CHARLOTTE MASON’S ALVEARY

FAQ

WHERE DOES THE NAME “ALVEARY” COME FROM?

Alveary (n)– (1) a beehive; (2) a repository of knowledge

Charlotte Mason had a practicing school on her Ambleside campus, which met in a small stone building with a hexagonal cupola. It was affectionately nicknamed, “The Beehive.” This is where her teachers-in-training would observe master teachers and begin practicing their own teaching with the local village children. We felt that this name captured what we are trying to do: provide an excellent Mason education for students and train their teachers at the same time. Our website “as a repository of knowledge” houses a vast collection of videos, lectures, articles, blogs, and original documents to help you grow in your knowledge of Mason’s philosophy and methods.

HOW AND WHY WAS CHARLOTTE MASON’S ALVEARY CREATED?

Charlotte Mason’s Alveary is the culmination of over a decade of research and work. The Charlotte Mason Institute (CMI) began exploring the idea of creating a modern Charlotte Mason curriculum and teacher training program in 2007. Since we knew we needed access to primary source documents in order to gain a fuller understanding of Mason’s ideas, CMI worked with Redeemer University College, The Armitt Museum and Gallery, and The University of Cumbria to digitize letters, articles, manuscripts, programmes, and many other items, which are now accessible in the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection. After analysis of Mason’s original programmes and other resources, we created the Alveary, piloting it  in 2016. Our curriculum has evolved since then due to further research, feedback from our members, and the dedication of our development team, which now numbers more than 20 teachers, homeschool parents, and content-area experts. What started as an idea for helping teachers implement Mason’s methods while also learning them has grown from a collection of spreadsheets to a beautiful, robust curriculum that brings the full Mason feast within everyone’s grasp. 

HOW IS THE ALVEARY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER CURRICULUMS?

The Alveary is a product of the Charlotte Mason Institute, an educational nonprofit (501c3). The purpose of the Charlotte Mason Institute is to support a worldwide community of learners and educators in an authentic practice of Charlotte Mason’s paradigm of education. Our mission is to faithfully hand on the truths of Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy. Our vision is to foster a relational education by equipping and inspiring communities through current application of Charlotte Mason’s principles and to conduct a thorough investigation into the writings, programmes, and archival documents from the Charlotte Mason Archive as well as through any future empirical research. We wish to do all of this with charity, fidelity, and humility. 

Here is what all of that means for you.  Charlotte Mason’s Alveary is:

  • A professional product
    • Our curriculum is written by a team of over 20 veteran Charlotte Mason teachers, homeschool parents, administrators, and researchers. 
    • Our team includes both general practitioners and content-area experts in such areas as Science, Latin, French, Spanish, Art, Music, and Geography. This means you can be confident in the accuracy and thoroughness of the Alveary.  For more information, see Our Team.
  • Research-based 
    • Our team is constantly immersed in Mason’s volumes, Parents’ Review articles, and the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection with an eye to creating a curriculum and training program that is authentically Mason. Our program is updated as we make new discoveries and connections.
    • Charlotte Mason said that education is physiology plus psychology unified by philosophy. Our team includes professionals who are well-versed in child development and psychology, and that knowledge informs our lesson plans. We also stay abreast of current educational research and do the hard work of wrestling with new discoveries to see if they should inform our practice. (For example, well-established research in neuroscience that did not exist in Mason’s day is currently informing our discussion of neurodiverse students in our new group, The Blue Orchard Bee.) For more information on why current research is important and how we use it, please watch the CMI conference lecture on The Role of an Institute
  • Organic and current.
    • Charlotte Mason did not create a fixed product and then sell it in perpetuity. Her programs were fresh every single term. We follow her example by updating our curriculum each year.
    • We use member feedback and student exams to assess the quality of the books we recommend.
    • We assess new titles as we find out about them to see if they should be included. 
    • When a book goes out of print we replace that title (or have it republished) to help keep your costs low.
  • Complete and cohesive.
    • You are not left on your own to figure out how to teach things like math, languages, dance, and handicrafts. We have thought through everything and made specific recommendations. When we couldn’t find resources we liked, we actually wrote materials ourselves, including our French, Spanish, Art, Geography, and Reading lessons.
    • The program is designed to work seamlessly together as a whole. Each subject enhances the study of the others.
  • Thoroughly vetted.
    • In our search for the best books to include, we look for adherence to Mason’s philosophy, as well as a reflection of child development and well-established research. We include only the highest quality books and activities, as well as thoughtful exam questions.
    • Programs and lesson plans are read, reread, revised, and edited every year.

Membership in Charlotte Mason’s Alveary also Includes excellent teacher training as part of the package.

