Advice on Homeschooling & Science:

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  • mombygrace

    Okay, I am truly sorry, for any offence- up front. However,  I am in severe need of some Godly wisdom…. from moms who are not wise in there own eyes….  I realize that comes across as a terrible way to start.  🙁

    Unfortunately, I’ve gotten so much advise (much of it contradicting, self-serving, and competitive) over the years that it has caused me to cringe at asking anyone for help. So, if you are deeply appalled, by my unintended disrespect, your time is far more precious than to waste it reading this thread any farther.




    So here goes:

    Please, be mercifully patient with me… and Thank you for your time!

    I am quite stuck; maybe from my ignorance, maybe from my incapability,  maybe from knowing how little time I have left, maybe from feeling overwhelmed from all of it, obviously from fear, and so much more.  Honestly, it’s very difficult even now, just trying to figure out how to ask and what it is exactly I am trying to ask…..

    I have tried to homeschool from the very beginning, with various conflicting advice from one person to the next on how I should approach and carry out my children’s education.  (God has allowed us to raise a currently 13yr.old ds & 7yr old dd.) We finally settled on a Charlotte Mason approach after much effort with other routes.  There is quite an age gap between the two kids and like all of you know they are very different in many areas.

    My son started K at 6yrs, and did so with ….. ABEKA!!!,  then we went to a tutorial (bad idea)!!!!, then to Sonlight (which wasn’t so bad, but by this time he hated everything to do with learning, including me, and had a new sister to complicate matters.), then to another tutorial (a reminder that it was a bad idea), and then GOD led us to Charlotte Mason AND the understanding of Right Brained Learners and BIT!  We also put healthier boundaries up between our family and some very toxic family members who made it their job to steal our peace and create continual chaos….. Soon Everything Changed…. He now loves to read, can hold a pencil without becoming another kid, is catching up in his math… and overall a delight to be with.

    My problem is that I have one more year before he enters High School level work!  He will enter 8th grade this coming up 2017-2018 school year, without:

    (I think) a clear understanding or desire of how to properly write or type book reports,

    (I feel) a lacking in deeper Science (we’ve tried to do 106 days, and God’s Creation – but after several years of trying to get past the first few weeks, I never can do anything more than videos and out door exploration that usually doesn’t have a journal- and that, not on a consistent basis),

    History we have done fair on: Biblical History and how that ties in with world history, but have not yet done State or US history!!!,

    He is still behind in Math (we use math u see and supplemental videos/books), Spelling, Vocabulary, Grammar, and frankly I believe he is behind on everything but spiritual understanding- which we realize truly has the most value eternally, but he must live in this world too, and I feel I have not met this need properly.  My mind wants to excuse it, based on our struggle with his learning needs and the attacks on the educational environment of our home, but that doesn’t make his need to be prepared any less or his lack of preparedness any less our responsibility.

    My daughter is still in the process of practicing her reading and math, and then gleans whatever else she can from over her brothers shoulder- so to speak. My concern for her, is that my son’s constant need from me will cause her to fall behind also, and cripple his independency later on.

    Do any of you ladies have any words of true wisdom?

    Where should my expectations be?

    What are some steps I can take that won’t kill any of us in the process.

    What are some curriculum resources that will allow him to learn- well- independently?

    What are some L.A., Science, History, Ect. curriculum that could work for us? (Please, include why you think they would be a good fit).

    I ask these questions, because, while I love the ideals of CM, they just seem either too difficult for my brain to put into practice perfectly or they are not fast passed enough for my son.  So, any insight or advice on this would also be helpful.

    I also still struggle with how to lay out our work week, how to divide out that work according to the CM way… and this is coming from someone who owns the following:

    All Day Charlotte Mason Sem. dvd,

    Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education,

    Enjoying the Little Years,

    Laying Down the Rails,

    Learning and Living (the 12 dvd how to seminar set)

    I’m not sure if “burn out” is the right word for me.  I know I am utterly exhausted, but I feel I am still knew to the process of HSing even though we’ve been doing CM for at least 3 yrs now.

    I’m trying very hard to look at this from a biblical perspective, but without a proper support system, I feel it would be extremely foolish to go another moment without reaching out for outside perspectivse and advice from women who have fought the same battles, and are able to speak from the “other side” of the home school journey.

    Thank you, to all who have taken time to consider my incoherent utterings!  May God bless your thoughts with wisdom and guide your words with truth and understanding.  May He enlighten me and others who gain from the knowledge you have been graciously granted.  May He give peace and courage to all who walk this road less taken!!



