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Monday, February 4, 2008

Why I'm Looking into CM more

I posted this at the WTM Curriculum board after I asked about recommended Charlotte Mason resources. It is the cusp of what is going on with me and our homeschooling journey right now and since I already poured my heart out once, I figured I'd just paste it here. I think this is actually going to be a turning point in our overall journey, we'll see where God leads us.


I found my A Charlotte Mason Education by Levison copy. I have More Charlotte Mason, The Charlotte Mason Study Guide and a few volumes of the Original coming from the library, YAY! I want to get Real Learning too, I have to check if it's at the library.

I just want more of a natural learning environment, I want to stop pushing my children to learn things they might not be ready for just because (just an example!) WTM says to do xyz in year #.

What has been bothering me about our path (using WTM):
I don't understand why we're learning spelling at this stage when it seems having a better grasp on phonics would be more beneficial. I don't understand why there is ANY focus whatsoever on anything but gaining reading fluency and getting better at handwriting through copywork.

I spent most of first grade (our first year of hsling) pushing my dd through subjects, feeling confident because I was following what someone else said was important to do. I don't have the confidence anymore that I was doing "right" by my dd. I don't think we should have started Spelling Workout at all, we should have focused on reading more and memorized phonics rules instead of FLL grammar terms. If we had done that, we could have spent this year (2nd) learning the basics of grammar (nouns, verbs, pronouns) with a much stronger foundation in reading skills. THAT would have been the natural progression but I didn't have the confidence/knowledge last year to realize that.

Now I'm just figuring out how to fix it without hurting dd by pushing too many things on her AND provide her with what she needs at this stage to be successful in the next couple of years when writing comes into play more. It's been a hard road letting go of "public school" mentality and I still struggle with it, now it seems I have to let go of "WTM" mentality just enough to provide what I think is best for my dd.

What appeals to me about CM is the focus on keeping a child a child but still demanding excellence in the tasks at hand. I'm not confident that the progression is enough- at Ambleside under Language Arts, it has a child doing copywork until 4th grade without dictation or written narration. It is the same at Simply Charlotte. I'm not comfortable with that yet. Even the products we're changing to Primary Language Lessons and Language Lessons for the Very Young have dictation and written reproductions (I consider these written narrations).

I need a middle ground somehow and I'm still figuring that out. Tapestry of Grace has been such a God-send because it really opened my eyes to the proper level of books I should be exposing dd7 to at this point and it keeps me in check each week so that I don't use older material just because *I* like it. I'm really weighing what we're using and how, what books are beneficial to read aloud for a variety of reasons (what is good for dd's heart? what is good for dd's soul? what is good for dd's mind?).

I feel like a mess but I'm feeling better about giving my children what THEY need rather than what others say they need and when. Now, I still have this little monkey on my back saying, "what about standardized testing?", "will dh think I'm not being effective if dd doesn't pass her 3rd grade test?", and things like that.

Comparisons about other homeschools aren't bothering me as much but it still gets to me at times. Especially when a child who is the same age as dd7 is reading Harry Potter books and writing paragraphs already or has their own creative journal in which they write a full page. God is helping me with that aspect. Lol.

I am going to read CM's Original Series and spend some time in prayer really thinking about this and what would be best for our kids. Hopefully the smaller questions like (when and how with spelling) will work themselves out.

We're not looking for an overhaul in our curriculum per se, perhaps a refocus on how we approach and possibly when we start doing certain subjects. Language Arts will be the most effected by this but that has already started to happen. It'll be interesting to reread this in a few years.

 

16 comments:

Leslie said...

I'm in a similar place. Thanks for sharing!

Betsy said...

I too started out using TWTM method of teaching/learning. I pulled away from it for similar reasons you have stated and other reasons.

Have you been to amblesideonline. com? Heart of Wisdom is another place I encourage you to go. I also have MANY CM links on the sidebar of my blog if you are interested in more reading and great resources.

I think you will find that you and your kids will enjoy CM's method of schooling, and they will be learning just as much!

Dawne said...

