October 29, 2008

Something New

Back in the beginning of the school year, which seems like yesterday to me... the HSBA did their Homeschool Memoirs meme about "Something New". I've been homeschooling since the month that 9/11 happened in the U.S., so doing something new seems like starting over to me. Familiar routines really make homeschooling flow better, so starting a new path is like becoming a frontiersman and trudging through an unknown forest. I am willing to take the path less known, however... and so this begins my "research phase" of our 'Something New'.

Right now we are finishing up "States and Regions" in our KONOS unit. I have found that as the kids are so much older now (5th and 6th grades), that it seems harder to get the same results from unit studies as it was when they were younger. This makes sense - and seems like it is a natural part of the transition from elementary to junior-high age... even though it is sad for a mom to admit. After we finish this unit, we'll be moving on to the Civil War for the month of November. I'm going to try and fuse a bit of Texas History in also. I'm hoping to attend a living history display about the Civil War as well. After the Thanksgiving Holidays, I'm not sure if I want to spend the few weeks of December on fall and winter season activities and Christmas Crafts... or do a unit on Pottery and Sculpture. I'm sure I'll be needing a while to figure things out so that our new plans don't sink like the Titanic.

Unit studies will always have a special place in my heart... but I think that after we get finished with the schedule we are working on, we'll be doing something different. That something is debatable right now... but I am looking in to the Heart of Wisdom and Charlotte Mason for the most part. I think the kids need a heavier amount of literature and writing as they are older now. I could incorporate both in to unit studies, but my ADD personality tends to get distracted by the endless list of activities, field trips and library books... the plans and co-ops... the food and art. Activities and field trips are great - but the core of learning should be great books and the art of communication (written and oral).

And so... For my own good and for those of you who may be interested in looking in to Charlotte Mason yourself... I'm sharing some links with you. First of all, I'm sharing some general links and book lists... and then I'll share with you a sneak peek of some Charlotte Mason blogs that were nominated at the HSBA for the "Best Homeschool Methods Blog". Not all of them are finalists, but some will be! There's your early Thanksgiving gift for 2008.

Ambleside Online
Charlotte Mason Research & Supply Company
Charlotte Mason on Wikipedia
Charlotte Mason Essay by Infed
Simply Charlotte Mason
Charlotte Mason and Classical Education - essay by S.W. Bauer
Charlotte Mason's Books FREE to read ONLINE
Charlotte Mason Links at A-Z Home's Cool
Charlotte Mason Basics (lots of info/links)
Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

CM, Children and Lots of Grace
By Sun and Candlelight
Handbook of Nature Study
Harmony Art Mom
Higher Up and Farther In
Jamie's Cottage
In the Sparrow's Nest
On Our Journey Westward
Heart of Wisdom Blog
Aut-2B-Home in Carolina (CM with special needs)

If you have some other suggestions by way of links or blogs, please leave them in the comments section. I'd love to have a plethora to use in my own research and I'm sure that others who are looking in to CM would also benefit.

So now the cat is out of the bag. Seems even old homeschool dogs can learn new tricks. The question is, how long will it take me to get into a groove after Christmas... and can I manage to do that with a baby added to the mix in March? Time will tell.

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Anonymous said...

My older kids stayed the course with Konos units through 7th grade and then switched to the Konos high school program. Have you looked at that? I also love the new stuff that Diana Waring has out. With one in first grade, I'll be in the units for some time yet, but I'll probably go Diana Waring when when we hit 6th or 7th grade, this time around. No matter what we do, I always do it ala Charlotte Mason anyway. I love her philosophies. I'm praying for you as you make this transition and I'll miss taking a walk down memory lane as I look at your unit plans and field trip pictures.
You are a terrific Mom and homeschool teacher, so I know that whatever you set out to do, you will do it well and your children will be blessed by it.
May the Lord continue to bless your family in all that you do.
Jan in Va.

Phyllis@Aimless Conversation said...

As a fellow hard-core KONOSer, I feel your pain. I felt like it was harder and harder to 'beef up' a unit as my oldest got closer to Jr. High. I wanted to focus on activities and fun, but they really needed more academics.

