Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adventures with Homeschool Curriculum

Discovering Charlotte in an All-In-One Format

This year is our family’s fifth year of homeschooling. Like every good homeschooler, I have used the same exact company and materials for each year. NOT! Ha. Discovering your homeschool’s philosophy, style and methodology is something that takes time and patience…with a lot of experimenting thrown in for good measure. I think this is part of what makes homeschooling such a ripe arena for learning about our children and our selves. My husband and I both have a 100% public school background, so the biggest hurdle we crossed in figuring out our approach was “de-schooling” ourselves. During this time of discovery, we heavily relied on advice from seasoned homeschoolers…asking, asking and asking…until finally a dear friend led us to Charlotte Mason and all things fell into place and peace (well, at least for the most part—we do have a two year old little blessing).

Here is a brief outline of our journey through curriculum thus far:

Preschool: Little Hands to Heaven by Heart of Dakota Publishing (CM based & didn’t know it!)
Kindergarten: Sonlight and A Beka Book
First Grade: A Beka Book and my own unit studies/lapbooks~(discovered Charlotte Mason & started making changes)
Second Grade & Kindergarten: Ancient Greece by Simply Charlotte Mason & my own hodge-podge of CM style subjects gathered from online sources, Horizon Math
Third & First Grade: Adventures in My Father’s World, Teaching Textbooks Math

We are now in a happy place using My Father’s World (MFW) curriculum. They have done a fabulous job of combining three different homeschooling methods—Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies and Classical—in a multi-age format that is easy for mom and fun for the whole family. The following is a quote from the MFW catalog about the Charlotte Mason Influence on their products:

“The following key principles and ideas are integrated into our curriculum:
• Structured mornings that feature short, effective lessons with unstructured afternoons left for other activities
• Study other countries and cultures early to avoid an "arrogant" habit of mind (Year One of the family cycle—Exploring Countries and Cultures)
• Study history in chronological order and compare across countries in any given time period
• Read great literature aloud at grade level and above with featured living books and more
• "Century Books"—create timelines and history notebooks
• Weekly nature walks, including notebooking
• Children are given direct contact with the Bible at an early age”

The weekly lesson plans are set up with a four-day schedule, leaving an extra weekday for the co-ops and enrichment in which many families participate. Otherwise, that day is open for a lovely nature walk or field trip—perfect!

I have also chosen to use MFW’s suggestions for Language Arts and Spelling for their CM focus. We do a different math than suggested, but it does not interfere with the schedule. On a daily basis we complete several subjects in about 2-3 hours, sometimes less: Bible, Spelling, piano practice, History, English, Book Basket, Math, Copywork, Read Aloud, Science (2x wk), and Music (2x week). The guide also includes Art and Foreign Language if you so choose. We attend an enrichment program on Tuesdays and we are planning on joining Principle Based Learning’s Spring 2012 Session.

All in all, My Father’s World has been an answer to prayer. I do not have to do much to prepare for our week—a couple items to pick up at the grocery store and a weekly trip to the library—and the children are learning and loving it! So for now, my search and scramble in the world of homeschool curriculum is, well, no longer a search and scramble. With MFW’s plans in place, I have room in my brain to play around with ideas found online or gleaned from other families and to me, that is peace.

If you think My Father’s World might work for your family, please explore their website and request a catalog at

1 comment:

Hether said...

I think you wrote this entry just for me! I'm seriously thinking of using Adventures in MFW next year. I had in mind why I wanted to use it and your reasoning has sold me even more. Very excited to try it out. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.