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    Help! On the fence

    This board has been so helpful and encouraging so I'm back asking for advice for an on-the-fence parent.

    I ordered and received the MP 3rd Grade Core curriculum. I love the content, but I tend to lean more toward Charlotte Mason methods and am unsure about so much memorization and filling-in-the-blanks. I'm guessing it would be reasonably easy to adapt MP3 and only do some written/memorized work, etc.

    Has anyone does this, or does it really undermine the benefit of a MP education?

    Also, ideally, I'd love to settle on MP and use it year after year to eliminate jumping all over the place with a more eclectic approach. Help?

    #2
    Hello there! The short answer is found in this recent post by SaintJude7 : You CAN do MP your way!

    Another short answer: I suspect there are very, very few MP families crossing all the Ts and dotting all the Is when it comes to working on MP materials. We come to MP knowing we are receiving a great education, great resources, and great teaching advice, but then *we* are in charge. MP is not a charter school, or an umbrella school, or anything remotely similar: we do not have to answer to MP... and phew!

    A lot of people here on the forum come from Charlotte Mason experiences, or are currently combining MP books with CM ways - maybe you will receive better tailored words, but I wanted to reassure you that, if you like MP books, you will also find a way to work on them that satisfies you, adapting what you want to adapt. There is always a learning curve when starting with new resources, so take it easy and give yourself grace, and don't immediately blame the curriculum for any difficulties you will encounter. You can trust MP, but you must also trust yourself: as your experience and confidence grow, you will know how to do MP your way!
    DS (16)
    DD (15)
    DS (8)

    Comment


      #3
      A great thing to do is step back and ask yourself what specifically about Charlotte Mason's methods are important to you. Some things that are associated with her are not limited to teaching from her philosophy. Maybe you want to do nature study. That's great! Nature study is not restricted to a Charlotte Mason method type homeschool. Maybe living books are important to you. Also great! Living books are an integral part of the Memoria Press curriculum even though no one makes a big deal about calling them that.

      A second strategy is to focus in on what you want included in your academic homeschool and make a distinction between that and your family rhythms and hobbies. Many things that people consider CM are essentially good family rhythms and hobbies. Do those because they are great, but they don't have to be part of your academic homeschool. Hymn study could fall in this category.

      An example of some adapting that we are doing with third grade this year includes doing Christian Studies as a read-aloud together and discussing the questions while I write in answers in the book that he comes up with after a discussion (you need them in there to reference later). Subjects that we try to do as closely to written as possible are Latin, literature, composition, Greek Myths, and math. We don't add in the American History readers or discussion guide. We read aloud whenever we can, and try to cover those books at some point, but we don't do a chapter per day. I use audio books to help when we are pressed for time (e.g. He listened to C. 4 of Farmer Boy today to prep for reading it in literature next week.)

      If your student doesn't already know cursive, that's a great thing to focus on this year.

      Hope this helps!
      Festina lentē,
      Jessica P

      '22-'23 • 13th year HSing • 11th year MP
      DS Hillsdale College freshman
      DD 11th • HLN & Latin online
      DD 8th • HLN & Home
      DS 5th • HLN & Home
      Me • Memoria College, MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

      Teaching Third Form Latin and co-directing @
      Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

      Comment


        #4
        You're not the only one who looked through the entire 3rd grade core and rolled her eyes! I thought, There is no way a child could memorize all of this. But they can. It is unbelievable what children are capable of doing.

        I had a winding journey through homeschooling that began eclectic, breezed through CM, and landed happily in Memoria Press. Neither of our approaches prior to MP were writing intensive, so I really eased into our first year, taking the advice to pick only 2 or 3 questions to write down in each guide, doing the rest orally. As my child's writing stamina picked up, we started doing more. During times where I was juggling another child, we fell back to writing only the ones that would be on the test (doing the rest orally, but making sure it was in a complete sentence, answering the question concisely). There is an amazing kinesthetic complement that is activated when students write down their answers. It aids memory retention in a way that oral narration does not. Also, it reinforces spelling patterns, subject-verb agreement, grammar, and much more. For those of us who suspected pure CM was not enough, we chose a different path for a reason. Give it a try.

