The Alveary (CMI's Alveary)

Here I Grow Again

Here I Go Grow Again

"I think the strategy I feel led to take right now is to really try out the use of plans from someone else and adjust as needed."

Well, that didn't last.  What is it they say about not trusting feelings?  Ha.  (And I kid you not, I thought the same thing when I typed that sentence out.)

Considering the fact that I never landed on a set curriculum for my oldest during the past twelve years of homeschooling, I'm not sure why I thought I should even try again.  (Decision fatigue, stress of life----the past years have been hard, but 2019 has held it's own special brand of hard----I mean I know why I thought I *should* try.  But really, self? I say.....I'm sure I'll laugh about it somewhere in my future.)

What can I say? 

The release of lesson plans from the Alveary was a big disappointment.  The actual plans themselves are well done.   They are visually beautiful.  The books are fit properly to the subjects.  The readings are carefully chosen and paced.  They have plugged in links to helpful pictures, maps, and such.  I know a lot of work (and then some!!) has gone into them.

But the release itself.  Huge disappointment.  So many delays.  So little communication.  Unless they get much more organized and better at communication, here's my short review to anyone thinking about using the Alveary after the start of two different years as a member:  don't plan to be able to implement anything they put out within at least two weeks of any date they give you.   If you do, you'll likely be set up for a lot of frustration. (Hopefully they will get better!)

So about somewhere mid week last week---I finally agreed with myself as to what I already knew.  I would not actually be using most, if any, of the plans.  (Art looks amazing!  The videos I've watched are so helpful!  And I'm not quite finished looking through the other subject I was most looking forward to seeing----geography.  Ironically, those were the very last plans released later in the week, and by then I knew I would be moving on/back to hashing out my own course of study.  Finally.  I guess I'm a slow learner at this.  Which is also ironic as I never once hesitated to pick and choose among ideas and resources and create from scratch when I taught children in a classroom setting.  I still miss some of the ladies I worked closely with over the years and the brainstorming, planning and sharing we were able to do.  I'm definitely going to try to watch every single art, sloyd, and dance video and enjoy what I can learn from the Alveary in general vs. utilizing plans specifically though.)

Instead of just deleting my last post, I thought I'd write this one.  Maybe someone out there needs to know they aren't the only one who goes around and around wanting a laid out CM plan to be THE ONE to use, to then repeatedly find there just isn't one (even with minor tweaks here and there).  (And yeah, that one person might just be one of my own daughters one day if no one else.  My oldest will remember my days of ramblings about this subject, my youngest one won't---hopefully.  Hopefully I don't keep that up for another 12 years.  Ha.)  Not that there aren't many wonderful choices.  But for some reason, the choices just are not for me, or for whoever needs to hear it.  I mean, what can one do?  Pull up your bootstraps....tie and knot at the end of your rope and hang on.  Do what you know to do. (Whatever it is----CM or not.)

When trying to understand the Charlotte Mason philosophy  what needs to be done?  Go to the source.  Always, go to the source.  Charlotte Mason herself.  There is a lot (a LOT) of information, opinion, and "noise" in the CM homeschool community now that did not exist ten years ago.  Listen to much of it too long and it will bog you down.  Podcasts, blog posts, webinars, articles, even the PNEU programmes (dare I say it)----they can be learning tools, but they can also become burdensome.  Reading Charlotte Mason's volumes has never been burdensome (for me).  Inspiring.  Invigorating.  Vocabulary expanding.  Yes. 

(After CM herself, I'd really recommend listening to Sonya Shaffer from Simply Charlotte Mason.  And the Ambleside Online founders or Brandy Vencel, who utilizes AO. Always full of grace.  And humble wisdom.)


So before I could even try to dig into my own planning---to clear the noise in my own head, I decided I needed to go back to the 20 Principles and read them again.  Write down what I needed to listen to directly from CM---what I need to focus on instead of anything else. 



Children are born persons.

Education is the science of relations.

Two guides to moral and intellectual self-management are the way of the will and the way of reason.  Teach children not to lean too confidently on their own understanding.  Whether it be right or wrong, reason will confirm whatever is willed.

The chief responsibility which rests on children (and us all) as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas.

Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.

The mind feeds on ideas and the child must be given a generous curriculum with knowledge that is varied, vital, and fitted to him. (emphasis added)

Allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and spiritual life of children.  Teach them the Divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits and is their Continual Helper in all the interests, duties, and joys of life.



Decisions, Decisions

(This turned in to a long, rambly post which I decided to leave as is.  That way if I come back and say hey---I scratched that.  Or wow!  We made it!  I'll have this for reference of a starting point either way.  :-) )



I'm making headway in planning for our new school year which begins in July, 2019.  I'm so excited to be at peace with a decision for the year for my youngest----at least for the start of it.  (I'm hoping there is no need for a disclaimer and no need to come back later and say I couldn't hang in there with the original choices; but there's always a chance of it with me.) 

There are so many great complete curriculum choices out there for families following the Charlotte Mason method that it can be hard to pin down a decision.  Especially for someone who wants to read all the books. Or who loves planning from scratch.  Or who has never been able to follow the plans as written by anyone else for long in the past 12 years of homeschooling----thank you for your hard work though you wonderful CM curriculum (and other curriculum) developers!

I even began working out my own history rotation along with other curriculum areas and posting them on this site.  But.  Life happened.   A. LOT.   It has a funny way of doing that, doesn't it? 

