3 Great Writing Programs

When I began homeschooling I researched tons of curriculum. Language arts, math, science, you name it, I researched it.  We found curriculum we liked and began our homeschool journey. Fast forward a few years and we are still homeschooling, and still using some great curriculum.

But, I missed something. In all my researching, in all my teaching, there was an important area of homeschooling that I missed. What was it?


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All About Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

If you have looked into homeschooling much, I am sure you have heard all about the different methods of homeschooling. One popular method is the Charlotte Mason homeschooling Method.

Who was Charlotte Mason?

Charlotte Mason was a British educator who believed there was more to education than passing a test, getting into a good college, or training for a job. She felt that education was a discipline, atmosphere and a life. She believed that education was about finding out who we are and how we fit into the world that God created. This kind of thinking was not popular during the 20th century when education became more about exams and workers. It regained popularity in the late 1980’s after Susan Macaulay’s book For the Children’s Sake came out, reintroducing parents to Mason’s methods and philosophy.

Charlotte Mason believed that children are more than just blank slates. She felt they were able to deal with knowledge and ideas far earlier than what some educators gave them credit for. Her thoughts were that teachers did not need to act as the “middle man” filling their heads with information, but that children should do the bulk of work in regards to dealing with ideas and knowledge. Charlotte Mason’s pupils were introduced to education that included first hand exposure to real books in each subject, and hands on experiences related to art, music, science, and poetry.

What is a Charlotte Mason Education?

The Charlotte Mason method is based on Charlotte‘s firm belief that the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three-pronged: in her words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”

Charlotte Mason believed students should use real books instead of textbooks. These living books were typically written in a narrative or story form. The subject in these books typically tend to “come to life”.

Students using the Charlotte Mason homeschooling method are required to narrate the books in their own words. This secures it in their minds. Students in this method do not use “fill in the blank” or multiple-choice worksheets. They point out ideas they glean from reading and make mental connections between it and ideas they may already have.

Spelling and Handwriting are taught using passages from living books. Time outdoors is encouraged, this way students can interact with God’s creation firsthand. Famous artists and composers are introduced early on.

Students are encouraged to try learning from a wide variety of sources from knitting, singing, foreign language and more. The Charlotte Mason method also emphasizes the habits of having ones full attention on learning, as well as putting their best effort into their work.

That is the Charlotte Mason homeschooling method in a nutshell. For more information about a Charlotte Mason education check out these resources:

Charlotte Mason Curriculum Suggestions

Ambleside Online

Simply Charlotte Mason

Living Books Curriculum

Great Reads:

For the Children’s Sake

A Charlotte Mason Companion

Misty Bailey  loves helping new homeschoolers and has a Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.



What is Classical Education?

Classical education is all the rage right now! You probably know someone who uses it, and may be wondering what it is all about.

Classical education prides itself on the return to fundamentals. A way that learning used to be, that effectively trains children to become lifelong learners. Classical Education claims to provide every student with the opportunity to learn. This learning begins with the skills of repetition and memorization.

Classical education uses a systematic approach to training a child’s mind based on three stages of learning. These stages are intended to parallel the child’s natural development, and is referred to as the “trivium” which is Latin for “the three ways”. These three stages are:

Grammar:  Kindergarten through elementary grades. Focus in on memorization and facts throughout different subjects.

Logic:  Middle school, grades (7th-8th) children learn to argue logically and think critically.

Rhetoric: High school, emphasis is on debate/speech, communication in writing and thinking independently. Classical education also studies History chronologically and in four divisions beginning with the Ancient Time period.

BC 5000 to 400 AD
Medieval/Early Renaissance 400-1600 AD
Late Renaissance/Early Modern 1600-1850 AD
Modern Times

These stages are filled with solid literature or classical books, the learning of classical languages such as Latin and Greek, and a strong emphasis on history. Math, Science and Bible are essential subjects as well.

As with any education method, there are many pros and cons. The cons are that the curriculum in itself can require a great amount of research, and monitoring a child’s progress through the different stages. Children who are not history fans, may not like the curriculum, and it is overall very teacher intensive.

