Friday, January 13, 2012

Learning and Retaining More in Less Time - Or Why I Like the Charlotte Mason Approach

After only a few months of homeschool this year it became very obvious that what we were doing wasn't working. I had a reluctant writer who was frustrated to no end at the thought of having to practice his handwriting. I had a 4 year old who would wander off and get into things while I was working with his older siblings. And I had a child who seemed to be bored due to not being challenged enough.

Time for a Change
I have been familiar with Charlotte Mason's method of school for a few years. I even tried implementing it with my oldest but it didn't work for him because he was used to - and liked - the more traditional way of doing school. He was in public school for 2 years and he thrives off of learning from textbooks and having a school schedule and a set curriculum to follow. So by trying to switch to CM with him, I was attempting to fit a round peg into a square hole.

But given that the school year was not coming together for everyone else, I started revisiting the idea of giving a Charlotte Mason type homeschool a try. And I am so happy that I took the plunge.

What to Do?
I spent some time going over 3 free homeschool curriculum that seemed to like a good fit for us. They were:
I decided on Ambleside Online because EVERYTHING was available for free and I was able to find all of the books in PDF format on either Google Books or I spent about a week printing out the books and setting up a 4 day school schedule. I got each child a 3 ring binder and away we went!

The Change is Phenomenal
We have been finishing each subject in just a few minutes. But a lot of times the children go on talking about it long after that or they'll bring the subject back up again throughout the day. My son is OK with handwriting now because he only has to write a few words a day. He has to write his letters correctly, but it's not that many letters so he isn't overwhelmed any longer. My youngest listens to the reading in all subjects and it holds his attention. As a matter of fact, everyone seems to be learning something at his or her level.

Also, I've been feeling much more laid back about school because I know that adhereing to a strict schedule does not guarantee that the children will learn all that they need to. But exposing them to living books and a love of nature in a relaxed setting is proving to be much more effective. Homeschool will never be perfect but it has been soooo much better since making this change.

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