High School. Maybe it’s the name. Maybe it’s the emphasis our culture seems to place on its importance. Maybe it’s the expectations that we carry from our own past experiences.
Whatever the cause, it seems like many factors can contribute to a sense of intimidation when we think of teaching “high school.”
Then, along with that feeling of foreboding, add the thought of teaching high school in a non-traditional way—using Charlotte Mason methods—and it’s enough to cause even a seasoned homeschooler to take pause.
But teaching high school the Charlotte Mason way doesn’t have to be a scary ordeal. Over the next few weeks we will be sharing helpful guidelines, practical tips, and great resources to help you confidently homeschool through high school.
Overview of this Series
In this series we will be discussing
- Basic Mainstays
- Details by Subject
- Grades and Transcripts
- Individualizing Your CM High School
- Habit-Training in High School
Our SCM Discussion Forum is a great place to ask question and discuss details with other CM moms. We even have a special CM High School & Beyond section that focuses on this topic. Feel free to read the great discussions already posted there or to start one of your own.
First, let’s talk about what stays the same. Familiar methods remove that “effort of decision,” so let’s focus on the familiar first.
Variety of Subjects
“Give children a wide range of subjects” (Vol. 3, p. 162). A wide variety of subjects is the first mainstay. We tend to agree with this principle for younger children, but for some reason once a student hits the teen-age years, it’s tempting to focus only on the academics that are required by law or college entrance exams. This tendency does our children a great disservice.
In the high school years, we should continue giving our children a wide variety of subjects, a broad curriculum that includes art, music, nature study, poetry, and handicrafts. These subjects are the ones that feed our children’s souls and develop them as whole persons.
So don’t get caught up in a narrow vision of just equipping your child to make a living. “The function of education is not to give technical skill but to develop a person; the more of a person, the better the work of whatever kind” (Vol. 6, p. 147).
The second mainstay that should be continued through high school is the use of living books. The only change, if you want to call it that, is that we should use “more advanced,” “more copious,” “more comprehensive,” “more difficult” living books, in Charlotte’s words.
Are there more difficult living books? Absolutely. Our SCM Curriculum Guide has some suggestions for the high school years across all the subjects.
And remember that Charlotte used the occasional textbook with the older children—mostly in math, science, and English grammar—in order to delve deeper into a subject. (For more on using a textbook or two, read our post from the series CM Myths.)
The third mainstay is narration. Once the student has mastered oral narration, he should transition into written narrations. The high school years are prime opportunity to polish and refine written narrations in various styles, both poetry and prose.
Narration requires a much higher thinking level than fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, or true or false. And if we saw the value of this method during the earlier grades, how much more should we require this higher thinking level now that our children are older?
Even if our students will have to face fill-in-the-blank-type questions if they go on to college level courses, being able to read a passage once and narrate it to yourself is an invaluable study skill. (If you don’t believe me, try it right now. Narrate this post to yourself without looking back.)
We’ll talk about specific school subjects next week. But first I have a request.
Any of you moms who have graduated at least one student with the Charlotte Mason Method, would you please consider sharing your experiences with our readers? We can learn so much from each other!
At the end of each post in this series, I’ll give a related question or two for you experienced CM-high-school parents. I would love for you to add your thoughts as a comment on this post. Your wisdom, confessions, tips, and ideas will be a huge blessing to others!
Here are the questions for this week:
Did teaching high school the CM way seem intimidating to you? Why?
Do you think you have overcome that feeling of intimidation? What helped?