New to SCM and dont know what to do

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  • LacySmart

    So before I get started let me just say I have a lot of time before I actually need a curriculum.   I have one little girl who is 1.5 and a baby due in May.   I’ve known from conception that I wanted to homeschool, and once she was born I started looking stuff up.  It didn’t take long to see there are tons of choices out there and it’s incredibly overwhelming.   It also didn’t take long for me to find SCM and I fell in love with the method.   I did not grow up homeschooled, I went to public school, as well as my husband.   We both want our children to have the best education possible.

    I love love love the idea of using living books.   My girl is only 19 months and already loves books.   She already has a small library.   Money isn’t really an issue.   We love to buy her books…and any that we see she should need for school purposes she will get.   But where in the world do I start? We are self employed cattle ranchers so we are all together all the time.   My girl loves to be outside and I think she would sleep out there if she could.   (I think nature study will be her favorite) So along with tons of books that I’ve found… I’ve also found the following.


    Science: apologia, sassafras science, Quark Chronicles, handbook of nature study, jacks insects.

    Math: life of Fred, beast academy, math lessons for a living education, loving living math.

    Language Arts: mct, life of Fred, giggly guide to grammar, readers /writers in residence, English lessons through literature.

    history/geography: legends and leagues, story of the world, wayfarers, mystery of history, wayfarers.

    I do have things for art and music but they aren’t coming to mind right now.


    And this doesn’t even tip the iceberg.   I have notebooks full of books and curriculums I have found that seem to fit the bill.   But I don’t know which direction to go.   I really like the idea of using life examples to teach and curriculum in story form such as life of Fred and sassafras science.  I look stuff up daily and find new things.   And it’s really frustrating because i want to get it all and I know that not only is it impossible to get it all, but it’s simply too much to study.   The ones I’ve listed are just sort of my favorites.

    So my problem is trying to narrow down my choices.   I wish there were programs for all subjects like life of Fred and sassafras science but I can’t find them if there are.   And my 2nd problem is tieing them all together.   I’d really like to find a common ground for our yearly studies.  but I don’t know how to link everything together.   I want so much for her to have the best resources available to her and just the perfect curriculum that I’m afraid I’m going to mess up.

    Also is there a way to find living book lists for certain topics? Like say the ancients or medieval times….. Water animals, birds… Etc etc.


    This is my very first time posting so I do hope I get a response. I know I have loads of time but it feels like I’ll never have this wound down.


    Thank you very much for reading this and thanks in advance for any replies.


    I would start with the SCM preschool resources and reading books about CM method.  The more you know about the method and how to do preschool the CM way,  the better.

    Teach me, Mommy! is a Montessori method book and while I don’t agree with the unnatural exercises they suggest,  the first part of the book is good, especially the part that shows you how to observe and get to know your own child.

    The more you know about your child,  the easier it will be to choose curriculum that works best for her.

    We all make mistakes and sometimes choose curricula that doesn’t work well for a child. It’s ok,  trial and error is part of learning for home school moms too;)

    A common mistake that home school moms make is to start formal lessons too soon and/or expect too much from little children.   There are lots of ways to teach without using workbooks for everything.

    Congratulations and enjoy your wonderful children.


    Hi Lacy –

    Welcome to the SCM forum and to the homeschooling lifestyle – and to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and methods. =) I am slightly envious of you – you have time to read and learn and know things before you take official homeschooling steps. =) I jumped into when my older kids had already been in public school and it took me a while to really feel that I had a decent handle on things. Unlearning my preconceived notions of what school was took more time than I thought, even though I knew this was the right thing for my family. So much to learn, so many books, and never enough time! 😉

    My first real suggestion is that you do not buy any curriculum until after you have read books about the Charlotte Mason philosophy and the methods. Once you have an understanding of what those are, you will find that your curriculum choices are naturally thinned and you make wiser choices both financially and educationally.  SCM has an excellent range of materials for you to read and study, and once you have the basics down, I strongly urge you to read and ponder CM’s own writings (SCM stuff is based off those writings) in her books known as the Original Homeschooling Series. You may buy books through Amazon or read for free online through Ambleside Online’s site.

