Compare MFW to living books/Charlotte Mason curriculum?

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Compare MFW to living books/Charlotte Mason curriculum?

Unread post by shasas »

jocelynaz wrote:Hello ~ I am totally new to MFW. My friend just told me about it a couple of hours ago and I've been online researching all I can about it. :)

I was curious to know...has anyone previously switched from using a living books curriculum to MFW?? If so, what has your experience been since you've switched? How would you compare the two? We currently use a full curriculum based on Charlotte Mason's approach to education. We have enjoyed it a lot, but one of the things that I've been wanting to incorporate in my curriculum is unit studies and more hands on activities. MFW has all the components of a curriculum I've been looking for - biblical worlview, classical, charlotte mason, unit studies! I've been very encouraged by all of the posts I've read so far and have even downloaded a message by David Hazell titled "Combining Classical, Charlotte Mason, & Unit Studies with a Christian Perspective". It was awesome!! And David's style of speaking is wonderful - very enjoyable, funny and very down to earth/realistic. I thoroughly enjoyed this message because it put everything I loved about each of these approaches to education into a very realistic perspective for me.

MFW seems to be something that would fit our homeschooling, but I wanted to get more feedback, just for my own comfort and confirmation.
Hi Jocelyn,

I have never homeschooled before this, my daughter is in 1st grade. However, I know I am probably the only other one online right now and wanted to take a moment to say welcome!

I heard David and Marie at the local convention this past summer. Their focus and approach and all-over attitude about why we do this homeschooling was so in line with my own thoughts, I was sold on MFW very quickly.

So far we love it. I know when more people are online they will better answer your question.. but just wanted to say hi!

God Bless,
wife of Matt
mom to dd Bethany (6), ds Joey (3), and expecting in May 2007 another sweet life!

Unread post by cbollin »


I mostly want to say that if you interested in a program that combines the best of Charlotte Mason teaching methods, the best of a truth centered classical approach, with easy to do hands on projects, from a Biblical worlview ---- then you have described My Father's World. It sounds like what you are looking for. MFW uses and encourages "real" or "living" books. The planning really is done for you for those unit studies.

Changing curriculum can be hard and a little nervous decision. I started using MFW when my oldest was in 2nd grade. We had been using a combination of programs. I went to the convention that year not ever hearing of MFW. Thought I was going to use a different popular program, but once I looked at it--- I just walked away. I kept praying that God would just show me what He had planned. Kept walking and well, the story gets a little silly at that point. Let's just say I ended up in front of MFW booth just long enough to stop walking. It was at the end of a long aisle of vendors. I knew in a moment that it was what I wanted and was the answer to the prayer that I had been praying just moments before. Been a happy customer since that time; we're in our 4th year of using MFW.

I originally wanted it for the combo of CM and hands on. I didn't know much of anything about classical education, except for chronological history. That I wanted too. I've come to learn that classical education is more about stages of learning. And I like how MFW recognizes that.

Welcome to the board.
Last edited by cbollin on Fri Sep 29, 2006 10:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
Sue in MN

Unread post by Sue in MN »

There are a lot of curriculums out there that use "LivingBooks" a term that Charlotte Mason coined. You just need to pick the one that organizes things the way that works best for you. On this board we all prefer the way that MFW organizes them. If you went to a Sonlight board or a Five in A Row Board, or a Winter Promise board or a Tapestry of Grace board or a Ambleside Online board or any other Living Books type of curriculm you will hear people rave about "their choice".

The description on the About MFW website page pretty much sums it up for me. I like everything about MFW whereas there were things in other curriculums that I didn't like. Occasionally, I do add to MFW but after homeschooling 20+ years I think MFW is about as close to perfect for us as I am going to find.
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Unread post by jocelynaz »

Thank you all for your replies! They were all very encouraging and I could just feel the support and Christ-like love through this group! That's so awesome. :)

I'm so glad the Lord brought me to this curriculum! With as much as I have researched curriculum over the past several years, I am surprised that I have never heard of or come across MFW until last night.

Btw...I wanted to let you all know that I actually bought the Adventures in MFW curriculum last night! LOL! I bought it shortly after I posted and listened to David's message! I am so excited about it and can't wait to get the curriculum in the mail. I'm hearing that the delivery time is quick, so I'm praying that we'll get it next week so we can begin using it the following Monday.