    • Our Member Tutorial of the Charlotte Mason Method includes a description of each of Mason’s methods for each subject and shows you the big picture of how they progress.
    • Our Guide to Effective Planning and Implementation walks you through the nuts and bolts of planning your school year. It also includes information on our Soft Launch, which helps you learn and implement the methods gradually over two years.
    • Lesson plans are designed to teach you the correct way to implement Mason’s methods.
    • Lesson plans incorporate the flow and rhythm that excellent teachers use intuitively.
    • Our monthly webinars, extensive Knowledge Base, and guided book study groups will help you grow as a Mason teacher.
IS THIS A CHRISTIAN CURRICULUM?

The Alveary is part of the Charlotte Mason Institute, which is an educational nonprofit. Our purpose is to support a worldwide community of learners and educators in an authentic practice of Charlotte Mason’s paradigm of education, which was decidedly Christian. Our curriculum reflects Mason’s commitment to presenting to each student the knowledge of God, man, and the universe; however, we do not promote a particular denominational doctrine or worldview. 

WHEN YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE TRANSLATING MASON FOR OUR OWN TIME AND PLACE, DOES THAT MEAN YOU ONLY STUDY AMERICAN HISTORY, AUTHORS, AND ARTISTS?

Absolutely not. Our students study three streams of history: national, world, and ancient. They also study world cultures and world geography, and they keep up with international current events. Our purpose in saying that we are translating Mason for our own time and place is to make it clear that we choose books that are relevant for students who live in the United States and Canada. Many of the books Mason used (for history, geography, and natural history, for example) were perfect for British children, but they make less sense for today’s American and Candian students. 

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “LESSON PLANS?”

When we say “lesson plans,” we are decidedly NOT talking about page breakdowns by term, although we do provide that information as part of our programs. When we write lesson plans, we go through the process that the best professional teachers use, both because it provides the richest experience for students and because it helps train you to be a great teacher.  That process includes:

  1. Reading the books, 
  2. Thinking about the big ideas and planning quality activities around them (links, maps, writing prompts, labs, etc.) that will enhance them while still allowing students to do their own thinking,
  3. Noting places that might cause difficulty for students/teachers and suggesting the best ways to approach them, 
  4. Noting passages to which teachers need to be alerted to sensitive content to prevent unhappy surprises,
  5. Thinking about this book in the wider context of the whole curriculum to ensure cohesiveness and to maximize the value of every book (e.g., using atlases from Geography in the Art lessons or historical poetry books from Literature in World History), 
  6. Planning thoughtful exam questions, and
  7. Researching extension projects and resources that can be used as Extra Helpings for students with high interest. After all, you never know which part(s) of the feast will pique a child’s interest, and we want to be sure everyone can be fed according to their individual needs.
HOW MUCH PLANNING AND PREPARATION CAN I EXPECT TO DO IN THE ALVEARY?
  • Yearly Planning: You can expect to invest several weeks planning prior to the start of the school year. This time will be spent reading about Mason’s methods, creating a school calendar and a school schedule, deciding which age groups you can combine for which subjects, placing students, and organizing your materials. Once school starts and you find your rhythm, you will likely need to make some adjustments. Our opening registration on March 1 allows ample time for this planning.
  • Term Planning: The time between terms offers you a great opportunity to take a break, assess student progress, evaluate what went well and what did not, and make preparations for the next term. We call this process “reflective practice.” We recommend taking at least one week off school after exam week for this purpose.
  • Week/Day Planning: We believe that the best teachers are well-prepared teachers. There is no doubt that your days will run more smoothly if you have read through your lesson plans and gathered all your materials. This habit will make you more effective and less stressed, and that will benefit your students. We recommend taking an hour or so each week for planning and a few minutes each morning to look everything over.
TO WHAT DEGREE CAN STUDENTS WORK INDEPENDENTLY IN THE ALVEARY?

This depends on student age and ability. Students in Form 1 require a lot of teacher attention. Form 2 students can do some things independently, but they will still need heavy support sometimes. Students in Form 3 will be much more independent, although they will still need some guidance in certain subjects. In high school, our lesson plans are actually written to the student, and the teacher’s role changes to mainly one of accountability. One way we try to help you navigate all these needs is by including a symbol for each set of lesson plans which represents an estimate of the amount of teacher attention required for all the subjects at various levels. Paying attention to this can help you plan your schedule accordingly.

WHEN DOES THE ACADEMIC YEAR START AND FINISH?

Our academic calendar runs from July 1-June 30. (Lesson Plans are published on July 1; all current materials are removed from the website on June 30 each year.)  Within those dates, members may schedule their school year as they wish. We provide three sample school calendars in our Guide to Effective Planning and Implementation, including a 5-day year-round calendar, a traditional 5-day calendar, and a 4-day calendar. Each of them allows for 180 days of instruction, as this meets the requirements of most US states, follows Mason’s model, and ensures that you can finish the lesson plans in one academic year.

CAN I PURCHASE A PORTION OF THE CURRICULUM?

