Leaning away from FIAR and into SCM- I need advice, thoughts!

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  • Julia


    We are beginning our unofficial first year of homeschooling this year in Nov when my daughter turns 6. WE do not have to report for the state until next fall, so this is going to be our introduction and *test* period for mom. I have been saying for years that we would use FIAR as I am a lover of all things picture books! Even in college, that is one of the biggest inspirations I had to go into the teaching field was due to all of the amazing pictures books you could find! The illustrations, the stories, learning about different time periods, peoples, anything in a fun and inspiring way! I love them so and our collection of pictures books from all levels is into the hundreds. So FIAR seemed like a natural fit.

    However recently we have, I have, been looking more at the lesson books. Now if I look at the story by itself, I can think of many topics that could stem from each book. Dozens of possible books to strew (did I spell that correctly?) about the home or add to our library box. Many topics that one or both of my children either enjoy or are related to something that have either enjoyed personally, or have found interest in. BUT… BUT the problem is when I read the lesson books, I am left a little… well… underwhelmed. I want a gentle education for our children. I don’t want them to detest learning or grow to have feelings of anything but love and joy. That being said, much of the suggested activities are things I would have thought of to do naturally with reading that book or any similar book. Worse still is that we own many of the FIAR books (another reason why I thought it was a fit) so we’ve done many of the discussions, field trips, non-art activities already just as a happenstance.

    My husband went from being very hardlined about the learning styles we would and wouldn’t accept in our home, to completely trusting me even if that means *unschooling* which I was leaning to until converting to Catholicism this year. I have to say that CM and SCM have a very balanced approach. I love the learning resources from SCM for the parents. I will be starting the Laying Down the Rails within in the next few weeks as well as watching the 12 disc set. I want to absorb as much information as I can. The more I do, the more of a quandary I find myself in. I want that gentle education that I have heard about in the SCM podcasts and from what other CM-styled authors report of (Elizabeth Foss to name one)…. But how??

    Is CM really a gentle approach? I love the idea of our entire family learning together at the same pace in the same time periods or topics regardless of age for history, science, art appreciation, etc but at their own unique levels. Is this really compatible with CM and SCM products? Can we really have those family studies? How do you keep it from being overwhelming? As someone that leans to unschooling in personality it seems daunting, scary, very rigid. How can you use CM but still have the freedom and creativity for people like myself that don’t want the pressure of adhering to someone else’s schedule? I have to admit that reading the volumes from Charlotte is overwhelming to me in general which is why I am opting for the DVD and audio products. When do you know when to begin mapping work, map drills, art studies- are there timelines of approximate ages some place? I don’t want to go into this too quickly, too deeply… she’s still a baby!

    How do you incorporate FIAR and other great reads into your lives? Read Alouds? DO I just stick to FIAR for a few years knowing *it will be enough* or do I start with CM/SCM? What are the pros/cons to each?

    Any advice on what to do would most certainly help me to know which direction I need to help because I find myself spinning in circles!

    Thank you!


    Well I think you need to take a deep breath. Homeschoolong can be overwhelming with any method you use. I think its up to momma to make sure it doesnt get overwhelming. Only you know where that tipping point is. The fabulous news is you dont have to start doing it “all”, you never have to do it “all” if its too much. Any feast you offer will be delicious, even if its only a snack to start. Since you are just starting I would suggest picking one or two pieces of the CM approach that speak to you the most and start there. Do that for a bit then add another, then another, drop one if you need to, add something else, or don’t. We used FIAR for a bit and absolutely loved it. My kids are older now but we still read picture books with our studies. A well written childrens book can really stick with you. My high schooler still sits in on picture books. The SCM resources are also fantastic, the pace of the history modules has been perfect for us (plenty of time to add in those extra picture books on the subjects). I will admit I wish SCM had more hands on activities in the history modules, but this is coming from the most creativity challenged person that ever lived. You can absolutely use the SCM resources to keep your family together for “school”, mine are 9, 11, and 14 and we have always all studied the same topics at different levels. As far continuing the great books after FIAR, Honey for a Childs Heart is a great resource for great childrens books, we are currently making a second trip through it. I know I am addressing your questions out of order, sorry, I am reading it from bottom to top for some silly reason. The really amazing thing that will happen is that as you begin things fall into place naturally, as your children grow workloads increase and schedules will become more “rigid”, but it happens slowly and naturally and it doesnt have to be overwhelming. Just start slowly and build on it till it feels right. You will know when its time for more, or seasons when less is more.

    So that is quite a ramble isnt it? I am so passionate about new homeschoolers starting sweet and slow. Its such a precious time. If I were creative like you I think I would start with the SCM History modules. If I personally, being my uncreative self, could do it over again I would use FIAR and switch to SCM around 3rd grade. I hope I didnt make things more confusing. Just enjoy the journey.

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