Well, we finally listened to the Lord and are well on our way
to home schooling our son. My experience learning the ins and outs
of home schooling as well as wandering the maze of school-choice
options is probably not unique. I have heard from other new home
schoolers of similar experiences; shared frustrations; and
worst of all, lack of support from family, friends and the
The very first thing I did was 'Google' for the Arizona State
Home schooling laws. I then visited our county supervisor's
website and read everything posted online with regard to starting
a home school. Thankfully, Arizona is very home school friendly
and has very few laws. The chief requirements include:
- Filing an affidavit with the county supervisor's office
- Teaching 180 days per year
- Covering Reading, Science, Social Studies, and Grammar
No other record keeping, reporting or testing is required.
The next thing I did was 'Google' for home school curriculum.
WOW! What options are out there for the home schooling family. I
spent the next two weeks reading everything online as well as
visiting my local library and checking out books on the subject.
Oh Yes, you may be wondering what DS did during this time? Good
question. Not much. I felt that he was burnt-out and that he had
suffered enough trauma the last few weeks that a well-earned break
To a new home schooler, the words 'unschooling' or 'traditional'
or 'classical' have absolutely no meaning what so ever. I couldn't
tell the difference between a 'unit study' a 'biblical world-view'
or a 'delight directed' approach. UGH!
Thankfully, after one very frustrating evening of searching the
web, I landed on a website that was devoted to a home schooling
method known as "Charlotte Mason." Who was this person
and why were people writing books about her method and devoting
entire websites to her philosophy. I was intrigued and spent some
time reading through the links and articles. The more I read, the
more I was interested.
One website in particular had a check list, sort of a
questionnaire (sorry but I didn't bookmark the site) that helped
identify what type of schooling methods would best be suited to
your home school. I took the quiz and out popped CHARLOTTE
MASON. I was absolutely undone. How could a simple little
test, just a quiz really, determine that this method over all the
others I had read about (and yes, I read about them all), would be
best for us? All I could think of was that the Lord was guiding me
to use this program for DS. I had a sense about it - a sense of
peace - that this method would be the best thing for DS. But how
does one go about implementing a Charlotte Mason home school?
Thanks again, to Google, for bringing me the very best
'CM-inspired' curriculum. One more query and there was the link: Ambleside
Online (please visit their website - it is wonderful!)
"a free curriculum designed to be as close as possible to
the curriculum that Charlotte Mason used in her own PNEU schools.
Our goal is to be true to Charlotte Mason's high literary
standards. Ambleside Online uses the highest quality books
and costs no more than the cost of texts. The curriculum uses as
many free online books as possible, and there is no cost to use
this information or join the support group."
WOW! A Free program based on Charlotte's own methods and one
that maintains her high literary standards. I was enthralled and
eager to read more. I clicked on the link and found myself at a
website that contained more information about Charlotte Mason, her
methods, links to her Original Home Schooling Series, discussion
groups and lists, and yes, the wonderful booklists and weekly
schedules. I found a treasure-trove of information, right there at
my fingertips and all for FREE.
I should mention that in addition to my late-night Googling, I
also spent some time visiting with a friend at church who had done
some research into Charlotte Mason. She loaned me a dozen or so
home schooling books, which I read cover to cover. I devoured
everything I could, read every article (pro and con) and searched
high and low for as much helpful information to teach me how to
create a CM-inspired home school.
By May 15th, 2004, I was committed to using Ambleside Online as our
primary curriculum. I continued my research and study into
Charlotte's methods, even downloaded and printed her Six-Volume
Series (written in 19th century English Prose). I am not a CM
expert by any means but have found that the more I read about her
beliefs and philosophy of education, the more I believe that
her method is the best one for home education.
**More About Ambleside Online
Copyright 1998-2010. Carol Hepburn.