New here, Looking for help

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  • BigGarmon6


    I am looking to transition to SCM for our homeschool. I will be teaching my 12 yo daughter and would like to include my 17 yo son and 5 yo son in some of the group work. (17 yo is almost finished with school, so I don’t feel the need to completely change it all up the last year. He likes what he is doing, and I am ok with that.) My daughter and I really need the CM methods in our life, and I look forward to being able to do CM method all the way through with my 5 yo son once he starts. (Also, we REALLY need the Habits part of CM method for ALL of us… so that is a MUST!)

    That being said, this is all very overwhelming to me!!! I’ve been reading, watching videos and taking lots of notes. It sounds “simple” to just purchase the open and go guides for history, enrichment and individual studies, and I think that is the way I would LIKE to go about it. However, budget is a big concern, and I have to go about it as economically as I can.  I definitely want to purchase the history cycle plans for Modern this year. (my 17 yo will be studying that period of history, and it would be great to have everyone in the same period). The read aloud books and the history book list is very doable. We already have a math curriculum that we like. The cost seems to go up with adding in all of the enrichment studies! I’m trying to find that delicate balance of not overwhelming myself and costing a ton of time trying to put something together for each subject… and being able to afford to purchase something from the SCM site for each subject! Any ideas or suggestions?!

    Is there someone who has done this well on a tight budget?? I’m still compiling a list of all of the books and resources needed, but my estimate so far, just for my daughter, it would be over $500 (and that is getting e-books when available… I prefer printed material… I’m “old school” that way!! LOL!) And that is just an estimate based on whether or not I can find used materials.

    Is there someone who has a knack for seeing a simple and straight forward way of getting started? My brain is reeling from all of the reading and watching that I’ve done!! I think once we get the materials in line, I will feel more confident about taking this path. I’m a little confused whether I can use the open and go guides, if I can’t afford to purchase all of the needed books and supplies that those plans are based upon. Does that make sense?

    I’m so sorry to ramble! I’d really like to do this… just need some help getting all of the details worked out!! (And I hope I posted this in the correct place on this forum… it is overwhelming also!!

    Thank you!!


    It can seem very overwhelming.  We have had some very tight years, I will share some of the ways we made it work.  Though not ideal for me, it did work.  I really love printed materials for everything, but often online is necessary to save the budget.  It makes it harder to use the open and go plans since they use specific resources, but there are free planning templates on the site to help you mix and match your own plan.  I would invest in the History guide and those materials first.  Then add the most important things. Math, science, etc.  Then the enrichment items.  When your budget is exhausted go for freebies! Here are a few “tips”

    Buy one term at a time.
    Use the library for any books that are only scheduled for one term.
    Use Amazon music or youtube for composers and hymns, this takes extra time, but it saves lots of money.  The library will also have CDs for many of the composers.  Get picture book biographies from the library.
    Use the library for “coffee table” books for your artist.  Get a picture book biography.  If you pick some of the more popular artists this works great.
    Use the library for poetry and poet biographies
    Use the library for handicraft ideas
    Use the library for Literature books

    It does take more work but is totally doable.


    I’ve done CM on a shoestring. I have 4 children and cannot possibly afford $4-500 per child per year.

    So, what I’ve done is only actually used SCM one year…and bought almost everything used that year. Using the SCM guide that year taught me how to keep it simple and spread a feast.

    What I have done other years is pick a time period, look at booklists from SCM, My Father’s World, Sonlight…….other curricula that use a living book approach….and then see what books I can get used and inexpensive (or already have in my library) and I design my own plan for the year.

    The key is to keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm yourself with more than is doable while staying enjoyable!

    Science for k-8 is easy. If you can’t afford the SCM sets, you might be able to just use the core books and make your own plan. Or find another great living science book from the SCM bookfinder.

    I have to remind myself that it’s best to go ahead and spend money on LA’s and Math. Those are really the core classes that they need (LA’s if they are older.)

    I love CM Picture Study. But when I can’t afford one or find one used, I can usually find a used book full of art by a particular artist at a thrift store.

    But, if you want to keep the ease of SCM and keep it affordable, post here what you are looking for and see who might sell you material used. I’ve done that, too. 🙂


    Thank you so much for the great ideas!

    YES, this is all so overwhelming! Trying to decide what to purchase and which subjects we can “make do” with something we have or get from the library.

    So, if I purchase the 3 guides from SCM, will that tell me their suggestions for each subject, AND a schedule for how to use all of their suggestions on a daily basis? And If I can’t afford to purchase all of their suggestions for each subject, doesn’t that make the 3 guides unusable for me? (I plan to use the living book suggestions for Early Modern History, so I will most likely need/use that guide. But for the Enrichment Studies, if I am piecing together from what I can find/afford, would the guide be useless? Same for the Individual studies?? We do already have the recommended science, but we are using a different math… and I haven’t figured out what to do for language arts yet.)

    The literature books, I’m pretty sure I can find at the library, or fairly inexpensively. So far, I need the Early Modern History guide, the Laying Down the Rails bundle, and maybe a few others, like Self Knowledge, Journaling a year in nature and Shakespeare (if we can muster the courage to do that!!) I’m still trying to understand what all else we will have to purchase! Once I finalize my list, I will look on this forum for used material!

