The next step for us is implementing some of this Charlotte Mason method into our day. So first, we needed to come up with all the subjects we want to cover. The kids decided on all the basics, which was easy, since this method incorporates fun ideas for them. Here’s our list: Reading, Writing, Math, History, Geography, Science, Art, Music, and Foreign Language. Then we used a guideline to turn them all into a Charlotte Mason format. So here’s the breakdown:
Reading will consist of readalouds with narrations. A narration is just the child telling back what they remember from the reading. It will basically be me discussing the story with the kids, having them share with me their favorite parts, describing any part that was funny, sad, or scary, telling how it made them feel, maybe even drawing a part they liked. This is a great way to tell if they're really understanding the stories. I want to have bedtime readalouds on the schedule, too - more as personal reminder if anything. The kids love that. The key here is to use "living" and "whole" books, which I usually do anyway. Of course they’ll still do their own independent reading, too, and that is totally their choice.
Writing will consist of handwriting practice, copywork, and journaling. For handwriting, the kids want to try italics or calligraphy instead of standard print. J loves learning different ways to write, which I found out when she did a homeschool calligraphy class. K knows calligraphy pretty well (took it as a school elective) and is interested in learning new types, and W just wants to try it too. Copywork is just copying stuff. They will copy poems, quotes, short passages from a book, etc. It’s said that this is a great way for them to learn proper grammar and prepares them to write well on their own. Finally, they all like keeping a journal but usually forget about it after a week, so we’ll have that on the schedule as well - probably for the end of the day.
Math will come from the workbooks and websites they already use and enjoy.
History will be a fun project where periods of time are listed in chronological order using something called a "book of centuries”. This is just a book with every open 2-page spread covering 100 years on a timeline. They think this sounds really fun, marking off events and gluing/drawing in pictures or other facts. They’ll just use their loose-leaf binders for this. It can be as creative as they want. They want to start off with Ancient Egypt.
Geography will not really change from what we do now. It's a fun subject for the kids. We already spend a lot of time playing games with maps, globes, and websites. We'll probably try intertwining it more with the history we read and talk about.
Science will come from nature walks, nature notebooking, and experiments. We’ll do a nature walk once a week and the kids will bring their sketchbooks to draw what they see. We have a field guide they love using, too. J used to find the species of plant in the guide, draw it with colored pencils, and write out its Latin name. I think they’ll enjoy this. Science experiments are something else we’ll put in the schedule since the kids always love those.
Art and Music will be based on biographies of artists and composers and examining their creations. J always liked having classical music on while she was reading or writing. K used to ask for the classical station in the car. It will be nice to bring that back. As far as art, I remember how many favorites the kids had at the MMA in Manhattan. They sketched different paintings and sculptures and felt like artists themselves. We’ll also do drawing and/or a craft on the art days (to keep with the theme). For the music days, the kids also came up with learning, making up, and singing new songs. But of course every day is some sort of art and music day!
Foreign Language will be once a week for Italian and once a week for American Sign Language. We have study cards for ASL that they use now and are doing great with, and I want to purchase a CD-ROM Italian program for them.
The thing we're going to love the most about a written schedule is that it will keep us from forgetting about the stuff we love doing. Sometimes I promise we'll do that science experiment tomorrow or pick up supplies for that great craft we saw on tv and completely forget about it within hours. If we see it on the schedule, we'll remember to get what supplies we need in advance and set aside enough time to be able to finish. We're a bunch of busy folks. I can't live without a calendar in my bag. I think the kids will feel more in control knowing what the week holds for them. I love unschooling, but the one obstacle we always come across is their (and sometimes my) feelings of aimlessness and not getting much accomplished in the day. The kids don't see their days as being productive and full of learning, like I see them. Maybe they just need that check-off list for a while - some tangible piece of learning that proves something to them. It's all okay. I'm proud of them for coming to me. I'm proud of them for wanting to change what they weren't satisfied with. I'm proud of them for trusting me. But I will admit it'll be easier for me to keep track of what they're learning and I can breathe easier when reporting to the hs coordinator. I'm excited to see how this goes.
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