We currently offer a few subjects separately in the CMI Store

WILL I HAVE ACCESS TO ALL OF THE PREVIOUS YEARS’ PROGRAMS WHEN I REGISTER?

No. New registrants have access only to the Programs for the academic year for which they register (i.e., 2020-21).  Members who renew this year will keep access to their current programs (2019-20) and gain access to the new ones (2020-21), but  the current year’s Programs are archived on June 30 each year. This follows Mason’s example in encouraging all members to work in the same history rotation. 

WHAT IF I DON’T FINISH SCHOOL BEFORE JUNE 30? WILL I LOSE ACCESS TO EVERYTHING?

Yes and no.  Unless you renew your Alveary membership, you will lose access to the member side of our website on June 30.  However, all of our Lesson Plan sets are downloadable/printable, so you will have those as long as you have downloaded and/or printed them. Some subjects (i.e., Art, Handicrafts, and Sol-fa, etc.) have accompanying audios and videos. Videos are housed in Vimeo and are downloadable. SoundCloud does not have this capability, but you can use the app to stream to your phone instead of using it online.

WHAT IS THE ESTIMATED COST OF BOOKS?

We are very mindful that many homeschool families and schools are working on tight budgets. To help you plan, we provide the estimated cost of the individual books on each Form’s Program. The prices are designed to give you a ‘worst-case scenario,’ which assumes you would need to buy everything, and that you were going to purchase new, hard copies of each book. Bought brand new, books can range from about $350 for Form 1B to about $700 for Form 3. 

To help offset the cost of books, we offer links to free versions whenever they are available, and many books are read over the course of several years. Likewise, our Programs indicate when a book is used only for a short period of time so that you can check those books out from your local library.  Most books can be bought second hand, shared among siblings, and passed down through the years. 

DO THE BOOKS CHANGE EVERY YEAR?

We can “hear” this question from several angles: 

  • If what you really want to know is, “Will I be able to recycle all the books I’m purchasing to use with my younger kids?” the answer is probably not.  The structure of our curriculum (in which all Forms study the same history rotation) is a factor. While the topics may be the same, students in different Forms may read different books according to age-appropriateness. Therefore, the ages of your students will influence whether or not a specific book can be reused the next time that history rotation comes around, even if the book titles on the Program do not change.
  • If what you really want to know is, “Will I have to buy all new books every year because of significant curriculum changes?” the answer is no.  We have spent several years refining our book list, and we are pretty happy with most of the books we currently recommend. We would only change these titles if (a) they went out of print, or (b) we found a new title that was so significantly better that it would justify rewriting our lesson plans. 
  • If what you really want to know is, “Is the Alveary committed to remaining current?” the answer is yes. Our team of writers does continue to read new titles, just as Mason did.  However, as explained in #2, great thought goes into the decision to replace a book.

We feel it is important to note that, since our curriculum is part of a private membership program, we cannot participate in Amazon Affiliates. We would not make money by constantly changing up our books or by recommending books you really don’t need; nor do we receive any profit from your using the Amazon links we provide in our Programs. (Note: We would welcome you to designate the Charlotte Mason Institute as your charity of choice on smile.amazon.com.)   All of our book choices–and changes–are based strictly on what we feel is the very best for our students.

WHAT IF MY CHILD HAS ALREADY READ A BOOK ON THE PROGRAM, OR IF I THINK A PARTICULAR BOOK IS TOO EASY OR HARD?

Since you have access to our whole curriculum (Grades 1-12), it is easy to allow students to straddle Forms. For example, if your Form 2b child has already read the mythology title, you can simply use the book from 2a instead. If you find that the geography selections are too difficult for him to read independently, or that he has missed important foundational information, you can have him read the 1a books. This is the beauty of our structure. 

When you join the Alveary, you may find that you have already studied an artist, composer, or Shakespeare play that is on our Program. You may, of course, choose a substitution and use our Lesson Plans as a guide for how to present them. In this case, there are a couple of things to note:

You will need to create your own exam questions. You can use ours to give you ideas.

Mason did have students reread Shakespeare plays. Unless you just read the one that we have scheduled, following our recommendations should be fine. If you do choose to substitute, please watch our Shakespeare webinar to find out which plays are appropriate for which Forms.

MY CHILD HAS NOT READ THE BEGINNING OF A PARTICULAR BOOK ON THE PROGRAM, BUT YOU ARE STARTING IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Many of our books are read on rotations, meaning everyone reads the same part of the book at the same time. Depending on which rotation we are on, students may start at the beginning or in the middle of a book. Mason required PNEU students to adhere to the programme for the current term, trusting that students who start in the middle of a book would be fine. There were also subjects, however, in which Mason recommended veering from her programmes. These were subjects in which skills build upon each other (e.g., Grammar, Modern Languages, Math, etc.). In subjects where material needs to be presented sequentially, we use ‘levels’ instead of rotations. These are clearly marked in the Programs. 