    As for Language arts, I have no idea where to start. We’ve never done narration and the other “gentle” methods that Charlotte used in the early years. We currently use Rod and Staff English and IEW’s Phonetic Zoo for spelling. My daughter strongly dislikes English, so I would like to do it differently, but I’m not sure if purchasing the suggested Language Arts books for grade 7 would be much different than the books we’ve been using. Any thoughts on starting a 12 yo in CM methods for language arts?

    I really appreciate any help anyone can offer!! Eventually, I will get all of this figured out! LOL!



    So, if you don’t have the money for all the books in all the guides (I wouldn’t), you can just get the history guide and then look at the books listed in the samples for the other guides. For poetry, picture study, Shakespeare, nature study….all those enrichment things, I would find what is affordable to me. So, if the suggestion from SCM for a certain year is one I can’t find used, but I can find a different one used, I’d just swap them. Same with poetry, Shakespeare, literature, etc. The order isn’t super important (except some of the Shakespeare stuff is harder for younger kids).

    For Math, you have several CM friendly options. You can use the SCM math if it’s available for your children’s ages. Math U See, Right Start Math, Life of Fred, Math Lessons for a Living Education are all CM friendly. My favorites are Life of Fred and Math U See.

    For Language Arts…….SCM’s resources are great and if I could afford them, I’d love to use them. Dictation Day by Day is similar to Spelling Wisdom and you can usually find them either on line to print or really cheap used.  English for a Thoughtful Child is a great option for Grammar. Language Lessons for Today from My Father’s World is another option.

    So, if you use something that’s not in the guide, you just look at the number of lessons, pages, etc. and decide how much needs done each week to get done in the time you have for it.

    I know it seems super overwhelming at first, but SCM has great resources on planning a CM education.    When I started with CM, SCM didn’t  have guides beyond the History/Bible/Geography guides. But the resources here and the Bookfinder make it easy enough to plan the rest on your own.


    I thought of another option for Language Arts…..Queen’s.  I did this with younger kids one year and I thought it was far too simple. But if your daughter has been doing R&S, she’s had super rigorous and it might be a good break for her. And the 7th grade stuff isn’t as simple as what I used. 🙂

    And there’s always Grammar Land for a fun review of Parts of Speech. 🙂


    Thank you!! Helpful suggestions! I’ve printed out the pages for planning our year. I will go back and download and read all of the free e-books in the store also.

    So, if we’ve not done CM methods for language arts in the early years, should we just stick with the Rod and Staff that we’ve always used? I hate to scrap books that we already own and purchase new ones if we could just use what we have. Or, are they too “text-book”? (I’m not sure if the LA that is recommended for this age is more text book, b/c they assume that you’ve been practicing narration and other gentle methods throughout the early years…?)

    We already own Math-U-See, so we’re good for math! And we have Apologia General Science as well!


    Many CM families aren’t what is called Charlotte Mason Purists. We do what works for us while doing our best to follow CM principles as much as we can.

    From a pure CM view, Rod and Staff English would be far too textbooky and traditional. But there are CM and even SCM families that use it because it works for them. If your daughter enjoys it and you want to keep using it, go ahead.

    If she hates it, it’s probably best to change to something more gentle. But since she has been doing R&S, she’s probably fine with going to more Literature and Composition and just a little Grammar.


    Is your daughter in 7th grade? So is my youngest. I want to first say I LOVE all of SCM products and would by EVERYTHING every year if money grew on trees. But living in SoCal with three kids and one income it seems to be only debt that grows on trees…. If it were me, and I am a pretty bare bones, easy peasy, dont complicate my life kind of gal, I would do this:

    Buy the history guide and supporting resources (history is the hardest for me to plan in a way that flows)

    skip the other guides and use the free planning resources

    science – a lesson a day

    math – a lesson a day

    language arts – like MissusLeata said, use what you have if its working, you could go slower or only do half the exercises. Or get Spelling Wisdom and Using Language Well. Your first year doing CM I would just do narrations and the SW/ULW combo. Start with oral and work up to two to three written per week. Important to go at your daughters pace though and not overwhelm her. Narrating is harder than it seems. With SW/ULW twice per week, written narrations three times per week plus poetry and literature you are done with language arts.

    Enrichment – this DOES NOT need to be complicated. Take this one easy and enjoyable. Get all of your resources online or at the library. Start by just listening, looking, enjoying. Poetry, classical music, hymns, artists. Just sit together and enjoy these things, once a week for each one. 15 minutes. When this is fun and natural start adding biographies and background. Or dont. Your daughter will be ahead of her peers if she simply knows a few composers and can enjoy their music.

    Read aloud with your children. Find enjoyable literature. Real books.

    Peruse the library of topics on this site, they are so incredibly helpful.

    It can be done without breaking the bank.



    Thank you, CrystalN… also helpful suggestions. I appreciate every one of you responding!!

    This week, I am going to be putting my plan together, reading the free resources in the SCM bookstore, and continuing to devour the SCM podcasts. I hope, that by the end of this week, I will have my “need to purchase list” together and order our guides and books. I’ll also be asking subject specific questions on the forum as well!

    Thank you all again!!

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