Meet my dear friend Denise and be inspired by her Modern Charlotte Mason homeschooling approach. 

if you are not familiar with a Charlotte Mason homeschool approach, check out my guide here and the 10 reasons I love Charlotte Mason education.

A Delightful Modern Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Boys Year Round

Meet Denise and her delightful family.

I live with my husband, my two sons (ages 4 and 6) and my mother, in a very rural area of Eastern P.E.I.  We love having lots of open space to run around in, woods to explore, and a quiet unhurried atmosphere all around us.  I love reading, photography, philosophy, traveling and coffee.  Before I became a homeschooling mother I worked as a vocational counselor and a psycho-educational assessor.

How long have you been homeschooling? 


Well in many ways the classic homeschooler response “I’ve been homeschooling since they were born” is true.  Officially using curriculum started last year with some basic math and phonics programs for junior kindergarten.  My oldest is doing a hybrid of Kindergarten and Grade 1 this year.  At this stage especially, grade level does not really matter to me, some areas we are “ahead”, some we are “behind” but the important thing is that learning is happening and the love of learning is being cultivated.

Tell us about your Modern Charlotte Mason homeschooling approach.

The more I read about the Charlotte Mason approach, the more it resonated with me.  The underlying philosophy of “Education is a Life, a Discipline, and an Atmosphere” summed up how I wanted learning to happen in our home.  The guiding principle that “The child is born a person” defined how I wanted my relationship with my boys to develop.  The practical applications of short lessons, setting forth a feast of learning opportunity, and using tools such as living books and narration instead of textbooks and worksheets excited me and reignited my own desire to learn.

Last year I hobbled together a patchwork of materials from various sites and my own findings, this year I was very excited to get to be a tester for a new Charlotte Mason curriculum called “A Modern Charlotte Mason“. To quote from the website; “A Modern Charlotte Mason incorporates a full array of resources …including modern living books as well as the time-honored classics of the past. As a living and evolving curriculum, A Modern Charlotte Mason also provides the user with links to extension activities, documentaries, and articles that are coordinated with the lessons.”  We have loved our experience so far.

This curriculum is currently being developed and I am thrilled that I will get to test another year this coming season.  Check out the Facebook page to learn lots more and interact with the creator of the curriculum.

Charlotte Mason homeschooling books. Showcasing our lovely AMCM book list (plus some extras that I use here and there)
Showcasing our lovely AMCM book list shelf (plus some extras that I use here and there).

Year-round homeschooling or traditional calendar homeschooling?

Starting this year we have been enjoying the flexibility of year-round homeschooling.  We’ve had a few life events that were extra busy, so in that duration, we took some time off (a couple of weeks each time) with no worries about having to “catch up”.  Soon we will break for about 3 weeks.  Then we will have a more relaxed couple of weeks where we do some schoolish things, but not a full schedule.  After this we will enjoy an approximate schedule of 6 weeks on, one week off, with few longer stints off over the Christmas break and during the best weather weeks of summer and early fall.

Tell us about your Modern Charlotte Mason homeschooling routine.

A Modern Charlotte Mason homeschooling approach uses daily forms, in which days are broken into blocks of Morning Time, Academics, Tea Time, and Active Afternoons.

We do our “Morning Basket” before breakfast.  Our activity list for this time might look like:

  • Thanksgiving and Prayer Journal.  (Each person states one thing they want to give thanks for, and one area of the day they want help for
  • Hymn singing: All things Bright and Beautiful, It is Well With My Soul
  • Scripture reading
  • Memory work
  • Calendar Time (we have a board on which we change date, weather, time, and season)
  • Reading from Dangerous Journey (a Child’s rendition of Pilgrim’s Progress) or Among the Meadow People

After this time together we have breakfast and do any morning chores that need to be completed.  Then comes the “ACADEMICS”

I usually start with Math as this is the subject with the most prep work for me.  Other activities in this time would include reading aloud and hearing narrations from a variety of living books that cover literature, science, geography, and history.  Doing a short stint of copy work (usually a phrase or sentence from one of the books we are reading) and doing some reading practice.

Once we are finished with our daily list in this area the boys have some free time, we enjoy lunch and then we have “TEA TIME ACTIVITIES”

This period covers areas like listening to our chosen composer of the term, learning some new art techniques, doing artist appreciation study, handicrafts, sometimes a full-blown “Poetry Tea Time“,  Shakespeare and recitations or folk-songs.  (We don’t do each of these each day, but a selection of these activities comes at this time of day.)

