1. I'm worried about spending all my time planning a CM education and that I will miss out on other precious moments with my kids. How do you find balance?
I am a planner/organizer type of person and thrive on researching books and resources. So much so, that I've made planning our children's education a hobby. One of my favorite planning tools that I recently purchased from Simply Charlotte Mason is Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education. (Feel free to click on the link and download the free sample.) This great resource helps you plan your Charlotte Mason education in 5 easy steps. Sonya Shafer does a wonderful job of walking you through the Big Picture, Your Year, Your Term, Your Week, and Your Day. The book is full of examples and there are appendixes with printable timetables, schedules, and charts. SCM also offers an online CM Organizer, where you can schedule resources and create lesson plans. I have not used the online resource because I'm more of pencil/paper planner, but I've read wonderful reviews about it.
In addition, there are online sites, where homeschool mom's have planned a complete CM education for you. You can just download and go. I mentioned some in my last post, but will reference a few here as well....
Simply Charlotte Mason Curriculum Guide (grades 1-12) - http://simplycharlottemason.com/planning/scmguide/
Ambleside Online Curriculum (grades 1-12) - http://www.amblesideonline.org/curriculum.shtml
Charlotte Mason Help: Free Curriculum (kindergarten - 12th grade) - http://www.charlottemasonhelp.com/p/free-curriculum.html
Old Fashioned Education Christian Homeschool Education (kindergarten - 12th grade) - http://oldfashionededucation.com/fullcurriculum.htm
Also, in the last post I mentioned various companies who sell Charlotte Mason resources/curriculum. They include, but are not limited to:
Simply Charlotte Mason
Heart of Dakota
Nothing New Press - Christine Miller (All Through the Ages)
Living Books Curriculum
Lifetime Books & Gifts
Sonlight - use book lists
Five in a Row
There is no need to spend countless hours planning. There are a wealth of resources available to assist you.
2. Formal Charlotte Mason education started at age 6. Are there resources or things I can do with my pre-school/kindergarten age child?
Ambleside Online offers a Year 0 book list for children prior to age 6 - http://www.amblesideonline.org/00.shtml
Simply Charlotte Mason offers an Early Years Guide for children age 3-5 - http://simplycharlottemason.com/planning/eyguide/
In those early years, the most important things you can do with your child are habit training, play outside, read aloud, and read scripture. There will be plenty of time for formal education in your child's future.
3. How do you keep track of grades and transcripts for high school when using the Charlotte Mason method?
While using the Charlotte Mason method for high school, we keep track of hours and books read. Angel has a notebook where she logs various events and hours under tabs for Jobs & Volunteer Work; Clubs & Organizations; Camps, Civic Events & Conferences; Travel & Field Trips; Sports, Competitions, & Contests; Plays, Radio, TV, & Movies; and Books, Magazines, & Newspapers. This idea was based on a resource by Alison McKee titled From Homeschool to College & Work: Turning Your Homeschooled Experiences Into College and Job Portfolio. Another great resource for tracking homeschool high school is Senior High: A Home Designed Form+U+La by Barbara Shelton.
I do use some packaged curriculum for high school with a CM flair including My Father's World, Beautiful Feet, TruthQuest, Notgrass Exploring...series, Apologia, and Math-U-See. Many of these provide grading guidelines and rubrics. In addition, when your student is reading Living Books and narrating or having meaningful discussion with you, more than likely they get it and there's no need for pages of comprehension questions and tests.
Keep in mind, Charlotte Mason is a method of educating. It's really not about specific books or curriculum. I believe it's more about incorporating Charlotte's ideas into whatever subjects you're teaching. You would log and track progress as with any other method.
Again, there is a wealth of information online regarding using CM through high school. Here are a few sites:
Ambleside Online: High School - http://www.amblesideonline.org/HighSchool.shtml
Hepburn Family Homepages provides a great overview of Ambleside Online High School with sample transcripts - http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cheps/highschool.html
Simply Charlotte Mason provides a forum with various tags including High School - http://simplycharlottemason.com/scmforum/tags/high-school
Barb at Handbook of Nature Study has posted various articles on using the Charlotte Mason method of nature study for high school
Barb also blogs at Harmony Art Mom Here's a few more blog posts on CM High School
Charlotte Mason High School Study Guide - http://homepage.bushnell.net/~peanuts/CMhighschool.html
4. What are some of your favorite Charlotte Mason books/curriculum?
Updated February 2015
I hesitate to recommend particular books because each individual homeschooling family should use what works for them and that's not always going to be the same. The Charlotte Mason method is certainly not an end all be all method. Feel free to pick and choose, alter, and use what works best for your family.
Here are some of our top picks so far:
The Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos - I've used this with our younger kids
We've used a variety of things including Beautiful Feet, TruthQuest, SCM History Modules, H.A. Guerber The Story of .....series, Mystery of History, and many living books. We are an avid read aloud family. I intertwine much of our home education around the subject of history, including Bible and language arts.
Galloping the Globe has provided us with great living books and ideas to make geography come alive. We also do map work and cook recipes from other countries. Here's a more recent post listing our geography resources.
We use Apologia and Master Books at the high school level and a variety of things at the elementary level including Outdoor Secrets, Thornton Burgess books, and Among the Farmyard People Lesson Plans. Our kids love nature study and spend time outside nearly every day. RileyAnn is the most consistent in keeping a nature journal. I would recommend getting each child a spiral bound sketchbook rather than a lined paper notebook. Here's a couple of links regarding this...
Riley's also done several animal drawings though our Galloping the Globe study. In addition, The Story Book of Science is a wonderful living book for elementary science.
We've enjoyed poems from Favorite Poems Old and New and A Child's Garden of Verses. I just simply read misc. poems aloud several days a week. Occasionally, we discuss them, but usually we just savor the language. Once the children are old enough to study on their own, I really love the Poetry for Young People series. I assign RileyAnn one book/poet, per twelve week term.
My kids do use copywork for handwriting. One of our favorites has been Pictures in Cursive from Queen Homeschool. They also provide a variety of other copywork books including manuscript handwriting, as well as copywork for boys and girls.
Spelling & Dictation
We like All About Spelling. You can find out more about this program by clicking the link on the right side bar. AAS is based on the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching. It's scripted, open and go, which I really like. Yet, you can choose how much or how little you want to teach per lesson. This allows you to go at each child's pace and can be adjusted to fit well with Charlotte's method of short lessons. AAS also provides dictation exercises. We did take a sabbatical from AAS to try Logic of English. However, it was not a good fit for us. I do not start formal spelling until at least 2nd grade, when the child has some reading lessons fully under their belt. In addition, I have used dictation passages from Spelling Wisdom and Sonlight Language Arts.
Language and Grammar
This is certainly not an all inclusive list but it may give you some ideas to spring from. Feel free to comment or ask further questions pertaining to the Charlotte Mason method.
To me, the bottom line is the motto from Charlotte herself saying, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life." By using Charlotte Mason's methods, I hope to nurture a love of learning so our children will be life long learners.