In an earlier post, I wrote about the various education options we considered and how we determined that we would use a Mason homeschool method. So while we had a big picture for the type of education we were pursuing, we needed a plan for making it a reality. In other words, what were we actually going to do every day?!? I looked at several well-known programs including Ambleside Online, Simply Charlotte Mason, the Charlotte Mason Institute Alveary, and a few other options.
As I researched how we could implement our decision, my first step was to take a deep breath. And in the midst of my research, I wrote a post called 3 reasons why we’re not panicking about our first real year of Mason homeschool. There are a lot of options out there, but I knew we could find a method that is true to Mason’s philosophy and would work for our family. After I had assessed the various options and formed my “short list,” my husband and I made our decision.
Charlotte Mason Curriculum Options
There are some free options available, including Ambleside Online. I was familiar with AO since I had read portions of Mason’s 6 volume Home Education Series there. It is one of the most well known free sites. You can actually download a curriculum for each grade and use that for your homeschool. While there are a lot of resources available at AO, I felt a bit lost.
Google and Pinterest were both helpful for locating articles and blog posts that outline some of the popular curriculum options. Some of the methods I found were really blended methods, more or less Mason inspired but without all of her philosophical foundations. At times this meant some of Mason’s ideas were added onto a more traditional homeschool program. Other programs weren’t complete and would require supplementing with other resources.
As I researched, I also asked a friend and Mason expert for ideas. He encouraged me to check out the Alveary put out by the Charlotte Mason Institute. One drawback to this particular curriculum is the annual cost of $199/family. The fee is certainly reasonable, but since it doesn’t include any of the books for the curriculum, by the time you purchase the books and supplies for the year, it can be a bit pricey (but still much less than tuition).
The Charlotte Mason Curriculum We Chose
In weighing our options, the benefits to the Alveary seemed to justify the expense. I also appreciate the work they have done to include more recent living books (that are in print) in the curriculum and the resources and support they include for parents.
We took the plunge and enrolled in the Alveary. After I logged in and tried to figure out what we needed, I was admittedly overwhelmed. I watched some of the videos on how to use the spreadsheets, took a deep breath (yes, I do this a lot!), and dove in.
Their spreadsheets are the workhorse of the program. They outline the curriculum by form, by subject, and by week. Fair warning: the spreadsheets are intense. Who knew you could run a school with Google Sheets? 🙂
Pulling Our Curriculum Together
I got our curriculum printed out according to subject, and I’m working on getting the weekly plans printed. Let’s just say this is a paper-intensive project. In addition, I went through the resource list carefully and ordered books and supplies. The document for the lower forms (forms 1-3) is 22 pages, so there are lots of books and supplies to order. I’m sure our mail carrier was thrilled.
I also ordered the recommended math curriculum from Right Start and art prints from Simply Charlotte Mason. For math, I went with the 2nd-grade book. We were able to get at least halfway through 1st grade last year, and then this summer, our son was obsessed with adding two and three digit numbers for fun. I used the sample test and the description of concepts on the math curriculum website to figure out which one to use. I’ll update as we get going with it.
My biggest challenge is the reading component. Skill wise our son is beyond all the books listed for 1st-3rd grade. He’s reading at a 4/5th-grade level and loves chapter books. This is the one area for which I still need to figure out a long-term strategy. We can certainly use the recommended readers for copywork and spelling, but they will likely bore him for actual reading.
Our Alveary Daily Homeschool Schedule
Each morning will include about 10 main subjects. In keeping with Mason’s philosophy for young students, the lessons will be short but will require attention. In the afternoon and evening, there will be time set aside for games, life skills, reading, outdoor play, etc. These are also important parts of the curriculum.
Lest you think that we’re homeschooling in a vacuum, there will be some significant wild cards. In real life, our 2 ½-year-old daughter will also be around for our school days. I’m putting together a box of activities that she can do while we’re doing school. As much as possible, I’m planning to allow her to “do school” with us and learn the basics of masterly inactivity.
I recognize that our Alveary plan will take time to tweak. I’m sure we’ll have hiccups along the way, but the framework is in place. It will be a lot of work for both of us. While the curriculum is outlined, the teacher still has to put in the appropriate prep work. This will be significant for such a robust program.
I’m also glad we’re not on this homeschool journey alone. Lots of you are on a similar path or are supplementing your children’s education because they’re not getting a sufficient diet of knowledge in their current school. I would love to connect with you–to learn from you and share what we’re learning and doing. Please take a minute to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest and sign up to receive resources and inspiration via email.