Wildflowers

Planning Your Homeschool Term

Planning Your Homeschool in a Charlotte Mason Education 

“…but what seems to me absolutely best for the children; and that, in faith that mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them.” (Vol 1, p. 44)

Planning Your Homeschool
Planning Your Homeschool Term

I love connecting with you, dear Mama – in person, on my blog, via email, and on Instagram. Most of the questions I hear you ask are related to which resources to use for home education, what curriculum to use, and how to go about planning for your next homeschool term?

So, I thought I would write a blog post detailing the steps on how I plan out a homeschool term. Your homeschool doesn’t have to look like mine. However, I’m hopeful that this provides inspiration to you or gives you ideas to help you plan out your next homeschool term. We don’t have a purchased curriculum that we follow. We have books…lots of lovely living books, Charlotte Mason’s volumes, plus a few guiding resources.

If you are interested, at the bottom of this post, are the specific living books and links we are using. I hope it helps you and peeks your curiosity!

Who 

“…it is upon the mothers of the present that the future of the world depends…because it is the mothers who have the sole direction of the children’s early, most impressible years. This is why we hear so frequently of great men who have had good mothers–that is, mothers who brought up their children themselves…” (Vol 1, p. 2)

Read Aloud Time
Read Aloud Time

We use a Charlotte Mason (CM) philosophy of education for homeschooling and it has been such a blessing. Have you read her volumes? If not, stop what you are doing right now, and pick up a copy of Home Education. I promise you will be so glad you did! 

Charlotte Mason was a British educator, turned principal of her schools. She housed teacher training and offered support to home educators and public schools through a Parents National Education Union School. Charlotte Mason aimed to present an inviting, life-giving, and beautiful education. She wanted to nourish the mind of each child with living ideas. You can read more about her here or here.

What

“The teacher should have some knowledge of the principles of education; should know what subjects are best fitted for the child considering his age, and how to make these subjects attractive; should know, too, how to vary the lessons, so that each power of the child’s mind should rest after effort…” (Vol 1, p. 141)

Planning Your Homeschool Term
Planning Your Homeschool Term

Planning either provokes anxiety or provides you relief and comfort. You can always begin the process of planning as far in advance as possible, yet planning at any stage offers such a benefit to you and your children.

Resources I Love:

  • ADE Schedule Cards – I used these at the beginning of the year to make sure we included all of the broad feast (many subjects!). These cards ensure we adhere closely to the time table of finishing our formal school time in 2.5 hrs. or less per day. These cards also help to alternate “more challenging” subjects with more liberal arts subjects to provide a mental break for your children.
  • Charlotte Mason Soiree – A wonderful discussion group to gain book ideas, and ask questions to mamas who are moving through a CM education with you!

Planning Steps

First, I begin by looking at an example of a PNEU time table from Charlotte Mason Poetry.

I also like to use this PNEU programme from 1922 to get an idea of what a CM term would like for first grade. This also gives me a bigger picture of what the children were expected to learn in the term.

Then, I glance at my notes on teaching for each lesson (using this blog), and the ADE Curriculum Template. I have a binder with tabs organized by subject.

Finally, after getting a clear big picture idea for the term, I write in specifics, such as our living book selections by subject, and other various choices such as composer, artist, handicrafts, etc.

For example, here is what I have in my “Bible” Lesson Tab:

  • Specific Bible chapters that we are covering
  • ADE Bible Curriculum Template
  • Bible art I would also like to share with my children

This allows me a quick glance to see what our plan is for the next twelve weeks and also a reminder on “how to” provide the lesson.

When

“In the first place, there is a time-table, written out fairly, so that the child knows what he has to do and how long each lesson is to last. This idea of definite work to be finished in a given time is valuable to the child, not only as training him in habits of order, but in diligence; he learns that one time is not ‘as good as another’; that there is no right time left what is not done in its own time; and this knowledge alone does a great deal to secure the child’s attention to his work.” (Vol 1, p. 142)

Wildflowers
Wildflowers

A CM education recommended to pay close attention to morning school hours. For very young children in the beginning forms, this was 2.5 hours of morning lessons or less. We stick closely to these guidelines. The work is hard, full attention is demanded, yet ample free time is given in the afternoon hours after lunch.

We aim to start school around 9 am and finish by 11:30am. I find when we begin later in the morning, it is WAY too difficult for all of us to stay focused on what we need to do.

Why

“She must ask herself seriously, Why must the children learn at all? What should they learn? And, How should they learn it? If she take the trouble to find a definite and thoughtful answer to each of these queries, she will be in a position to direct her children’s studies; and will, at the same time, be surprised to find that three-fourths of the time and labour ordinarily spent by the child at his lessons is lost time and wasted energy.” (Vol 1, p. 171)

Pond Study
Pond Study

I’m not the most organized person. However, teaching about 11 different subjects daily requires some planning. This is not enough to be a burden or dreary. In fact, I love the process of preparing for my children’s education. However, it’s just enough that a little bit of effort needs to happen before diving into the first lesson of the first term.

