Monday, February 1, 2010

How CM Is Your Homeschool?

Like many of you (I'm just taking a wild guess here), I'm a member of several homeschooling Yahoo groups, some of which pose Questions of the Week.  Last week, a moderator asked, "How CM is your homeschool?"  (CM stands for both Charlotte Mason, a British educator, and also for the eponymous educational philosophy she espoused.)  Since I describe myself as "CM-ish," this question got me to thinking.

To be honest, there are many aspects of CM that we just don't do or do a bit differently.  But I thought I'd look at what we actually do and see how it fits into the CM scheme.

For example, we enjoy and use living books and biographies, and I try to incorporate this into every subject.  They fit more naturally into some subjects, like history, than others, like math. We have enjoyed the Sir Cumference series for math, and I know there are other math-related literature resources.

My daughters narrate anything that can be narrated.  When they were younger, we did drawn narrations or little plays, but we don't any longer.  Aesop's fables were particularly good fodder for plays.  At the beginning of this school year, I would type up one of their history narrations per week, but I've gotten really slack about that.

The girls do copywork everyday from their literature selections. Sometimes I use AO's copywork (we're in Yr 3) and sometimes they select their own.  We also started English for the Thoughtful Child 1 this year, and we use spelling workbooks, which is not very CM. Every once in a while, we do studied dictation.  The girls enjoy it, but it seems to take a long time. We study the AO suggested poet for each term.

We do artist study on Friday, and we choose whomever we like.  Right now, we're on Van Gogh.  I'm more loose about composer study.  We listen to classical music in the car.  In the past, I've been more deliberate about this.

For Bible, they each have their own individual devotion and we have a family prayer time.

We do a bit of memory work.  Right now, they have each memorized a poem by Sara Teasdale.  At church, one child is memorizing the Apostles' Creed and the other Psalm 23 with their Sunday school classes.

For Shakespeare, I downloaded Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit on Librivox, and we listen to this in the car.  We really enjoy it.  They do not narrate Shakespeare at this point.  Even I have trouble with all the characters' names!

For foreign language, We started Rosetta Stone French 1 this year and it is superb.  My youngest likes it the least; she has trouble with the pronunciations and often gets frustrated.  Also, neither can do the writing part, so I do it for them.  They listen to the speaker and then tell me what to type.  Miss Priss and I began Latina Christiana this year. She doesn't LOVE it, but she likes that she is learning Latin, if that makes any sense.  She memorized the Table Blessing, and then taught it to Tiny Girl.

We use MEP for math, and I supplement with times table worksheets and quizzes.  Since I try to keep the lessons on the short side (a la CM), we often don't finish a full MEP lesson.  If I think the uncovered material is crucial, we just continue with it the next day.  Sometimes, we simply move on to the next lesson.

Where I fail at CM is in these areas: we do not do hymn/folk song study.  I'm not so fabulous at handicrafts, but am better at life skills.  The girls have a chore rotation that changes each week.  And, while they play outside a lot, I am really lax about nature walks and nature study.  I tried to do this in the beginning, and we all had nature notebooks and nice, new colored pencils, etc.  But it didn't seem to work for us.  So now our nature study mostly involves our backyard birding, which we really enjoy. (They also take a biology class at Timothy Ministry on Fridays with other homeschoolers at a local church.)  I don't concentrate on habit training, per se, but our chore chart helps in this area.

In considering this, I came to the conclusion that I am more of a "literary education" person than a strict CM homeschooler.  I rely heavily on AO, Catherine Levinson's books, and Gladys Hunt's books, sprinkled with suggestions from the Tanglewood curriculum, TWTM, other homeschoolers, Jenny Sockey's book, etc., to make our selections.  Basically, we read a lot.  But we also take time to do some other things.  This week, as are working on a medieval lapbook of a sort.

Regardless of my CM shortcomings, our homeschool truly reflects one of Charlotte Mason's basic tenets.  For us, education is not a particular set of guidelines or schedule; education is a life.


  1. Oh Ellen, this sounds pretty CMish to me!! Sounds like you're doing a fab job. Are both your girls doing AO3 together? Where are you up to using MEP? Jemimah is thrilled to know that your girls' day look so much like hers!!

  2. Thanks, Jeanne! Yes, we are doing Yr3 together and enjoying it very much. For MEP, Miss Priss is in Yr3 and Tiny Girl in Yr2, cruising right along.

    And I appreciate your comment that I'm doing a fab job. Makes up for all the angst I feel on a regular basis! :-)

  3. Ha, Angst. Don't we all feel that!!

  4. This sounds great and pretty CM to me!!! =) Thank you so much for sharing this with the yahoo group CM Friends in GA!! Be Blessed, Angie

  5. There may be CM purists out there who wouldn't sanction this, but it's pretty CM oriented to me, and at the end of the road, I did not choose to hs my girls to fulfill CM's principles to the letter, or the 'interpretation' we make of them, but I did it to raise them in the Lord and help them grow a love for learning, to instill a desire to be good christians and responsible citizens.
    Your hs practices sound amazing, they are also very inspiring. I think both your girls are acquiring a wonderful and meaningful education.


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