MAY I MAKE BOOK SUBSTITUTIONS?

Of course, though we strongly recommend doing so mindfully. We have reviewed hundreds of books in the process of creating the Alveary curriculum and have chosen those we deem best. (See the Alveary Living Library to read our rationales for including each book.) Some of the things we consider when assessing books are:

  • adherence to Mason’s principles
  • narrative quality
  • accuracy
  • relevance to our own time and place
  • political/cultural bias
  • age-appropriateness
  • academic rigor
  • contribution to the cohesiveness of our curriculum as a whole
  • widely-accepted graduation/college entrance requirements

Of course, no book is perfect, and we sometimes find it necessary to alert teachers in the Lesson Plans when there are accuracy issues, or when ideas may be controversial or age-inappropriate. If you decide to substitute another title, please note that you will need to create your own exam questions and address any of the above issues on your own.

If you know of other books you think we should consider including in the future, you are welcome to send those titles to us via our CONTACT US link. However, we are not in a position to evaluate or officially sanction any particular substitutions you may wish to make. 

WHY IS THE BOOK LIST NOT PUBLIC?

We have several reasons for keeping our book list private. First, the book list represents a great deal of research by our team–hundreds of hours are spent reading, comparing, and vetting books. Second, our desire is both to provide an excellent Mason education for students and to train teachers. Without the accompanying lesson plans and exam questions, we feel that the book list alone falls short of this. We believe teacher education is of critical import. Third, we want to guard the integrity of the curriculum as a whole and not separate out elements to be distributed individually. And lastly, keeping the book list private helps keep the prices of books low, since the whole of the Charlotte Mason community is not shopping for them.

IS THE BOOK LIST ON AMAZON?

No. We can’t create an Amazon list, because there is no way to keep it private.  However, we do provide links to Amazon in our Alveary Living Library and in our Programs.

DO YOU OFFER ANY SPECIFIC CONTENT FOR CANADIANS?

We have a fantastic team of Canadian lesson plan writers who provide book selections and lesson plans in subjects where the content differs from that of the United States. For example, in Form 3 Geography, Canadian students study provinces and territories instead of the fifty states; students in Forms 1-3 study Canadian History instead of US History. We also provide book titles for Canadian historical fiction and biographies. Canadian artists, poets, and folk songs are incorporated into the Alveary as a whole, rather than pulled out separately, so that American students can get to know their neighbors, as well.

HOW DO I KEEP UP WITH WHAT IS GOING ON IN MASON’S ALVEARY?

We send out The Buzz: Notes and Queries most Fridays during the school year. It is a newsletter designed to answer members’ questions, as well as to keep you apprised of Alveary news and future events. This newsletter is an invaluable resource that many of our members overlook.  You should receive an email notification each Friday to let you know when The Buzz has been published. If you do not see it in your inbox, be sure to check your spam/junk folder. You can also find it, and read back issues, under RESOURCES on the website.

MAY I CONTINUE TO PARTICIPATE IN MY CO-OP IF I JOIN THE ALVEARY?

Yes, of course; however, you may want to consider a few things when thinking about co-ops. The first and most important is that the co-op’s atmosphere be in line with Mason’s philosophy. Next is the time commitment. Our curriculum is designed for a 5-day school week. Mason’s students were going to school 6 days per week, so we have already reduced the class time. If participating in your co-op requires you to take a day off “regular” school each week, it makes it even  more difficult to implement the whole of Mason’s model. Moving all of the “enrichment” activities, such as picture study, nature study, composer study to one day is problematic because those were meant to be part of the everyday rhythm. Interspersing them throughout the week helps you alternate the type of lesson in your daily schedules. These are not small issues. 

We have a new policy this year, in which people who team up to teach the Alveary together as a co-op can join at a significantly-reduced rate ($199.99). We feel this arrangement benefits members as everyone is following the same cohesive program, as well as sharing  a united vision, philosophy and practice. 

WHAT IF I FIND A MISTAKE ON A PROGRAM OR ON THE WEBSITE?

First, check the Errata Page to see if we have already made the correction.  If you do not find the issue listed there, please Contact Us to let us know, and we will take care of it as soon as we are able.

DO I HAVE TO SEND IN MY CHILD’S EXAMS?

No. Exams are provided for you to find out how your students have progressed during the term and to hold yourself accountable for implementing the whole feast. However, we do encourage you to send in exams, because they help us assess the effectiveness of our curriculum and improve on it. 

As we collect enough exams, it may be possible for a future researcher to use them for a thesis or dissertation. By submitting your child’s exam, you are granting permission for them to be used in this way, with the understanding that no identifying information will be disclosed in any publication.  If you do not wish for your students’ exams to be used for research, you may notify us via the CONTACT button on the website when you submit the exams.

MY CIRCUMSTANCES HAVE CHANGED AND I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO USE THE ALVEARY CURRICULUM THIS YEAR. MAY I HAVE A REFUND?

