Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A new school year must mean a new curriculum...



Around here, curricula rarely stay the same from year to year.  I almost always use one of the various "schools" as a basis, and then add in or change a few things that I like better, but we're pretty much always trying something new every few years.

I've done Mother of Divine Grace, Kolbe, Seton, and Catholic Heritage Curricula.  Am I missing any of them?  The only one I've ever enrolled in was MODG for a year or 2 to help us out with Latin and Math.

As the years go by, there are certain books that I really like and we've used for the majority of the past 15 years, but I find as I do this more that I'm drawn toward a more Charlotte Mason-like approach.  I love the idea of lots of living books and children narrating what they've learned.  I've tried this many times over the years and always enjoyed it, much to the dismay of the children who do NOT like to narrate!

Nevertheless, this year I've downloaded the Mater Amabilis programs by Michele Quigley and Katherine Faulkner to use as a basis, and I've gathered a lot of books (bought and borrowed) necessary for Elizabeth Foss's Continents and Cultures.  I'm rather excited about it, although it's an adjustment for my 2 pupils.  They rather like knowing exactly what is on the schedule, being able to fill in the blanks in the workbook, and checking off that subject.  I must admit that I do, too, but we're breaking away this year.

For the first time in many, many years, I do not have a firm schedule on the computer.  No books and page numbers listed for each day!  I'm pretty sure that experts like Elizabeth don't go about it this way, but she's had many years to read and absorb Charlotte Mason, and I have not.  We've started working already, doing the things that I know we need to do, like math, religion, and science, while I work at putting together a plan that we can implement.  And that I can put in the computer!   I'll just add in new things as I'm ready and get some sort of format into the computer for grades and whatnot.

An interesting note is that Pipster has immediately had a bad reaction to school (crying).  In working with him and talking to him, I find that although he dislikes narration, he dislikes textbooks even more.   While I like our Harcourt science books, and he gets to fill-in-the-blanks, he hates learning that way.  Today at the library, while picking up the dozen geography books I requested, I got a bunch of living science books on the same subject as the chapter we are on.  He was thrilled and asked if he could just learn his science that way instead of using the text!

I said yes, but I didn't break it to him that it will require more narration.


  1. My son hates narration, too. I often let him tell me 10 things he didn't know before he read the book. I know it's not the same, but it takes the sting out of the assignment. I just don't think he'll ever like narrating. It will never be his choice.

    Question -- do you use a laptop or is your computer stationary? I have such a hard time working on the computer while they work on their assignments. It just never works well because I'm not supervising.

  2. I do not have a laptop. I don't work on the computer if I want schoolwork to continue! I've found that a good knitting project will keep me at the table with them. I get something done and I'm not off getting distracted!

  3. So, you use skedtrack after or before school? My problem is I often need to use the computer, but like you said, can't if I want work to continue. Of course, if I had laptop I'd be so tempted to blog during school hours! ;-)

  4. Oooh, now Skedtrack is permissible. It's open all during school for them to check off their assignments, enter grades, or see what needs to be done. The computer is just in the next room from the kitchen, so it's accessible. We just have to practice self control and keep knitting!

    (don't check what time this was posted! lol!)

  5. Sara, can you please explain to me what "narration" and dictation are. Do the children read out loud and then put the book down and have to re-tell everything in their own words from memory? Is this narration?
    And is dictation like....I say a sentence out loud and then the have to write it down from memory to practice listening skills. I see these two things everywhere and I'm embarrassed to say that I don't know exactly what it's about. thanks.

  6. That's right! Narration is the child's re-telling of what they read. They can write it themselves or you can write/keyboard it for them, depending upon ability. I like the addition of an illustration. It's very interesting to see how they go from being very bad listeners at the beginning of the year, and narrating a one-sentence summary, to giving so much detail that you want to tell them to be more general! I think that's part of the learning process, too. Learning to tell the most important parts, not re-write the whole book.

    Dictation is also an exercise in listening, but it's more than that. "Studied dictation" is what is usually meant by the term. They practice listening, writing, spelling, and grammar skills. They need to learn to punctuate what they hear, so you go over the grammar and spelling with them when they're done.

    I prefer narration to dictation, although one can do both. You can go over the spelling and grammar with them from their narration, too.


Thanks for dropping by! I would love to hear from you. Have a beautiful day! :-)


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