How do we go about supplementing the Australian Curriculum to give our kids a rich education?
The Australian Curriculum doesn’t teach much history, geography, science or literature in the primary years. Children are only required to learn simple facts and definitions; therefore a couple of workbooks and an online subscription may suffice. However, when you follow a Charlotte Mason approach education is so much richer. Children are introduced to a broad feast of ideas and the love of learning is paramount.
History must afford its pageants, science its wonders, literature its intimacies, philosophy its speculations, religion its assurances to every man, and his education must have prepared him for wandering in these realms of gold.” Charlotte Mason V6 p.43
Recently, a new homeschooling mum was approved for registration using My Homeschool curriculum. The assessor looked at our curriculum and made the comment, “You don’t need to cover all that.” He didn’t see the point of supplementing the Australian Curriculum. Of course, these words were meant to encourage her that she had more than enough in her curriculum but when I heard that, it struck me how different the public school curriculum is to a Charlotte Mason approach. It reminded me of the ‘teaching to the test mentality’ that has entered many Australian classrooms.
Charlotte made the point that “children are born persons” and that we need to respect their intellect, faith, and thirst for knowledge. She encouraged us to educate our children with “substance and vitality” which today would be interpreted as a solid, strong, vibrant education. Unfortunately, many of the primary school textbooks and worksheets offered to children are simple and uninteresting and they miss the excitement that we know our children’s’ intellects are capable of understanding.
Ideas for Supplementing the Australian Curriculum
Take copywork as an example. When I first began teaching handwriting we used a handwriting workbook that I bought from Target. The handwriting instructions were good but the chosen phrases were idiotic (and at times quite inappropriate). I then discovered copywork and I was a passionate adopter, and from that point my children practised their handwriting whilst writing passages from living books and literature – no more sentences about Wendy witch and Peter pirate any more.
In a primary science workbook a child may only be asked to count the legs of a spider, or look at the body of an ant but with Charlotte Mason she had children reading living books about nature and going on nature walks.
And I could go on about the absence of world history, or the complete lack of geography, or the deficiency of musical education in the Australian Curriculum but your time is valuable. If you are wanting to try to adopt some more Charlotte Mason ideas in your homeschool why not try broadening the curriculum offered to your children!
One of my absolute favourite ways of supplementing the Australian Curriculum to replace textbooks is with living books and a notebook or journal. Living book lessons have been are one of the most enjoyable additions to our homeschool. I loved that we could do this as a little family group and my children still love looking at the journals they made back then.
When I look back at the 18 years of teaching my own children, I am so thankful that we discovered the richness of Charlotte Mason’s ideas. We learnt the facts, but we filled our minds with a wealth of ideas. I said “we” because I enjoyed learning these things along with my children. I encourage you to take the step into a Charlotte Mason approach as well.