As stated on the registration page, due to the nature of immediate digital delivery of the product upon payment, registration costs are non-refundable and non-transferable. 

DO YOU OFFER ANY DISCOUNTS OR SCHOLARSHIPS?

We do not offer scholarships. A discounted rate is available for members of Alveary co-ops (see above for details).

DO YOU OFFER A PRO-RATED PRICE FOR THOSE WHO JOIN LATER IN THE SCHOOL YEAR?

No.  All members have immediate access to all three terms’ curriculum, regardless of when they register within the academic year.

WHERE DOES MY MEMBERSHIP FEE GO?

The Alveary exists under the auspices of the Charlotte Mason Institute, a registered 501c3 charity. As an educational nonprofit, we invest every penny you spend with us right back into the work of fulfilling our mission and vision. The Institute uses its revenue to:

  • compensate our employees and contractors for their work
  • cover our costs of operation, such as Paypal fees, web hosting, and webinar platforms
  • support the maintenance of the physical Charlotte Mason archive at the Armitt Museum
  • conduct research and further development
WHAT ARE FORMS AND HOW ARE THEY STRUCTURED?

Forms are groupings of ages that are based on the child’s development rather than on rigid grade levels. The general pattern of forms is as follows:

  • Form 1b: age 6 (1st grade)
  • Form 1a: ages 7-8 (2nd and 3rd grades)
  • Form 2b: age 9 (4th grade)
  • Form 2a: ages 10-11 (5th-6th grades)
  • Form 3: ages 12-13 (7th-8th grades)
  • Form 4: age 14 (9th grade)
  • Form 5: ages 15-16 (10th-11th grades)
  • Form 6: age 17 (12th grade)

You can expect forms with only one age to be big years of growth and transition as the student matures. Students in adjacent forms can be combined very easily, making scheduling simpler. 

IN WHICH FORM SHOULD I PLACE MY STUDENT?

Place the child according to age. Many students straddle forms. You have the freedom to choose books from a higher or lower form according to each student’s needs.

CAN I COMBINE CHILDREN IN DIFFERENT FORMS?

Yes! In fact, we encourage you to combine as much as you need to in order to maintain peace in your home or classroom. Keep in mind that it is much better to combine children that are close in age. Trying to combine children who are too far apart risks neither of them getting what they need.

I NEED HELP.  IS THERE SOMEONE I CAN CALL?

With over 700 members and a part-time staff, it is not possible for us to offer individual phone consultations. 

Prospective Members: First, please be sure to peruse the FAQ section. Second, explore all of the SAMPLES available. Additionally, there is a private Facebook group called “Charlotte Mason’s Alveary Ambassadors” which was created by some of our members expressly for people who want to ask questions of our current members. Finally, if you are still unable to find the answer to your question and/or if you desire an official answer from our team, please write to us via the CONTACT button on our website. 

Once you register, your options for help increase greatly.  You will be able to read the entirety of our Member Tutorial of the Charlotte Mason Method, our Guide to Effective Planning and Implementation, and the Program. Our private social media network, “The Hive” is a fantastic place to interact with current members.  There, you will be able to find out what has worked for others in the past and see sample schedules and projects they have shared. 

Members: You are always welcome to write to us via the CONTACT button on our website. 

WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE A QUESTION?

Prospective Members: First, please be sure to peruse the FAQ section. Second, explore all of the SAMPLES available. Additionally, there is a private Facebook group called “Charlotte Mason’s Alveary Ambassadors” which was created by some of our members expressly for people who want to ask questions of our current members. Finally, if you are still unable to find the answer to your question and/or if you desire an official answer from our team, please write to us via the CONTACT button on our website. 

Once you register, your options for help increase greatly.  You will be able to read the entirety of our Member Tutorial of the Charlotte Mason Method, our Guide to Effective Planning and Implementation, and the Program. Our private social media network, “The Hive” is a fantastic place to interact with current members.  There, you will be able to find out what has worked for others in the past and see sample schedules and projects they have shared. 

Members: You are always welcome to write to us via the CONTACT button on our website.  (Please note: It is very helpful to us when you include the Form, Subject, book title, lesson number, link, etc. when you write.)  Whenever we see a question that we believe may help multiple members, we may include it (anonymously) in our newsletter or address it in a webinar or instructional video.

DO YOU OFFER INDIVIDUAL CONSULTATIONS?

No.

DOES MEMBERSHIP INCLUDE ACCESS TO HIGH SCHOOL MATERIALS?

Yes. Our 2020-21 high school curriculum is available to the public, and we will be transitioning out of pilot status during this year. Please note that the publication for high school materials is on a slightly different schedule.  (See “Publication Dates” below.)

DO YOU PROVIDE TRANSCRIPTS?

No.  However, we do offer a sample Alveary high school transcript on our website and advice on how to count high school credits.  Members also have access to webinars that pertain specifically to high school.

