Monday, July 28, 2014

Charlotte Mason Homeschool

While I have been sort of "homeschooling" the boys for some time, this past week, we actually started on our first year curriculum.

I have decided to document what I am doing with our homeschooling in detail. This is so that other people can see it, yes, but also, even more, that I can remember what I did when it comes time to homeschool Abigail.

Please note: I am NOT trying to recruit anyone else to homeschool. Honestly, and I mean this wholeheartedly, I really couldn't care less if you homeschool your kid or put them in public school or private school. Your decision doesn't effect me, and I really just don't care! A friend asked me last week, "Do you think I should homeschool?" And I jokingly told her, "I really don't care!" I followed that up by explaining that I obviously think it is best for my kids or I wouldn't be doing it, but I am not on some crusade to get other people to feel the same way. Do what you want! Do what is best for your child. 

I was not a homeschool kid and I turned out just fine! Same goes for my husband and most of the other wonderful adults I know.

If I am being entirely honest, I think I'd rather keep homeschooling a bit more of a "novelty", because part of why I like it is that we can attend things during the school year that aren't very crowded. If everyone was homeschooling, I couldn't do that! :)

I will be posting things on my blog (statistics regarding homeschooling and other such things) in the future. However, it is important to note that things I list are not designed to discredit the success of the school system. That is not my job, and I have no desire to get into any debates with people regarding what is best. I will be listing facts on this blog simply to add to the validity of homeschooling. Many people believe homeschooling education is not as good as a public/private school education. I do not want to discredit the school system. I want to credit the homeschooling environment. 

I definitely believe that my children are getting as good of an education. If you don't believe that they are, I don't care! What I am posting is for people who are interested in homeschooling. If you aren't interested, then just don't read the posts (or just don't care what you read!)

Okay, off my little high horse now and onto the real reason I am writing this post.

My boys are starting kindergarten, and I want to keep a great record of what we are doing year by year.

We decided to use a Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. My friend Carla first introduced me to the idea, and when I was struggling to decide whether to use a curriculum this first year or just "wing it", she reminded me of the idea. 

Why Charlotte Mason? Well, we like it. But secondarily, we were able to get the curriculum FREE online. At least in the beginning, we didn't want to pay a lot of money for curriculum until we were absolutely sure what it was we wanted to do.

The website that you can obtain ALL of this information from is found here: Ambleside Online. Please note that this website was done BY FREE for some mothers who loved the curriculum. They have a note up on the website that says they are improving the website. I don't want to complain about something that was done by volunteers, but the website is VERY difficult to navigate around (and I really hope they change it.)

The first thing we did was decide what year to start on. Technically, Charlotte Mason, would suggest that our boys be YEAR 0. She really doesn't recommend doing anything formally for another year. However, we decided to go ahead start our boys in YEAR 1. (We have already held Isaac back a year to be in the same grade as Sidge, so we felt like they were ready to do more than Year 0 dictated.)

Year 1 has an overview curriculum that you can follow either by breakdown or by chart. We then took that and decided to create our own chart as illustrated below. We are putting one of these up on the refrigerator each week for each of the boys.

Please note: If you would like a word copy of this chart, I would be HAPPY to email one to you. Simply email me at to request a word copy of the chart we are using for your own use. Don't try to recreate it. Get mine and use it!

The State of Tennessee requires 180 days of homeschooling per year and each day must encompass 4 hours of schooling. So that is how we broke up our week. The chart above indicates what we are spending time on each week. We give ourselves five days to work. Then we use day six for anything that doesn't get done int he five allocated days.

A few notes about our chart:

  • MATH: We are using CIMT Math. Why? Well, for now, because it is free.
  • WRITING: For writing, we are simply having the kids practice their letters and numbers each day.
  • READING: For reading, we are having the kids read to us or to themselves for a set number of minutes each day.
  • PHYSICAL EDUCATION: can be ANYTHING! Our favorites are the pool, the zoo, the park, open-gym gymnastics down the street, etc.
  • POETRY READING: is from A Child's Garden of Verses. My kids really enjoy these.
  • BIBLE VERSE: is simply a verse a week that we are picking and having the kids practice each day.
  • iPAD LEARNING TIME: for us includes three programs: Homer (30 minutes), ABC Mouse (15 Minutes), and Teach Me (15 minutes). I have become a HUGE fan of Homer (approximately $8 a month). My kids are learning so much from this program, and it is hands-down the best one we use at this point. Isaac saw Brail on the outside of the hotel room the other day and said, "Homer taught me that this is for blind people to read." I go back and forth with ABC Mouse ($8 a month) but Teach Me is incredibly great because it is the cheapest of all the program ($2 total to buy the app.)
  • Each of the books discussed in our "Weekly Readings" section can be found on this page. We found all of them free or we checked them out at our local library. Our goal has been to avoid spending money on curriculum whenever possible this year as we learn the ropes.
  • PICTURE STUDY: is simply JB printing out and discussing some of the greatest pieces of art of all time with them. They discuss one a week. The first week he did Starry Night.
  • DRAWING: Once a week we have the kids spend time drawing.
  • CRAFT: JB's Mom is doing a weekly craft with the kids. (Thank the LORD for Grama!)
  • NATURE STUDY: is simply doing something in nature. JB is doing this with them periodically throughout the week.
  • MUSIC: We are considering attending a weekly music class with the kids. Otherwise, for now, we are listening to and discussing a different composer each week. Very simple.
  • SCIENCE: is a weekly video. Right now we are using The Magic School Bus.
  • GEOGRAPHY: I am letting the kids do a fun game online to learn the States. We study maps and learn the States song. Right now we are focussing on the Continents and U.S. States.
  • HISTORY: We are watching a weekly video called Liberty Kids.

So this is what we are starting with. Have questions? I'd love to answer them! And again, I am not interested in debating whether homeschooling is best or not. If you don't think it is, NO PROBLEMO ... don't do it! No pressure from me at all. 

My homeschooling pages are designed for people genuinely interested in doing it and learning from me as I go.

Here are some other links that you might find interesting about this topic:


Tara said...

I think we have ended up somewhere similar. May I have a copy of your chart please? And great post! I don't care either!

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Tara love to send it to you. What is your email address?

Anonymous said...

I recall at one point in your blog you talking about how JB does not believe in evolution. How will you approach scientific conversations about the beginning of the world with the kids? will you present both sides and allow them to decide or present only one? another option?

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Great question anonymous. However, you are incorrect that JB does not believe in evolution. We actually do believe in evolution .... but I will actually ask him to respond to this in a blog post soon!

That being said, we definitely believe in presenting "theories" of both evolution AND creative design (AND more of a combination of the two). We will obviously teach our children what we believe, but JB is actually a proponent of evolution being taught in the school along side other THEORIES.

JB is actually VERY into apologetics and has read nearly every book there is to read on the subject. I don't want to get into all of it in a comment (I'm really hoping I can talk him into writing a blog) but JB actually believes in a much older earth than some protestant Christians actually adhere to.

Great question! More to come!

Lisa Cronk said...

It's great to hear what resources you have been finding. For when they get a bit older, if you want to have an app for music...I just found an app a few weeks ago called "Piano Maestro" for Steve's iPad and Austin is LOVING it! It is teaching him how to play the piano and read music.

One question for you about homeschooling. How do you manage all 4 kids at once and still be able to teach the boys? I only have 3 kids and I'm not homeschooling and already, I have difficulty playing or teaching one or two of the kids, while still supervising the others on the days I'm home with the kids on my own. Do you just schedule school time when the girls are napping? Or have something else that occupies them? I just can't envision it.

: ) Lisa

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Lisa, I answered your question here:

June said...

We are homeschooling, too - but "homeschool lite," as it were, given our full-time careers. Our children go to public school, and we do additional work on reading, writing, math, etc, on the weekends. (I've been trying to do weeknights, too, but everyone is so tired...) I'm trained as a molecular biologist (PhD) and work as a medical editor (editing research articles for authors submitting to peer-reviewed journals), so my girls and I spend a lot of time talking about science - how to ask the right questions, hypothesis testing, etc. Aaaanyway, I'll be watching with interest to see how your homeschooling evolves. Good luck to us all!

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

June, i would LOVE to hear more about how this works for your family? Very interesting!