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  • Salina Fedrick

    Hello all, I have been a part of this SCM site for few years, not always posting and not really implementing CM until now and I am still confused about how to start simple with it. I know there is a schedule somewhere about this, but also I have been looking at a couple of other sites that are all or nothing CM method and it is so overwhelming for newbies when the only help you get is “go listen to this podcast or go read this article” and I think I am on information overload. I have recently purchased the reprinted Original CM volumes, but haven’t started reading them, because I feel so deflated from reading the other sites that I feel like I’m not sure I can do this. I really want to and I love this method, but I think there has to be room to breathe unlike what I see on other sites. My son is 15 and I know this method will be a good fit for him, but I really need some guidance on how to start putting it all together. I appreciate this site so much and have always learned and received so much more knowledge from here than any other place about CM. Thanks in advance for any help. 🙂


    Hi Salina! 🙂 Please don’t stress! When I first began homeschooling 14 years ago, I started with Abeka and branched out to other similar programs. They completely overwhelmed me and my kids and made school seem like drudgery. Then I discovered A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola and it was like a breath of fresh air! I highly recommend it!

    I then began simply using living books for science, literature, and history. We scrapped language arts curricula and began doing copywork instead. We listened to classical music and looked at art books every now and then. We enjoyed the Come Look With Me series when my kids were little. We began paying attention to nature, reading nature books, and looking up creatures and plants in field guides. It was that simple for us.

    As the kids get older, you can still keep it simple. I’ve actually found it simplest to go with a textbook for science for 8th grade and up. We use Apologia. I’ve tried various CM style science programs and have finally decided that using a textbook is so much easier, more streamlined, and fitting with what colleges expect to see. I still think CM style science is great! I just find using a textbook for higher level science to be much simpler.

    I recommend starting with the things that most draw you to a CM education. Is it the living books? The composer or art study? Then run with that and slowly add in other components that are a good fit for your family. Do what works for you and your kids. I find my homeschool to be a kind of Charlotte Mason/Ruth Beechick hybrid and I have finally learned to be content with that.

    Is your 15 year old son your only student? I have a 15 year old daughter. 🙂

    I would start simple. You could start with an Apologia (or other) textbook and Simply Charlotte Mason history. Add in the math of your choice, some great literature, a grammar program if you haven’t covered grammar already, and other subjects appropriate for your son’s age.

    I know what you mean about those CM purists kind of sites. They can be a bit overwhelming. Ambleside Online blew my mind when I first discovered it 12 years ago or so. 😀

    Over the past 14 years, I have read many books on Charlotte Mason’s methods, I have scoured Ambleside Online and many other CM sites. I have used bits and pieces from many of them. However, I still find that adding in all the CM subjects in a formal manner overwhelms my family and burns us out. We prefer to follow a more relaxed method with picture study, classical music, nature study, etc. We get the basics done, enjoy lots of living books, take pleasure in looking at great works of art, listening to classical music, and exploring God’s creation together.

    SCM is a great site and they offer lots of wonderful products. However you don’t need to purchase everything. Start slowly and see what works for your family. Add in the components you want to and leave the rest behind. They are a blessing for those who want them but can be a burden for you if they aren’t a good fit for your family.

    At 15, your son might have a lot to say about what he wants to do for school. I highly recommend getting as much input from him as possible. My daughter chooses all of her curriculum and books. I research and present her with choices but she makes the final decision (within certain boundaries, of coursed!).


    Have you looked at the top drop down menue “K-12 Overview” and build your own curriculium?

    I found those to be the most helpful when I started. I had never read CM works, or really any CM ideas, I just knew I did not want only text books.

    the history guides are fantastic, and we buy all our history reading books used at a fraction of the cost.

    The SCM planning pages also give suggestions for what to do for each grade. Start there and don’t get distracted with “perfection”. I think reading up and getting ideas can be good, but it can also lead to over load of information that makes it hard to implement because you feel you have to do it just like everyone else.

    There are quite a few moms on the forum with kids in highschool. there is a planning thread and a few moms shared what their highachoolers are doing that might help direct your decisions as well, as to expectations and what a highschooler might be using while following CM methods.


    I only have a moment, but let me share the “first day of school” when we began using CM methods.

    A little background:  When my husband and I separated, I wanted to continue homeschooling.  We sort of compromised by utilizing the online public charter school in our area so the kids were at least still home with me.  We didn’t care for it, but I had little to no money to buy curriculum.  I stumbled upon Ambleside Online (thought it was a bit overwhelming, but I liked CM methods), and then a friend suggested the Simply Charlotte Mason website.  I joined the forum, read, read, read past topics and blog articles, and was sold on it.

    I loved the SCM Curriculum Guide, so I decided to pick and choose materials from there.  At that point, my kids were 12, 11, and 10.  The 11yo has high-functioning autism but really struggled with reading and math.  I spent most of the summer reading, planning, and gathering books, most of them from local libraries or interlibrary loan.

    So, that September, fresh after Labor Day (U.S.), I put all of the books, maps, math manipulatives, pictures, and cd’s on display on our table, called the kids in, and told them, “These are some of the things we are going to use for school this year.”  They looked skeptical (especially the 12yo), and asked where all of the workbooks were.  I told them “No more online school,” and briefly explained Charlotte Mason’s thoughts on education.  (The 12yo told me, “I don’t think I’ll like this Charlotte-person’s methods, but since you are making me do this…..*sigh,* I suppose I’ll have to….”)

    We chose our first family literature read-aloud (Rascal, by Sterling North), began reading, then moved on to something else.  After about an hour and a few subjects were done, my son (the learning struggler) looked up from what he was doing and said, “I like this Charlotte Mason stuff.  School isn’t so bad after all!”

    Of course, in the interest of being fair and balanced, I should tell you that my oldest DD (now 19) never admitted to even remotely liking CM methods, but she did enjoy the freedom of working independently through high school and she seemed to enjoy the literature choices.  I also overheard her very nicely explaining CM methods to the relatives at her graduation party….my joy flat-lined, however, when she later told me that she just said those things so the relatives would think that I knew what I was doing as a homeschooling mom.  (*Sigh*)

    I agree with the earlier poster who said to start simple.  I love history and literature, so it was easy for me to start off by choosing books to use for those subjects, and then I just added in what else was needed as I planned out the year.  We made some adjustments as we went along.  (The geography selection, Sailing Alone Around the World, was not working well for us, so after a couple of chapters, we came to the forum, asked for substitution suggestions, and settled on the book Stowaway instead.)  Try not to overplan.  If you use SCM’s history guides, the schedule for what to use when is listed for you.  If you have to substitute something, just cross out what you remove and pencil in the book you’ve chosen.



    Salina Fedrick

    Thank you all so much for your help and suggestions. I am re-reading your responses. This helps so much. 🙂

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