CAN YOU TELL ME HOW I SHOULD ASSIGN GRADES FOR MY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS?

In every term’s exam there is a scoring rubric. You can use the rubric scores across subjects to translate into grades for your student’s transcript.  It is also good practice to talk to the students and ask them to evaluate themselves along the lines of the rubric, both for the term and the year as a whole. 

WHAT IS THE HISTORY ROTATION, AND WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FINISH IT?

We adopted a four-year history rotation modeled after Mason’s, but adapted for American students. The time periods studied are as follows:

  • Rotation 1: 800-1650 AD;   Forms 2a-6 also study 3500-550 BC
  • Rotation 2:​ ​1650-1800 AD; Forms 2a-6 also study 550-100 BC 
  • Rotation 3: 1800-1900 AD; Forms 2a-6 also study 100 BC-350 AD 
  • Rotation 4: 1900-present;  Forms 2a-6 also study 350-800 AD 

Students in the Alveary go through each rotation 3 times during their school years, going deeper each time.

WHAT IF WE JUST STUDIED THE HISTORY ROTATION THAT IS COMING UP NEXT YEAR OR ARE JUST NOW READY FOR THE  HISTORY ROTATION THAT THE ALVEARY COVERED THIS PAST YEAR?

While we understand that no one prefers to skip a period of history or to repeat one they did the previous year, we also know that there is a good chance that people joining the Alveary will not be in sync with our history rotation.  (Since there are four rotations, there is actually a 75% chance that a family would not be in sync with us.)   History is the pivot for a Charlotte Mason education.  This means that many of the other subjects are situated within the particular time periods as well (i.e., Poetry, Music Appreciation, Art Appreciation, Architecture, Literature. . .).  We feel it is important for everyone to be working in the same time period. (One reason for this: Our answers to members’ questions in our weekly newsletter and our members’ discussions on our private social media site are all pertinent to the current year’s history rotation.)

If possible, go ahead and jump in with us using the books on our list.  If you just studied our time period, you could substitute a couple of really great biographies (from lists we provide) that will enrich what you read last year. For ancient history, if you read about Rome last year, you could read something about Egypt or Greece this year.   On the other hand, if you have not yet studied the time period we studied last year, please remember that Alveary students will work through the history rotation three times. Students will add to their knowledge, understanding, and insight each time they revisit a particular time period. 

DOES YOUR CURRICULUM WORK WELL FOR LARGE FAMILIES?

Yes, we do feel it works for large families with students in multiple Forms (grade levels).  Such families benefit greatly from being able to combine their students in various ways for different subjects.  

There are a number of subjects in which you would simply choose which materials to use for adjacently-aged children.  For example, your younger child who may be advanced in vocabulary could well be able to understand the history readings of his older sibling; or, your child who has some type of learning difference may benefit from listening in on a younger child’s literature selections.  It does take a bit of work in the beginning to determine which children to combine and for which subjects, but once that is done we believe you will begin to enjoy sharing the richness of the Charlotte Mason feast with your whole family.  

WHAT SUPPORT DO YOU OFFER FOR NEURODIVERSE STUDENTS?

Customizing the Alveary for your neurodiverse student is easy, since you have access to all the forms and subjects. If your child is advanced in one area, you can place him in the next form for that subject. If he struggles with another subject, you can place him in the previous form for that one. We call the “form-straddling,” and it works well for most students. A brand new offering of CMI is the Blue Orchard Bee, where you can learn about neurological differences and find community. However, we are not qualified to diagnose learning difficulties or to provide a replacement for strategies, medication, or therapies deemed necessary for children with specific learning/neurological differences. The Alveary, the Blue Orchard Bee, and the Charlotte Mason Institute strongly recommend that parents and teachers follow the professional advice given from your doctor and/or child psychologist.

WHEN ARE YOUR BOOK LISTS PUBLISHED?

Our Programs (book lists) for Forms 1-3 (all Terms) are published on March 1.  Programs for Forms 4-6 (high school) are published on the following schedule:

  • Term 1 Program (book list) – March 1
  • Term 2 Program (book list) – April 1
  • Term 3 Program (book list) – May 1
WHEN DO YOU PUBLISH THE LESSON PLANS?

Our detailed, daily lesson plans (the last component of the curriculum to be released) for Forms 1-3 (all Terms) are published on July 1 each year.  High school materials (Forms 4-6) will be published according to the following schedule:  

  • Term 1 Lesson Plans – July 1
  • Term 2 Lesson Plans – August 1
  • Term 3 Lesson Plans – September 1

Those who register for 2020-21 will have access to all three Terms of the curriculum through June 30, 2021, regardless of when they register.

WHY ARE THE LESSON PLANS NOT RELEASED UNTIL JULY 1? WOULDN’T IT BE BETTER IF EVERYTHING CAME OUT TOGETHER?

