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Up until four years ago, we were eclectic homeschoolers. We did everything from Charlotte Mason to Montessori, Traditional, Unschooling, and Unit Studies.
The one thing I never thought I’d use was a boxed curriculum.
For one thing, I didn’t want other people deciding what we would use year to year. I wanted to research what was available and choose the best possible materials based on what I knew about my children.
I also didn’t want my kids learning from workbooks that bogged them down with tons of questions. I wanted them to love learning and enjoy interesting books and rich discussions.
When a friend offered to show me her Memoria Press materials, I loved a lot of what I saw, but I couldn’t bring myself to go all in.
- I thought all the questions in Enrichment would kill a child’s love of reading.
- I wanted my kids to learn cursive from the start.
- The composition program looked dry and complicated, and
- The history sequence was out of order
Besides, I’d already chosen a beautiful grammar program that taught grammar and composition through great literature, poetry, and the writings of the saints!
I was so excited about that program, but I received a complete shock when I told my son about it. “Mom,” he said quietly but earnestly, “I don’t learn that way. I just need them to tell me what I need to know.”
After recovering from this revelation, I decided to go ahead and use Memoria’s English Grammar Recitation I and Prima Latina.
I bought our other materials for the year, we got started — and I was blown away.
The kids loved what they were learning in Latin and they surprised themselves (and me!) when they recited almost all of EGR I at the end of the year.
The history program we used just happened to include Memoria’s Famous Men of Rome and Famous Men of the Middle Ages books and I constantly found the kids reading them in their free time.
We were using a living books history program, but the kids told me they didn’t like it; they didn’t feel they were really learning anything.
It was different with the Famous Men books.
Our Memoria materials were straightforward, well laid-out, and easy to teach. They were our favorite materials that year.
In the meantime, I kept reading the MP Forum and their online articles and my earlier questions and fears were set to rest.
Everything made sense, everything was integrated, everything had a purpose.
We decided to make the leap to customized full cores in 2016 and our homeschool changed for the better.
I don’t mean that the curriculum saved us. I had to make changes in myself before our homeschool turned around.
But Memoria supported these efforts in a deep and meaningful way and it continues to do so.
- It reminds me daily me that my kids are capable of more than I give them credit for.
- It reminds me of the importance of beauty in our lives.
- It reminds me that even the most basic — and boring! — skills are laying the foundation for future richness.
It has also taught me that I don’t need to reinvent the wheel if something isn’t working for my child. It taught me to look more closely at the roots of things and to truly meet my child’s needs from within the materials we already have.
On top of all this, I no longer spend months on end researching every available program, agonizing over each decision, and writing lesson plans. I simply look at the following year’s recommendations and adjust up/down, or leave out, depending on the needs of each child.
I never saw myself as a boxed curriculum homeschooler, but I’m grateful every day for this one.
Hi! What a great post! I have been using Charlotte Mason methods since I began homeschooling my first child. He just turned 12. We are really struggling though. I love CM but I don’t feel I am doing it the way I should and I feel like we are stuck. My son (12) struggles with school and really hates it. I have been looking at Memoria Press for the last year and half and it looks so tempting. I get overwhelmed with where I would even place my son. Do you have any advice for transitioning to Memoria Press with an older student? Thanks!
Don’t be discouraged! We transitioned to (almost) full MP when my oldest sons were 12 and 13 years old. They had a lot of gaps from our previous eclectic approach so we started at the beginning with Latin, Grammar, and Composition: First Form Latin, EGR I, and Fable/Narrative (one semester each; that pace is often recommended for older students). I placed both of them in “7th grade” because I knew my oldest wasn’t ready for the rigor of MP8. I eventually learned to teach them separately since one struggled and the other didn’t, but that level was the right placement for both of them. The big thing is to give yourself time to adjust. For the first few weeks, you’ll want to discuss answers for his student guides, write down his answer, and have him copy them into his guide. This will model well-written answers and set expectations for him, allowing more independence as he moves forward. He can also use the guides as notebooks, noting the page numbers or answers as he reads the selection. This can really help him stay engaged. But even then, he doesn’t have to answer every question in writing.
You mentioned that he struggles in school. Don’t hesitate to place him where he needs to be in each subject, regardless of the grade level on the book. I have one son who had to go back to 3rd grade math at age 12. But it was what he needed and now he truly knows the things he had missed the first time through. That’s more important than the number on the book cover.
I did find that my kids’ love of learning grew when we switched to MP because they finally felt they were learning in a deep way. They knew that they knew things worth knowing. We still have plenty of complaints (they’re kids!), but they have found delight. Hang in there, mama!
Thank you for the advice and encouragement! I admit I am terrified by this change though!