am I doing enough with Charlotte mason?

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  • Grace

    Hi everyone, I have been homeschooling a few years, my children are almost 7, just turned 4, just turned 2, and expecting a baby in two months.  I was doing My Fathers World until the Spring and I found I was trying to fit my kids into the curriculum.  My 7 year old (boy) was miserable and not thriving.  I took time to pray and found this website.  I love Charlotte Mason and I have been using the Gen-Deut. for history, the enrichment ideas, and we are doing copywork, readers, and Math u see Alpha ( we were using Singapore, but my son was not retaining and it moved too fast for him).  I used to be a public school teacher before having kids, so I often get this nagging feeling that I am not doing enough for school.  I think I pushed my son too hard when he was younger, since technically by public school standards he would be starting first grade this fall, I started schooling him a year early and I think he wasn’t developmentally ready.  Anyways, I find myself looking back at MFW and wondering if that would be better, then I remember all of the strain and stress.  I think with having three little ones, following a curriculum will be stressful, and I don’t really think my son will thrive with it.  I just think it feels comfortable and seems to promise that I won’t be missing anything.  I just need some encouragement from more moms who are farther along in this process.  Have your children done well with Charlotte Mason?  Has anyone used the SCM history for multiple years and seen good results?  Also, I know we will probably have to scale down when the baby is born, any suggestions for doing school with a newborn?  Thanks for listening and sorry for rambling. Grace


    Last night, someone posted a link to a CM article called “Scheduling for Peace” on an FB group I’m in. Sounds like it might help you the way it helped me! Here is the link–I loved this article!

    I’m brand new to CM (done lit based for years but new to the CM specifics–shorter lessons, habit training, picture/poetry/music study) but I am so at peace with the concepts behind it. It just seems so organic and natural. And given what you discuss above, it seems like the right thing for your family to follow and let go of the “what ifs.” I say that gently and as a major “what if”-er myself.

    We’ve done lit-based history for four years and my son has absorbed and retained so much–and he’s dyslexic! They tell me dyslexia makes it hard to memorize facts. But my son remembers the stories we’ve read, so he remembers the history without strain. It really is a fantastic way to learn. He might struggle to recall an exact name or date–but he can *describe* the meat of the story and that is what counts to me. He remembers the big ideas.

    I hope this helps. Sorry I’m not a veteran CM mom but I do know it’s much better to learn at the right pace for your family than to stress everyone out trying to check boxes in a program that made you miserable in the past. Don’t go back! Stay with what is working for you and relax. It will all work out in the end with the Lord’s help!


    Hi Grace,

    Grace is actually what you are needing at this time, and you need to give some grace to yourself 😉 Your post touches on some points that are very dear to my heart.  I feel that my reply falls short.

    I have been homeschooling for over 11 years, I have 3 chdrn.  At one stage I looked after my sister’s little one too, who was 9 months younger than my 1 year old, so I had 4 chdrn age six and under, and 2 were under two yo.

    I think, looking back, that I did too much, too soon with my children.  I pushed them hard.  Though I am not a teacher, I come from a family of teachers.  Every time we bought a packaged all in one type curriculum, it brought so much tension in to the home and put pressure on learning.   (The exception to that was the last time I purchased MFW, when my children were older, and I found the open and go teacher book great)

    I think the copywork, the MUS and readers are actually enough for that age.  I hope I am not stepping on any toes saying that, but I do believe (as I own it) that the course of history is quite intense for little ones.  My 9yo barely kept along.  I do love SCM history, but it will keep, why not wait a bit?  Personally, I would feel too pressured, and would rather read some of the many lovely living history and science books to this age group.

    I  feel with little ones in the home, and a baby on the way, less is more.  And that is not “taking the easy way out”, it’s actually the sensible way.  When your baby is born, or close to that time, when you have no energy left, you can cut down school to reading aloud time.   We under estimate the value of this precious time.

    I found it handy to have a “nursing box” of special books and things to keep hands busy.  Of course many times we just all cuddled on the couch and I read.  Oh, I miss those times.

    Look at “paula’s achive’s” for many ideas on how to keep little ones busy.  Wow, we did such fun stuff with simple things like macaroni and paint, I loved it!

    With your 7yo, I think if you concentrate on the 3 R’s, in the relaxed manner of CM, in an educational rich home environment, you will be fine.

    If you feel you may have pushed your first child, which we often do, then now is the perfect time to let up a bit.  Play educational games, not necessarily board games, also real life things, like fun math problems, when baking, when shopping.  Take a grocery advert and talk about what you see.  If you live in an area where you can get out, go to the park, walk in nature, let your little ones explore, pick flowers, play in the mud.  So much of every day life can be a rich learning experience.  Talk about what you’re doing as you go about your day, even when baby arrives.

    If you feel up to it, and know a bit about CM methods, you may want to either use this time to try out something like picture study, or listening to a certain composers music.  If you have any free time you may read some more about the CM method, and educate yourself, putting less focus on “schooling” your little ones.

