Meet my friend Dawn and her organic Charlotte Mason homeschool approach! You might have heard of her or read her blog already, she is the Lady Dusk! Now you will have a peek at the organic learning.
Tell us about you and your family.
My name is Dawn Garrett. I was born and raised and continue to live in Central Ohio. I’ve been married to Jason since 2000 and we have three children, M-girl is 11, N-boy is 10, and R-girl just turned 9.
How long have you been homeschooling?
We’ve always homeschooled and begun probably too soon with any sort of hardcore, formal academics – when M-girl was 3. We’ve been officially homeschooling since 2010.
Tell us about your Organic Charlotte Mason homeschool approach.
I started homeschooling with my head in a Well-Trained Mind, Classical educator philosophy with my heart in Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. Following multiple philosophies is not smart. It leads to brokenness and burnout. Knowing what you believe about education, following the path, and being willing to accept correction are important parts of Home Education. We all became happier homeschoolers when I settled where my heart was: with Charlotte Mason’s feast of ideas.
We now amble along more organically and naturally following AmblesideOnline’s beautiful, integrated, well-considered course of study. It has made a world of difference. That’s what we call an Organic Charlotte Mason homeschool.
Year-round homeschooling or traditional calendar homeschooling?
We homeschool year round. Our Academic Year is aligned with the Calendar Year. That means our new Academic Year begin in January and we finish the week before Thanksgiving. We don’t school all of those weeks, though.
We follow a 6 week on, one week off so-called ‘Sabbath Schooling’ schedule. This schedule allows us to live an authentic, organic life where education – while still a specified educational time – is a part of our life. There is no beginning or end to living, learning, and loving.
Tell us about your Organic Charlotte Mason homeschool routine.
In our Organic Charlotte Mason homeshcool no two days are alike. We generally awaken at 7 so we can pray with my husband before he leaves for work. We spend time at breakfast, chores, grooming, and some play time.
School starts with Whatchamacallit (our version of Morning Time) at 9. Around 10:30 we have recess and individual lessons begin at 11. Math, Penmanship, Latin, Music practice(s), and assigned readings take us until about 2. We fit lunch in some time when it works.
Our day moves and flows as needed … children sleep in when necessary, school times get moved around, children flow to and from me as they need math instruction, to narrate, or to have me correct behaviors. It’s all very natural and organic.
Our Organic Charlotte Mason homeschooling happens mostly at…
Home! Wise advice from a friend was “you must be home to homeschool.” We do go places sometimes, but we spend most of our days working hard at home. We have a school room in our loft; readings happen anywhere on the property (bedrooms, family room, swing set, trees); the kitchen table is utilized if I’m busy in the kitchen; the piano sees each child at least once during our lessons. But we generally do lessons at home.
What have you picked for your curriculum next year?
Our next year begins in January, but we will – Lord willing – continue on the path with AmblesideOnline (AO). All of my children are working on the same “Year” of AO. Right now we’re doing Year 5, sometime in 2017, we’ll move to Year 6. AmblesideOnline schedules living books for history, science, geography. I differentiate by expecting more from my oldest and slightly less from my youngest.
For Math, we use the Mathematics Enhancement Programme (MEP). MEP is an excellent, free maths curriculum from Britain that focuses on diving deep into understanding number relationships and working from there.
We work on Memoria Press’ Grammar Recitation (CAP) together. For Grammar, we love Memoria Press’ Grammar Recitation. We use CAP’s Writing and Rhetoric to work through the progymnasmata. Everything else is from AO.
List 3 books about homeschooling that really impacted you.
- The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise
- Consider This by Karen Glass
- Memoria Press’ Grammar Recitation by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
I must say, however, that a much greater influence on my homeschool identity and philosophies has been from the blog community and the friendships I have made through that interaction.
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?
I would take the Bible because it is excellent literature and it teaches us about God, the Trinity Hymnal because reading and making music are important and we worship during homeschooling.
A poetry anthology, like The Giant Book of Poetry, because the beautiful language is good for our souls. I’d bring our current read-aloud (right now we’re working on Pyle’s King Arthur and Swallows and Amazons).
I’d bring our Nature Journal bags which include some field guides.
I would not bring the children’s math books, although in a car trip we can do all kinds of math – figuring distances, mile markers, speed, mpg, etc.
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 wait until my child was 6 for most formal academics. The preschool age is a magical time, enjoy it in a natural way. I would start with AmblesideOnline and not worry about proving myself to others through the academic prowess of my children but would much more organically and naturally instruct them as we walk along the way not pushing hard-core academics for my young children. Charlotte Mason’s Formidable List of Attainments for a Child of Six (by the end of being six!) is a fantastic start.
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Teach your kids independence and responsibility at easy!
Dawn Garrett homeschools her three children in her native Central Ohio. She believes in learning and schooling in an organic, natural, Charlotte Mason sort of way. That doesn’t mean she loves the outside … but she’s trying. Her home blog – about books school and life – has been at ladydusk.blogspot.com for 15 years.