically wise.  Money will be better spent elsewhere, instead of used for a book we read for 3 weeks. Of course, if I come across a great deal on a used title, I will consider making it my own!

There are so many great CM curriculum plans out there to choose from, if creating your own isn’t what you are wanting to do.  For myself, creating one was what I needed to do.  Notice that I never included any daily tasks or reading goals.  Although I do have general benchmarks, I thought about them simply to gauge if I had enough or too much content for the school year.

Whatever you choose to do, I wish you well on your journey.  Although it feels daunting, the journey to learn and then plan has given me a firm foundation.  I feel confident that I understand the purpose and philosophy of Charlotte Mason enough to implement this Form 1B plan.  The effort that we put into creating the curriculum is well worth it.  Even if you choose to follow a curriculum like Ambleside Online, I hope that you take the time to dissect the plan, review the titles, and take ownership of what has been put together. I hope that my journey will be an encouragement and support!

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4 thoughts on “Getting Ready for Charlotte Mason”

  1. This is so helpful! Seeing your process helped it “click” with me. I used the ADE consultation for form IB this year. I haven’t started yet bc I’m completely intimidated and not sure how to start. They even did the work for me and I’m still scared! 😬 Thank you for your post!

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    1. I’m so glad that something I shared has helped you! I’m sure your consultation was amazing and you are well armed for this school year. You can do it! Just start, and do the best you can. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself or your kiddo. 🙂

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