I felt almost guilty moving on, but God released me from that and we are having a pretty good year so far. I am using a pre-packaged literature based, chronological study written for grades 4-8. It is something I haven't done before, but it seems to be working so far.

I do have a 3yo, so I'll have a chance to revisit units again if I choose to. And so will you...=)

Anonymous said...

I took an excellent course at the Ambleside School in Frederickberg several years ago.... you can read more about here:


Anonymous said...

Hello Sprittibee,

For some reason I can't email you this banner, I don't know if it's the email address or the image. I have included the image url for it the banner you requested. I hope that it's okay that I've placed it here. Please feel free to delete comment.



Rhonda said...

Robert is doing AO 5 this year and is loving it. I've made a few modifications to simplify it, but it's still very CM'ish. Ruth is doing Sonlight 5, but I'm very tempted to drop it and put her in AO 5.

I think you and your kids are going to love this. Jump in, the water's fine! :)

Anonymous said...

I love Heart of Wisdom and CM, but found Tapestry of Grace and it has worked really well for our family. Might be worth checking out.

Unknown said...

Welcome over to the CM side! (Not to be confused with the Dark Side.)

I think that your skill at unit studies will carry over and make you a fabulous CMer!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Jimmie. I think you would make a wonderful CM'er. :o) It's definitely a good fit for those of us momma's who are a tad ADHD when it comes to curriculum and monotony!

Melissa said...

You are a very wise homeschooling mother to be recognizing the need for change. I didn't start out homeschooling thinking I would ever change the cookie cutter box method of schooling that I had been taught in public school. However I've been seen shown much otherwise! Charlotte Mason's writings and educational philosophies were a pivotal turning point for our homeschool. I do not do CM exclusively, but I certainly employ a majority of her philosophies into our education now.

And, a big YES, CM is a great fit for those mothers and children who need life to be more deep and meaningful to the heart and more hands on to real life.

Blessings in your new endeavors,
In the Sparrow's Nest

Anonymous said...

Heather- When I read that you are going to do a unit on the civil war it made me think of a field trip we took earlier this month. We went to the Texas Civil War Museum in Arlington. It was a really great display with a short film too. They have a store that has really cool items for purchase. Admission was only about $15 for me and the three kids.
Anyway- it was really cool, if you're interested in travelling a few hours.
The Dallas World Aquarium was really cool in Dallas too. We also want to go to the mummy exhibit when we're up there next time.

Would you mind sharing the where the living history display is?
I'd love to share field trip ideas around central Texas anytime you want!

You should have my "real" e-mail from me telling you about the button. But, if you need one this is my "public' e-mail: homeschool mama ABC at yahoo dot com
Take out the spaces and add the signs, like usual. :o)


Anonymous said...

I highly recommend Linda Fay's blog at:


She is an Ambleside mom - mostly. Her blog is very informative and well worth the time spent reading.

Anonymous said...

Oh sorry I missed her name in the list. That's what happens when in a hurry.

Judy said...

I know many-many people in my co-op this year are doing Tapestry of Grace, some of them are former Konos users. I have heard great things about TOG. I myself do not use it because of the season of life I am in. I have 3 children in early elementary and our focus in the 3 R's. It is something however I do plan on to use someday in the future.

Sprittibee said...

Jan - thanks for your sweet comment. I love Diana Waring, so that sounds lovely. I have been leaning CM for a long time, but I just have been hitting brick walls and lots of burnout lately - so I think it is time for a change.

Phyllis - I love KONOS. I have held on for a long time trying to make it work. I'm just no good at it. My brain is still in a the box of PS. I feel very guilty doing something "new" and we haven't even started. In fact, I think of it less in the way of something new than I think of it as a release of a "perfectionist mentality". I finally am just admitting that I'm not a great KONOS girl. There, I said it.

Seabird - Ambleside has been beckoning me for a while. The book list is like a dream. I can't imagine how I will find them all... but I'm going to do my best to try. I have absolutely ZERO budget for books... which is another reason I have held on to KONOS so long. They offer you the library as your biggest resource. The library is FREE. I'm sure many Ambleside books are NOT available at the library. Thanks for the link.