We spent over four months this year living at my mom's while our house was undergoing a lot of work.   We are still dealing with chronic health issues of our own along with some of those we love dearly facing health issues.  So needless to say, the brain space has not been there for planning nor the physical time to do it.    Even when I tried---I spent much of the time lamenting to myself how much I wanted to try Ambleside Online again because I LOVE the ladies who developed it and those who have come alongside over the years to lead and help others.  LOVE THEM.  (As much as one can from afar and from listening to their talks, reading their books and blog posts, following them on Instagram. Which is a great deal even though I may never meet one of them face to face.)  But I have remained unsettled with AO as a best fit for us due to the history book selections mostly and other choices to a lesser degree.  I tried subbing out books with my oldest and still using parts of the program, but it always felt disjointed and never quite right.

And then there was Wildwood and A Mind in the Light to consider.  Both awesome looking with great ladies working on them!   I will no doubt add in books from both of these along with Ambleside Online to free reading choices and bedtime reading.  A Gentle Feast got quite a bit of time and consideration from me as well----another solid choice.  (And there are more out there!  These were the ones I kept circling back around to though.)

But the Alveary.  The Alveary has been in the back of my mind for my youngest since I learned of it a few years ago.   The idea of a cohesively planned 1-12 course of study that was closer to my own ideas about history sequence and book selections caught my attention straight away.  Decision fatigue is real. And it's hard.  And although part of me really enjoys planning out all the details of a year and doing my own thing, another part of me just wants to relax into the plans of someone else.  To free up the time and space all the planning takes and to put that energy into being fully in the present as much as I can vs. always thinking ahead, always searching, always planning.  Because boy does the time go sooooooo fast! (Too fast!)

My oldest has reflected on her schooling as she's listened to me talk a bit as I've wrestled with decisions for my youngest. (They are over eleven years apart.)  She thinks it has been great that for the most part we've done our own thing and that I planned her education based on her needs and interests and gave her choices when appropriate (there has been a lot of choice given to her in high school.  As a funny aside:  she read some books other curricula use in first grade or other early years as a teen and as said---thank you for not reading that to me when I was little.  Ha ha.  She has always been a very sensitive soul.)  So there has been that voice in the back of my head saying I could do it again.   That maybe I should do it again.  But I don't know.  I think the strategy I feel led to take right now is to really try out the use of plans from someone else and adjust as needed. 

I was an Alveary member for the 2017-18 school year, though it was not the best fit for my oldest as it turned out so I did not really implement much of the actual curriculum.  However, I enjoyed the teacher resources and training webinars a lot.  Even though I have studied Charlotte Mason for years, I continue to find so much to learn.  (I think it shall always be that way because her ideas are living and lasting.)  Because  I could not commit to the high school pilot for the current school year and my youngest wasn't old enough for Form 1b (1st grade) I did not renew my membership.  

Also because I'm wired to start planning with the end in mind I almost discounted the Alveary entirely when I realized the little one would end up having a high school history sequence that didn't start at the beginning of the rotation or finish at the end.  (Yes, the rational side of me knows that x, y, z can happen between now and then and things could change in major ways, but it's still how I think best.  I like a long term vision that I can adjust as we go along rather than a vision that is constantly under development.) Because she is my only one going through the majority of her school years and I don't have to consider combining children, this bothered me.  I like the sequence the oldest has had in high school.  And I like the idea of ending high school studying current times.  But then LIFE again.  So shortly after the Alveary opened registration for the 2019-2020 school year, in a moment of "hey maybe I can make this work"---I purchased a membership. (Then immediately felt ridiculous because I have shelves and shelves full of books that I could use already....but that's another ramble for another day as this is already getting long.)

Months later though I still felt so unsettled.  I kept weighing the decision of what to do, what to use, following my own path, combining others, or picking one to try to follow.  Usually by March or April I have the next school year's resources completely decided but this year has been so very different.  We moved back home in May and I felt like we should still be back in January somewhere.   Like time stood still at home even though it moved at a pace like no other time before otherwise. So when I finally sat down to work in earnest on planning next year, I just couldn't.  There was exhaustion and tears and frustration.  And I opened up the Alveary membership site and started reading anew and said to myself----just commit to the first term and see how it goes.  You  know what?   My whole self finally said YES, I can do that.  Not just my head or my heart---but both.  Thank you, Lord. (Sincerely---not saying that lightly.) 

That yes, that peace---has even turned into excitement.   I watched the webinar on the Alveary's art program for the upcoming year and it was a big YES!!!  I LOVE art.  This was a breath of fresh air to my weary soul.  And then I started reading the Member Tutorial in earnest.  Not just skimming it.  More excitement.  There is so much I can do better and understand more this second time around.  After years of thinking there would be no second time around and the weight of one shot at doing this homeschooling thing well, along came our little one.  (Another sincere thanks to the Lord for His indescribable gift of both of our children.)  And I GET to do it again!  

So the Alveary is where I've landed with this big decision.  I know that I will add some to it and the schedule I've started working out includes my own additions (and possible deletions....I have to wait to see the plans to decide how many time slots I'll give to certain subjects, especially since I'd like to do most of our work in four days vs. five if possible.) I hope to have many happy updates to share!

I'll write a post about plans for the oldest sooner than not I hope.  I'm a terrible blogger in these recent years---but it is a goal of mine to try to write more again.  I've never been a great blogger, but we have an awesome blog book from my oldest's elementary years and I really want to have that same sort of record for my  youngest.

Until next time....


Image by yabayee from Pixabay

Isn't that bee cute?  I used it to make a curriculum notebook cover for this year.  Feel free to DOWNLOAD the cover and use it too if you'd like (PDF file).