May you all have a wonderful day and weekend in the Lord!! God bless!!

Because of Christ,
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Unread post by SandKsmama »


I'm so glad that you are going to be joining those of us who are already using MFW! I think you will love it!!! :-)

I also wanted to encourage you - I heard that particular talk in person a few years ago, and everything that David talks about in that talk really *does* come to life in this curriculum. It's not hype or "spin":-) trying to sell folks on his curriculum - the way he describes how it works, really is that way. :-)

hth! And welcome!

Amanda, Wife to a great guy since '99, SAHM to 4 fabulous kids! DD(7/96), DS(1/01), DD(8/03), and baby DS (3/09)!
Used MFW K, 1st, ECC, CTG, RTR, Ex1850, and currently using 1850-Modern!
LaMere Academy
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Unread post by LaMere Academy »

Welcome Jocelyn,
I'm ordering Adventures as well and will be starting soon!
I actually found the living books approach to be a little too "vague" and I like checking things off when I'm done. I'm also looking forward to more hands on things. I pray this is what we've been looking for! Tell me what you think when your box comes!
Mom to Zarek 16, Alexis 15,
Caitlyn 12 and Brett 9
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Unread post by txquiltmommy »

I am so glad you will be starting Adventures! I am currently using it with two boys, ages 7 and 8, and we are having the best year ever! I guess I could be labeled a curriculum junkie - I've dabbled with many different things over the years. Never has my enthusiasm sustained as it has with MFW. I love it, love it, love it, and I can't help but get excited when I see other people about to start Aventures! It will be a big, exciting day when your box arrives. Have a blast with your new materials, and let us know how your first few days go!
dd (14)
ds(9) - ECC
ds(8) - ECC
and one on the way in December!
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Compare MFW to other programs that use "real books"

Unread post by LSH in MS »

KristinJ wrote:This is my first time here. I have asked this same question on another board so that I can get both sides before making a decision. Fist let me say that I have just this week stumbled across MFW. Prior to that I had never heard of it. I am very curious about MFW.

On to the questions. I can see that MFW is cheaper and that seems to be because MFW utilizes the library for their "book basket." What do you like about MFW? What do you dislike about it? Is it better for younger kids or older kids? On the surface it seems "light." I have a soon to be 8 year old 3rd grade daughter and an 18 month old son. DD will be coming out of a year at public school when we resume homeschooling.

If we went with MFW it would be using Adventures. My goals for this year are to have a fun learning experience and read lots of great books. When we were homeschooling before the only part of school dd liked was reading the books and science.

Please know that I am not criticizing, I just want to make the best choice for my dd. I love the fact that you learn through real books not text books. I hope I have told you enough about me to help. Thank you so much for any help you might have.

Driving myself and DH crazy looking at curriculum!!
I love the fact that the Bible is integrated with the history especially when you get to the chronological history years.

I also like the flexibility of choosing my own readers and extra read alouds if I want to from the extensive book basket list. The books you read for a short time I get from the library or ILL and it is much cheaper.

The TM is very easy to use. There is one manual for everything.

wife to Clifford, mother to ds (17), ds (16), ds (15, ds (13), ds (8), and ds (3)
MFW user for 10 years
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Unread post by DS4home »

I agree with everything that Lori wrote. The TM is by far, much much much easier to use! In my previous program, I had to look at one TM schedule for history/bible, another TM for lang.arts, and yet another TM schedule for science. Too many schedules and papers to flip through for me. MFW has all subjects scheduled on one grid for the week, very simple, clean and easy to read.

I also like the way Bible is integrated with history in MFW. They take a much stronger unit study approach with this than most unit studies.

The read alouds in MFW are great! MFW schedules less of them than we need, but MFW also has a list of more titles to choose from if you want more.

In our previous program, it felt like they assumed your kids loved to read and could read well. My kids just couldn't keep up. They enjoyed the books more when I slowed the pace down for them. MFW is a better fit for us in this area, because I select the books and the pace. I don't feel like I'm behind now, enslaved to a schedule I couldn't keep.

I will add one more thing. Our previous program did not include any hands on projects or crafts. I found myself trying to come up with things on my own to fill this gap and add a little fun for the kids. MFW on the other hand has this covered! They schedule in doable projects that are just enough to help the subject come alive in a hands on way, instead of just through books.

I have just loved MFW, through and through. Gather your info. then take it to the Lord. He will guide you into what is best for your little flock!