HSBoutique - Thanks! I'm forwarding the graphics on to Dawn... but we have found that our little blinking image is too large for the sidebar. I hope we can find a way to use them anyway.

Rhonda - Thanks for the email of your schedule. I'd love it if everyone who CMs would send me a copy of their daily run-down. I'm so bad that I compiled ALL the books on AO from 1st through 5th in one list. Can't you just see me cramming all those books in to one year? LOL Old habits die hard.

Kim - I also love Robin and what I have read about HoW. Tapestry is WAY too expensive for me. A friend of mine uses it and I have looked at it over at her house. Especially after buying all of KONOS. It looks great, but it just isn't in the stars for me.

Jimmie - :) I know that CM isn't the dark side. I appreciate your encouragement. I hope that you are right!

Thanks Cindy! So you are ADHD, too? I thought it was just me. I would say I'm just ADD (and maybe a little C for CRAZY). Hyper would not be a fitting description.

Melissal89 - Wise. :) Do you know who you are talking to? My 9 year old is the glue that keeps me together. She remembers our schedule and calendar like Martha BO (born organized) Stewart. She makes sure I don't forget anything. Wisdom is something you have only when you are a teenager. Because everyone else is stupid when you are a teenager. LOL

I'm still trying to break free of the "cookie mold". However, I've been in love with CM from the start... just never took long enough to really dig and research... even though I probably do much of her method without even trying (or knowing that I'm doing it) already. I read through Clay and Sally Clarkson's book : Educating the WholeHearted Child and by far it is the best that I've read. Not sure if she's a CMer... but she describes me more than any of the other books I have read. I'm about to start Robin's Heart of Wisdom next. I took some time off to read "What to Expect When You are Expecting" again (10 year review)! I hope I can add more deep and meaningful and less chaos to our future endeavors.

Homeschoolmama - Thanks for the Arlington tip! If I'm ever up that way, I'll be sure to stop in. I'm certainly going to go to the King Tut show some time after the first of the year. We're going to start Ancient history after Christmas most likely. I've been looking forward to Egypt and the kids are old enough now. We've been lingering in American history for a while... and I'm interested in expanding our horizons. I have also been to the Dallas Aquarium! It is one of my favorite places. :) I bet it has changed and only gotten better. Those leafy sea dragons are the most beautiful creatures.

The living history display is in Hempstead. And I hear the Plantersville Renaissance fest is really a treat (going on now). There is also a Folk Fest in Huntsville that is superb. We went when mine were tiny and I want to go again (especially this year after studying Texas History and the States). Did you know that Sam Houston almost ran against Lincoln? He stepped out of the race so he wouldn't spread his party's votes thin. I wonder what would have been if he had been president instead of Lincoln?!

Steph in AR - I love Linda. She lives in Texas! I have been reading her blog for years. In fact, she's been a major inspiration for me with CM - pushing me closer to the edge of letting go of my KONOS habit. I hope one day to meet her and all those turkishenglish kids!

Judy - I know quite a few TOG users in my co-op as well. If they ever decided to donate all their curriculum to me, I might be one, too! :) Early elem. is the best time for KONOS. My kids loved it with a passion. I'm about to share some videos next week of our election unit. I miss those bright-eyed unit study days!

carrie said...

we tried ambleside a few times and while I love their booklist, some of it's just too much for my kids. Their comprehension level just isn't where it should be. But I bought a lot of the books and plan on using them at some point.

I've been doing CM for a few years now and I really do love it. Sometimes just reading and narrating makes me feel like I'm cheating or missing something. I really need to get on some support sites or something to make sure I'm doing stuff right.

But your kids seem like the type that would do really well with CM and/or Ambleside in general. Let me know how it goes!

Jamie {See Jamie blog} said...

♥Thanks for the link!♥
From what I've read about what you already do, this probably won't be a huge transition for you. Even before I loved the CM way of doing things, I was mostly doing it already; I just didn't have a name to put with it. Can't wait to hear more about how it goes. :-)



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