    To get you started with SCM, read the free ebooks:

    I would also recommend that you read the following handbooks from SCM:

    Start with the Preschool Series:

    Add in Nature Study/Science:

    Add in the math:

    Add in the Language Arts:

    Read up on narration (it is your best friend in a CM education!):

    Most of these look like they are on sale until the end of December with free shipping on orders over $75.

    For other resources see SCM’s How To Get Started page.

    I have a blog with ideas and things that we have done the last few years. This year was not big on the posting because of some serious health things I was dealing with (including major surgeries), but you are welcome to look. I have a recommended reading page for further recommendations, too.

    Also, if you want an awesome list of books to read to your children now, here’s SCM’s list of living books for preschool:

    I hope this helps and is not overwhelming. Just start with the ebooks and work your way down the list. If you have questions, ask. =) Someone will be happy to answer.



    All through the Ages by Christine Miller has living books listed by time period…I like it.

    Also I agree about reading about Charlotte Masons philosophy in her books. And don’t buy much ahead:)

    a fun preschool book for mama to read and get ideas from with no workbooks involved is The Homegrown Preschooler. It has tons of ideas and the ladies really have hearts for preschoolers my 4 year old thrives when I can use ideas from it.

    Also don’t be too afraid of doing it wrong…almost everyone I know has changed something sometime. As long as you pray know your kids are dilagent to do school when the time comes and don’t swap phonics and math curriculum too often you’ll do fine. Don’t be afraid to swap if it really isn’t working though.


    Thank you all for responding! I’ll definitely be looking into those links!


    So the biggest piece of advice I have is – stop what you’re doing! You’re wasting your time (with regards to curriculum browsing and notebooks etc). And I mean that in the nicest way possible 🙂

    Your daughter is 19 months old. There are going to be many, many changes in the next several years. Your “I-love-nature” child today, could turn into a “I-scream-when-you-take-me-outside” child in a year. Probably not, but always possible. She is going to change, you are going to change, your life is going to change. There is no point in planning today for something several years away, when there are so many important variables that are going to change between now and then.

    Also, at this stage – you have no idea what her learning style will be, which will  be extremely important when selecting curriculum. You’ll start to get a better idea of that when she’s 4/5.  And sometimes, it still takes awhile, and has to be learned through trial and error.

    Do not worry about learning milestones, preschool currciulums, workbooks, letters, numbers etc… Take these next couple of years and do nothing but these important things:

    1. Love your child and teach her about God
    2. Habit train
    3. Read, read, read to her
    4. Enjoy nature with her
    5. Enjoy lots of sensory-based, fine and gross motor play (this means lots of arts and crafts, coloring, cutting, pasting, drawing/scribbling, Playdoh, sand and water play, making mud pies and snowballs, running, jumping, skipping, biking, kicking balls, throwing balls etc…)

    That’s it. That is all any child needs until age 5. No workbooks, no intentional teaching time, no sitting down working on letters, numbers, colors, shapes etc… When a parent is engaged with their child, playing with them, reading to them etc… your child will pick up on those things naturally.

    There are great lists of books to read to your child/build your library with available in the SCM Preschool section, and you could also look at the Before Five in a Row reading lists as well (don’t be taken by the curriculum, resist the urge to add activities and just read the literature list).

    Some things for you to remember during these next few years are:

    1. Many curriculum publishers base their programs on a school setting, and thus are designed to meet public academic requirements. The academic requirements in public (and many private) school settings today, starting in preschool, are NOT based on the natural development/developmental needs of children.

    2. Most (I’m excluding SCM in this) curriculum companies are quite frankly, businesses wanting to make money, and they want to sell you their nice shiny products. They will lure you in. Resist the urge to buy. Resist the cultural pressure to be doing a preschool curriculum with your child.

