Great Books Homeschool Curriculum: A Secular Charlotte Mason Program

The Great Books Homeschool program is a curriculum designed for students eager to gain a deeper understanding of the world’s most influential works. It provides an opportunity for parents to develop a comprehensive education plan that incorporates classic literature, history, science, and art from the world’s greatest thinkers. By introducing students to these timeless texts, they can build a solid foundation for their future and gain valuable insight into the minds of our past.

Rebbecca Devitt

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post. If you want to do my course on how to homeschool, click here.

In this Great Books Homeschool curriculum review, we’ll cover the features and benefits of using this homeschool program. We’ll also discuss the different methods this program uses and how this can be used to help your homeschool flourish.

Let’s take a closer look at this curriculum below.

Great Books Curriculum Review A Classical, Online Program.

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What is the Great Books Homeschool Curriculum?

The Great Books Homeschool curriculum is an academically rigorous and flexible literature-based curriculum. Staff at Great Books Curriculum are continually seeking the best books and learning resources for each subject and putting them together in a comprehensive curriculum.

The foundation of this curriculum is living books (Charlotte Mason’s way of saying ‘educational storybooks that teach through lively texts).

This curriculum strongly encourages parents to provide personalized education for their children. They make it easy to customize each child’s curriculum using an easy web interface that allows you to add or take away books.

Note: Remember that a subscription doesn’t mean you can access the books online. Instead, the idea is to give you a scheduling system that lets you add or subtract books at will that you can borrow from the library or buy from Amazon. By not selling physical books, the curriculum shows you a wider variety of resources you can choose from.

Also, Note: This curriculum doesn’t include any religious instruction. Parents will need to add that into the curriculum as they go along if they wish.

Hang On! What is a Great Book?

To understand the Great Books Homeschool curriculum, it will help to have an understanding of what a great book is.

A great book in classical education provides an engaging yet educational experience. It should be suited to the reader’s age while still maintaining a connection to ancient and classical studies. The goal is to provide a thorough understanding of the subject matter while also providing valuable life lessons or inspiration.

The best books for classical education explore literature, history, and philosophy from antiquity. These works may include authors such as Homer and Plato or even more recent authors like C.S Lewis.

Reading these works can help the reader gain insight into different cultures and understand how traditional values shape our current worldviews. Additionally, they can offer timeless wisdom on topics such as justice, courage, and morality which can help readers become better people both now and in the future.

Features of the Great Books Homeschool Curriculum

When parents sign up, they can enroll an unlimited number of children and their grade levels.

A twelve-month curriculum is created for each child, consisting of rich and academically rigorous books and programs for language arts, math, history, art, music, science, technology, foreign language, and life skills, along with many of the best children’s books.

Parents can then customize the curriculum as much as they like by removing, adding, and rescheduling books and activities.

Great Books Curriculum provides instructional resources and sample schedules for each subject and grade, along with month-by-month books and activities to be completed for each subject.

Parents can also combine books and activities for multiple children.

To make the curriculum more flexible and affordable, GBH does not sell books or other physical materials.  Parents can obtain most books from their local libraries.

Records and transcripts are automatically created as students progress through the curriculum.

Great Books Homeschool: A Secular Charlotte Mason Program

Benefits of the Great Books Homeschool Curriculum

Since books are not sold in a package with the curriculum, the Great Books Curriculum can offer a more complete selection than other literature-based curricula. 

The curriculum is designed to be customized by the parent and can be adapted on the go to meet changing needs.

And perhaps one of the best features about this program is the record-keeping feature which is automated (this means no more ring binders!).

As a parent, it’s important to know that this curriculum is more academically rigorous than most homeschooling curricula. But, that doesn’t mean it is more time-consuming for students and parents.

The curriculum is based mainly on books, art, and other offline learning and does not require students to spend time in front of a screen (except for typing and computer science taught in middle school).

What Grades Does this Curriculum Offer?

The Great Books Curriculum offers K-12th grade, so it’s a full Grade Curriculum.