Jessica,

Last summer I had purchased all of the recommended books for WTM grade 1, after looking at them, and also looking ahead at the rec's for grade 2, I resold it all! Now, I do like the 4 yr cycles and a lot of the tips and info on notebooking, etc..in WTM. However, there is just no way I feel comfortable with some of the rec's for my young children.

We just started using 'Our Young Folks Josephus' as our spine for ancients, and I love it. I dont' have to worry about my little boys'heads being filled with stuff they are not ready for. ;-)

Don't get me wrong these same things I am against for my littles will definitely be learned about later on in order to make proper historical/literary/cultural connections... to everything there is a season...the season for those things, for *us* is not at this age.

But like you typed: what is good for *my* dc's soul, what is good for *my* dc's heart and mind? That right there is the # 1 thing that I resonate on with the Bluedorns! Granted, I don't agree with everything they say (Ummm, we DO math before 10 here lol), but they have much wisdom, having already graduated, raised, and reaping the fruit in adult children using the Classical methods. ;-)

They admit to all the mistakes they made with the older few, I remember them specifically mentioning a very basic classic book that they really regretted allowing their oldest son to read as young as they did, etc..

Anyway! I am blathering!

Lori Carr said...

I have been jumping back and forth between AO and WTM for 3 years now. I think we have a good mix right now. But I am with you are the feeling about what other children are doing and what my family and my dh's family think about our kids and what they are able to do. Every time I read a post on the WTM boards I think to myself "How do they get their kids to do all of that work!!" I just keep praying and it is working.:)

Anonymous said...

I just admire your post. Your post tells me that you are understanding more of what your children need instead of finishing a certain curriculum. That's call experience!

All I can say to add to other posts is this. I went to a hs conference and heard Tammy Tobin of Tobin's Lab speak about planning your year. Her first comment was to keep in mind that you are not just covering material (e.g. trying to finish some program) but rather you are educating your child. That has always stuck with me when I worry about doing program x during year y.

I just wanted to let you know that. I love your blog and your hnonesty.

LaDonnaMobile said...

I went through the exact same thing after my first 2 years on WTM. Here's what helped me:

"Climbing Parnassus" by Tracy Lee SImmons helped me understand how beneficial the rigorous classical curriculum is to a developing mind (and developing work ethic!)

"The Quality School" by Glasser helped me understand how to make the rigors of classical education become FUN--something my child desired to do on her own, not just because mom told her too.

And of course, Charlotte Mason helped get us out in the sunchine each day to escape any drudgery or burn-out that would have occurred had we stayed indoors every day! :)

hope this helps
--Jenny

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

I started homescholing 7 years ago, all gung-ho about WTM. Then I burned out and became discouraged. We scaled way back, tried other things and now I am finally beginning to grow confident in making my own decisions for my family's education. We blend ideas from WMT and CM - and it works for us. When I feel we've been a little too laid back and need a push, I pick up WTM. When I feel overwhelmed and burdened, I look for CM resources (and Dr. Raymond Moore.) Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope the transition goes smoothly for you!

Teacher of One said...

So, If you had to plan 1st grade again what would you use for language and social studies?

Huh Huh... LOL
Christie

Excelsior! Academy said...

Jessica,

What another wonderful post. Oh, how I wish I had had someone to tell me this 3 years ago when we first started homeschooling.

Kysha said...

Praying your find something that works for your family. Thanks for sharing your sweet heart. : )

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

Jessica,

I am just down the path from you, blazing a trail. I think the best way to understand how to make CM work is to read and study her books. The best thing I ever did was join a group going chapter by chapter through volume six of her series. I had a vague sort of idea before of what CM should look like, but after that study, I was totally on board.

My summation of a good CM education is more about atmosphere than books. Living books are a big part of it but you also need to keep the big picture in mind, the whole child. It is more about re-educating your ways of thinking than anything else. You must have a good system in place for keeping the lessons short so you can have the afternoons free for things like nature study, picture study, Shakespeare readings, and so on.

TOG is a wonderful plan and you know I use it with my boys but it is still too much for a real CM education. I really pare it down so the boys are not struggling to get through assignments. If you want some specific suggestions, please feel free to email me since this is getting really long.

