For the last 6 weeks, we have been working away at our Charlotte Mason homeschool. I already shared why we chose a Charlotte Mason education, the curriculum we’re using, and our daily homeschool schedule. In this post, I’ll share the truth about how the first half of our first term (6 weeks) has gone–the good and the bad.
The Truth about the Positives
Let me begin by sharing the good things. Well, the good news is that we’re still homeschooling with a Charlotte Mason method. 🙂 Seriously, when you begin something new, it takes time to establish routines. I think my son now understands that we do school in the mornings Monday-Friday. This applies even if we have family visiting. I explained that we don’t cancel school every time something more interesting is happening.
Secondly, we have found a general rhythm to our school morning that has structure and flexibility. After breakfast and getting ready for the day, we head down to school. Since first thing in the morning is when kids tend to be more focused, we begin our day with Bible, Math, Reading, and Writing. These subjects tend to require more attention, and I try to complete them before his concentration wanes. Once these subjects are completed, we transition to our movement/break time.
When we return after movement, I adjust the order of the other subjects to help us stay focused. This second half of the morning has more variation by day. For example, we do handicraft three times a week, art three times a week, literature twice a week, geography twice a week, natural history twice a week, and history once a week. Often, I try to group subjects together that require using the computer.
Third, we’re reading some great books. This is definitely an advantage to a Charlotte Mason approach. We’re not dealing with dry textbooks that spoonfeed dry, unconnected bits of knowledge. Instead, some of our books provide a big picture of what we’re studying while others engage us with their stories.
Mason’s approach is to provide a wide feast for children. And she doesn’t limit her feast to academic subject but includes the arts and handicrafts. It is an understatement to say that both art and handicrafts are popular at my house. The truth is I’m not particularly artsy or crafty (although I am musical), but I’m jumping in to grow in these areas too.
The Truth about Our Challenges
Lest you think that everything is rainbows and butterflies, we have our challenges. One of the biggest challenges is narration. I’m trying to instill the habit of attention, but it’s hard work. I sometimes have to remind our son that I’m only reading something once and he needs to listen carefully so he can tell me about it. Sometimes the narrations he offers are good, but sometimes they’re really random.
Daddy helps out when he can, but distractions from little sister are another reality. I know many other homeschool families deal with this too. For some subjects, she wants to participate. She loves to sing with us. And it is so cute to hear her belt out the national anthem or the words to a hymn. I’m also able to include her in our literature and Spanish lessons. While I do my best to let her play while we’re doing school, sometimes her fun distracts her brother, and I have to find a quiet activity for her.
Another challenge we face is attitude. I tend to notice the bad attitude more when our son is tired of listening. When this happens, I remind him that we only have a short time for this lesson, and I need him to do his best work. Keeping lessons short seems to help minimize bad attitudes, but the reality is sometimes he doesn’t want to do what I’m asking him to do.
The Truth about Being a Charlotte Mason Mom
While I have been a fan of Mason’s approach for years, the truth is I struggle with a couple of things, too. The first one is nature walks. We’re not a particularly outdoorsy family. My outdoor style is reading in a park beautiful setting. In addition, even though we live in an area with myriad outdoor options, I’m not familiar with them. I would have to research where we could go. Furthermore, I’m not excited about being too deep in nature by myself with a 6 and not quite 3-year-old. Given this, I have come up with two options that will make nature walks more accessible. Now that the weather is cooling down, I’m excited to spend more time outside with the kids.
The other challenge for me is that a Charlotte Mason homeschool is a lot of work! I don’t mean that in a glib way. To truly do justice to the method, I need to prepare for each day. If I wasn’t blogging, working as a virtual assistant, and helping out with two programs at church, I would have more flexibility in my schedule. But these commitments mean that my time is limited, and I need to plan well. Despite the challenges and realities, I still believe this is the best school option for our son.
Are you homeschooling? Do you use a Charlotte Mason approach? I would love to hear more about how your year is going. Send me an email at hello @ amblesidetales.com and tell me more about your homeschool. Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.