How Much Does Great Books Homeschool Curriculum Cost

The Great Books Curriculum offers a free trial, after which the standard cost is $39 per month for an unlimited number of family members.

However, they currently offer a New Year discount of $19 per month for the first year.

What Homeschooling Method Does This Program Use?

The Great Books Curriculum is an eclectic program. It uses the Charlotte Mason, Classical, Eclectic, and Literature-Based methods primarily. However, it has a more rigorous math, science and technology instruction than is typical of Charlotte Mason curricula.

If you don’t know much about Charlotte Mason and Classical education methods, check out the sections below.

What is the Charlotte Mason Method?

The Charlotte Mason homeschooling method is an educational approach that has been around since the late 1800s.

This method emphasizes a classical approach to learning, including literature, nature study, and much more. It is based on the philosophy that children should learn in an environment where they are respected and encouraged to think independently.

Charlotte Mason homeschooling focuses on providing students with a rich education that includes literature, arts, and music, as well as history and science. Students are exposed to important works of literature, often reading aloud in class or discussing a work together.

Nature studies are also included, which allow students to explore their surroundings while learning about plants, animals, and habitats in the process. This method also encourages independent thinking by requiring students to express their own thoughts and opinions through projects or writing assignments.

See the video below (which is from my YouTube Channel) for more information on this method.

What is the Classical Method?

Classical homeschooling, also known as the classical model, is a type of educational approach that combines traditional teaching methods with a focus on developing critical-thinking skills. This method relies heavily on literature, debates, and various other forms of dialogue to help students learn and grow.

It is based upon the seven liberal arts: grammar, logic, rhetoric, music theory, astronomy (or science), geometry (or math), and ethics.

The classical homeschooling method emphasizes the importance of reading great works from past civilizations to develop an understanding of history and human nature.

Students are taught to ask questions about these texts to analyze their content critically and form their own opinions about them.

Through this process of questioning and analyzing texts from different cultures and periods, students can gain insight into how people lived in different eras.

See the video below (again, from my YouTube Channel) for more information on this method.

What is the Eclectic Method?

Eclectic means taking ideas, styles, or tastes from a broad and diverse range of sources. So the idea with the eclectic method is to get your overall educational method from various styles.

You don’t stick rigidly to one method – instead, you might borrow from Charlotte Mason’s methodology and get a bit of Classical methodology, for example.

The idea is to tailor your teaching/instructional methods to meet the needs of each child best.

Rather than relying solely on textbooks and worksheets, this approach usually includes literature-based reading, hands-on activities, and field trips or other excursions to supplement what is taught in the classroom.

Parents select resources from various sources, including online materials, libraries, museums, and even volunteer programs to create a customized learning experience for their children.

See the video below for more information on this method.

What is the Literature-Based Method?

The literature-based method is an approach to teaching reading comprehension and writing skills using literature as the primary teaching tool.

This enrichment-oriented instruction puts students in a position to respond critically and creatively to written works, allowing them to develop their own thinking and strategies.

Through critical literature analysis, students learn how to think deeply, write accurately, and communicate effectively.

The main goal of the literature-based method is for students to develop a strong foundation in literary knowledge and appreciation that will allow them to navigate through complex texts easily.

In addition, this instructional approach provides an opportunity for teachers to introduce real-world topics into the classroom setting by encouraging thoughtful conversations about various themes found within texts.

Overall, the literature-based method encourages engaged reading and active learning to promote analytical thinking among students.

Does the Great Books Homeschool Curriculum Include All Subjects?

Yes. Great books include all subjects for all grades K-12. These subjects are:

  • Reading,
  • Writing,
  • Math,
  • Literature,
  • Visual Arts,
  • Music,
  • Foreign Language,
  • History,
  • Science,
  • Technology and
  • Life Skills.

Can I Use This to Supplement Another Homeschool Curriculum?

Yes. Parents can remove any unneeded components in the curriculum as it is fully customizable.

Are There Any Drawbacks to This Curriculum?

Since books are not included, parents must obtain books separately.  This is:

  • an advantage for parents who like to save money by using libraries and
  • a disadvantage for parents who prefer prepackaged curricula.