One last thing, if I were starting over with a first grader and a preschooler like you are, I would jump on the AO bandwagon with both feet and not look back. I did not find them until my boys were in late middle school and I just haven't been able to make the switch. My youngest is doing a modified year 9 this year of HOE and he loves it. I don't know what my hold up is on making the switch. Probably because I have so much invested in four year plans of TOG. Sigh.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Nancy said...

I appreciate your heartfelt posts and your journey.

I have found myself in a similar spot. I have been homeschooling for over 6 years.The best thing I did recently was to throw out all my homeschooling manuals and catalogs. I gave away WTM, Charlotte Mason, Cathy Duffy ect..ect..ect...My neighbor who homeschools got first pick and the rest got toted off to the library donation center.

The reason I did this is because of information overload. Too much information was causing me to second guess myself. I am also a perfectionist and was always finding SOMETHING not right about a curriculum or what we were doing. Tapestry of Grace is an excellent curriculum k-12 that our family is going to settle ourselves into. I like to plan and organize curriculum and TOG gives me the perfect playground to play in. It's not perfect..but that's okay because I need to learn to adjust to my kids needs WITHOUT chaning to a whole new curriculum or method! I have to learn to tell myself "This is good enough" The most important thing is spending time with my family and if I am spending too many hours reading about homeschooling or on the internet searching about homeschooling than I am stealing time away from my family. TOG has given me my "fix" for planning and the rest of the time we can enjoy being a family. I use Apologia for science, Reason for Writing for penmanship, Word Mastery for phonics, Saxon for Math. I will use Easy Grammar when that time comes in 2nd grade. Spelling Power in 3rd grade. None of this is perfect and we may run into problems, but we are going to stick with it and adjust to make it work. I firmly believe we don't have to follow curriculum exactly. It should be our tool. Dropping to find a curriculum that fits us better is not the answer either. We need to learn to adjust and make it fit us.

I have decided that being consistent is more important than having the right curriculum. My children will learn and have a great education with any of the numerous choices out there. I need to choose and stick with it and move on with life.

Michelle Waters said...

Yes, you should get Real Learning. It's a great resource, as are all those CM books you mentioned. I think it's totally feasible to be a WTM/CM/Real Learningish homeschooler! It's just about doing what works for your family... We take elements of each without being crazy about following to the tee. I love so much about WTM, for instance, but I would never have my child memorize a Pharoah's list -- why? I would never memorize it myself. That seems to be knowledge that "puffs up, not builds up."
Good luck! I hope you can come to a place of peace about it all. If you have to plan/prepare/research as much as it seems you're doing, maybe it's not quite a fit? God's blessings on your journey...

Anonymous said...

Saw your post on HomeschoolFrench site as well. We've been hsing for a year, and I'm firmly of the view that we should follow our instincts as to style and content. I use WTM + others for resources and CM for sanity (I'd highly recommend the original series, especially the Home Education volume), but I just don't think there's one right answer... and our needs change. May God bless you in your new regime! Jess

TarponGirl said...

Jessica,

I am so happy to see you in a place of peace and calm. I know you have had a season of challenge and it makes my heart glad to "see" you are doing well. I miss talking to you!

Amy in FL (formerly of MN, formerly of FL!)

TarponGirl

xoxo

LisaWA said...

Jessica... bless you girl! I wish I would have had 1/2 the zeal you have here in your 2nd year?? Seriously... what a blessing you are, and an encouragement!

You bless me, and I am so blessed by your heart and how you share. I’m not in the early stages anymore, but you bless me and help reconfirm things in myself. Bet you didn’t know that....

Like Barb, I also slow down or have slowed down our TOG this year... mostly for Christian’s sake, but also... I don’t want to rush through, just because our 5 days are up.... The awesomeness of TOG... I get to use it how it works for me... and it has changed from year to year. Hard core one year, slower the next…. Im just trying to home school my kids with Grace in all seasons…

Thank you for being my friend... even though its been thorugh here.

Love you bunches! Lisa