Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Home sweet home ... and thoughts on school

We've been out of town for a few days.

We had a wonderful time.

 We got to spend time with my mom and my grandparents.
 We went to the zoo (secret school).
 We went to Silver Springs (secret school).
 We rode glass-bottom boats and even learned some local history (secret school).
 We ate good food.
 We played in the pool (yes, in November).
 We took boat rides.
 We saw manatees migrating (secret school).
 We saw birds local to our area and named them (secret school).
 We saw alligators (secret school).
 We learned about snakes and bats and spiders and scorpions (secret school).

I could go on.

You get the idea.

We've had fun.

But, now we are pooped!

Tired, worn out, exhausted, a little bit out of it.

Now, it is time to unpack, clean up, pay bills, get back to LIFE.

Now, it is time to get back to SCHOOL.



Funny thing, while I was away, I was able to use my mom's I-Pad to still "check in" on my favorite blogs and what I discovered while I was away was that my favorite "like-minded", "like-schooling" mamas were making changes.

Making changes along the same lines as my own thoughts lately.

Don't you just love it when you stumble upon people who seem to think the exact same thoughts as you?

Well, before our trip, when I should have been focused on packing and cleaning, I was obsessed with school planning thoughts.

For NEXT year.

You see, I want to buy what I need for the 2012/2013 school year in February with my tax return.  We don't have a budget for school during the actual year, so I need to know what resources I want to use the next year and get them when I do have the money. The problem with that idea is knowing exactly what you want to use a year in advance.


If you've kept up with things around here, you know that I made the mistake last year of NOT doing that. Then, I found myself in September of this year with no plan and no materials and sort of at a loss.

Thankfully, I was blessed to be able to borrow materials for THIS year from one of those "like-minded" mamas I was talking about.

I am eternally grateful, unimaginably appreciative.

I was elated, excited, stoked to be getting the materials.

I waited patiently.

I wanted more than anything to LOVE the materials so much that all of my homeschool questions would be answered for the next ten years.

I wanted Oak Meadow to be THE answer.
I wanted to like it enough to stop looking and just use it forever.

That was my wish.

My wish was not granted.

Don't get me wrong. Oak Meadow is great. It is holistic. It is beautiful. I know that it is an amazing choice for a lot of people.

It just isn't the right choice for ME ... for the long haul.

While I find the materials that are in my hands (grades One and Three) complete, I started thinking about next year. I knew immediately that I did not want to use their materials for grade Four.

When I really started to think about it, I pinned down what I do want and no matter how many times I stray, I always come back to Charlotte Mason.

When I was planning the Oak Meadow materials for THIS year, I decided immediately that there were a few things I would tweak.
  • I much prefer the Charlotte Mason idea of copying only well-written literature, not copying our own summaries. So, when OM suggests summarizing stories and copying those summaries into the Main Lesson Book, I would find a good sentence or two from the reading for my daughter to copy instead.
  • I much prefer the Charlotte Mason idea of less writing in the beginning. According to Charlotte Mason, a child less than about 10 years of age would really not have to physically write much more than their daily copywork. The child in 1st or 3rd grade would narrate orally and only copy short bits, only as much as they could do perfectly in a short amount of time. OM includes too much writing too soon for my taste.
  • I very much prefer the Charlotte Mason idea of learning from WHOLE living books. While OM is story-based, the stories are all "adapted" and "altered" and inserted into these books written and compiled by Oak Meadow. I want to read whole, real books, by their original authors and in their original and beautiful language. You know, the kind you hold in your lap and admire on your book shelf. I don't want to read reprinted little stories in a syllabus or adapted fairy tales with no illustrations sprinkled in.
So, what I decided was this:

First Grade 

We are doing the Oak Meadow language arts for at least as long as the fairy tale and letter stories last. The Princess enjoys hearing the fairy tales (and that satisfies the Charlotte Masoner in me as well) and she loves to draw the letter pictures. Do I think she needs that? No, but we both enjoy it. So, we are doing two letters a week ~ reading the fairy tale, recalling the next day (a sort of delayed narration), drawing the picture, reading the rhymes and practicing the letters on the last day of the week (again, satisfying Charlotte Mason copywork for her age ~ letters first, then words and short sentences).  Will I continue the OM language arts after all of the letters have been introduced and drawn? Who knows. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

We are doing the Delightful Reading lessons. She LOVES these. She demands them, requests them, WANTS to do them, daily. So, I oblige.

I ordered and received Math Lessons for a Living Education from Queen Homeschool Supply and we are excited to get into that.

I was trying to do the science activities from both OM 1 and OM 3, but was not ever quite getting to the ones in OM 1. But, we are doing the OM 3 science as a family, so I think that is sufficient for my younger one as well. I will just relax and let it be.

So, from OM 1, I guess I'm only really doing the Language Arts at this point.

Third Grade

I am using OM 3 as a guide for content (somewhat), but the method is my own.

We are doing the science as a family on the weekend with Daddy. So far, I've been having the Hippie make an entry into her Science Lesson Book on Mondays that includes a couple of sentences about what she learned and a picture to go along with it. Since I have ultimately realized that I am not doing OM 1 science, I will start having the Princess draw a picture on Mondays that represents what she learned from Daddy over the weekend.

As far as the OM 3 Language Arts, when it suggests to read the folk tales at night and have the child make three entries into their MLBs that week (summaries and pictures), I'm basically changing that entirely. We are forgoing the folk tales and focusing on the Old Testament instead.  As I said above, I don't want her to copy her own writing, so instead of summarizing (though she IS narrating to me orally), I am having her copy a portion of one of the Old Testament stories that we read from Hurlbut's Story of the Bible.