        As a comparison, when we did SOTW with the activity book, mummified chicken experiments, cuneiform writing, Chinese kite construction, copious books from the library about each culture, etc, six weeks after we finished our year, my child denied even having studied certain countries. It was too much, too broad, too obtuse, not enough review, no writing. This past year (after MP3 at a one-year pace), I found an Astronomy final that I thought I had given but hadn't, handed it to my student some six weeks into summer, and she got an 89% without having studied a single thing, and most of her points off were for forgetting to label a few English translations on the constellations or for misspelling the bright stars in Latin. The difference was in how we approached studying, memorizing, and review. In MP, each year builds off the next, so not much of the information is expected to be forgotten. But this is great, because when students aren't struggling with vocabulary and simple sentence formation each year, they can readily assimilate the new information.

        My last thought is that the MP guides are full of so many questions in MP3 because some families will choose only that subject and want an exhaustive study. They can do every question, including the Enrichment or Honors sections, and get a great study from a novel or subject. When you complete an entire core, you may not get to everything. In truth, we never did the vocabulary review for GM at the end of each unit. It was way too many words for my eldest to "know," so I just had my student make flashcards of the words that would appear on the test and memorize ONLY those. We also never filled in the CSI timeline events and people. We just memorized the dates that would appear on the test, the same as the ones in the Timeline book. So, no, you don't have to do every single thing in the book, and the MP-prescribed way is not too far off from what you were thinking of doing anyway. You can do MP your way, but there is value to the way MP recommends. All are welcome here!
        Mama of 2, teacher of 3
        SY 22/23
        6A, teaching TFL & CC Chreia/Maxim w/ Elementary Greek Year One
        MP2

        Completed MPK, MP1, MP2, 3A, 4A, 5A
        SC B, SC C, SC1 (Phonics/Math)

        Comment


          #5
          MP is a resource. Don't be concerned about undermining anything. If you went back to how the vast majority of parents were using MP before the cores were offered, you would find children were still being classically educated. I have all of the core curriculum guides, JrK to 9A. I have tweaked every single year. My kids still study Greek and Latin, are voracious readers, and crush standardized tests. I do have them (not me, not with me, but them, on their own) do all the vocabulary, fill in the blanks, comprehension questions and discussion questions, because I'm going so many directions at once, I want to make sure the basics are covered. I don't do what some think is "the MP way." Those vocabulary reviews are skipped right over. I ignore the recitation drills for everything but Latin and Greek and the suggested memorization in the guides. No one is standing there asking them to spell the state capitals or recite the list of presidents or brightest stars. That may be a good use of classroom time, but it's not a model that works for our family, even though we are now down to just four different levels.
          Yes, my children are capable of memorizing a great deal of information, and they do. But I have found that so much of what does not grab their interest is forgotten a few years later. Kid 4 memorized Horatius at the Bridge, but that was his choice. Kid 5 loves to walk around reciting large chunks of Shakespeare. (It's actually annoying, because I think she is speaking to me, but it turns out to be Puck or Marc Anthony who is speaking.) Instead we have memory work binders that I try to tailor for each child. Most of the contents are from Classically Catholic Memory or Andrew Campbell's "Living Memory." Some poems they have all learned in turn. I do not drill them on these binders. If they ask to recite, I am a willing audience member. I just set the buffet, and they show up to eat. That is my comfort level. Your mileage may vary.

          Blessings,
          Jude
          DD24
          DS21
          DS18
          DS16
          DD14
          DS11
          DD9

          Comment


            #6
            Mrs Beepickandgrin enbateau SaintJude7 Once again, you all are immensely helpful! Thank you!

            One big question for me: do your kids love learning?

            Currently, DD is a voracious reader and loves to learn new things. I'm worried about "squashing" that if I overdo memorization and writing. Thoughts?

            Thank you again!

            Comment


              #7
              I just took a poll of the five that were in the room with me, and they all said yes, they love learning. Not killing that love and natural curiosity has always been very important to me. Right now I have the two youngest sitting on my bed, playing chess, and for some reason the next oldest just said, “Docere, Delectare, Movere.”
              An older homeschool mom of ten once told me that she had done what she could to make sure education didn’t turn into a hamster wheel. I thought that was a great description. I do have a dysgraphic teen that does not love writing. (This kid flat out refused to draw any pictures, which blew me away at the time. But he has so many other strengths and talents and can discuss subjects at great length.) Writing in Greek is even harder for him, but he wants to master it and read the New Testatment in Greek some day.
              I have been on this homeschooling journey for twenty years now. My oldest (college grad, married, employed) texts me Latin humor memes. I’ve seen the end result and gained confidence along the way. Honestly, my kids could probably unschool and do quite well. But I see the value in Latin, Greek, and a structured spine to our studies. Apparently, they do as well. They know that I eliminate busywork, rarely give tests, and would not ask them to do anything just to check off a box. I don’t care about state standards, honors designations, “selective colleges,” or Advanced Placement. MP is only one facet of our lifestyle of learning.