    3. Instead of reading about curriculum, start reading about the history of education, the natural development of children especially with regards to brain development and academics. You’ll be shocked at how inappropriate the education system is today, and how far it as deviated from history. Child development has not changed – the education system has. And unfortunately, too much of the homeschool curriculums today are based off the public school system/requirements. For a one-stop shop of suggested reading, I’ll share this with you:

    Delayed Academics (aka Developmentally Appropriate Learning)

    This is my own compilation of resources through years of reading and researching. It’s not a complete, exhaustive list by any means, but it should keep you busy for awhile, and help you feel better about the choice to just let go in these early years.

    Remember, kindergarten is a relatively recent phenomenon, preschool even more recent. In the 1800s/early 1900s, most children did not start school until a minimum of age 6, normally even older. Prior to that the children were engaged in the home learning Catechism and habits, handicrafts and life skills, being read to and playing. That was it. And these are students who had better vocabulary, reading, writing and basic arithmetic skills than most of our graduates today.

    More than anything, trust in the process. Trust in the decision to break away from the cultural model. Trust not in the curriculum or the workbooks, but trust in God.


    Thank you! We already do plenty of things.   She likes to help me cook and bake.   She helps clean (I mean anything…. Sweeping, dishes, wiping the counters, picking up toys…. She loves it).  She loves to feed the animals.   She loves the cows and horses.   Always (and I mean always) wants to be outside.   She puts her clothes in the hamper when it comes off.  She throws stuff away.   She just genuinely likes doing things.   We teach her everything we do and she can do so many things.   We color and draw.   I read to her all day long.   If we are inside and not doing something else she is bringing me books to read.   And she already knows what’s going to happen next.  She knows a lot of sign language and will tell me in signs what’s next in the book…  Not extravagant things but like with brown bear brown bear she will sign cat and she will meow…  When the dog is up she will sign dog.  When it’s the horse she says horse… before it gets read.  I went through not being able to conceive for 6 years to it just happening and she is my life… And I just want to do what is right for her.   She is an extremely smart,loving, and playful little baby.   She is my miracle and I feel so extremely blessed by God to have her.  She does not watch a lot of TV… Maybe an hour a week.   She loves music.  And she also loves playing sporty stuff, such as kicking the soccer ball into the net… Putting basketball in the hoop, trying to hit the foam ball with her little bat. My husband and I both spent a lot of time outdoors as children and we are always outside as adults as well.  I’ve always been the type of person that likes to have all her ducks in a row well before the moment gets here hence the curriculum search.

    I’ve read lots of SCM articles and I already didn’t intend to start formal studies until she is about 6.  Lots of nature study, narration, living books etc.   Im just also a naturally worried person as well. I worry about everything and I’m so scared that if I don’t figure my basic plan out now…. The time will be here and I won’t know where to go or what to do. :/


    Going through what you did to get her has added to your worry, your desire for the best, to make no mistakes,  I’m sure. It’s only natural. However all parents make mistakes, and it doesn’t matter how much you research and plan, things can and will go wrong. Things will change. Often our plans are not God’s plans – as you know.

    Anxiety is hard, I know, I deal with it as well. I too, am a planner. Planning makes you feel in control, which helps the anxiety. Until you start worrying about the plans. And then soon you’re anxious over the very thing that was supposed to help you feel less anxious.

    Trust me on this – stop researching. You have LOTS of time. The more you research, the more anxious you’re going to feel as you become overwhelmed by choices.

    Instead just enjoy these years. Try and learn to let go some, work on your worrying and anxiety. Its hard. But work on it with God. Also look into dietary options – reduce your sugar and caffeine intake, increase your magnesium and Vitamin D.

    Force yourself to not plan the future – no looking at curriculum. No writing lists. When you feel the urge pray to God instead that He’ll help you to trust in Him instead.

    When she turns 5 is plenty early to start researching. You’re already ahead of the game by knowing you want a CM education. So just spend the next few years enjoying a CM early childhood.

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