Meet Melissa, a second generation homeschooling mom of 4 kiddos. Take a peek into how Melissa homeschools. You’re gonna fall in love with her relaxed, restful & all about Charlotte Mason homeschool style.
1 – Briefly tell us about you and your family.
My husband and I are both second generation homeschoolers who happened to fall in love and get married, we’ve been friends for almost 20 years and married for 10 of them. It hasn’t always been perfect but we love each other even when we don’t like each other!
Our family resides in Zeeland, Michigan in a little neighborhood in the middle of the farm country. It’s great because the sunsets are gorgeous and we aren’t so far in the country that our kids don’t have friends to play with! We have two girls ages 8 and 4 as well as two boys ages 6 and nearly 2.
2 – How long have you been homeschooling?
I have been Homeschooling for 4 years.
3- Tell us about your Charlotte Mason Homeschool Approach.
The Charlotte Mason homeschool approach is what works best for my family. My whole life I have been captivated with the Arts and have shared a deep connection with nature. I love that the Charlotte Mason homeschool way of learning puts so much emphasis on getting the kids involved with what they are learning even if that means taking them outdoors for the morning and getting their hands messy.
We use Sonlight curriculum with this approach which works well considering all the connections Sonlight uses to draw learning out of living books. I truly believe if a child can connect themselves to a good book they are likely to remember what they are learning for a lifetime. Charlotte Mason also considered education to be a way of life, so learning doesn’t stop when “school” hours are over! It happens in all that we do.
I have also taken a more restful approach to our homeschooling after reading the book Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie, which has been a tremendous blessing to our school time. Now we focus more on fully immersing ourselves in the subject we are working on instead of rushing through it. No more box checking!
Sonlight Curriculum – Awarded Best Overall Homeschool Company in 2012 by Old Schoolhouse Magazine
4 – Year-round homeschooling or traditional calendar homeschooling?
Traditional calendar! We live in Michigan so we like to enjoy every minute of our warm weather. Not to mention I am always thankful to have a long break over the Summer to focus on JUST being a Mom and not a teacher. It allows me to study up on my goals for the following school year, focus fully on habit training with my kids and implement better ways of doing things around the house to prepare for the following school year. We typically take about 3 weeks off around Christmas so we can relax and enjoy that season as well.
We live in Michigan so we like to enjoy every minute of our warm weather. Not to mention I am always thankful to have a long break over the Summer to focus on JUST being a Mom and not a teacher. It allows me to study up on my goals for the following school year, focus fully on habit training with my kids and implement better ways of doing things around the house to prepare for the following school year. We typically take about 3 weeks off around Christmas so we can relax and enjoy that season as well.
5 – Tell us about your Charlotte Mason homeschool routine.
We do 4 day school weeks here so school is Monday through Thursday and on Friday we have cleaning day. This schedule has allowed me to experience rest and relaxation over the weekend because most of the chores we have to do are already done! Each day we just do a little extra which gives us an extra day each week to clean.
Every day we start with Morning Time and that is a time where we all learn together. This upcoming year we will be doing Bible, Bible Memory, Character Training, Science and the younger kids History during morning time. After that, we start Math and my oldest usually works on her own book work while I work with the younger kids, then we switch when it’s her turn for Math. In the afternoon, we work on reading aloud which is also their History and Geography.
One of the reasons I love Sonlight is that you can group some ages together, so we get to experience a lot of learning together and it saves me a lot of extra time. We use a loop schedule for subjects like Art, Poetry Teatime and extra-curricular activities we have planned. So if we are gone to an activity during the day, we don’t add on any other extra-curricular activities! It is usually hard enough to fit in the 3 R’s- Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic on those days!
6 – Complete the sentence: Our homeschooling happens mostly at…
We always start morning time just hanging out on the floor where my toddler can play and be involved if he wants to be. After that, we do book work in our school area and the afternoon is for couch time! Usually, we are doing read aloud books in the afternoon during my toddler’s nap so we like to get comfy and relaxed for our reading time.
7 – What have you picked for your curriculum next year?
Here is a list of all our curriculum planned for next year in our Charlotte Mason homeschool!
8 – List 3 books about homeschooling that really impacted you.
- Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie – If you want to add peace to your homeschool!
- The Homeschool Experiment by Charity Hawkins – This book taught me to laugh over those rough homeschool moments we all have with young children and also to be more relaxed!
- The Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson – Because having a home that brings life into our children’s lives adds so much joy to our homeschool journey. We can have a home that draws our children’s hearts close to us even as they become adults. Sally’s book was a good reminder to me that homemaking is an important part of homeschooling!
9 – Your family is going on an unplanned trip, not much time to pack, you must homeschool the kids while traveling and you can only take 5 of your homeschooling resources/books with you. What would you take?
- Nature Journals
- Our Art Box (Colored Pencils, Oil Pastels, Watercolor Crayons, Paintbrushes & Charcoal Pencils)
- Our current Read Aloud book! – Henry and the Clubhouse by Beverly Cleary
10 – If you had the chance to start homeschooling all over again today with the knowledge and experience you have now, what would you do differently?
I would tell myself to enjoy those early years! I was so worried about getting it right and I wish I had done more activities with my kids outside the home while they were young. The book work comes soon enough!
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While I appreciate the answers she gave, I have to wonder why one cannot spend more time out of the house at later years?! We are the teachers, correct? Life is more than books so I would encourage moms everywhere regardless of age to take advantage of trips, days out, etc often regardless of the age. I think too many moms get into the habit of recreating industrialized education (public schools) in our homes. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Julia, I agree! We are not bound by four walls and we spend as much time as possible upside exploring God’s creation, doing nature walks, etc. We often take our books, a picnic blanket, and snacks to a park and have our learning time outside mostly reading aloud and having great discussions. 😉