    When you feel up to it, after baby settles down, start up the MUS and whatever else again. (by the way, I always felt so intimidated when people said “when the baby settled down in to a routine”, cos none of my babes had much of a routine,but they were happy and so was I)

    Around this stage (after leaving a packaged curriculum)we did “unit studies” in a very loose manner.  I just thought up ideas and activities around themes, often themes that the children wanted.  Some topics that they requested were: fire, ants, dinosaurs, rocks, fish.  We read books, fiction and non-fiction based on the theme.

    If I had to do it all over again, I would do the above, and focus on character and behavior more intensely than academics.  I would gently implement CM methods and “grow into” them, as my youngest child has been able to.  Ah, good old hindsight 😉

    Kind regards,




    Lindy, your response is very appreciated!  I know I’m not the original poster, but I have 3 little ones, my oldest just turned 8, and I’m almost due with number 4.  This is timely and resonates with what I’ve been praying and seeking the Lord about.  We are not doing a scheduled history curriculum right now, but just reading various good books together about native Americans and pioneers because that’s what my daughter wanted to learn about (we had read the Little House books a couple of years ago and she’s re-read them herself over and over).  Thanks for the wisdom!


    Do you have access to Karen Andreola’s books? There are two fiction books (Pocketful of Pinecones and Lessons at Blackberry Inn) and one on the CM method (A Charlotte Mason Companion).

    All three books are so encouraging – you could look things up by topic in the CM Companion book and find answers to many of your questions (asked and unasked).  And the fiction books are just so encouraging because the main character, Carol, goes through some difficulty while trying to homeschool her children.

    I think you’ve gotten fantastic advice so far, so I’ll not add anything other than to try to read those three books.  (Leisurely, this is not something to feel pressured about!  Don’t go buy them right away – see if you can borrow from the library or a friend.)

    p.s. I’m a former public school teacher, too…..and I’ve had to UNlearn so many things it’s not funny!  I wish I had homeschooled before I taught in a school — there are so many things I’d do differently.  (Of course, then I’d probably be fired for not following the Common Core/teach to the test nonsense.)


    I love being able to tailor our curriculum each year for each child, and the freedom to change mid-year when necessary.  History has come alive for myself and my children through real living books and not textbooks.  My son reads history in his free time and loves re-enactments.

    With the newborn, I would plan to take 4 – 6 weeks off school and/or laid back.  Think of it as part of your summer break and consider schooling year-round, taking breaks when needed.  Use audio books for literature and/or history.  These can be at bedtime.  Use educational videos for science, history, geography, etc.  For math, you could do living books like Mathstart and others on or play math games.  Keep reading and copywork lessons short.  If you have educational games and toys around, they will still be learning, and they are learning how to serve their family and help you and the new baby.


    Thank you everyone for your replies!  The article was very helpful and encouraging Christina!  I will look up the books you suggested Karen.  I am currently reading a book about CM and trying to learn all I can now.  I was praying and God reminded me of how much freedom I felt when I left packaged curriculum and just prayed and ask Him how and what to teach my children.  I know that is better and I only feel tempted to go to a boxed curriculum when I let fear come in…that I will miss something or actually not give my kids what they need.  I am so glad I found SCM and this forum is so helpful for me.  Thank you again ladies.  It is hard to get the public school mentality out of myself, but I have seen so many benefits of teaching my son differently than the way of public school…it is amazing.

    Thanks again ladies.



    So I have another question.  I have been focusing more on habit training with my kids who are almost 7, 4, 2, and soon to be newborn 🙂  I honestly have  a hard time getting much academics done.  We have a morning routine that takes the kids awhile (chores, getting dressed, breakfast clean up, etc.).  Then we do Bible time which includes reading and discussing scripture, scripture memory, and prayer.  Then we are ready to start our academics, although sometimes I feel like my  7 year old boy just needs to run and play by then and our academic time is very short.  Copy work, and a little math.  I do a very little bit with my four year old, and my 2 year old colors.  After a play break  we have lunch, then nap time ( my 7 year old has quiet time).  After I wake up from nap (can’t stay awake this late in pregnancy) I have my son read to me for five minutes (although sometimes he  is very distracted during this time, even for 5 min.) and then I feel the pressure to do our enrichment, history, and science, although most days it doesn’t happen.  I am wondering if any one just focused on habits, reading, writing, and math while their kids were young?  I know CM talks about how good enrichment, history, and science are and doing short lessons of each subject, but we honestly have a hard time getting to those.  Sometimes we run errands in the afternoon, or right now, we just need to play outside and then do our afternoon chores.  As a former teacher, I feel like I should be getting to more subjects than I am.  Any thoughts from your experience?


    Grace, my kids are similar in age and I can email to you our schedule if you’d like.  You can email me at mrsmccardell at gmail



    I think that the fact that you recognize that your 7 year old needs that time to run and play shows that you’re the right teacher for him.  As a former public school teacher, you know that he would be miserable in a classroom.

    Maybe your son is a kinesthetic learner?  Maybe he needs to be moving in order to focus on something?  Try something different, like reading his history to him while he’s jumping on the trampoline or swinging, and ask him for a narration every couple of sentences.  Maybe when you read something to him, act it out together.

    And let go of what was required of you to teach in the classroom!  This is your child and he’ll learn.  You don’t have to teach him everything – public school doesn’t teach everything.  Just help him find a way to love learning.

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