    Hi there and welcome! 🙂

    I won’t claim wisdom or that I have all the answers but I wanted to at least help start the conversation.

    I don’t think any of the areas you mentioned your son being behind in are any thing that can’t be taken care of his 8th grade year. The only area I’m unsure of is math.

    One thing I like to stress is that most children are not truly behind, but right where God wants them to be. Each child is a person, an individual who grows and learns at his own pace. The world labels children by age and places them in categories. Thankfully, we don’t have to do this as homeschoolers. The only way I truly believe a child is behind where he should be is if his education has been truly and consistently neglected.

    No worries about history. History is a life long study. He should begin to study a more well rounded scope of history, but I wouldn’t call him behind. As I mentioned to another mom on another thread, my history knowledge was pitiful until I began learning along side my children. I was surprised to find history to be my favorite subject and I have learned so much over my 14 years of homeschooling. Your son is not behind in this area. He is probably ahead of the average PS student.

    Let’s talk language arts now. Book reports really aren’t needed. They are completely unnecessary and he will never need to write one in college. Written narrations are the best preparation for higher level writing. He should begin with written narrations and segue into essays for high school and eventually try his hand at a research paper, or two, some time his junior or senior year. If you truly want a curriculum, I have heard good things about Jump In from Apologia-especially for middle school boys.

    As for grammar, get a good overview like Easy Grammar Plus and have him start working through it one page a day. Easy Peasy. We don’t cover a lot of formal grammar in our homeschool and many students, both public schooled and homeschooled, barely touch upon grammar and do just fine in college and life.

    Students educated with CM methods don’t do vocabulary as a separate subject. They learn to have a great vocabulary by reading lots of great literature. The single best thing you can do to help your children have good grammar, vocabulary, writing skills, etc. is have them read, read, read.

    Now for science, many students do not take formal science until highschool and do just fine. They will have to face the learning curve at some point, so you can do it now, in 8th grade, or wait until 9th. I choose to start my kids in General Science in 8th and move onto Biology in 9th. We don’t study formal science before that. We just read lots of good science books and have fun with nature study in the younger years. We use Apologia for General Science and Biology but have just discovered Sabbath Mood CM science and are trying it out for Chemistry right now. It’s really good!

    I’m not sure where your son is at in math. The only thing you can do is have him keep steadily working through his math program. You may even have him work through summers and breaks until he catches up to where he needs to be. This will be a different place for each child since each child is unique. University bound students will need to get through Advanced Math (Pre calculus or trig) by graduation. If your student plans on going straight into the work force or to community college, this is not nearly as much of an issue. This all depends on your state requirements as well, of course.

    Our biggest job as homeschool moms is discipleship. Education happens but our children’s hearts are the main thing. It sounds like your son is doing well in this area and that is a huge blessing. The other things will come. You are doing the right thing.

    “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33



    Above I said that education happens. I should have said education is important because the first statement isn’t true at all! Education doesn’t just happen, it must be actively pursued. We simply must never pursue it at the cost of the main thing-the hearts of our children.


    Hi there,


    It’s very admirable that you are humbly looking for guidance.

    My son is 12 and one of four so I feel that keeping things flowing is quite a challenge. He is normal in his mental development but has taken alot of time with reading and comprehension, also his maths.

    We have used simple copy work from Mcguffeys readers and have started Writing Tales from Amy Olsen. It includes copywork, vocabulary from the story they are reading, spelling too. Oral narration, story sequencing, grammar and rewrites. It is very gentle and not as intense as IEW but covers all the bases. It also includes some activities and games that you can do as a family to reinforce the concepts. I highly recommend it.

    To get some independence and ownership of their work, all the children have about 4 or 5 books each of different subject areas that they read indecent ly and then orally narrate. They only read a small portion of each book, but it’s fostering the idea that they are ultimately in charge of their education. Once a week they do a written narrations on one of the readings.

    We also do Winston grammar which they love!

    Take a look at guesthollow for their science…my teen is doing the chemistry and loves it…we just CM it by written and oral narrations and diagramming.

    My son is behind in maths but doesn’t realise…we just plug away until he gets it. He recently told me he loves maths and thinks he’s really good at it..that’s been motivating for him.

    Hang in there.


