Hi. I'm new to Charlotte Mason, but not to homeschooling. My eldest is 18; she's preparing for college. The ones I'm homeschooling now are girl14, boy11, boy7, boy5. I'm trying to just read more to our boy3, teach him colours, counting and so on. We also have a girl20mo and a little blessing due on Christmas Day.
Because I have been homeschooling several children for years now, we've really come to rely on workbooks and textbooks for example Saxon Math (this one I'll continue to use), Wordly Wise, Spelling Workout (only sometimes), Apologia Science (love these), Abeka Math (used before Saxon 5/4), Abeka Grammar (we skipped their composition), various handwriting workbooks. I've read good books to them, including lots of historical fiction. When I was worried that Geography knowledge was suffering, I used an Abeka Geography textbook course once... we've sold that one. The girls were voracious readers and so I think that helped them a lot, but our boy11 doesn't care for reading at all and I feel he is academically behind for his age.
Well, our kids don't really enjoy doing schoolwork at all. Often our girl14 likes the books I choose for her to read though. I was feeling so discouraged and then I found out about Sonlight, so at the beginning of this year we bought 3 Cores of Sonlight (fortunately many books second hand at about a 50% discount). I read lots about combining more than one child into a Sonlight Core, but with an advanced girl14, a boy11 who's a bit behind, and a just learning to read boy7, the idea of trying to 'tweak' a Sonlight Core seemed overwhelming. So before our summer break we got through almost 1/2 of their Sonlight Cores. We liked the reading books, and I did most of the read-alouds (girl14 read a few of them herself though)... I didn't find the amount of reading too much for me. I like that the novels are planned to work through a specific time period. I liked having an outline of what to accomplish each day (I'm a checkmark girl!) I'm not going to continue with Sonlight though, because I find it too expensive right now. Also, I didn't really like the writing assignments (and hardly ever had them do them). So I still feel like their composition/writing is lacking. I had enough time to do most of the 3 Cores, but no time left over for music, art, piano, foreign language, scripture memory (it peetered off), or typing (for boy11... girl14 can type well already). There was little time for outdoors. My girl14 did some needlecrafts, but hardly any crafts for any of the others. Hardly any time left in a day for errands, housework, or playing outside. This is maybe partly due to a lack of a specific schedule, so they are getting several 'breaks' throughout their school time. There was no narration, dictation, notebooking, tests, and very little composition of any kind.
This summer I've been reading all about Charlotte Mason homeschooling and I'm excited. I want to be doing those subjects that we are missing (esp. piano, foreign language, art/music appreciation, outdoor time). I want them to be using their creativity to cement what they're learning (narration/notebooking). I want to get away from the drudgery of grammar workbooks, (although I still want them to have a strong knowledge of proper grammar). Things just need to change... I want them to find school interesting and, for the most part, enjoyable.
But in order to add in more subjects, I realize I'm going to have to have a more organized plan and that includes combining some subjects. I have NEVER done this before though. I think I can figure it out for art/music appreciation. None of them know more than a couple words of French, so that can be together somehow. I think I'd rather keep literature separate though... I enjoy reading to them individually before bedtime. But Bible and History... I have no clue how that works when you try to combine different ages. I feel so overwhelmed trying to plan all this. What does a family history 'lesson' typically look like? Or a family Bible time? Our summer break has been several weeks now and that's longer than I would've liked... but I'm pregnant and, well, tired. I feel an urgency to get back to schooling (I am also desperately craving some structure to our day) and I want to get some good learning in before the wee one in my belly needs some extra time from Mommy too.
That's a long post, sorry. I guess I am looking for a better idea of how to combine a subject for a broad range of ages/abilities. Or can anyone recommend a good resource that would show how to do Charlotte Mason for a large family? Ach, change is never easy, I know... I have to keep praying because I want homeschooling to be enjoyable and positive and beneficial... it doesn't feel that way lately.