The Truth About Homeschooling Curriculum

It's easy to get caught up in choosing the perfect curriculum. In this episode, Amy and Leah discuss the truth about homeschooling curriculum- it's not going to make or break your homeschool! 

“I feel strongly that to attempt to work this method without a firm adherence to the few principles laid down would be not only idle but disastrous. "Oh, we could do anything with books like those," said a master; he tried the books and failed conspicuously because he ignored the principles.” Vol. 6, p. 270, “A Liberal Education in Secondary Schools”

1:45: There are so many curriculum choices out there, and I get the gist that people feel pressure to choose the "right" curriculum. Why do you think that is, Amy? 

1:55 I think a superficial reason is that there is a financial investment involved in choosing a curriculum. But I also think there is a sense that if we get this wrong now, we may never recover. 

2:57 In Home Education, Charlotte Mason said we need a few principles of education or we're going to stumble our way through education. 

3:40 When we take in these principles, they have to become our principles. We have to truly believe that these are right in order to apply them. In that case, it's easier to ignore the extra curriculum choices that won't work. 

4:34 There's an idea going around that says, "If you don't do it exactly like Charlotte Mason said, then you're going to fail." I don't think that is true, or it's only a partial picture of what happens. That puts a lot of stress on people to pick the right curriculum. 

5:00 The Holy Spirit Isn't Going to Quit on You if you Choose the "Wrong" Curriculum

5:33 We have to remember that curriculum is a way to use the tool "education is a life." Education is also an atmosphere. It's less about getting everything exactly right and more about "how are my kids seeing me work through my own imperfections?" 

6:44 I've been doing some reading around Pestalozzi and one thing that he says is, "Education is organic." 

7:50 What do you think people mean by a "true Charlotte Mason curriculum?"

7:58 I think it's a curriculum based on almost exactly what Charlotte Mason did- making a curriculum based on the books she recommended, the forms she outlined, etc. 

8:57 Charlotte Mason's philosophy is a method, not a curriculum. 

9:30 It wasn't Charlotte Mason's heart to set down a specific set of rules to follow. She wanted mothers, governesses, teachers, to see for themselves the nature of children and the nature of education, and to go from there. 

11:00 Going back to Pestalozzi a little bit, but one thing he said is that education needs to be adapted to the individual. 

12:40 Charlotte Mason said that she wouldn't write a book of the top 100 children's books. She said that she could, but that she wouldn't. 

13:30 The Four Tests of a Lesson from Home Education.   

     “Four Tests which should be applied to Children’s Lessons.– We see, then, that the children’s lessons should provide material for their mental growth, should exercise the several powers of their minds, should furnish them with fruitful ideas, and should afford them knowledge, really valuable for its own sake, accurate, and interesting, of the kind that the child may recall as a man with profit and pleasure.” Home Education, page 177

15:05 We see in her 12th principle that we present living books because education is the science of relations- that lines up with the first test of a lesson. 

15:20 The second test, it should exercise several powers of the mind. She's talking about things that your mind can do, like paying attention, observe, digest knowledge and store it in our memories. 

17:00 The third test: to furnish them with fruitful ideas. This is not ONLY from books!

17:45 One thing I really took away from last season was the method of a lesson, and we talked about leaving time for discussion at the end. There's meant to be room and space for that additional furnishing. 

18:20 Our last test is that the lessons should afford them knowledge, valuable for its own sake. I love this idea of my children growing up and being able to recall things that they've learned. 

19:26 If you found a curriculum that you like and have thought through these four tests of a lesson, what would you do next? 

19:40 Your next step is probably to consider your individual child. 

21:45 Sometimes I think we can feel weird about considering our child's needs if it means going off of the curriculum. But why would we homeschool if not to adjust and flex our choices around our children? 

22:50 For me, I have to consider who the curriculum is written for. There are a lot of American curriculums. But we don't live in America! At the very least, I'll have to tweak history and nature study. 

Show notes

Home Education (available to read online from Ambleside Online) 

How to Teach a Charlotte Mason Lesson (Thinking Love Podcast) 

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