    Dear mom by grace,

    What state do you live in? I feel you need a HUGE HUG and a cup of coffee or maybe chamomile tea. Do you have any homeschool, positive,godly shining friends. After 9 years of schooling I have found 2 friends that fit the bill for me but don’t use CM.

    I found that in the first 2 years of schooling when I read all different books and listened to every ones ideas, I thought I’d go out of my mind. My next- door, freshly retired public school teaching mother shared with me tons of ideas, many never considered and all others lovingly abandoned) Remember, we all mean well, you know though God knows best what your plan should be and I still have to remind myself of this!

    I finally, I asked God to show me His Way through this tangle of ideas and opinions. All our families are unique and God-crafted. My school may look very different from yours and God wants differences! Our home is heavy science, inventions, experiments, animals (beef cattle across the road as neighbors),stained floors and work tables. Lovers of pencil drawings with shading and christian music.
    I continually prayed for peace about curriculum choices and every year I changed til 3 years ago when I discovered Charlotte Mason methods and I’m here to stay!
    Someone, maybe on this forum, ,suggested that you make your curriculum decisions for the beginning of the year and you stick with it, and I wouldn’t/couldn’t change the choice or read curriculum catalogs til it was time to order next years stuff. Painfully, I was obedient and it brought me peace! I didn’t allow myself to impulse buy, no matter how great curriculum books looked. I would work with what I had, fill in with library books or borrow ones from my friends.
    As you would expect this left me content and peace-filled. Thank you God.

    This is now how God has changed me as the teacher and friend,
    My homeschool friends agree to disagree on curriculum choices. I only share if my friends directly ask me and we get together mostly for us to share tea and our kids to discover things together, play games, have 4-H , and we formed a latin coop together.

    I taught some classes on keeping a drawing nature notebook, where they go out in small groups and look at nature all on their own. With 8 kids to observe nature and free flowing coffee from us it’s energizing. I had them seek out bird nests, id poisonous plants (there are many and I was with them), bird calls and bird id., small creature id. They found, captured, drew and returned a star- nosed mole to the wild. They saw a chicken lay an egg while holding it. They took pictures of 7 tame baby bunnies just born, they watched the habits of pigs being raised on pasture. A child, with boots, shovel and friends can find amazing things! They found and ided different kinds of polliwogs and dragonflies.

    Don’t forget to enjoy this learning business! Prayer and another Hug, Martha


    My Dd, 13, struggles with dyslexia and likely dyscalculia and ADD.  School has been a challenge and she is “behind.”  She will be grade 8 (in name only) next year. Only one more year to prepare for high school?!  Our plan:

    Grammar: it is a subject that, according to Charlotte Mason, if you wait until the child is older can be taught once without the need for yearly repitition.  We are planning to use Easy Grammar Plus with Daily Grams 6. It appears simple enough for her to read and do independently. When a new section is started she might need minimal instruction from me to get started. We will do narrations, written and oral, and tackle more writing in high school.

    Math: We are going to continue Life of Fred. We just started Fractipns (probably a 4th or 5th grade level). We are working on it through the summer. It is completely independent. I just check with her everyday how it is going and help her as needed. We plan to do math thrpugh the summer until she is “caught up.” My other DD is using Math Mammoth (inexpensive with homeschool buyers coop). It is written to the student. I grade her work (though it could be self graded) and help her when she doesn’t understand something.

    History: Truthquest Ancients. We will read together as a family and then assign individual books and/or audiobooks.

    Science: We will attempt to be better at nature study. Or maybe I should say intentional nature study. We are natury/outdoorsy people bit could be better at the “study” part. I debated how formal or informal to be this year. We finally decided to start Biology using Exploring Creation with Biology. We are going to work slowly and take 2 years to do it. I am getting the audio CD so she can be more independent. I  not planning to use the notebook. We will use narration and do the expirements as able. I expect her to need me more with this but working towards more independence as the year progresses.

    Literature: Family read aloud and assigned independent book.


    Music lessons

    Poet/hymn/art studies together

    Lay aside what everyone says. Ask yourself what your son needs now and go with that. It isn’t necessary for him to be writing book reports. Use narrations and tackle more writing in high school (then it will count for high school credit!). Even if it takes him an extra year to complete high school he is better offnot being pushed to do more than he is ready for. Also, a lot of what we’re doing is written to the student so as long as he is reading and comprehending he can be more independent.


    Master Books has a few video based science courses.  You could use narration and notebooking instead of the worksheets and tests.


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