Our Journey Towards Charlotte Mason

When I first started homeschooling I was in way over my head. There were so many options and I was extremely overwhelmed.  I wanted to make the best choice for my boys but wasn’t very confident in myself. Our first few years we used a boxed curriculum.  I really loved that curriculum but it wasn’t a really great fit for either of my boys.

Then I started to dig around a little more for other options. It seemed like everyone around me was following the Classical model/method of homeschooling. I’d read the book and it seemed to make  sense so I gave it a try.  It was a method that worked well for me but not well for my boys.

Every homeschool family has to find what works for them. Over the years we have slowly shifted to a charlotte mason homeschool. Come read about our journey and why it's more than just a homeschool philosophy.

Desperate to find some peace and joy in our homeschool journey I signed up for a homeschool consultation with a {then} blogger friend Dollie. She really helped ease my fears and guide me down the path toward the Charlotte Mason method of education.  After our consults I felt so great about the upcoming year! I read a short book about the Charlotte Mason method and jumped into headfirst into planning. I haven’t looked back since.

3 Things I Love about Charlotte Mason

The #1 thing that really drew me to the Charlotte Mason method was that it was not just about educating my children.  She really focuses on parenting and homeschooling as two parts of the same whole. I love that.  Ever since I came to understand that homeschooling is really about discipleship I have had to be intentional about not separating the two.

Short Lessons

Have young learners (especially boys) I was really concerned about how I would get everything done that we needed to do each day. In the beginning I would have boys at the tables for way too long trying to complete worksheets and other assignments just so I could check them off my list.  Charlotte mason encourages keeping lessons short, especially in the young elementary years. This is a change that has really changed the learning environment in our house for the better. And we are getting so much more done each week!

Great Books

Charlotte Mason advocates using living books in your homeschool. I have always loved to read and I love being able to share great stories with my boys as we learn together.  We use living books for every single subject that we are studying.  I wouldn’t say that textbooks never have a place in learning but they just are not something that works for us right now.

Learning Together

With Charlotte Mason’s method I have been able to teach most subjects together. I love that we can all learn the same thing at the same time. It helps when choosing what materials to use and planning lessons.  As our family continues to grow it really gives me peace of mind knowing that we can continue to learn together.

Those are just a few of the things that we love about being a Charlotte Mason family. There’s so much more to her methods and I will be sure to share an inside look  into what it looks like in our day to day learning. It has been such a blessing and relief to find a method that really works for our family.

Does your family follow a method of learning? Which one(s)?

To read more about how other homeschool have changed over the years be sure to click over and read other posts from my iHomeschool Network Sisters.


Introducing Classical Music to Young Children

I didn’t grow up listening to classical music. I still have no idea who all those dead guys in wigs are.  I love all kinds of music and sure there are a few classical tunes that I love (themes from Looney Tunes and Charlie Brown) but I really don’t have a true appreciation.

I really wanted to do something about that for my children. I don’t want them missing out on many of the benefits of classical music that I hear so much about.

Are you looking for a great resource for  music appreciation for kids? Come see why my boys loved Zeezok Publishing's Music Appreciation for Elementary Grades.

3 Easy Steps to Music Appreciation

Because I am new to the classical music scene I needed a way to ease my entire family into studying. I have 3 things that I look for when it comes to music appreciation.

Listening to Classical Music

This seems like a no brainer but it’s nice to have CDs of different composers to listen to.  We have been able to get some really fun CDs for free from our library. I often play the music while we are doing chores around the house, working on art projects or even while we are out and about in the car.

Reading about Different Composers

We are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers that LOVE a good book. I use living books for all of our subjects and I really wanted to be able to do the same for music appreciation.  Finding a good book to introduce a composer or style of music to my boys really helps to add to our easy study of composers and gives some great background information.

Something Fun!

Anytime that we are learning something new I’m always looking for ways to enrich our studies: field trips, movies, projects, etc.  It doesn’t have to be really expensive or time consuming just something to help us see and use what we are learning in our everyday life.