Blessings, Dawn
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Unread post by qfbrenda »

I used another unit study for 3 out of the last 4 yrs. We will be using ECC next year, and I have my materials in hand.

Other than what's been mentioned, I would add....

**MFW includes hands-on...

**MFW delays introducing hard subjects and other things like Greek myths...

**MFW integrates Bible into their whole curriculum... I would say that a non-Christian would not be able to use MFW.

**MFW provides a combo of providential perspective, and a less-providential (proper terminology is escaping me right now).

**MFW is IMO easy to combine ages, though that isn't a factor for you.

For what it's worth, I wanted to add that I bought extra readers, read-alouds, and missionary stories. This is NOT necessary, but I prefer to own most of our books. I'll still use the library to supplement, but if I have weeks when I just can't, we'll still have plenty to read. I prefer to spend a bit more and have tons of books in our personal library. Your mileage may vary. ;)

wife for 12 yrs, mom to 5 boys so far! 10 yrs, 8 yrs, 5.9 yrs, 3 yrs, and 7 months old

Using ECC and bits of pieces from Sonlight Core 5, K, and prek
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Unread post by melinda »

I'll second the above posts. I will add, too, that MFW may be worth great consideration because it's a bit less intense--though highly educational--especially since your child will be coming from a ps environment. To ease her back into a hs routine, a fun, hands-on, literature-rich and Bible-focused curriculum will work wonders for you and her. To get you back into the groove, the TM is simple to use and all activities are laid out in an easy to understand format. Just keep praying and trust your gut instinct. You know your dd better than anyone else. Enjoy your year whatever you decide!
Melinda & Co.
Girls (ages 8 and 7, 7 (ID twins))
Baby boy (1)
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Unread post by manacah »

I agree with all the previous posters, and don't have much to add. We did Sonlight for 3 years before changing to MFW. I always felt like Sonlight was over my kids head. My kids seem to be learning/retaining more with MFW. They really like the hands on, also. MFW is cheaper, but I miss "owning" all the books Sonlight provided. I can go the the library, but it was nice, although expensive, to have them on hand.

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Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2006 4:50 pm

Unread post by rachel »

Hi Kristin- Welcome,

I would just add that I purchased another program for my daughter when she was getting ready to enter Kindergarten. However, the kindergarten program was overwhelming (my first homeschool experience). So, I promptly sent it back and sent her to a two day a week "homeschool support program" so that I only had to do the packet of worksheets her teacher sent home on the days in between.

All that to say, that when I began researching other homeschooling alternatives - My Father's World seemed like an answer to prayer. I have four very young children and their programs are so doable yet so academically sound, the crafty parts aren't too much and God is such the foundation (one of the primary reasons I am homeschooling). Of course I love that I am supporting a crew like the Hazell family (the authors) and their ministry.

So, one more reason that I like it is that even though it seems light, it is very efficient and in fact if I really feel like I need to add something- I can because I have the time- but I can know that everything is covered if I don't have time.

MFW has made homeschooling a joy for us (like I imagined it could be).

Thanks for asking! I love the chance to brag on it.

(using MFW1 with 6 yr old daughter; pre-k with 3 boys-one just turned 5 and 3 year old twins)
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Unread post by rachel »

Just another quick thought- Another reason that I love MFW is this message board. The fact that everyone chimed in on their thoughts about curriculum- being honest but positive at the same time says a lot for the kind of people that MFW seems to attract. I know, I should be a MFW walking advertisement or something. But , I do always appreciate reading all the feedback on this site even though I don't post much. Thanks, ladies!

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Unread post by Omma »

We do not feel overwhelmed by the reading in other programs like others have mentioned, but I do feel like we have to add more to to accomplish learning retention.

I would say MFW is quite well-rounded in involving the students in actual notebooking and hands-on learning to reinforce what they read.

I am still exploring various options, as I have enjoyed combining two programs with the younger grades. There are lots of different possibilities for using curriculum as is, or in conjunction with other materials.

Best wishes as you seek to find a good fit for your family.

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Unread post by henryteachers »

I switched to MFW a few months ago. However, I didn't want to miss out on all those great books. Now we use art/music/history/bible/LA/science from MFW and then add in another set of readers and read-alouds geared toward my child's age. It's a great fit for us!

