I’m excited to announce that the 2022 to 2023 version of the Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten Curriculum is now available in the shop! It has been six years since I first posted this curriculum on my website, and I have been honored to be able to offer this simple and gentle guide for new homeschooling families as well as seasoned veterans!
As with last year, I’m providing a free printable PDF that lists all of the selections I’ve included this year. Feel free to use this in your own homeschool and schedule them as works best for you!
I want to emphasize before diving into the booklist that Charlotte Mason did not recommend any type of formal education for children before the age of six.
How much time daily in the open air should the children have? And how is it possible to secure this for them? In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mothers first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air. And this, not for the gain in bodily health alone––body and soul, heart and mind, are nourished with food convenient for them when the children are let alone, let to live without friction and without stimulus amongst happy influences which incline them to be good.vol 1 pg 43
I wholeheartedly believe that “education” is being forced on children at far too young of ages in modern times, especially as young children should be spending large parts of their days outside. However, for the child approaching their sixth birthday who is showing interest in “school,” I do not necessarily think that these “full six years of passive receptive life” and including a simple and gentle kindergarten have to be mutually exclusive. In Home Education, Ms. Mason wrote specifically about the Kindergarten Method (as German educator Friedrich Froebel had established it), suggesting that the home was an ideal place for a year of kindergarten and a mother the ideal teacher:
If the very essence of the Kindergarten method is personal influence, a sort of spiritual mesmerism, it follows that the mother is naturally the best Kindergartnerin [or kindergarten teacher]; for who so likely as she to have the needful tact, sympathy, common sense, culture?vol 1 pg 178
Though every mother should be a Kindergartnerin, in the sense in which Froebel would employ the term, it does not follow that every nursery should be a regularly organised Kindergarten. Indeed, the machinery of the Kindergarten is no more than a device to ensure the carrying out of certain educational principles, and some of these it is the mother’s business to get at, and work out according to Froebel’s methods––or her own.vol 1 pg 179
My original inspiration for creating this curriculum was the fact that my son’s birthday falls in August and as we prepared for his sixth birthday, I didn’t think he was quite ready for first grade. However, I did feel that he was ready for something a little more structured than what we had been doing ﹣ though nothing too rigorous as is the case with most kindergarten classes these days ﹣ which is why I began to determine how to work out my own “educational principles.” And that is how this curriculum was born.
That year, we spent our days being exposed to beautiful ideas by reading books together, playing simple math games (as well as counting and coloring together), developing relationships with the natural world through observation, and making handicrafts together. All of this while also allowing plenty of time for him to spend outside every day. Nothing was rigorous or demanding for either one of us and we were able to ease ourselves gently not only into the world of “school” for him, but also into the world of homeschooling for both of us.
If you’re new to Charlotte Mason in general and just want to know more about her, a good starting place is Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s For the Children’s Sake which will give you a great overview. However, nothing can replace Ms. Mason’s own words and the generous women behind AmblesideOnline (AO) have made all of her original six-volume series available for free (or you can buy print copies on Amazon) as well as modern paraphrase versions. If you find it easier reading along with others, the AO forums host several book groups that are reading through a volume at any given time. Charlotte Mason Poetry also periodically offers the Idyll Challenge which includes groups of people reading the books together over the course of two years.
And now, on to the books!
A Charlotte Mason Kindergarten Day
For us, an average day during my son’s first-grade year (during which we used AO Year 1) took about 2 hours. In contrast, the Charlotte Mason kindergarten curriculum, without a morning time, takes about 20 minutes per day if you’re doing 4 days per week as we did (with a nature walk day on Friday). If you choose to do five days per week, it would take even less time each day. With the morning time that we also included, it was about 40 minutes in all. Some days were longer than others, but for the most part, we usually began our days at around 9:30 to 9:45 and were done by 10:15 or 10:30.
Also, I highly recommend pre-reading! This is something you will want to do throughout your homeschool journey and the sooner you get into this habit, the better it will be for you later on. Different curriculum makers have different ideas about subjects and topics that are “okay” for their children to read or hear at specific ages. There have been times when I have assumed a book would be okay for our family simply because of who suggested it or the list on which I found it, but then discovered that it had content that I wasn’t comfortable with for my kids at that age. Going through the readings on your own before you read them to your kids to make sure the content aligns with your family’s values is highly recommended!
