When we started homeschooling 5 years ago, I followed The Well Trained Mind pretty closely. I was drawn toward the rigorous curriculum, the focus on history and classics, and frankly, I felt it was a great way to pave the way for a very academic future.
I still think the classical method is beneficial in many ways, but with my younger set of kids, we’re taking a step toward Charlotte Mason instead.
The two aren’t mutually exclusive, so I’m not saying we have to choose one over the other, but while I liked some CM ideas when we first started out, I leaned toward classical homeschooling, I now lean the opposite way. As the kids get older, I do imagine we’ll cover logic (a very classical subject), but this is likely more of a personal preference because I find logic extremely useful and personally fascinating.
So, why are we taking a different path this time around?
I was stuck
I have to admit that part of the reason I chose classical homeschooling was that I was stuck in the idea that a successful homeschool was a highly academic and rigorous one. We went from public schooling, to using a virtual school, and so when we started homeschooling on our own, the classical method was a pretty natural next step.
Now that I have a bigger picture, I see the great value in more gentle approaches to homeschooling.
Who I answer to
Homeschooling with an ex in the picture isn’t always easy, especially when homeschooling is a totally new concept to them. We have had split custody for Kira’s entire life, so his opinion matters, and the classical method looks good on paper.
In order to continue homeschooling Kira, I needed our homeschool to look impressive. Following The Well Trained Mind did just that.
When Kira started homeschooling, my big aim was to help her reach high academic goals. She could jump a grade ahead, start college classes early, and get a jump start on life.
This time around I’m focused more on the experience than on the academic markers. I would hate it if my kids could recite Shakespeare by heart, but they hate learning. I realize the classical method can be taught in a fun and engaging way, but with the Charlotte Mason method, it feels easier to implement.
Rather than a focus purely on academics, I want to create an environment to foster passionate curiosity in my kids. This way, in sha Allah, even when I’m not assigning them work, they will seek out information rather than expect to be handed both information, and cookie cutter questions to be answered.
Drawn toward the materials
As I’m finding resources both for Kindergarten and 1st grade (hoping to find things that we can use from one year to the next), I’m simply drawn toward the Charlotte Mason materials, especially for Aamina. Aamina likes to have a bit more free reign in her school work rather than filling out worksheets or having very specific instructions for an assignment.
Living books are another draw for me. Why not use books that exude passion from the author through the pages? We’ll still keep a home library of children’s encyclopedias, but in sha Allah we’ll be adding some living book resources to our shelves as well.
I still lean toward an unschooling/delight directed approach also. I believe that it’s easier to blend delight directed with Charlotte Mason than with a classical method. With the focus on short lessons, never working past the point of enjoyment, and spending lots of time outside, there is a lot of room in the CM model to let children choose how to use their time and explore freely.
Gemma Elizabeth says
Shannen! This is just how I feel! We also started off with WTM, but are embracing a charlotte mason/ unschool approach now. It feels more natural and fits more organically into the life we already lead. Although, knowing me, I’ll be doing something else next year!
Shannen Espelien says
I hear you there! I generally try really hard to find something that I can stick with for a while and really dig into it before going forward, but it seems that homeschooling is so fluid that each year is a bit different than the last. 🙂
I’ve also loosened my step with WTM. It worked well for my daughter in 2nd and 3rd grade.
I’m not sure what we’ve been using as a guideline these for the past 2yrs… 6th grade is a strange time..
But it’s safe to say we have taken a different direction – I couldn’t explain what that direction is. For sure my own perspectives on homeschooling have changed considerably – definitely more open minded.
For my kindergartener – classical simply won’t work. I’m still exploring options. It’ll probably be eclectic eclectic.
Shannen Espelien says
I know what you mean. My oldest really loved the classical method, especially if I had more one on one time with her (three kids and buying two houses really put a wrench in that plan!). With Aamina, she just isn’t really a classical kid. Eclectic is so beautiful because it can change with your family – guilt free!
We use the CM method here too after trying out other methods and then coming back to CM again. This was a great post – covered a lot of the reasons we have come back to the Charlotte Mason method too (including wanting to make our homeschool sound impressive to my ex husband – same story here).
Your blog is beautiful Shannen!
Shannen Espelien says
Thanks for the compliment on the blog!
That’s good to hear how you’ve come back to it. I keep finding myself trying to add more classical stuff on our plate because it feels scholarly – a feeling I love. And then I have to remember, she’s just a kid! Let her learn like a kid!