One other thing--I think having a good library is key to using MFW! I have access to a college library and that has been so helpful to find the books recommended that aren't in my city's library.

We're using MFW 1st grade, but if you're interested, here's a blog entry I wrote about what I like about changing to MFW:

First Week of My Father's World Curriculum
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A comparison

Unread post by my3boys »

Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:34 pm

We are just finishing BF. I think the difference would be that BF is just history, whereas Adventures is a unit study with a schedule that includes all subjects - you get more with Adventures. The bible study in Adventures sounds wonderful too.
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CM in ADV and ECC?

Unread post by gratitude »

erin.kate wrote:I am wondering if an experienced MFW user can explain how ADV and ECC, specifically, incorporate Charlotte Mason philosophies of educating children. I know that MFW says that they "combine the best of Charlotte Mason's ideas, classical education, and unit studies with a Biblical worldview" ... but what does this actually look like day-to-day in these important early years, with regard to CM especially?

Our family definitely leans heavily toward learning with CM sensibilities, so I'm curious how this will be developed through ADV and ECC. Thank you in advance for your wise words! :-)
Hi Erin Kate!

The one book on CM I have read is Susan Schaeffer's book. So I can explain from my CM understanding, it sounds though like you might know more about CM than I do.

You are seeing some of it already in MFW 1. The narration of each Bible story read, followed by a summary in the Bible notebook, and then a drawing of what is learned (narrations being a part of CM). The weekly nature walks on science days in MFW 1 are CM philosophy. The classical part of MFW 1 is it going chronologically from Genesis to Revelation, and touching on commonly known Bible stories; thus, giving pegs to hang information on when they are older. I don't think of MFW 1 as a Unit study, but perhaps the Bible being used as the one subject for History and reading and writing and drawing is a type of unit study.

ADV has some similarities to MFW 1. It too has narrations of stories CM style. In ADV the narrations come from US History stories and then summarized in the History notebook, similar to MFW 1; but far less summaries for the entire program. It suggests a weekly nature walk on Friday, as part of the CM philosophy - and keeping a nature journal. The classical for ADV is the time-line being chronological, and touching on major events in US History. The Unit study is the fact it will tie in a theme, for example living water being a name for Jesus. It will then use this theme in Bible, science, hands on activity, and sometimes tie it into History.

When I think of CM I think of narration & nature walks & nature journals & outdoor afternoon play.

ADV continues to have children narrate, similar to MFW 1. One difference I suppose is the fact they summarize it into a notebook. I think of CM as more narration, without the written. ?? MFW through ADV continues to encourage the nature walk & nature journals. The schedule in the front encourages being done by lunch (a big emphasis in our home). I believe CM thought children should spend the afternoons outdoors. I like my children to have free-play in the afternoons, outside as much as possible, that CM talks about. Oh, and they can play with imagination. :-)

Hopefully someone will come along and talk about ECC....
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Re: CM in ADV and ECC?

Unread post by TriciaMR »

Same thing in ECC. You continue with narration, notebooking, good living books, and nature walks with nature journaling (or nature photography, as we often did). They also recommend doing ECC first "in the main cycle" so the kids don't become "arrogant of mind" that their country is the only one out there that matters.

Also, reading from the Bible directly (what CM recommended) - you read through Matthew and discuss, and pray for people groups around the world.

Trish - Wife to Phil, Mom to Toni(18), Charlie(14), and Trent(14)
2014-2015 - AHL, CTG
2015-2016 - WHL, RTR
2016-2017 - EXP1850, US1877
2017-2018 - DE, 1850MOD
2018-2019 - College, AHL
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Julie in MN
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Re: CM in ADV and ECC?

Unread post by Julie in MN »

A few more thoughts on the subject, in case they help?!
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs
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Re: CM in ADV and ECC?

