I’ve been researching and learning about CM methods for years, and I’m always so overwhelmed by all of the options. I have 8 children- so time is very limited as well. We purchased a multi level box curriculum this year, and while I like it for ease of use, it’s not fun. The books are dry, 7 year old son does not care for school at all anymore, and I just feel like I could make school more exciting and meaningful and feel less stressed if I kinda did my own thing. However, I just don’t know how because of the ages I have. I have a 14 year old all the way down to a 3 year old. How would I start this? How do I know how much copywork to give to each child and how often? How do I know what books can be used for multiple ages? Is nature study the only Science younger children need, and if so, how often? What about dictation…is that done daily? I recently purchased exploring nature with children, and would love if I could use that, but I don’t feel like it would be enough for my 11 and 9 year old. Any advice for me? I’m so overwhelmed, and need someone to help me think this through that’s been here before.Wings2flyParticipant
Well, I don’t have that many children and I don’t have all the answers. But I can share what has worked for us and you can work something out to fit your family’s needs. The Build Your Own Curriculum page might help you, too:
There is a planning book and DVD available in the SCM bookstore. Here is a blog series you can read now:
I would start with the books and things you plan to do together and do those around meal times when everyone is already gathered together. Then assign independent work for each child, starting with the oldest. For independent work, everyone who can read gets their own planner, notebook, or assignment sheet for the week so they know what is expected of them.
For independent reading, I fit books into four categories: beginning readers, elementary (read aloud grades k-6, or read to self grades 4-6), junior high, and high school. Charlotte had four forms by grade: 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12. For older students, I have given each student a book list for each subject and a timer, along with a written or oral narration assignment. You can pick family read alouds which are appropriate in content for your younger children, yet are interesting to all. If you want to read aloud to teens at a higher level, I suggest bedtime when the little ones are in bed already. This does not have to happen daily. But once or twice a week is nice…as much as your schedule would allow. It is a nice bonding time and it can stretch their vocabulary and thinking skills beyond what the family read alouds can. For titles, look at booklists here and at other CM-based curriculum websites or catalogs.
Copywork can vary. Once they have learned the letter strokes through daily penmanship, I assign copywork (transcription) 3-5 times per week. I usually print a variety of passages out for a term or the whole year ahead of time. I have used Currclick, Presidential Penmanship, and Copycat for downloads to print in the cursive style they know. They can work by page or by time. When they are older and working on dictation, they can copy the same passage the day before to help them study it. This is flexible to fit the needs of each child.
We use Spelling Wisdom for two passages per week for dictation. I alternate children so child 1 does dictation with me days 1 & 3 and child 2 does dictation with me days 2 & 4. If they don’t miss too much, we can usually do this in the kitchen while I fix lunch. I have them grade it and correct it with an ink pen and show it to me so I can see how well they did. If they misspelled a word, they practice it again for next time, but we move on to a new passage. If they keep missing a lot, you might need to go back in the book to an easier level.
For elementary science, you can read aloud a nature book each week in addition to weekly nature study. For example, Rascal or Burgess Bird Book for Children. Let them read books of interest from your home or public library. Select books to read further about the nature study topic. This can be very informal at this stage. You are laying a foundation in the elementary years for higher studies in junior high and above. Nature Study is not just for the younger years. Teenagers need to get out in nature, too. It resets the emotions. Great for moms, too!
I hope that helps. It does take more time and effort to put together your own plan. But I think it is worth it. You can do it, one little step at a time.artParticipant
I love the response from Wings2fly! I just wanted to encourage you that even though you feel like you have a lot of questions about how to come up with your own plan, you already know a lot of the answers (or can find out by observing your kids). For example, you’ll know how much copywork to give each child and how often because you can tell. You start with whatever you think and then watch them. Just like anything else in parenting. There is no right or wrong that someone else can tell you, because everyone’s children are individuals. And if you want nature study to be the only science for your younger kids, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine too. You don’t have to do it exactly like CM did or like anyone else does. Just think it through one thing at a time and don’t worry. There’s no deadline for figuring it all out! You can do it!
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