charlotte mason, Homeschool, Uncategorized

A Charlotte Mason Bridge Year (3.5)

Today’s curriculum may seem oddly titled to you but I’ll try to give you a brief explanation. Last year come exam time my, then, nearly nine year old was struggling with reading and writing. So much so that I deep dived down the dyslexia handbook rabbit hole. I still hold that she may have a mild case of dyslexia, but after summer break, and adjusting my expectations, she has made great progress. We are approaching this year as a bridge year before we dive into year 4 officially.

Wait, you don’t wear a sparkly purple hood to the park?

As I have shared before we say their grade is whatever their age would coincide with, but the year of study more closely relates to the materials they are studying independently. She is just not ready for the year 4 readings that I had planned. 9We follow a Charlotte Mason method generally in our homeschool. I use a strange combination of Ambleside Online and Simply Charlotte Mason and other similar booklists to create a unique curriculum that meets my children right where they are in their studies. We do much of our learning together as a family, but they do have some special subjects just for them. Below you will see a quick outline of what my soon to be 8 year old will be doing for school this year. Below that list I will give some more explanation of her specific studies.

Nature studies and gardening are a big part of our school education

Family Studies

Working on the concrete concepts first before moving on to mental math

Independent Studies

Narrating and baby holding thats multitasking

Some of my biggest concerns when looking at the year 4 book lists were regarding science and literature. She was just not quite ready. The Ambleside Online year 3.5 offered some help and guidance in those areas, but mostly it was taking into account her preferences and abilities. She really loves fish and sea life, so we tried Arabella Buckley’s By Pond and River and it was a riveting success. She read well and gave beautiful thorough narrations. Since she did well we decided to just purchase the entire Eyes and No Eyes series which that book is part of. She has almost finished book 1, and she finished By Pond and River, which is book 2, before the first 6 weeks were over. To this day she still points out the things she read in that book as we visit ponds. This is the real victory. It is not measure in exam booklets, but in practical application and lifelong memories of the old friends she met in the pages of that book.

For literature the selections provided by the AO 3.5 list are just what she enjoys. She is loving English Fairy Tales, and I know Bambi will be a quick favorite too. She has heard this book read aloud in past, knows the Disney version, and loves woodland animals. I let her read at her own pace, simply expecting 15-20 minutes a few times a week, with thorough narrations. Again, she is reading with exceptional comprehension and lovely oral narrations. She recalls formerly read fairy tales and makes comparisons, as well as is discerning themes and morals as she goes.

This makes my heart happy. She is more than 2/3 through the book pictured here! We skipped a few because of gore or disturbing fairy tales.

Logic is an interesting subject and not one you find in Charlotte Mason curriculums. However, looking at the insanity that is our world these days, my husband and I decided it was a subject we wanted to include early on in their learning. We bought Logic Safari last year and absolutely loved that series, but couldn’t afford to keep buying those books for all the kids every year. We opted for these printables from Grids for Kids and have not been disappointed. It takes quite a bit of handholding and discussing at this age, but she is beginning to get the hang of it. I only let them do one puzzle each week, and it is a highlight for all of them. They always beg to complete more. So instead we encourage them to do logic games like the one pictured above from Smart Games, Qwirkle, Othello, Mancala, and many more. We had friends over that said, “Oh thats just story problems.” But let me tell you it is more than story problems. Teaching logic at a young age comes with easier and younger examples, but is the stepping stone to greater and deeper reasoning later on. My oldest will dive into these deeper forms next year during her 7th grade year with, How To Read a Book by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren and The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn.

I also switched maths for this child this year. She was doing well with Rod and Staff and could answer all the questions, but was struggling as we moved on to harder concepts. So we took her back to the beginning of Book 2 from Simply Charlotte Mason’s new-ish math series. We have started in the multiplication section and are going fairly quickly through this. It is easier, but we are seeing progress and confidence build with solidification of the basics. A lot of this home education process is me letting go of where she “should be” and accepting where she is, seeing my failures in instruction, and taking the time to do it right. Slow and steady.

Don’t forget these homemaking skills count too!

You may be wondering why my fourth grader is still doing phonics, and not doing it in a Charlotte Mason method. The quick answer is because she needs to still do phonics practice. This child was not a great reader but is gaining in skills of decoding, comprehension, and fluidity. Her spelling stinks though. She cannot recall those phonics cues and tricks. She works about 10-20 minutes in this book each week and enjoys it (most days). It is not a source of tears or argument, so we will continue. Extra phonics/spelling practice is what she needs to help her bridge that gap into writing that we are slowly working towards.

Finally, lets touch on handwriting and grammar. She is working on cursive, but we are also still fine tuning some print letters. She’s my leftie so I kind of have given up on perfect handwriting, but she is making some great strides. We are using Simply Charlotte Mason’s Hymns in Prose once a week (on dictation day for 10 minutes), and another one time per week she does “spelling” words in her Lesson Book. She and my next oldest are slowly working through Spelling Wisdom with an introduction into dictation (which both will begin in earnest next year). I put new words on the “words” page, then they do copy work from Spelling Wisdom in the copywork section, and on the last day of the week we do a dictation (these are the components of the Lesson Book listed above). We also once a week strive to do the grammar lesson from Using Language Well. Its not much, but an introduction into these things so next year is not a shock to the system. A typical language arts week looks like this…

  • Monday: Spelling 3 Rod and Staff, Handwriting Hymn from Happy Hymnody or Hymns and Prose, Read 15-20 minutes literature
  • Tuesday: Handwriting spelling words in Lesson Book, Read 15-20 minutes literature
  • Wednesday: Handwriting/Copywork from Spelling Wisdom in Lesson book, grammar lesson on the Spelling Wisdom selection with Using Language Well
  • Thursday: Handwriting from Hymns & Prose, Review for dictation from Spelling Wisdom Copywork the day before, Give Dictation and review any missed words.

For those of you sticklers who are now horrified that my daughter only reads twice a week for language arts, remember that she also has a science reading twice a week, is read to for history, science, literature, and bible time with family daily, reads her bible daily and has 30 minutes free reading every night before bed. Often there is also some audio book in the car as we run errands, and they pick up books to read during their free time. Our lives our filled with the written word. Her free reading choices come from the Ambleside Online year 3 and year 3.5 reading lists.

Our first brush drawing lesson

Not listed but something we also do is a minimum of twice weekly, but aiming for thrice, we have an intro to written narrations. I will not have her begin written narrations for at least a year possibly two. However, I do have her begin with writing 1-2 sentences about any of our morning time read alouds in a special notebook that provides lines on bottom and blank space for drawing above. This is not graded or corrected (besides a backwards letter, or glaring spelling issue), but gives an introduction to written narrations that will form the crux of her composition education in the future.

Much of this is repeated directly from my year 3 child’s post last week. That is because I am working on getting them to the same level in most skills by next year. One is advanced in math but behind in reading compared to the other child, and the other is advanced in reading but behind in math. It is my hearts desire to get them in the same levels for certain readings by 2023, but just meeting them where they are is what is needed most.

As always, if you have any questions don’t be afraid to drop them down in the comments section. We are just finishing up our 12th week of this semester (6 more to go) with a Sabbath week coming up and are finding a beautiful rhythm to our days. I’m seeing progress and confidence building, and am so happy with how the Lord has guided this year to find a smoothness to our days.

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