Unread post by erin.kate »

Thank you, ladies. This is very helpful. There is so much to consider for next year. Thank you, again!
♥Count it all joy ~
Mae 11, Viola 9, Jude 7, & Jack 6
2015: RTR
2014: CTG
2011: Adventures
2010: MFW First Grade
2009: MFW K♥

? about Charlotte Mason

Unread post by cbollin »

davimee wrote:First of all, thank you to everyone who contributes to this board, and all of you who responded to my previous post. I'm learning so much here! :)

I feel a little silly for asking... but what is the Charlotte Mason method of teaching? I see that's something that's very important with MFW, but I really don't know much about it. Is there someplace online where I can read the basics to get a general idea? Thanks,
I remember the first time I heard that phrase about Charlotte Mason. It was my first convention (in June 2000) and the keynote speaker was a back in the day famous for being a speaker on CM. I thought "what's that?" I saw the title and description and thought “well.. I remember there was my “Aunt Charlotte” who canned things in Mason jars..I learned a lot from her. nah, that can’t be it” And of course it wasn’t, but it is a funny story all the same. So, my first homeschool convention, I went to hear Karen Andreola speak. And met another “big name in CM” at the time, Sally Clarkson. Never heard of Marie Hazell at that point. That was the year the Hazells moved back to the USA. Anyway… uhm, yeah, that doesn’t answer the question does it.

Charlotte Mason was an educator about 100 years ago. At the time, her ideas were radically different from the group school, assembly education production. She was a classical educator, who saw value in children, and wanted to teach the children life long love of learning.

Going back to an older thread in the archives, you might enjoy reading some of the influences of Miss Mason in the MFW curriculum. Lots of good stuff on this thread

Also in the MFW K program, they sell a book that is a longer summary about many of Miss Mason’s educational goals. It’s called For the Children’s Sake.

And a long time ago, MFW had this link on their home page to basics of a CM philosophy of Education. That will have some of the basics.

I know on some recent threads I was comparing some language arts and throwing out the phrases of “more CM” vs. “more classical.” In that sense, I was talking about how language arts programs with a CM influence wait until around 4th grade to start with more formal introduction to parts of speech and other grammar instead of starting with it in 1st grade. MFW uses Intermediate Language Lessons and the parts of speech vocab and definitions wait until 6th grade in that book (although other grammar elements are in 4th grade and 5th grade section with rules of punctuation and caps and all of that part of it.) Then, more “grammar” is continued in jr. high years with other books.

Tiny bit more on that

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Re: ? about Charlotte Mason & LA

Unread post by davimee »


Thank you for the links and information! It's starting to make more sense to me now. :) I guess I never really thought much about any theories or my philosophy on teaching... I just want to teach my kids at home. But it makes sense to think about why I want to teach them, and what I believe is important for them to learn, as well as how I want to teach. That's one thing I love about homeschooling... I learn just as much as my kids! :)
Emily - Wife of one wonderful man, Mommy of two terrific girls (11 & 8 )

This is our second year with MFW, using Creation to the Greeks. :)
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Charlotte Mason side of MFW...

Unread post by gratitude »

I have been reading a great book on Charlotte Mason and her educational philosophies. The reason I wanted to share it on the board is the fact that it has helped me so much in understanding the Charlotte Mason parts of MFW. The only book I read prior to this is the one in the deluxe package of K or 1, For the Children's Sake. Since I did not pursue Charlotte Mason as a type of education prior to MFW I came in knowing little to none about it. The book I am reading is helping me better understand 'why' MFW focuses on shorter lessons, what narration looks like (at least in this author's home), and 'why' Charlotte Mason encouraged narration, copy work, dictation, and nature study. It is also a beautiful book to read with a good cup of coffee or herbal tea.

Charlotte Mason Companion By Karen Andreola is the book that I have been reading.

A number of parts of MFW have never fully made sense to me regarding the 'whys'. This book is helping a lot in giving me the understanding I needed, but it is also helping me become a much better teacher of MFW. It has further made me realize how much of MFW I really need to put my own creativity and effort into to make it fully work and be the educational opportunity that is present in the material. PLL, note booking, narration, copy work, dictation, and book basket make sense to me now. Some parts of MFW have not been fully utilized by us due to my lack of Charlotte Mason understanding. Reading this book has helped me so much!

So I pass it on to anyone else who may need the help I needed to be a better teacher of my kids and of MFW.

Blessings, :-)
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Re: Charlotte Mason side of MFW...

Unread post by Kelly1730 »

Karen Andreola also wrote two fiction books, "Pocketful of Pinecones" and "Lessons at Blackberry Inn", which I am re-reading right now. They are about a 1930's family using Charlotte Mason's methods in their home education. Just a fun, easy read for Mom:)
Mom to 6
Mimi to 8
MFW K, MFW 1st, Adventures, ECC, CTG, RTR ,EXP-1850, 1850-MOD, Ancient History and Lit 2016-17
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