She is also learning cursive and I agree with Charlotte Mason that while learning to print or learning cursive, the learning of the letter formation is the copywork. So, what I've been doing is having her form six perfect capital cursive letters on day one, six perfect lower case cursive letters on day two and then only copying a sentence from Hurlbut's Story of the Bible on day three or four. She has been writing a letter on the other day.

The other aspects of OM Language Arts include reading aloud (we do that) and her reading independently (she does that).

My plan (though it is not concrete) is to use the rest of the OM Language arts this year as a guide.

When it says to focus on poetry, reading some, memorizing some and copying some, I think we will do that.

When it says to add in spelling, I will not do it the OM way, but will possibly add in All About Spelling at that time. I'm still undecided on that.

When it says to add in some grammar, I may or may not do that.

As far as the OM 3 Social Studies, I sat down and looked at the actual materials. I used the content as a guide and rearranged to meet my taste. Oak Meadow uses two random stories from the Old Testament to illustrate the Ancient Hebrew culture. I decided to do the Old Testament all year long. OM touches on some Native American stories. I like that, but I will most likely add in several books instead of just doing the stories in the OM syllabus. OM also focuses on some frontier stories. I am planning to do American History next, so I may skip these altogether, knowing that we will cover that in detail soon.

According to my own rearranging, I figured we would "cover" the Ancient Hebrews between now and Christmas, then touch on the Ancient Kush and Ancient Phoenicians in January and February, then move on to Native Americans for the final term. This could change, of course, but I think it will time out nicely even if I decide to start American History early. We can easily combine the Native American aspects with the Ancient American History stuff I have in mind!

I left OM math out of everything.

We do handwork on our own.

We don't do recorder.

We paint when we want to.

The girls both enjoy picking simple recipes from the little cookbook that came with Oak Meadow and making snack for us.

I still want us to bake.

I still want the nature study.

I still love Outdoor Secrets and I still own Language Lessons books for each girl.


So, FOR NOW (and this is always subject to change as I see fit), we are doing this:

1st Grade:
  • Oak Meadow Letter Stories (Fairy Tales, Recall, Rhymes, Illustrations, Copywork)
  • Delightful Reading Lessons
  • Math Lessons for a Living Education
  • Reading practice from Arnold Lobel books, Reading Literature the Primer, etc.
  • MAYBE Language Lessons
  • MAYBE All About Spelling (when not doing Delightful Reading)
3rd Grade:
  • Learning cursive
  • Copywork related to Old Testament or Native Americans or from our Literature selection
  • Oak Meadow Third Grade Social Studies (Hebrews, Kush, Phoenicians, Native Americans, Map Skills, Economics, Law) 
  • Poetry memorization
  • Introductory Grammar (Sentence structure, Punctuation, Capitalization, Nouns, Adverbs, Adjectives)
  • Math Lessons for a Living Education
  • Life of Fred
  • Independent Reading
  • MAYBE Language Lessons
  • MAYBE All About Spelling
  • Oak Meadow Third Grade Science
  • Outdoor Secrets
  • Hurlbut's Story of the Bible (Old Testament)
  • Literature Read Alouds
  • Poetry (A.A. Milne & Robert Louis Stevenson)
  • Music Study (Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, Orchestra, Opera)
  • Picture Study (Renoir & Native American Art)
  • Baking
  • Nature Study
  • Handwork Group (Circle time, knitting, weaving, etc.)
  • Homeschool Group, Field Trips, Park Days
  • Library

And, that is where I am at right now.

As always, that is subject to change. :)

Looking ahead ... I am planning next year as we "speak".

American History and Geography ... and the rest will fall into place.

Many blessings to you on your journey!

So blessed to be a homeschooler.


  1. Glad to hear what you are doing! So it's not just me that thought OM had too much writing? Rella started to dread it and we cut down a lot on what they suggested in 2nd grade. Use what you want and ignore the rest, perfect!

  2. Yep. All that writing would only ensure that my oldest disliked school. She writes what she's learned in science (day one), she does her cursive practice, she does ONE copywork related to out stories that week (so far she's done some from Hurlbut's Story of the Bible and from Wizard of Oz, our current read aloud), she asked to write a letter, and that's about it. She narrates wonderfully, though ... but, orally!

  3. I think it looks lovely and the fact that you know what you want to cultivate in your home school speaks volumes. Piecing together excellent materials is a terrific way to find a cozy niche. Glad you are home safe!

  4. We just started spelling via dictation this year using this method:

    (Have you discovered this site, yet?) It is a GREAT resource on the practical how-to's of Charlotte Mason.

    Anyway- I.LOVE.THIS.METHOD. As does my daughter (9). It's her favorite part of school. And it's easy to pick up one of the books we're already reading and ask her to look at a passage and see if there are any words she might stumble over when it comes time to spell. I write those up on the board, she studies them (takes a "picture" of them) and then writes them within her dictation and it is working beautifully!

  5. Thank you, Stacy! Yes, I LOVE the site. I don't follow it to the letter (it has you separating the kids like Ambleside and I want to do stuff like History and Science together), but I DEFINITELY read it top to bottom and do so OFTEN. I will have to decide on the spelling. I own AAS and have heard amazing things about it, but have yet to USE it. I get the impression that my children are/will be good spellers because of all the reading, so maybe we CAN do the CM spelling method. I just haven't given up and sold the AAS YET. Time will tell. :)

  6. @Erin ... glad to be home so I can really type, LOL. NOW I'm ready for discussions. :)


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