Every successful and great business has a vision statement, a mission statement, something that defines who they are, what their goals are, and how they will achieve them. In essence, planning your homeschool term helps you be successful at teaching your children. 

Now that we have experienced our first two homeschool terms, I can reflect upon what went well and what could be improved upon. I see what changes I can make as the teacher and parent to spread the feast a little better to my children.

How

“We see, then, that the children’s lessons should provide material for their mental growth, should exercise the several powers of their minds, should furnish them with fruitful ideas, and should afford them knowledge, really valuable for its own sake, accurate, and interesting, of the kind that the child may recall as a man with profit and pleasure.” (Vol 1, p. 177)

Start broad, and then go deep. 

Planning Your Homeschool Term
Planning Your Homeschool Term

Planning Steps Daily Details

Before we had our first day of formal education, I spent countless hours and research figuring out what and how I wanted to teach them – what the big picture was going to look like. Then, once I knew Charlotte Mason’s methods were a great fit for us, I planned out the first year. If you take a look at my blog, you will find a blog post lesson by lesson. These are my condensed notes and research on how to give this life-giving feast. Then, I spend a little time before each term, planning the next term. Finally, before the upcoming week, I spend a few minutes preparing for the next week.

I write down the daily subjects for each day, along with the time table beside each as a reminder to see the time limit for each lesson. Next to that, I write the book we are reading from along with the beginning page number. Finally, I write down any reminders that I may want to consider, such as “requiring full-attention” or “provide outdoor time during drill” or “ready to move onto cursive.”

Ideally, I plan for the entire year over the summer. I get a clear and good picture of the overall year and what it looks like. Then, in between school terms, I plan for the following term. I take about 45 minutes to one hour to plan the next term (twelve weeks). Also, before each week, I prepare for the following week, and it takes me about twenty to thirty minutes. Finally, each day, after the lessons are over, I plan for the next day and it takes me about fifteen to twenty minutes.

Where

“Therefore, the selection of their first lesson-books is a matter of grave importance, because it rests with these to give children the idea that knowledge is supremley attractive and that reading is delightful.” (Vol 1, p. 229)

Now, for the fun part! Here is a list of the living books, and specific resources we will be using in our final term, Year 1 – Form 1B.

BibleNIV Study Bible version and Parables of Nature

Writing – Reviewing writing the lower case letters in print and A New Handwriting cursive lower case letters. Then, we will move onto upper case letters in the New Handwriting method and copywork from A Child’s Book of Poems

Literature TalesBlue Fairy Book, Anderson’s Fairy Tales and Aesop’s Fables

History – I have probably WAY too much for History here…but he thoroughly enjoys these History tales and these will make for great free time readings too! America Begins and The Aztecs and The Book of Indians and Meet the North American Indians and Children of Wind and Water

GeographyCM Elementary Geography and Carmen of the Golden Coast and Children of Other Lands

Natural History – Keep a daily nature notebook and find and describe six wild fruits and Plant Life in Field and Garden and Tommy Smith’s Animals and daily time in nature! And Pair of Wings and Miss Rumphius

Picture Study – Botticelli Riverbend Press

Math –Charlotte Mason Elementary Arithmetic 

FrenchHachette’s French Primer and French Poem from mamalisa.com and French Song littlesongster and Nature vocabulary

Brush Drawing – Six wildflowers and fruits in paint or chalk and What to Draw and How to Draw it and draw in nature notebook once a week

Recitation – Fly Away Home Poetry Book and Bible Verses and Hymn

ReadingDiscover Reading – Shepherd lesson and Girl lesson – review words first – alternate sight words and word building

MusicChild’s Pianist One lesson per week in the afternoonR

Musical Appreciation – Brahms’s Music (I pick six songs and make a Spotify playlist)

Singing – Two French songs, hymns, folk songs, sing sofa 

Drill Joyous Book of Singing Games and Syllabus of Physical Exercises and free outdoor play and rhythmic games and dancing

Handicraft – Baking, Gardening, Make bed, Help put away dishes, Laundry, Fold laundry and Math in the Garden

I hope this helps you on your path to homeschool planning and provides with you some tools. Do you have any questions? Please comment below or send me an email!

Finally, I like to conclude with my favorite Charlotte Mason resources. I hope these are inspiring and as helpful to you as they are to me!

Charlotte Mason Resources for Planning

Planning Your Homeschool Term

Ten Favorite Living Books for First Grade

Ten Favorite Living Books for First Grade

Top 10 Living Books
Top 10 Living Books

First, we discuss the definition of living books. Then, we explore the significance of why we choose living books for educating our children. Next, read on for our favorite living books, so far, by subject. Finally, I list resources. Also, if you are interested in learning more about Charlotte Mason education in general, I list more information about her educational philosophy at the bottom.

Living books definition

In Parents and Children, Charlotte Mason says:

“They must grow up upon the best. There must never be a period in their lives when they are allowed to read or listen to twaddle or reading-made-easy. There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told.” (Mason, Vol. 2)

Living books are becoming more of a known idea. According to Living Books Library, living books contain “literary power, ideas, virtuosity, inspiration, narrative, imagination, and span generations.”