              Blessings,
              Jude
              DD24
              DS21
              DS18
              DS16
              DD14
              DS11
              DD9

              Comment


                #8
                Learning is something that happens on different planes, in different moments, in different ways. Not every kind of necessary learning happens by an effortless sort of osmosis, where the child is not even aware of what is happening. Some learning is heavily based on skills, and skills must be practiced and mastered. The practicing of skills may not be very enjoyable per se, but after all it's a stage, it's a means to an end. What piano student says, I wish I could practice scales all my life! Nobody says that, of course - but how would you learn to play Chopin if you didn't work on scales, even when you don't particularly feel like it?

                But others have said these things much better - I know Cheryl Lowes wrote a few articles about freeing ourselves from the idea that learning should be fun, or always only fun, and from the idea that hard work kills a love of learning. If you go to the Article section of the MP website, and select her name, you should get a list of all she wrote. You could browse by subject, too, there are a few, like memorization, where you may find something helpful.

                So no, your child will not enjoy what she must do all the time - nobody does. Your child has no idea what kind of long-term project she's working on, her education: she will have her likes and dislikes, like everyone else, and that's totally normal, but her preferences don't determine whether a task is necessary to her education or not. But your perseverance in the hard work now will pay off later, when the training wheels of her education can come off, and she will know what to do on her own, she will know how to express herself, and how to approach any book she wants to read.

                I'm pretty sure this has been discussed on the forum before, too: I think everyone who comes to MP from Charlotte Mason worries about this. Right now off the top of my head I only remember this thread that touches on this... I think, at least - I hope I'm right!

                (That said, I am NOT saying, again, that you should always complete every single task, in the exact manner the books talk about. One common mistake for new users, for instance, is to think that the child should be able to give the exact same answers found in the teacher's guides. No! Those answers were written by adults to help parents see the goal of the question, or parents who don't have the time to read the primary material, but want to know whether the answer given by their child is on the right track.)
                DS (16)
                DD (15)
                DS (8)

                Comment


                  #9
                  This thread itself is a great example of the latitude one can have within a form--which I think answers well your original question. As to "do your kids love learning?" I've polled without answering their question, "What do you mean?" Here's what I received:

                  11th grader: uh...sure (I like learning, but homework is the worst)
                  9th grader: I like going to class (cottage school); I hate homework
                  6th grader: some things
                  3rd grader: sure

                  Again, to clarify, I think it's helpful to continue to make distinctions. What do you mean when you say "do your kids love learning?" What do people generally mean when they say that? It often seems they mean do your kids ever push back about learning/homeschool or do they go to it joyfully and without resistance? Ha!

                  Mrs. Bee touched on this and posted links that may be helpful. A different perspective can be polled "Are you happy with the education your kids got while at home with you?" That's a yes from me; I'm super happy. We can only go about making a start and laying a foundation before they are done with homeschool, even if we run all the way up to 12th. I like to ask myself if I would be happy if they didn't continue on any form of formal education after 12th--would this be enough? I'm am emphatically in the YES camp on this one. I have no doubt that my kids are going to be able to pick up anything they need to know after HS. My two oldest (11th and 9th) would be pretty good to go on this right now. My 11th grader could quit tomorrow and be good. His current MP work outstrips much college level work.

                  In my experience both in my own homeschool and leading a cottage school I find that natural curiosity varies from kid to kid. It's not a complete gauge of love of learning, intellectual aptitude, or long term academic success. It's a great asset to anyone and makes the process easier, particularly for the teacher (I say this as a witness--I teach Second Form Latin). Mrs. Lowe used to say that is it knowing that is delightful, and a delight to the soul. Yes, you can kill it with overwork. However, if you think of it with an analogy of athletic training it can be helpful. You might love pick up basketball and be happy to stay at that level. If someone really loves basketball, they may want to learn more about it, practice it more, seek out coaching and skills training, move to a better team, seek more competition, etc. People all along that continuum would say they "love basketball" but they would be meaning something very different.

