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I always start surfing the web and old catalogs in January or February to start getting a feel for what curriculum I may want to use the following school year.  This is the first year I've ever had to look at preschool curriculums.  We didn't start homeschooling our oldest until they were in 5th and 2nd grades, respectively.  My youngest is almost 4 now and is already ahead by leaps and bounds.

I am learning about Charlotte Mason so while I'm still reading books and watching videos about the Charlotte Mason approach, I'm also perusing websites that I have seen other parents mention or seen mentioned  on the Charlotte Mason blogs and websites.

Here's a few I have taken a look at recently:

Simply Charlotte Mason  offers a preschool guide.  While they are not suggesting anything formal, they do offer some very good tips here. They also have a section on planning schedules.

Heart of Dakota  I've seen various years of this curriculum and I have liked what I've seen, especially the flexibility offered within the choices.  Each day is laid out and very easy to follow.  The preschool program - Little Hands To Heaven- offers educational skills such as letter recognition and formation, sounds, art projects, early math skills and more.  HD also offers daily bible stories and activities. HD has curriculum through high school.

My Father's World I always find myself lingering around their booths set up at the Christian Homeschool Convention of Pennsylvania held each year in Harrisburg.  MFW has a toddler program and preschool program(as well as additional years). The preschool program offers alphabet skills and numbers 1-10, shapes, sequencing, visual discrimination, etc.  The package comes with a CD of bible verses for the child to listen to throughout the day.

Five In a Row  is literature based and seems to be a very relaxed style of learning.  There are 4 volumes for ages 4-8, volume 1 -3 being written at about the same level while volume 4 contains more difficult literature.  The 4 volumes contain 70 different unit studies covering various academic areas (math, geography, social studies, etc.)

Ambleside - While not really a curriculum, this site offers book lists that are of a Charlotte Mason approach for each year level.  Level year is geared for 5-6 but there is a list there for toddlers as well and can certainly be started early!

Math U See  In Primer, the child is introduced to writing numerals and basic counting, skip counting, adding and subtracting and is considered by the company a gentle approach to introducing math.  Math U See is a common curriculum used by homeschoolers.  It's one of those programs people seem to either love or greatly dislike all depending on their perspective of how math should be covered.  A lot of parents enjoy the video presentations and how Math U See is known to completely cover and reach mastery of a skill before moving on.

Explode the Code This series offers Get Ready For the Code - a series of 3 workbooks introducing the letters of the alphabet with various activities including tracing, writing and riddles.  Most places indicate this to be used for preschool.  Sonlight (see below) offers it in kindergarten - I'm not sure what their rational is for this.

Sonlight offers a preschool and a pre-kindergarten program.  I have often lingered near the sonlight tables at the CHAP convention as well.  I actually started out using Sonlight (back when I first pulled my daughter and son out of public school) but part ways from it because I found it overwhelming at the time.  We had many issues going on at the time but I always wondered if I should have stuck it out or gone back to it once those issues resolved themselves.  It was really laid out very well for the parent to follow.  It was a wonderful literature based program.  I just found it to be too intensive for our personal factors at that time.  I'm sure I will strongly consider it this time around.

Modern Curriculum Press Phonics - Who doesn't remember the plaid colored phonics books from elementary school?  I loved them in school and I loved them teaching... just as a supplement to practice skills being taught.

So this is what I've covered thus far.  I've only glanced at these websites.  I haven't even lingered very long but they are the top sites I'll probably keep revisiting.  I doubt that I'll make a choice before long. I usually make a list of the ones I've narrowed it down to and look at them extensively at the homeschool convention when I can hold the products in hand and really look through the manuals and get a better feel for the program. This makes it easier to compare.  I'll also talk to as many fellow homeschoolers as I can and see what programs they are or have used and why they have or have not liked particular programs.

One thing I've learned already is that maybe preschool is NOT the way to go....  looking over these I see skills that my little man has already mastered without my having to present anything in a school like fashion.  I am now considering looking at kindergarten options as well...but with the idea of only doing about half a year.  He will only be 4 and while his academic skills are advanced his attention span at this point is not.  But these are all things to consider in the months ahead and not make a sudden decision without thought.

Of course, before I do any in-depth research into any of the 'curriculum packages' above, as I stated earlier, I'll be finishing up my Charlotte Mason reading/viewing materials that I have.  I may find that I won't be using a formal curriculum at all or just use a few materials from one or two of them.

In the meantime, I hope you'll find the above links helpful if you are planning preschool in the year ahead as well.  If you have already covered preschool and/or kindergarten and have any advice to offer on the curriculums above or other curriculums you have used, by all means share it with me!  🙂  Others , including myself, may benefit from what you have experienced!

 

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To form in his child right habits of thinking and behaving is a parent's chief duty  ~  Charlotte Mason

In my New Year's Resolutions, I included reading and studying my books and videos on the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. I really want to gain a more thorough understanding of this approach and grasp how to go about implementing it.  So far the materials I have at my fingertips are the following:

  • The Early Years:  A Charlotte Mason Preschool Handbook by Karen Smith and Sonya Shafer
  • Laying Down the Rails:  A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook by Sonya Shafer
  • All Day Charlotte Mason Seminar with Sonya Shafer (video and book)
  • The Books & Things Seminar with Sonya Shafer (video and book)

I bought all of these at the Simply Charlotte Mason booth at the CHAP Homeschool Convention last spring.  I'm disappointed to say I've only read part of the two books and have only completed about 3/4 of the first video!  I really need to catch up.  But I'm also trying to really digest the material.  Before I go on, let me mention that Simply Charlotte Mason has lots of materials that look absolutely wonderful!  It's a good think I try to be frugal as I really was tempted to buy so much more!  Be sure to check out their website if you are interested in this approach to homeschooling!

The book covering the early years begins by focusing on a parent's chief duty.  Charlotte believed that bringing up and educating your child is the most important job in society and that we must form in our children right habits of thinking and behaving. I totally agree with this!  Raising my children is one of the most important jobs I have that only takes 2nd place after Worshiping God and being a loving partner to my spouse! It is not anyone else's job to raise my child.  I need to be the most integral part of my child's education and teaching them right habits of thinking and behaving.  Charlotte said we must nourish our child's mind and that "the duty of parents is to sustain a child's inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food".

Parents are to make sure everything they give their child is wholesome and nourishing - even the atmosphere that surrounds him! The atmosphere is just as important as the materials.  A child can be surrounded by nourishing materials but if the atmosphere is stale or stressful, those materials can only do so much.

We, as parents, should trust our personal insights into our child but we should also continue to educate ourselves as parents.  Reading about the Charlotte Mason Homeschool Method is one way I am continuing to educate myself. We must also remember that education of our unique children requires flexibility!  Even with a Charlotte Mason Approach, one must always realize there is more than one way to do things and each child is unique in their abilities - strengths and weaknesses!

Charlotte Mason actually suggests that formal lessons do not occur until age 6.  The Simply Charlotte Mason website has a page titled "Preschool Guide" .  This guide emphasizes that during the preschool years, before formal lessons, the child's education should have a focus on the foundations (habit-forming, outside play, read-alouds, and bible).  Crafts, Music, Art and Poetry should also be fun activities that are had on a regular basis. If the child appears ready, reading, math, and writing may be informally introduced but there is to be no pressure in doing so.  These activities should be fun and rewarding, especially at this age and never forced on an unwanting child.

I'm going to keep up with my studies of Charlotte Mason.  I am really fascinated by this method.  Do you use the Charlotte Mason method?  What are some of your favorite - or not so favorite - aspects of this homeschooling method?

To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.  ~  Theodore Roosevelt