This is completely pragmatic. We publish over 300 individual sets of lesson plans each year. Even with a team of over 20 experienced Mason teachers working all year, this is an enormous undertaking. In addition, whenever we can’t find a resource that answers what we believe Mason wanted, we actually develop our own teacher guides. So far, we have done this for Reading Lessons, Geography, Art Lessons, and Modern Languages. We are committed to providing the very best product on the market, even when it is labor intensive and time consuming.  Please note that many materials you need for ordering books and planning your year are available on March 1.

MY CIRCUMSTANCES HAVE CHANGED AND I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO USE THE ALVEARY CURRICULUM THIS YEAR. MAY I HAVE A REFUND?

Unfortunately, no. As stated on the registration page, registration is non-refundable and non-transferable, due to the nature of immediate digital delivery of the product upon payment.

WHAT IS THE DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION?

There is no deadline. You may register at any point during the year. Your membership is renewable by July 1 each year.

ONCE I REGISTER, HOW DO I GET MY LOGIN INFORMATION?

You will set up your password and username during registration and then receive a confirmation email.

WHEN MAY I REGISTER FOR YOUR 2020-21 CURRICULUM?

Registration opens on March 1. 

 HOW LONG DOES MY MEMBERSHIP LAST? 

This depends on when you register.  All memberships for the 2020-21 school year include access to all three Terms of the 2020-21 curriculum, regardless of when you register. Likewise, all 2020-21 memberships  expire on June 30, 2021, regardless of when you register. Technically, you may register for 2020-21 up through February 28, 2021. 

ONCE I REGISTER, HOW DO I GET MY LOGIN INFORMATION?

You will receive an email that includes a link to your Welcome Kit and your password (which you can change in your account settings). If you do not see it in your inbox, check your spam/junk folders. 

WHAT WILL I HAVE ACCESS TO ONCE I HAVE REGISTERED? 

This depends on when you register.  Many materials are published on March 1 and are available any time thereafter; others are published on July 1.  Here is our list of benefits and the publication schedule:

Available:

March 1

July 1

Welcome Kit
Forms 1-3 Programs/Book Lists for Year
Forms 4-6 Programs/Book Lists for Term 1*

*Term 2: April 1, Term 3: May 1

A Member Tutorial of the Charlotte Mason Method PDF
Guide to Effective Planning and Implementation PDF
Alveary Living Library 
Knowledge Base
Live Webinars
The Buzz Weekly Newsletter
The Hive Private Social Media Platform
Monthly Parents’ Review Collection  and CMI Conference Lecture
Member Discounts on CMI Conference Registration & Select Resources
Alveary Orientation Materials
2020-21 At-A-Glance
Supply Lists
Forms 1-3 Full Lesson Plans & Exams for Year
Forms 4-6 Full Lesson Plans & Exams  for Term 1*

*Term 2: Aug 1, Term 3: Sept 1

Scheduling Tools (Digital & Print Versions)
Supporting Audio/Video Files
Reflective Practice Plan Book PDF
Our Work Student Booklet PDF

2020-21 Alveary memberships expire June 30, 2021. 

ARE THERE ANY REQUIREMENTS FOR PARTICIPATING IN MASON’S ALVEARY?

No. Anyone can register.

IS THERE LIMITED SPACE IN MASON’S ALVEARY?

No! The more, the merrier!

DO YOU HAVE TO BE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH TO USE THE ALVEARY?

No. Anyone is welcome to use our curriculum. We are an educational nonprofit, not a religious institution.  Our purpose is to support a worldwide community of learners and educators in an authentic practice of Charlotte Mason’s paradigm of education, which was decidedly Christian. However, we do not promote a particular denominational doctrine. Our curriculum reflects Mason’s commitment to presenting to each student the knowledge of God, man and the universe. 

ARE SCHEDULES PROVIDED?

Sample schedules are provided to show you how you can get everything in and to apprise you of Mason’s timetable. To help you create a schedule that works for you, we provide course tiles for scheduling that match our Program. You can arrange and rearrange your schedule as often as necessary to get the most out of the Mason feast while maintaining a healthy life balance.

WHAT IS THE ALVEARY “SOFT LAUNCH” AND HOW DO I ACCESS IT?

Implementing the full Mason feast entails a pretty large learning curve. Our Soft Launch option (found in our Guide to Effective Planning and Implementation, available upon registration) helps you incorporate the various elements gradually. It includes a two-year schedule for introducing subjects so that you can learn to do them well without becoming overwhelmed. 

HOW IS MASON’S ALVEARY STRUCTURED?

We replicated the original structure of the PNEU as much as was feasible while translating it to our own time and place. The school year is divided into three terms of twelve weeks each. Eleven of those are for instruction and one is for exams. Children are placed into Forms rather than grade levels (see FORMS for more information). With the exception of Form 1b, everyone studies the same time period in history, making it easy to combine children of different ages for lessons. 

