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Today we’re happy to announce a new free video resource: SCM Answers Your Questions. Last week we invited you to send in your questions about homeschooling with the Charlotte Mason Method. We selected ten of those questions to answer, and I was able to sit down and record my thoughts for you via video. Click on the playlist link above and you will be able to watch the ten short videos on these topics:
- Starting CM with an 11th grader.
- Handling a dreamer.
- Implementing CM with a dyslexic 9-year-old.
- Tackling the fear of homeschooling.
- How to include all the subjects of a CM education.
- Handling questions about grade levels.
- Inspiring curiosity in a child who doesn’t seem to have much.
- SCM’s thoughts on using Plutarch.
- How to grade Spelling Wisdom lessons.
- What a day in the life of a child using the CM method looks like
To give you a taste (or if you prefer reading to listening), we’ve included the transcripts from two of the Q & A videos below. We hope this new resource will be helpful!
Q: What does a day in the life of a child using the CM method look like?
A: What “a day in the life” looks like can vary widely, depending on child’s age and the family’s circumstances. Homeschooling is by nature very flexible and can be customized to fit each family—which is good! In a typical situation a child using the Charlotte Mason Method would have a morning filled with a variety of short lessons covering a wide range of subjects.
Which subjects are covered on which days can vary, but for example, a day’s schedule might be something like . . .
- 10 minutes of Scripture Memory,
- 5 minutes of hymn singing,
- then 20 or 30 minutes of reading and narrating a history book,
- and 20 or so minutes of math,
- followed by 5 minutes of poetry,
- and 5 minutes of copywork,
- and wrap up with 20 minutes of reading and narrating a science book.
Older students might have longer lessons or some additional reading and narrating to do on their own. And you would have plenty of time to do nature study or an art project after lunch, plus read a chapter from your family literature book during tea time or snack time later in the day.
The next day would look a bit different. Some of the components would remain, but you might do a geography book instead of history and add in a short map drill, or you might do a picture study instead of hymn singing. The wide variety of subjects allows you to keep things fresh each day by mixing it up so it’s not the same-old same-old every day of the week.
You can see some sample schedules on our website at simplycm.com/planning. Those will give you some ideas of possibilities. The main things to keep in mind as you craft your own schedule are
- keep lessons short,
- give a wide variety of subjects throughout the week,
- and try to arrange the day’s work so you’re using a different part of the brain and body in sequence. Don’t group all the reading and narrating into one time slot. Read and narrate one book, then go do something different like math or singing or picture study. Using different parts of the brain in sequence is a key to keeping the morning moving along smoothly and encouraging full attention.
Now, I’ve focused mainly on the day’s school schedule in this answer, but remember that the Charlotte Mason approach is about much more than academics. Your child’s education is influenced by the atmosphere of your home and the habits you cultivate in his life too. Those two elements are 24/7. So even when “school is out” you are still educating your child through your example, through the ideas that rule your life, and through the habits you help your child form—all day.
Q: My kids are 2.5 and 11m so I have a lot of time, but how do I tackle my fears of homeschooling? I want to do it, but I’m afraid I will fail them!
A: You’re not alone. I think all homeschool moms face fears like that. And not just new homeschoolers. Veteran homeschoolers can face that same fear as new challenges arise over the years. I talk about that in my workshop, Looking Past the Fear. You can find it on our website; that might be encouraging to you.
But let me offer three ideas here as well.
First, a lot of your success as a homeschooler depends on your heart attitude. Judging from your question, I think you have a desire to do the very best you can for your children. That’s a key component, and it sounds like that is already in place. That very desire will help keep you on track. In fact, you’ve already started educating your children, for Charlotte Mason believed that education is made up of the atmosphere of your home, the discipline of good habits, and the living ideas you offer your children. You are already shaping who they will become; you are already educating. And the fact that you’re thinking ahead to the next step tells me that you already have the right mind-set in place when it comes time to add in some academics.
Second, you don’t have to do this alone. Yes, a lot of the day-to-day work will be your responsibility; but you can start now to put in place a support network of people who will encourage you and who will help hold you accountable. It’s much easier to succeed in a long-term lifestyle commitment when you have some key supporters to come alongside you in the journey.
Then last, I would encourage you to make sure you have realistic expectations. You will fail at times. Just as (and I’m making an assumption here) you are not the perfect mom every day in every situation, so you will not be the perfect teacher every day in every lesson. But that doesn’t mean you are a failure. You will have some failure moments. We all do. We’re human. But don’t allow those moments to derail you. Don’t fear those moments. You’ve probably found that your failure moments as a mom help you to grow better in the long haul. It will be the same with homeschooling. Settle it in your mind now: you cannot teach your children all about everything. That is statistically impossible. So use this time that you have now to set some goals. When it comes time for your child to graduate, what is it you want to see standing before you? Write it down. What goals do you have for your child academically, yes, but also emotionally, spiritually, physically, socially. Remember, you are educating the whole person not just a mind. So keep that big picture in your mind and in your heart—ask the Lord for strength, wisdom, and grace every day—and you’ll do just fine.