Pros are that resources abound, and it is well ordered and well rounded. It would be great for a child who loves history and who is a bright learner. It promotes study of the classics at a young age and tends to produce well-rounded, highly educated children who do well in higher learning.

For more information on classical education check out these resources:

Well Trained Mind

Classical Conversations

Misty Bailey is a wife to Roger and a homeschool mom to three beautiful blessings. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio. She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a free Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey.

Five Great Math Curriculums

Math is one of those subjects that we have really struggled with. All kids learn different ways and a few years into our homeschool journey I realized that what worked for my oldest in Math was not going to work with my middle.

There are two typical ways to teach math. One is the spiral approach. This means that a new concept is taught, along with practice and review over past concepts. The other is mastery approach. This means that the same concept is taught until the student grasps it, then the move on to another concept.

Read more at the Southeast Homeschool Expo 

Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum

Next to actually making the decision to homeschool, choosing a curriculum is one of the hardest decisions you will make. The worst part about it is that you will not just make this decision once, but every. single. year. after you begin homeschooling.

The first thing I recommend when it comes to choosing a curriculum is to go through Cathy Duffy’s book, 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. This book breaks down learning styles for you and your child. Then, offers you some examples of curriculum that may work for your family.

The next thing I recommend is to find a way to actually “look” at the curriculum you are interested in. Find someone who uses the same curriculum or go to a curriculum fair or homeschool convention. If none of these options work then order just the teachers guide from the curriculum you are considering. This gives you the opportunity to look at it, and decide if it is right for you. If you don’t like it, you can send it back (most of the time).

It is important to remember one thing when you are choosing a curriculum. No curriculum is perfect. Not the one I use, the one you use, or the one your homeschool friend uses. Also, what works for one family, may not work for yours. What works for one of your children, may not work for the next child. If the curriculum you decide on doesn’t work, ditch it! Don’t torture yourself, or your child with something that doesn’t fit your family’s needs or learning styles.

Curriculum shopping will be one of the most difficult things you do as a homeschool mom. Just remember to relax, find out your child’s learning style, look at curriculum in person, and remind yourself there is NO perfect curriculum!

Author: Misty Bailey

Misty is a homeschool mom of three and has been homeschooling for over 4 years. You can read about her homeschool journey and more on her blog, Joy in the Journey.


Choosing Curriculum

One of the most overwhelming aspects of homeschooling is curriculum choice!  So many options—great options—exist in the arena of home education that it creates a blessing of complexity.  I cannot even conceive of the era when no materials existed.  Wandering through a convention hall of vendors for the first time is mind-numbing.  Every sales pitch sounds so good and every curriculum perfect, your head swims at the thought of where to begin.  Preparation will calm the chaos considerably.

Begin by preparing a list of the subjects you plan to cover in the next year.  Then review your finances and set a firm budget and commit to staying within the budget.  After listing the subjects, give some thought and prayer to the approach which will work for your family.

Will unit studies fit the personalities and time availability in your home?  Unit studies work great with multi-level grades.  Typically base subjects such as math and grammar are handled separately.  Hands-in learning is typical in most such programs and while that is great, it is labor intensive for the instructing parent.  Consumable workbooks are a great tool for independent learners.  The structure lends itself well to teaching goal-setting.

In addition to considering the type of instruction, give some attention to your child’s learning style.  Cynthia Tobias has a wonderful book on the various ways children learn.  Having a variety of learning modalities in your homeschool program is beneficial for all students.  Knowing the way a child learns easiest will help in choosing curriculum.  As you look at curriculum, do consider ‘looks’.   White space and color help keep material from feeling overwhelming.  Many homeschool curriculum reviews are available online…don’t forget the best reviewers may be your friends!  Often larger companies have online placement tests or offer samplers to review before attending convention.

Do your homework but do not stress.  Your choices in curriculum will likely change as the years progress.  As the parent-teacher, you will learn alongside your student(s).  Enjoy the journey!

Visit the Exhibitor Listing and check out the great array of vendors who will be on hand to answer your questions.

-Billie Jo