IS MASON’S ALVEARY AN ‘OPEN-AND-GO’ PROGRAM?

No. With such a living, organic approach to education, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to put it all in a ready-to-use box. There will still be things that you need to think through and plan for yourself, including if/how you will combine your students, what your schedule will look like, and which books from which Forms you will choose. This takes some time and effort, but once you make those decisions, you can use the appropriate lesson plans with ease. You may find that once you begin using Mason’s Alveary there is actually more work than what you are used to at first, because there will be subjects that are new to you or that you may have let slide before that are now going to be regular parts of your day. In short, you may find yourself agreeing with one of our pilot members, who said, “I have never worked so hard at homeschooling, but this is by far the best year we have ever had!”

WHAT ARE COMMUNITY STUDY GROUPS? 

Our goal at the Charlotte Mason Institute is to provide the essential ongoing training and support you need. We understand the importance of community that cultivates friendships with like-minded educators. Our web-based groups (“A Reading Course Through Mason’s Volumes”) provide a personal, interactive learning experience with a CMI facilitator leading the sessions so you can be confident that our studies together reflect the research and work of the Institute and are relevant to you today. We want to encourage you to keep studying through the volumes, just as Mason and the PNEU encouraged parents and teachers to do. Mason believed training to be a vital part of education!  Alveary members are encouraged to join. The groups have a limited number of seats. When open, registration for these groups is listed under RESOURCES.

THE ALVEARY SEEMS TO RELY HEAVILY ON TECHNOLOGY. WHAT IF I HAVE NO/SLOW INTERNET AT HOME? 

We made our materials downloadable for people who do not have internet at home or whose internet service is too slow for streaming. You may need to go to the library or somewhere else that has fast internet to download them. You can store them on a flash drive to keep them from taking up all your computer memory space. You can also preview all the links from the Lesson Plans at the beginning of each term and print out any maps, pictures, or articles you wish to share with your students. You can file these with your printed Lesson Plans so they are within reach.

I’M NOT GOOD WITH TECHNOLOGY. HOW CAN I BEST ACCESS THE LESSON PLANS?

Just print out the PDFs and use a pencil to mark lessons completed. Some families like to keep all of the plans in a binder. Others find it easiest to keep a by-subject plan sheet in the books being read. That way, they can just display their schedule, and when it comes time to read a certain book the plans are right there–no thumbing through a binder trying to find them.

HOW DO I USE LINKS DURING LESSONS? WILL I NEED TO PULL UP THE LESSON PLAN PDFS EVERY DAY?

We will provide you with a single document that includes all your links organized by subject and by week, which will make it easy to find the link you need quickly.

DO I HAVE TO PRINT OUT MATERIALS, OR CAN I KEEP UP WITH EVERYTHING ON MY DEVICE?

Some members do primarily use devices to keep up with everything each day, but most people prefer to have printed copies. 

CAN I PURCHASE HARD COPIES OF THE PROGRAMS AND LESSON PLANS? OR DO I HAVE TO PRINT EVERYTHING MYSELF?

Hard copies are not currently offered in our store. However, you can send your PDFs to outside companies like Best Value Copy, Staples, Office Depot, and the Homeschool Printing Company. They will print your materials and ship them to you. We recommend having all the pages three-hole-punched instead of bound. This way, you can reorganize things whenever you want.

CAN I SEE THE LESSON PLANS IN A WEEKLY VIEW THAT MATCHES MY SCHEDULE?

We publish our lesson plans in PDF format because we find that most people are not comfortable with sophisticated technology; they simply want to print and go. However, we are working toward providing some basic tools for people who don’t mind learning a bit about spreadsheets that will allow them to pull their plans into their schedules and see reports such as all their copywork assignments for the week. We are storing all our data this year in a way that will make that possible.  We will release these features as they are ready.

I MISSED A WEBINAR. CAN I STILL ACCESS IT?

Webinars may be found in three places: 1) Under RESOURCES, 2) In the Knowledge Base under “Video, Audio, and Webinar Directory” (where they are listed chronologically.) and 2) In the Knowledge Base under the relevant subject. There are also direct links to past webinar recordings in the Member Tutorial of the Charlotte Mason Method.

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Customizing The Alveary for your child with special needs is easy, since you have access to all the forms and subjects. If your child is advanced in one area, you can place him in the next form for that subject. If he struggles with another subject, you can place him in the previous form for that one. We call this “form-straddling,” and it works well for most students. A brand new offering of CMI is the Blue Orchard Bee, where you can learn about neurological differences and find community. However, we are not qualified to diagnose learning difficulties or to provide a replacement for strategies, medication, or therapies deemed necessary for children with specific learning/neurological differences. The Alveary, the Blue Orchard Bee, and the Charlotte Mason Institute strongly recommend that parents and teachers follow the professional advice given from your doctor and/or child psychologist.