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My dc are 7, 6 (in Jan), 2.5, and 6 mos. As most of you know my oldest has special needs and this is causing me to re-think our approach to learning. I absolutely love and believe the CM philosophy to be a great benefit to my family. I think I jumped in too quickly to the “advanced” materials. My dd7 just isn’t interested and I need to take a step back and allow her to love reading again. She loves picture books so that made me pick up my copy of “A Picture Perfect Childhood.” I don’t know why I dismissed picture books so quickly!
With this reassesment I am also trying to streamline some things. We need to fit in her therapy and a lot of relational things were taking the back seat. I’m craving that relational time with them and for some reason we were lacking that.
So I have 2 choices: Five in a Row or the Picture Perfect Education (living books covering all subjects broken down into 12 monthly lists from “A Picture Perfect Childhood”).
The projects from FIAR seem to be something they’ll enjoy. I don’t know if they’ll enjoy it being read for 5 days though. I think the activities may be a big piece of that relational time too. If I chose the other one then I could piece it together from my resources but I guess that’s not streamlining so much!
I feel like I’m taking a step back in the wrong direction because I truly love CM and I know this is more unit study. Aside from incorporating narration after the first reading (thanks RobinP from old post) and adding hymn, art, etc. is reading it 5 times a good thing/bad thing? My goal would be to come back to true CM in another year or two. My ds, soon to be 6, is also very smart so I want to keep him challenged and moving forward. I assume FIAR would also accomplish this??
We were a unit study family long before we were a CM family and it was wonderful. Truly. FIAR is great when you have all younger end of the spectrum around. And like anything you can tweak it. If by the third day of reading you are losing their attention then it’s time to move on, while other books they may love five days of reading. Repetition is something many children do like. (I have only one of my eight that would go crazy with 5 days of rereading the same story, and he’s my gifted child so repetition of most things bothers him.)
Another free resource that is set up FIAR style are the unit studies at HomeschoolShare.com. Their site divides units into general age ranges which makes it easy to browse through, and often the books they have units for are not quite as hard to find as some of the FIAR titles. I have actually written or helped write a few of the unit studies on Homeschool Share. 🙂
I say there is no harm in trying units for a while to see if it is a good fit for what you need right now. CM is a wonderful method and I love it but there are wonderful things about unit studies too! God is a God of variety and creativity. Each child and each family are unique. One homeschool method is not the ‘only’ right one to meet the needs of those varied families.ServingwithJoyParticipant
I do not have experience with FIAR, but I would say that as long as you are keeping living book reading at the center of your homeschool (and those living books can absolutely be high quality picture books!) then you are fulfilling the spirit of a CM education. Your goal is to ignite the love of reading and to spread the ‘feast’ of ideas! Whether you choose books centered around history, or a character trait, or a scientific idea… it isn’t the organization of materials in a certain way that makes your curriculum CM.
And, as Tristan shared, you should absolutely do what you feel would work best for your particular family/children. God has given you an ability to gauge their needs that no one else has! Don’t feel badly when you need to adjust your plan. That is one of the fantastic things about homeschooling – you can keep tailoring it to fit your family.
I agree that you must make it work for your family. You are the best mom and educator for your kiddos 🙂 Your children are young and there is plenty of time to hit them with rigor. Consider teaching to your older child’s ability, not her age, particularly if she has special needs. She simply may not be ready for narration and copywork and that is OK 🙂 Definitely give yourself permission to focus on your relationship and meet her where ever she’s at.
With that said, the FIAR titles that we’ve read have become family favorites. The picture books are beautiful! We too have incorporated some unit studies. HomeschoolShare is awesome! My only caution is to be careful in the amount. What I mean is, not every book needs to be studied and disected. IMHO, it’s OK to just read a book for the sheer pleasure of reading.
