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As a relaxed homeschooler who veers more towards natural learning and unschooling, I often seek out Charlotte Mason materials to use with my kids. Of all the different homeschooling philosophies and methods, hers meshes well with a natural learning environment. I emphatically agree with her emphasis on nurturing a child’s love of learning through real books and real experiences. Most folks remember her for using living books, not textbooks. Even though all my children are 12 and up now, I still try to use materials that encourage a lifelong love of learning. As I plan for next year with a 9th grader and a 7th grader, finding appropriate materials that embrace this philosophy becomes more challenging.

Rather than start with catalogs, I thought I’d check out what SchoolhouseTeachers.com had available in their Charlotte Mason Center first. 

While a lot of the courses are more appropriate for children in grade 5 or below, I did find a few for older students. In fact, I was bummed that my kids are too old for some of the classes.  For example, Let’s Do Math Outside sounded interesting. But, I digress. Here’s some of the courses I’m considering for my students this year.

 

Art

When my older daughter, (now age 20), was in high school, she took online lessons and a weekend intensive with Sharon Jeffus of Visual Manna. When I saw her course, Studio Art for Teens, listed on SchoolhouseTeachers.com, I jumped for joy. Now, my 9th grade daughter could enjoy the same benefits as her older sister had. I fondly remember the beautiful artwork produced and the amazing portfolio that my older daughter developed because of this course. I can’t wait to see what my younger daughter does!

I’m not sure my 7th grade son is ready for the same program. He loves to draw and doesn’t much like other mediums so I took a look at the Art Achieve Drawing course. Because it is a multi-level course and emphasizes drawing techniques, I think he will like it.

 

History

I haven’t quite decided yet which era of history we will cover next year. My son loves modern history, particularly the world wars and my daughter doesn’t, although I’d really like to group them. Feeling conflicted about it, I was pleased to find Age of Revolution I and Middle Ages History from Michelle Howard. She authored the Truthquest History series, of which I own every book! What a treat! Now, which one?

 

 

Language Arts

While several of the high school level courses are for 10th grade and up and also require Ultimate Membership, I still found a few for my students’ levels. Experiencing Epics and Poetry sounds like just the thing for my son. He developed a love for the vivid and fun language of poetry through a CM-style integrated language arts program. To further develop this appreciation, this course would certainly help.

While we have been considering a live literature co-op class for my daughter, I have reservations about the quality of the literature choices weighed against the cost of the class. Looking at the course outline for Exploring Literature, I feel my daughter would be sufficiently challenged by this book list and for far less cost.

 

Math, Science, and Others

I did look through the listed courses for math, science, social studies, electives, and music. Most of them are for elementary school, except for my own Botany course and some of the music courses. I usually couple my botany course with a Human Anatomy & Physiology course instead of a typical General Biology course. My botany course includes material not covered in a General Biology class and is very relevant and hands-on, exactly what Charlotte Mason promoted.

 

If you use the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling or maybe you, like me, embrace some of the core principles even if you don’t follow it exactly, check out the Charlotte Mason Center on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. The Center lists 64 classes as CM-friendly. Even you aren’t a CM homeschooler, you’re sure to find something to suit your style among the more than 400 courses available. Check it out today!

 

Julie Polanco is a 16+ years veteran homeschooling mom of four challenging, artsy kids. She is the author of two books for moms–God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn and 100 Ways to Motivate Kids–and the high school botany instructor for www.SchoolhouseTeachers.com. She teaches live middle school science workshops for her local homeschool co-op and is actively involved in her church’s women’s ministry. You can find her at www.julienaturally.com where she offers natural learning & living solutions for challenging kids and their families.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
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