- Fifty Famous People (free on Kindle and Gutenberg – please note that this is not the same book listed for AO Year 1)
Please see the note above about pre-reading as this is definitely a book you will want to review. While I don’t think the material is offensive, there are mentions of battles and weapons (though not any graphic violence that stuck out to me) and there were two notes that I made while reading it: in “Going to Sea,” Washington’s servant (though most likely a slave) is simply referred to as a black boy. I changed this just to “servant.” (We also addressed race and slavery in Year 1 with the book, Farmer George Plants a Nation, and again in Year 5 while we were learning about the fight against slavery in the US as well as the American Civil War. I hope to have a full list to share of the books we used at the end of this school year.)
In case you’d like an alternative to Fifty Famous People, Yesterday’s Classics offers quite a few history books (in particular, I was interested in America First and American History Stories). A reader also mentioned Beautiful Feet Books as a good source as well and I was particularly interested in their Child’s First Book of American History.
- Children Just Like Me: A new celebration of children around the world (DK Books)*
- The Irish Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins (free on Kindle and Gutenberg)
- wall maps (optional)
- globe (optional)
Children Just Like Me introduces you and your kids to different children from around the world and provides a little information about what their lives are like, including their families, what they like to eat, religions, and what they do in school. The book does include maps, but on the days that you read the continent/region overview, I’d highly recommend pulling out a globe and a world map so you can show your student the particular area you’re reading about that day.
*Please note that this book does include sensitive or potentially controversial topics including many different religions and non-traditional families. I attempted to steer clear of these topics in the assigned readings in the curriculum, but I do recommend pre-reading this book before you allow your children to look at it on their own. There is also an older version of this book published in 1995 that is another option as well. I opted to go with the newer version as the older one is fairly outdated in many ways.
I chose The Irish Twins because my family is Irish, so I wanted to expose our kids to some of our heritage. However, Lucy Fitch Perkins wrote quite a few of these books covering other countries and nationalities as well (free on Kindle and also a few on gutenberg.org – check to make sure they’re age-appropriate on the Yesterday’s Classics website – ages are listed after the book description for each of these), so you can easily switch out however you see fit. I also recommend pre-reading this and the other “Twins” books as well.
- Old Mother West Wind (free on Kindle and Gutenberg)
- Seed Babies by Margaret Warner Morley (free on Google Books)
I suggest Old Mother West Wind because it provides a good introduction to some of the characters you and your child will read about later if you choose to do AO. However, if you go with another curriculum, I still think all of Burgess’s books are fantastic, so I highly recommend them.
If you’re looking for alternatives to this one, I can also recommend Clara Dillingham Pierson’s Among the People books (also free on Kindle and gutenberg.org). Both of my kids have loved this series, so I think you can’t go wrong with either one.
Seed Babies is just a fun book all around. My only suggestion is to grow your own beans at home as you work your way through the chapters so your student can see what’s discussed in the book firsthand!
I have also only scheduled 4 days of school per week so that Friday can be a day for a nature hike. This is actually the most important part of nature study in a Charlotte Mason education (especially at this age), but it’s also very simple to do, and benefits both your kids AND you!
- One Small Square Backyard by Donald Silver and Patricia Wynne
- Science in Seconds by Jean Potter
- One Small Square Pond by Donald Silver and Patricia Wynne
The One Small Square books are nice because you can use them either in the “real world,” meaning you can actually do the one small square in your backyard or a nearby pond, or you can just follow along in the book if you don’t have a yard or access to a pond. For each of these, I read the main text and then went around and read all of the little captions, pointing to the object that it was referring to. There are a few side projects that you can do that may require additional supplies, but I don’t feel that these are necessary.
For Science in Seconds, I highly recommend reading each unit at the beginning of the week so you can pick an activity and know what you’ll need for science time in advance (I’ve also included overall supply lists as well as weekly supply lists in the curriculum).
- Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
- The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
- Beatrix Potter – The Complete Tales
- The Children’s Treasury of Virtues by William J. Bennett
The Beatrix Potter Complete Tales linked above contains all of the curriculum readings and is a beautiful addition to your book collection. The Children’s Treasury of Virtues is no longer in print, but I was able to find it reasonably priced and in very good condition through bookfinder.com. You could also buy each of the three books it contains separately as they are still in print: The Children’s Book of Virtues, The Children’s Book of Heroes, and The Children’s Book of America (all by William J. Bennett).
If you are outside of the United States, you will probably want to omit or substitute any or all of The Children’s Treasury of Virtues as some of the stories (particularly in the third term) are specific to US history.
- Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected for Boys and Girls by Helen Ferris
This is an excellent collection of poetry from many different poets on several different subjects to add to your home library! I recommend reading a poem every day.
- MEP Reception (free – I have also written a guide here that helps walk you through some of the more confusing activities)
I highly recommend MEP Reception if you want or need to do some kind of math activities but don’t want to spend a lot of (or anything other than printing costs). My kids absolutely loved the games and really enjoyed the crafts too. The activities are engaging and mostly short, with no structured math. There are estimated times to the left of each activity, but in our experience, the activities never took as long as listed and I’m guessing this is because we didn’t do it in a normal classroom setting with many children.
When it comes to things like this, I’m a paper kind of girl, so I did print out both the lesson plans and the copymasters, but you could probably get away with only printing the copymasters if you want to read the lesson plans on a screen and save some ink and paper. I’ve also included a supply list of the things we used in the Supply Lists section of the curriculum book. For the most part, these are probably things that you have around the house.
If you’re wanting to start using a math curriculum that will carry you through 8th grade and are willing to invest in it early on, we have been using RightStart Math since Year 1 and I can’t recommend it enough! I will also add that I felt that the MEP Reception year more than prepared us for RightStart Level B in first grade.
- Bob Books Pre-Reader Collection (includes My First Bob Books: Alphabet and My First Bob Books: Pre-Reading Skills)
These books begin in term 2 and continue on through term 3. This is not any type of strict reading instruction but instead is simply reviewing alphabet sounds, patterns, and sequencing by you reading the short stories and doing the activities at the end of the books with your student.
My son wasn’t quite ready to learn to read when we started our kindergarten year and I didn’t want to pressure him to do so, so we took it very slowly. If your child is showing interest in learning to read and has these basic skills down, I used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons during Year 1 with both of my kids with success. However, there is evidence that starting reading later is not necessarily a bad thing so don’t feel pressured to begin early.
- The Artful Year by Jean Van’t Hul
- (optional in the curriculum) The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children by Suzanne Gross and Sally Fallon Morell
The Artful Year has simple but beautiful crafts related to the seasons of the year, often incorporating natural items into the craft. I also believe cooking is a handicraft, and I highly recommend The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children for getting your kids involved in the kitchen at an early age (I have a printable for this book in a homeschool setting here)!
For copywork, I recommend using whatever poem you’re learning for recitation during morning time and making copy pages at WorksheetWorks.
If you find that using your recitation piece doesn’t cover the entire month, you can make more sheets with any Bible verses, hymns, or folksongs you’re memorizing or listening to as well.
We include a lot of different subjects in our Morning Time, which I’ve written about in more detail here. Here are a few resources we’ve used:
- The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos
- The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
- Children of God Storybook Bible by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
- Picture Study Resources (including free Picture Study Aids for the AO Artist Schedule)
- AmblesideOnline Artist Schedule
- AmblesideOnline Composer Schedule (Freegal is a great source for free music downloads!)
- AmblesideOnline Hymn Schedule
- AmblesideOnline Folksong Schedule
If you’re wanting a Charlotte Mason kindergarten year all laid out for you term-by-term and week-by-week, keep reading!
Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten Curriculum 2022-2023
I hope this list is helpful to anyone out there looking for some Charlotte Mason kindergarten ideas! If you’re not sure how to spread all of this out over 36 weeks, I do also offer a Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten Curriculum in ebook and printed form as well!
With this book, you will also get…
…Morning Time tips, with information about why Morning Time can be helpful, a sample of what we did during our own Morning Time, and ideas for how to implement it.
…supply lists, including everything you’ll need for the science projects, math activities, and handicrafts over the course of the year as well as broken down each week. I included this because it is one thing that always keeps me from being more efficient in my homeschooling. I find that if I have all of the supplies I need before a term, or even before a week starts, I’m much more likely to do them rather than scrambling around at the last second to get everything together!
…term overview schedules, with books and activities listed for history, geography, nature study, science, literature, poetry, math, picture study, composer study, hymn, folksong, and handicrafts.
…weekly schedules. I have gone through the term overview schedules and broken them down day-by-day for each week, so you have 36 weeks of 4-day schedules (with a nature study hike scheduled for Fridays) already laid out for you. The only thing you need to do is pre-read and you’re set!
You can pick up your own copy of the curriculum below!