When Carrie resigned after 11 years of teaching in the public school system to come home full-time, we knew that we wanted our children's education to be different. We did not wish to view our children as little vessels to fill with information. Instead, we wanted their learning to engage their minds, capture their attention, and spur them on to explore their interests and pursue their hobbies.
As we moved forward into homeschooling, we had discovered some of the same philosophies that Carrie learned about through public education and some that she hadn't. We were especially drawn to the ideas put forth by Charlotte Mason and found ourselves agreeing with much of her philosophy of education.
We mainly focused on her concepts of short lessons and readings; selection of "living books" read purposefully over time; exposure to poetry, music, art, and nature; and her approach to language arts through narration, copywork, dictation, and memorization. Her philosophy meant much more to us because of her personal belief that knowledge of God and His word is foundational to all learning.
We also found that with a wide variety of homeschooling materials available today, it is easy to desire a Christian education for our children, yet end up with very few curriculum choices that are actually Christ-centered.
We wanted Christ to be at the center of our homeschooling so that all other learning radiated out from there.
As we added more children to our homeschooling family, we found that much of the traditional curriculum written for only one grade level did not fit our philosophy and was too time consuming for both Carrie and our children.
We also knew we did not want an approach to education that was mainly focused on textbooks and workbooks.
When we tried using multi-level curriculums to combine our children in a variety of different ways, we had limited success. We found most multi-level curriculums were aimed at our older children, which left our little ones with no focused teaching time or personal attention. Consequently, the multi-age program that was supposed to unite all of us became fragmented. As we tried to adjust the material for our little ones, our older ones lost their focus.
With our past frustrations in mind, Carrie started putting together a learning program for our own children. We realized that trying to group a wide span of age levels together often left someone's needs unmet. This didn't match with our belief that the younger years are very important as habits are being formed and core learning is taking place. Likewise, the older years are also important, as children move toward gaining independence and learning to work toward a goal. So, Carrie began writing programs with smaller age increments that still spanned several age levels.
Mike and Carrie Austin