Our afternoons are then free for things such as play, free reading, nature walks, science activities/experiments and getting chores done.   Mondays are a shorter day from our schooling routine as we go to co-op then to enjoy learning opportunities with friends.

Complete the sentence: Our Modern Charlotte Mason homeschooling happens mostly at…

Morning basket time always happens on the downstairs couch.  Other learning activities migrate around the house, from the kitchen table, back to the couch, do the carpeted area of the loft where we store the homeschool books and supplies.
I love having the freedom to school where it is most convenient and delightful at the moment, but I also love the structure of having all the supplies and books in one dedicated area.  With a nice weather we do things outdoors too, I’m hoping to get a screened-in tent so we can spend more time reading outside, without feeding the bugs too much.

What have you picked for your Modern Charlotte Mason curriculum next year?

As mentioned above I will be testing a year of A Modern Charlotte Mason.  This will cover most of my curriculum, with lovely living books in geography, history, science, and literature.   I don’t have the full book list for this yet, but if it is like this past stint I know it will be fantastic.

For Math, I will be using Right Start Math Level C for Math with my 6-year-old and when my younger child turns five, I will probably start him at a very slow pace with Right Start Math Level A.  (He is asking to do more math, so though a traditional CM education does not start formally until 6, the games approach of Right Start will not be taxing, as long as concepts are not pushed before he is ready.)

I’m not sure what reading program I will use with my older son, so far none of the ones I have tried have fit.  I may use “The Joyful Shepherdess” blog posts for this or I may purchase the Simply Charlotte Mason program.  I will be using our break time to work that out.  I will also continue to just let him practice on early readers he enjoys.   My younger son will get to occasionally play with the computer program Reading Eggs.

I’m not sure what reading program I will use with my older son, so far none of the ones I have tried have fit.  I may use “The Joyful Shepherdess” blog posts for this or I may purchase the Simply Charlotte Mason program.  I will be using our break time to work that out.  I will also continue to just let him practice on early readers he enjoys.   My younger son will get to occasionally play with the computer program Reading Eggs.

List 3 books that really impacted you.

1. The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles. By Carol Barnier.  This is a FANTASTIC resource.  It really freed me to understand learning doesn’t have to take place in a box and that you can find creative ways to help your unique learner connect with the materials he is studying.  It highlights different ways people can take in and retain information and then has a variety of creative applications you can use to connect with your learner.  Just writing about it makes me want to pick it up and glean some ideas for tomorrow. 🙂

2. When Children Love to Learn. by Elaine Cooper.  This book helped me realize that the wonderful things I was reading in Charlotte Mason’s volumes could be practiced today in education.

3. The Practice of the Presence of God. By Brother Lawrence. No, this collection of teachings by a humble 17th century monk is technically not a homeschooling book – but its’ simple wisdom and its’ exhortations to find the spiritual element in all the routine tasks of the day (from washing dishes to listening to a child sloooooooooooowly sound out a CVC word in phonics practice) very much influences the heart of how I want to see my time, including my education time.

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?

ARRRRRGH!!! By far the hardest of these questions to answer.  I went back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and….well you get the idea.  Now I am assuming this is a very long trip, as short stints the homeschooling would be in the trip itself.  I tried to make a book list (see below) but I kept cheating and bundling books together as “one”.   If I was thinking more along the lines of resource materials  the list might be:

  1. A couple of sets of cards and dice for math games.
A Modern Charlotte Mason homeschooling book lists
“5” of my top book list picks.
  • My Ipad for the Kindle app and video camera to record acting out narrations.
  • A box of various materials that could be used for simple science experiments and observation. (Magnifying Glass, Vinegar and Baking Soda, Glass Jar to catch and watch bugs, etc)
  • My camera to do art studies – how to see light, how to compose a pleasing scene, how to find colour…
  • A Blank Journal to write down our findings, musings, moments of gratitude, and questions.
  • 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?

    This answer is broader than just homeschooling but definitely, impacts how education plays out.  Number one, I would just take notice more, really breathe in the wonder and Wabi of this time.  Related to that,  I would be more intentional in how I spend our time.  Not that every moment would need to be perfectly scheduled and accounted for, but that our time in general, was spent wisely.  That rest time was chosen to be rest time and not just what happened due to drifting towards it.  That there was less chaos in how the flow of the day went, which led to stumbling from event to event and more rhythm deliberately played out to accommodate the dance of life learning.

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