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.” 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 is true, the Australian Curriculum doesn’t cover 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 it is so much richer. Children are introduced to a broad feast of ideas.
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 childrens’ intellects are capable of.
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. 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 giving up a textbook. Just one textbook!
One of my absolute favourite ways 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.