Elementary Music Appreciation with Zeezok

I have had my eye on Zeezok’s elementary music appreciation curriculum for a long time. When I was given the chance to review the complete kit I jumped on it.  We have worked through just one composer unit so far but it has been a great experience. Zeezok meets all three of the requirements that I just mentioned above!

Collection of Music on CDs

The elementary kit comes with 5 CDs full of music from each of the 7 composers that the curriculum covers! I really loved that the tracks are mixed up so you can listen to different composers and songs on each CD. It was very interesting to watch as my boys had different reactions to each of the tracks. They listened while the cleaned their rooms, put laundry away and made their beds. And even recognized a song that they’d heard a month ago at my mom’s graduation!

Zeezook's classical music curriculum for elementary students has a great collection of music from 7 different composers

7 Composer Biographies

These books were by far our favorite part of this curriculum.  These books are so well made and the stories are great! My oldest son was able to read them on his own but we did them as family read alouds. I actually let the boys choose which book to start with: Paganini. We spent a few weeks just enjoying the story together before moving forward with the rest of the lesson.

Zeezook's classical music curriculum for elementary students has one biography for each of the 7 composers. A fun and educational read for your children and makes a great read aloud.

Lots of Fun Activities

This kit came with a student activity book and a disc with printable lapbooks for each composer. We did not follow the order of the activity book which is fine. There is an order in the book for the lessons but each composer’s unit will stand on its own.

The activity book comes with different options for tying your composer studies into other subjects like geography and history. I really loved the character lessons for each unit. I’m always looking for great way to include character lessons in our studies. There’s also some fun hands on activities, recipes and games to try out with your family as well.

Are you looking for a great resource for  music appreciation for kids? Come see why my boys loved Zeezok Publishing's Music Appreciation for Elementary Grades.

Are you ready to buy? Save 10% on all products listed in the Music Appreciation Category with coupon code ihomeschool15 (expires 4/10/2015)

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Would you like to try out this curriculum in your home? Great news Zeezok is giving away one complete kit! Just use the entry form below to enter:

#1 Thing My Children Need to be Successful 

When my oldest was in preschool he wanted to be a teacher. A year later he also wanted to be a rescue diver like his favorite cartoon, Rescue Heroes. Over the years I have watched as he changed his mind. Currently he wants to be a solider, a missionary and open a restaurant with his brother.

My little one has had some interesting ideas about what his future would hold. At one point he wanted to be a polar bear! He then moved on to a race car driver, rescue diver (like big brother) and lately he has been focused on his lemonade stand/ restaurant where you can eat even if you don’t have any money.

Listening to my boys share their plans for the future has provided me many laughs over the years.  But recently I really started thinking about what they would be when they grow up.  Like any other parent I also started to wonder how I would make sure that they were prepared for that future.

The #1 thing that my children need to be successful will not be found in a textbook or on a test. Come see the only thing that I'm telling my boys they need to do to be successful.

I don’t know if my oldest is going to fight for his country in ten years or spend his days sharing his love of God with others in a foreign land. I’m pretty sure my little one will never become a polar bear but he may open that business. The one that that I do know is that if they are going to be successful at anything in the future there’s one thing that they need.

Last year I realized that choosing to homeschool my boys was not really about their education. Homeschooling for us is about discipleship: raising my children to follow God.  It’s the reason that I refuse to allow society to socialize my children. Why I choose curriculum with a Christian worldview. And why our day is not complete if we haven’t spent time in the Word.

If  my children are truly going to be successful they must learn to hear and follow the voice of the Lord. 

Society today may tell us that test scores, sports and making lots of money it was matters. But they often get it wrong. I am learning that it’s my job to help my boys grow closer to God so that He can lead them down the path He created them for.

I always tell my boys that they can be a janitor or a brain surgeon but the most important thing is to live a life that pleases God. Even if that means standing alone or going against the culture.  If my boys grow up loving the Lord then I have done my job as their mama.

I’m joining my iHomeschool Network sisters today as we write about growing successful children. Be sure to check out the other posts here!