Meet Ana Willis and her unhurried Charlotte Mason homeschool approach.
Tell us about you and your family.
I’m a stay-at-home mom of 3 and we live in Prince Edward Island, Canada. My son is 8 (2nd grade) and my daughters are 6 (1st grade) and 4 (K).
How long have you been homeschooling?
We are finishing our 3rd year of homeschool. I had no idea what I was doing at first, but I figured out my kids were still very young and I had time to find out how this homeschool thing works. Now, 3 years later, I think I know what I am doing. LOL
Tell us about your homeschooling approach.
Our homeschool approach is unhurried, focused on the quality of our school work (perfect execution) more than on the quantity of assignments completed, so we take our time learning around here.
We follow mostly a Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education and we use a literature base curriculum called Sonlight. Our homeschooling days are filled with lots of great read-aloud books and instead of plain textbooks, we use living books for History, Geography, Science and even for Language Arts.
What is the Charlotte Mason approach like?
The foundation of a Charlotte Mason education is living the abundant Christian life (John 10:10). She believed education is an atmosphere (learning from the world around us instead of a sterile and contrive “learning environment”), a discipline (developing right habits) and a life (students need a breadth of ideas: God, creation, man and his ideas).
Charlotte encouraged the use of living books instead of textbooks, short lessons, copywork from well-written books, narrations, habit training, perfect execution, few lectures, spending time outdoors for nature studies to observe and learn from God’s creation, and encouraged the children to be surrounded by beautiful things like poetry, music, and arts (atmosphere).
Year-round homeschooling or traditional calendar homeschooling?
Tell us about your unhurried Charlotte Mason homeschooling routine.
DAILY CHORES (15-30 min.)
We start our days with simple chores like making beds, putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket and brushing teeth. Note I don’t mention getting dressed because some days we just stay in our PJs until bath time!
MORNING BASKET (45 min. to 1 hr)
Once we made downstairs for breakfast we do what we call our “morning basket” portion of the day: literally I pull a basket where I keep our Bible and books we are reading about Habit Training, Poetry, Biographies, and other read aloud books. I read to my children while we have breakfast. This is when we pray together and spend a good time in discussions and narrations.
TABLE TIME (1 to 2 hour)
Our table time is our Language Arts and Math learning time. We start with handwriting, copywork, and alternate between spelling, vocabulary, and grammar. Followed by our online Math lessons, which each one does it in a separate device. At this point, Language Arts and Math are done mostly independently and each one has their own book/iPad to work on, this is a time when I clean up my kitchen and do a few chores around the house while they learn quietly.
LUNCH BREAK (1 to 1/2 hour)
We take a long break for lunch and play time. My kids usually do their piano practice on Piano Wizard or on the actual piano during this time and off they go play outside or in the playroom while I do laundry, read emails, work on the blog, etc.
AFTERNOON LEARNING (1 hour)
Around 1:30 or 2 pm, we gather again in the living room to do our reading for History, Geography or to do a Science lesson together, depending on the day of the week. We do history and geography twice a week and science twice a week, leaving Fridays for art. Because we use Sonlight Cores (Bible, History, Geography, and Science), these subjects are done with all children together. Once our reading is done and their binder/notebook’s work is completed, we usually watch a short video about the subject or work on a lapbook project together.
On Fridays we do something different from the other days, although we still do handwriting and math, we do Poetry Teatime and choose between a hymn/music study, art appreciation or studying the life of a composer/painter instead of doing all the subjects we would normally do from Monday to Thursday. Our Friday’s afternoon are normally free to go to the library, the park or have a playdate with some homeschool friends.
Complete the sentence: Our homeschooling happens mostly at…
Our dining room table for sure, and also around our coffee table. We don’t use our homeschool room very often.
What have you picked for your curriculum next year?
I did. When we bought our Sonlight Core B (Bible, History, Geography, and Science) last year, we bought it with the intention to do it in two years instead of one because our children are still very young and we could do our studies at a slower pace until the youngest one could catch up with our homeschool routine while the oldest ones would become better readers and more independent.
The new exciting additions I picked for this year are Grammar Galaxy Nebula, CTC Math, Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study Set, The Picture Smart Bible NT, Character Trails, The Handbook of Nature Studies and the Poetry Teatime Companion. Along with our curriculum, we use resources from Notebookingpages.com and homeschoolcopywork.com.
List 3 books about homeschooling that really impacted you.
- For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.
- Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola.
- The Unhurried Homeschooler: A Simple, Merciful Short Book on Homeschooling by Durenda Wilson.
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?
- A good read-aloud book.
- My pencil-case.
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 never force my children to finish every math problem on every page! Once they have mastered it let them move on or they will get bored and cranky to do the same thing over and over again unnecessarily.
I also would not continue to read a book to my children that none of us is enjoying just for the sake of crossing it off our reading list. We don’t need to stress ourselves out by doing everything in the curriculum.
Today I am much more relaxed, confident, flexible and I give myself and my children more grace. I wish I had read books about Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education since the beginning.
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