I’m not familiar with “A Picture Perfect Childhood”, but have you looked at Beautiful Feet’s Teaching Character Through Literature? It’s intended for primary and interemediate grades and has a list of books, as well as linked Bible verses, and discussion questions. For example, one lesson is as follows:
1. Read When I was Young In the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Diane Goode.
2. Define contentment. Is the family in this story content with their simple existence?
3. Families are one of God’s greatest blessings. List some things about your family for which you are thankful.
I envision completing this lesson snuggled up with the kiddos, me reading the story aloud, discussing what it means to be content, wondering aloud if the family in the story is content, and everyone naming something about our family for which they are thankful. That’s it, end the study there. Or, depending on your kid’s interest, you could write a letter of thanks to someone, or start a graditude journal, or draw a picture of something you’re thankful for….you get the picture. Pay attention to your kids and do as much or as little as they can handle. If you just want to read the book and leave it at that, it is OK 🙂
Give yourself grace, there are no CM police
Melissa, I think you hit it dead on with my main fear of using FIAR…sucking the life out of the book by analyzing it so much. It’s freeing to hear that it’s okay to just read it for the pure pleasure of a good book. My concern is that will be our main educational tool right now so it’s a delicate balance on how much is enough. The flip side is that it may open their minds to seeing how much a good book really offers!
I know that everyone says that the kids are young and it’s okay to go light…when do you buckle down and get dirty? I’m okay waiting, and to be completely honest, I can’t wait because I’m excited to utilize our resources (like TQ or nature study/journal, etc).
Sometimes I wonder if it just comes down to me and not setting the day correctly. I don’t know how so many of you get all the things done that you are doing. Not that I’m comparing but I’m not able to do all that (blogging, knitting, any down time) so it makes me look at my day to see where I may not be using our time wisely.
I love what CM has to offer so I guess that’s why I was feeling bad about switching things up a bit.
Thanks for all the suggestions so far!wife2agr8manParticipant
My kids are 8,6,4 and 15 months. My 6 year old is the one who has been in therapy since age two. We were fortunate to be led to Charlotte Mason early on, so I thought we could continue to cultivate and train my daughter and wait for the blossoming to take place. This doesn’t mean we haven’t taught letters, sounds,etc, but I didn’t stress out when none of it was clicking. We started five in a row when she was five, but it was cumbersome to her on top of all of her therapy. I had hoped it would be a gentle approach to the following year. She loves a good book read to her, but didn’t like the pressure of any more work. This Fall I felt that it was time to have her tested by a private organization. She has always been excellent at narration and comprehends everything I read to her older sister, but had made zero progress in reading, math, and writing. I privately cried at the “curriculum” they gave her, but the results have been a miracle. By focusing on the therapy and using their methods we are finally getting over some of her lifelong challenges. Her self esteem has sky rocketed and she is so happy. I still mourn how far we’ve wandered from some of the things we cut out, but I think this is a phase of our life to help bridge us to better days, when we can once again enjoy cultivating the whole child.
wife2agr8man – sent you a pmgreenebaltsParticipant
“I know that everyone says that the kids are young and it’s okay to go light…when do you buckle down and get dirty?”
I think this really depends on the child. You mentioned your child having special needs, it may not be fair to compare her to other children her age. I don’t mean to offend, just trying to offer encouragement.
I have a 10 year old that has always been advanced in many areas. She really wanted and could handle formal lessons at a very young age. I also have an 8 3/4 year old with dyslexia and other issues. This year, in 3rd grade, he is just starting to give short oral narration and complete single sentence copywork. It’s been very slooooowwww going 😉 I do everything orally with him. According to traditional brick and mortar school standards, there is only one grade level between these two kiddos. However, realistically there is 2-3 grade levels. I must also say, our ds is very bright and can learn. I believe he may catch his peers at some point, but right now it’s in his best interest to take it slow and make sure he’s getting a great foundation. I believe when he’s more mature and ready, he will soar. From my experience, you will drive yourself crazy comparing to others. Each child is a unique individual made in the likeness of Christ. Let go and let God 🙂
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