We are doing homeschool somewhat differently than we have before, and not just because there is a very active troublemaker (almost) 3-year-old messing everything up, or a just-walking 1-year-old to keep us busy.

I’ve been drawn to Charlotte Mason style education, but have had a hard time finding the confidence (or ability) to put anything together.  Last year, you may recall, we went with textbooks while trying to juggle new baby and very active troublemaker 2-year-old.  That kept us afloat for the first few months at least, but we had put several of the books aside before the year’s end.  While I saw that having a “chapter and questions” on a certain subject gave me a semblance of confidence that I “wasn’t missing anything,” I also realized that the novelty of such a plan wasn’t enough to really instill much of that information for the long term.

The next step, an unexpected one, was ordering Read for the Heart, on a whim.  I have Books Children Love, and was able to use it to some extent, but was hoping for a little more.  More what?  I don’t know; more input regarding reading choices for children.  What is a good book for what age?  What has questionable themes or concerns a Christian parent might want to know about beforehand?  What is of good literary quality?  What meets the above criteria, and is good to use while studying the Civil War, or ancient history, or …?  Is there anything written recently, that’s worthwhile?  Read for the Heart really delivered.  I was going to do a post about it, but I’m just tossing it in here instead. 🙂  It’s a great resource.

The next thing that led me this direction was peeking (again) at Ambleside Online.  I’ve browsed this site many, many times in the past, but it always seemed SO intimidating to me.  Maybe it’s the warning on the intro page.  Or the older books with which I was unfamiliar.  But this time it didn’t seem so scary.  In fact, a lot of those older books they recommended seemed familiar this time…  Indeed, I had read their summaries recently in… you guessed it!  Read for the Heart.

I dug through the site more and more, and made the leap.  I printed out the booklists/schedules for the appropriate years, and joined some relevant Yahoo groups.  I began a fairly tedious process of comparing used book prices between sites and placed some orders.  I even found several books available for free to read on my Kindle for Mac program (Kindle for Every Other Device offered here).  I had peace, and we started on August 2nd.

Why does this feel so do-able all of a sudden?  Well, I like that someone has put in all the hard work of selecting age-appropriate literature that covers all the bases.  I like that the artist and biography and history readings can all be pinned to one general area on the timeline, and that we might read mention of Luther in two or three different books.  This weaves a tapestry of understanding, I think, and reinforces the inter-connectedness of life, as opposed to the compartmentalization that my education proffered.  I like that the schedule is laid out weekly, instead of daily, so we can work at our own pace through the books (or, perhaps more accurately, I only need to freak out once weekly instead of every day, if things are not completed timely.  🙂  ).  I like Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and method, and love that I can implement it without all the brainwork of putting the whole thing together on my own.  Have I mentioned I hate making decisions???  Well, someone did most of that for me.  I had to choose math, and Ambleside.  Ahhh…  That’s much easier than choosing math, and history, and science, and geography, and literature, english, poetry, art, …

We’re working somewhere around Week 4 or 5 (see how precise I am?  Sheesh..).  We left town for most of a week to attend a cousin’s wedding, but I like being a little ‘ahead’ to start out.  There are days we get a lot done, and days we struggle, but we’re making progress, and I’m enjoying the simplicity of narration and CM’s other techniques.

I am blessed to have both the major planning done (for me), and be able to use a method/philosophy that sits well in my heart.  I hope the same for everyone else, wherever and however their children are educated!

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