Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: SchoolhouseTeachers.com Yearly Membership

If I have to choose between online resources and "real" books and curriculum, I tend to go for paper and ink every time. However, this attitude can be very limiting on a small budget! Even this early in my homeschooling journey (my oldest child is six), I have already found myself using inexpensive online resources more than I ever expected to.

I recently had an opportunity to explore SchoolhouseTeachers.com, an online subscription to a wide variety of curriculum, classes and resources offered by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. One subscription for your entire family costs only $139 annually. There is also the option to subscribe monthly at $12.95, but having seen the breadth of the resources offered, I think the Yearly Membership is your best bet to do justice to it. (Scroll down for a special sale on from now until Christmas.) There are parent resources and curriculum for preschool all the way through high school, including over 100 courses ranging in length from a few weeks to an entire year. The subscription format allows you to use as much or as little of what is available on the site as you choose. Whether you use it as your core curriculum or as a supplement, whether you have one child or ten, the price is the same.

Of course, my eye was immediately caught by anything with Charlotte Mason's name on it! My first explorations took me to some Charlotte Mason preschool lesson plans. I was quite impressed. While not every activity included was strictly "Charlotte Mason," I felt the plans reflected Charlotte Mason's own priorities for the early years. The focus was on plenty of time outdoors based on a monthly nature study theme. Several quality picture books were suggested for each month, and a poem to read every day to encourage children to memorize it. I liked that the course did not include a lot of busywork and early academics. There are six months' worth of plans, and I look forward to following at least some of them with my four-year-old when we begin lessons again in January. (By the way, if you are one of those crafty moms and you love getting out the glitter and scissors with your preschoolers, there is plenty of that as well at schoolhouseteachers.com. I was just delighted to find something that fit my non-crafty style, too.)

Next, I read through a course for parents written by Cindy West entitled "Charlotte Mason Homeschooling: Adding a Charlotte Mason Touch to Your Homeschool." My feelings about this course were more mixed. On the plus side, it was very practical. It included many great ideas to get started doing narration, nature study, picture study, developing good habits, and everything else included in Charlotte Mason's methods. It could be a non-intimidating introduction to Charlotte Mason. However, the very thing that first attracted me to Charlotte Mason --the idea that what you believe about children and education (philosophy) matters, and works itself out in the practical (method) -- was nowhere in evidence. The fact that these educational methods and techniques have at their heart a belief that "Children are born persons" was not even hinted at. However, I would still recommend this course to homeschoolers, as long as you don't stop there, but go on to read the books recommended at the end of it!

Another resource Charlotte Mason homeschoolers will find helpful are the "Nature/Outdoors" lessons by Erin Dean. I am very excited about these! With 14 units to choose from, I will definitely be looking here for ideas for whatever nature study focus we happen to be working on throughout the year.

Since math is one of our favourite subjects, we also explored the Elementary Math section of the site. I watched one of the many videos by Dr. Peter Price on how to teach fractions, and then printed off worksheets for my sons: fractions for my six-year-old, and counting for my four-year-old, just so he wouldn't feel left out. Both boys enjoyed the lessons. I am very happy with the math program I'm working with now, but I can see myself using this as an occasional resource. There were monthly archived lessons since September 2012, and lessons are ongoing. The archives are also sorted by grade levels for parents' convenience.

I have hardly scratched the surface of what is available at SchoolhouseTeachers.com. If you homeschool, you will find something, (probably many somethings!) you can use here. Planners and recipes, monthly reading lists for parents and animated books for young readers, chemistry and creative writing, public speaking, home economics, and Hebrew... and there is so much more. Please check out the experiences other homeschoolers have had with with this resource to start to get an idea of how broad it really is.

If you're interested, SchoolhouseTeachers.com is having a Super Christmas Sale until Christmas day. They are offering 40% off the monthly membership (that makes it $7.77/month) or 50% off the Yearly Membership (now $64.26/year). If you join at this rate, any future renewals will go through at the same rate as long as you keep a continuous membership!

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review

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