                  In my opinion the disposition of the parents in the home is a primary factor in what creates, cultivates, or stifles this attitude. If the parents are curious, generally the kids are too. If there's a family culture of wonder, then that gets passed down. It's going to look different in each home. The primary homeschooling parent's personality is very important. When each of us share, you are often seeing our personality come through in how we personally homeschool and run our home. That's the beauty of it. You are seeing a few of us in this thread and you can tell that we've all found a happy place within the latitude that is afforded by MP's structure and form. That's why I love that it's called a "forum," a place to come and discuss. The discussion helps us all grow!
                  Festina lentē,
                  Jessica P

                  '22-'23 • 13th year HSing • 11th year MP
                  DS Hillsdale College freshman
                  DD 11th • HLN & Latin online
                  DD 8th • HLN & Home
                  DS 5th • HLN & Home
                  Me • Memoria College, MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

                  Teaching Third Form Latin and co-directing @
                  Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by SaintJude7 View Post
                    But I see the value in Latin, Greek, and a structured spine to our studies. Apparently, they do as well. They know that I eliminate busywork, rarely give tests, and would not ask them to do anything just to check off a box. I don’t care about state standards, honors designations, “selective colleges,” or Advanced Placement. MP is only one facet of our lifestyle of learning.

                    Blessings,
                    Jude
                    Also, my dd loves learning and spends much of her free time on academic things just because she loves them. On the flip side of Jude's kids, she is on the Advanced Placement/ Early College path because it works with her goals. She has found great value in Latin and the structured spine MP provided for us over the years. She has been selected for a State Department program for language leaning, and her MP/ Latin/ Classical education background played a key part in her application interviews for that program.

                    Two other comments. First, habit-forming looms large in Charlotte Mason's methods, and MP facilitates that well.

                    Second, we also came out of a Charlotte Mason program into MP. I was very gentle in our transition, doing more narratives and CM-type work at first. My jaw dropped the other day when dd (10th grade) advised an MP friend of mine who is doing MP with her second-grader to "Make her (dd) do the hard stuff sooner. It's okay to keep it fun, but I wish Mom had made me do things back then that I didn't want to do, like handwriting and musical scales, that I had to go back and master later."

                    So, don't feel like you need to fill in every blank on every page, but find the rhythm that works for you and your family. But also remember students are usually more capable and willing to learn than we assume they are.
                    Bean. Long time MP user. Almost retired homeschool mom and university faculty/ librarian.

                    I apologize in advance for my typos and grammatical mishaps.

                    DD (17) Graduated!
                    Mechanical Engineering

                    "School Administrator" to niece (9): MP 3A

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Hello.

                      In March, when conventions went virtual, I had to do a talk for one that we just recorded in our cafeteria. The presentation isn't great because I was talking to a camera, but I did summarize Cheryl Lowe's articles about learning and fun. It can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULX0vf3jc5Q

                      It's something you could listen to while doing laundry, cooking, etc.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thank you so much for your responses, ladies! I have read them all and appreciate hearing your perspectives.

                        One of the challenging things for me about a forum context is the inability to hear tone/inflection in another person's voice! I hope my question did not feel antagonistic toward you or your students!

                        Again-- thank you!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          You are so right about the difficulty in understanding the tone of communication! Email can be like that, too, and I have seen personally how it can cause serious trouble. If it can reassure you, I didn't perceive any kind of antagonism. And on the flip side, I hope I didn't come across as curt or impatient! Sometimes there is little time to spend on the forum, but we just want to say something without waiting to have more leisure, and that, too, can influence the tone of an answer.

                          DS (16)
                          DD (15)
                          DS (8)

                          Comment


                            #14
                            “As a comparison, when we did SOTW with the activity book, mummified chicken experiments, cuneiform writing, Chinese kite construction, copious books from the library about each culture, etc, six weeks after we finished our year, my child denied even having studied certain countries. It was too much, too broad, too obtuse, not enough review, no writing.”

                            yes! Yes! Yes! How is it even possible for me to be exhausted and the kids didn’t retain anything!!!
                            sometimes my husband would raise an eyebrow and ask, “are you even teaching them?” because they retained nearly zero info...so much wasted time, money, energy.
                            -Victoria

                            at home:
                            boy - 3rd grade
                            boy - 2nd grade
                            boy - k/1st
                            girl - toddler

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Sorry, I don’t yet know how to do fancy quotes...that was enbateau I referenced.
                              -Victoria

                              at home:
                              boy - 3rd grade
                              boy - 2nd grade
                              boy - k/1st
                              girl - toddler

                              Comment

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