  • This is a great podcast describing more about living books.
  • Ambleside online also describes living books in this article here.

Why choose living books?

Charlotte Mason states:

“Therefore, the selection of their first lesson-books is a matter of grave importance, because it rests with these to give children the idea that knowledge is supremely attractive and that reading is delightful.” (Mason, Vol. 1)

Our favorite living books are the kind that make my son request chapter after chapter, or section after section, after we have read our portion for school time. They are the type of books that allow him to retain the facts, details, and storyline, often many days, or even a week, after we have read it. I can ask him to tell what he heard me read, and although sometimes he doesn’t feel like giving me a narration, he often surprises me to the extent of what he remembers. A living book allows learning to take place; not just learning is happening though, a lifelong love of learning is also fostered.

NOW FOR THE RECOMMENDED BOOKS…

LIVING BOOKS

I have always had a love affair with books. Books introduced me to various lands and lives that I otherwise would have not encountered. Books offered me refuge and respite when I needed it as I was growing up. It was easy to get lost in a good story. I’m so thankful to share this love of great literature with my children too.

TEN FAVORITE LIVING BOOKS FOR FIRST GRADE

Geography

Children of Foreign Lands – This book is a collection of stories written about children living in foreign lands. There are eight different countries included, and the illustrations are amazing. Both of my children are captivated by the stories, therefore, this book comes highly recommended.

favorite living books
favorite living books

History

D’Aulaire Biography Book Set – We have read Leif the Lucky and Columbus so far. My oldest son really pays attention to these stories (even when I think he may not be listening). Beautiful Feet Books sells the biography pack, and they are a better price when they are on sale.

Natural history

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children – This may be my oldest son’s all time favorite collection of stories. If I had allowed it, I’m sure we would have read through the entire chapter book in one sitting. Each story is written about a different animal, and told from the perspective of the town veterinarian. The illustrations that go with the stories capture my son’s interest. Also, my youngest son is sure to cuddle us with us while we are reading this book.

Tommy Smith’s Animals – Another book in this series was used in Charlotte Mason’s day. After reading a bit about recommended ages, I decided to begin with Tommy Smith’s Animals. This book hit the nail on the head, and my son is captivated. The story is about a young boy who is not kind to animals. After having a meeting to discuss what should be done about Tommy Smith, the animals settle on encountering with him one by one. They teach them about themselves, and encourage Tommy to respect the animals.

favorite living books
favorite living books

Literature

Aesop’s Fables for Children – I have to really slow down reading these to my son, because he wants to read ALL of the fables! I have two versions of this book since we love it so much. We also love this one for the illustrations.

Read alouds

Heidi – First, we watched Heidi on netflix during one weekend where we had been very physically active. My son was super interested when I then told him we had the chapter book of Heidi. My husband’s mother had a collection of classic books, which my husband inherited. I’m so grateful to share these rich stories with my children in our free time.

Boxcar Children – My oldest son especially is fond of trains. From the time he was two, he was building wooden train sets and configuring them in different ways.  He loves taking train rides, and hearing train stories. So, naturally, reading the Boxcar Children was a good fit for my family. I have great memories of reading the Boxcar Children series when I was growing up, and its fun to re-read them with my boys.

Billy and Blaze – I first saw these books at a Christian bookstore in Homestead Heritage Farms. After browsing through a few books, I knew my horse-loving son would love these books. So, I purchased this series, and my youngest son just loves them too!

Charlotte’s Web – Growing up, I loved the book and movie Charlotte’s Web. My son has seen the movies on netflix, and we have read the chapter book many times through together. The first time we read it aloud, he was four. I clearly remember him almost in tears when after reading one chapter, when I wanted to end the reading until the next day. He loves it so much!

favorite living books
favorite living books

Poetry

When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six – We began afternoon poetry readings before we started our official first year of school. I can remember being shocked at how both of my boys asked for more poetry after reading a couple of poems from this book. The illustrations are delightful. We have also enjoyed Winnie the Pooh together, and this collection of poems by the same author, A. A. Milne, is a great book to add to your rich read aloud collection.

favorite living books
favorite living books

Drawing

Brush Drawing Course – While this is not a living book, I wanted to include it here because my son loves art. This has been a great practice in learning basic brush drawing, or watercolor, technique. We thoroughly enjoy this time together, because we are completing the lessons side by side and are learning together.

GENERAL CHARLOTTE MASON RESOURCES

LIVING BOOKS RESOURCES

favorite living books
favorite living books

OUR PICKS

I’m sharing these here because these are my son’s FAVORITES. He always asks for more when we pick these books up!

Also, check out these previous blog posts in the series:

Thank you so much for checking in! Finally, please stay tuned for the next ‘A Charlotte Mason Subject Lesson’ post.

Homeschool Preschool Supplies List

All of the quotes mentioned in this blog post, come from Home Education by Charlotte Mason. The Living Press published my favorite version of her books. Finally, I TRULY recommend any parent read Charlotte Mason’s books! They are truly treasured words I believe I will be reading and re-reading for many years to come.