The curriculum provides books and activities every month.  This allows greater flexibility but can be a drawback for those who prefer detailed daily schedules.

The Great Books default curriculum provides twelve months’ worth of education on the premise that many homeschooling families do school year-round.

But, families who do school only during the academic year can remove or reschedule items during the summer months.

Great Books Homeschool Curriculum Vs

The Great Books Homeschool curriculum is probably most comparable to prepackaged literature-based programs like Bookshark.

Since GB does not sell books, they can include a broader range of educational materials at a much lower cost than these programs, but without the convenience of everything arriving in a box at the start of the school year.

Where Can I Purchase This Program?

You can sign up and access a free trial at our website, www.greatbookshomeschool.com.

Why did the Great Books Curriculum Begin?

I asked the founder of the Great Books Curriculum about why she started the program, and this was her response:

Assembling an educational curriculum for your homeschooled child is way more work than it needs to be. Comprehensive prepackaged curricula often cost thousands of dollars, are dull and don’t provide much in the way of customization. Video-based online courses aren’t academically rigorous and require kids to spend too much time in front of a screen.

Great Books Homeschool aims to solve that with an editable K-8 curriculum compiled from the best books and activities for each subject. The curriculum is fully customizable, so you can move the material to different places in the schedule, remove items or add your own. Academic records are automatically created (no more ring binders).

For the past decade I’ve been seeking out and testing the best and most enjoyable learning resources for each subject while homeschooling my two kids. This project aims to share the fruit of that effort with other homeschooling families.  It is the solution I wish I’d had when I started homeschooling.

So, this curriculum appears to fill a curriculum gap by providing more affordable curriculum that works with offline books while incorporating easily made online record keeping documents.

How Many Years Has This Program Been Running? 

The Great Books Curriculum is very new and launched only last year!

Does the Great Books Curriculum Target Any Group of Homeschoolers?

Yes, this will be a great choice if you have a gifted learner, as the program has a high difficulty level and challenges students. (For example, it includes Beast Academy as its math curriculum).

Note that since the curriculum is customizable, it can be tailored for many learning needs, such as:

  • Physical special needs
  • Developmental special needs – Down Syndrome, Autism, Dyslexia, Processing Disorders
  • Behavioral/Emotional – ADD, Bi-Polar, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, etc.
  • Sensory Impaired – Blind, Visually Impaired, Deaf, Limited Hearing, and of course
  • Gifted Learners

This said, the Great Books Curriculum standard unmodified curriculum is probably best for average to above-average gifted learners as it is academically challenging and includes lots of reading.

Does the Great Books Curriculum Target Any Learning Style?

Yes. It targets several learning styles, including:

  • Visual,
  • Solitary,
  • Verbal, and
  • Logical

What Format Does This Program Come In?

This comes as an online curriculum exclusively.

Students do not go online, just the parents

Students use hard-copy books not included with the curriculum.)

How much time does a parent have to spend in hands-on teaching (or supervised teaching) with children?

Parents have to spend 1 – 2 hours daily in the younger grades. Most of this is time spent reading to children from the books chosen.

As a parent, you can save a lot of money by getting an Audible subscription which will give you access to almost all the books you’ll need in an audio version. Readings are of excellent quality and a massive time-saver, especially if you are short of time because you’re working from home.

Do parents need to purchase any extras?

Only additional books if they wish. But most of them can be procured from libraries.

Does the Great Books Homeschool Curriculum Work if Teaching Multiple Ages?

Yes, it is designed with multiple ages in mind, and GBH makes it easy to combine books and activities for multiple children.

Is the Curriculum flexible? In what way?

Yes, parents can remove books/activities, add their own, move books/activities to other months, and combine them for multiple children using their online accounts.

Is it hard to catch up if you miss a day?

No, because everything is scheduled every month.

How much planning (prep work like cutting, preparing, or copying) is required before you begin?

Parents need to obtain books; that is the only prep work required.  I simply put the necessary books on hold at my local library, then pick them up during our weekly library trips.

What Support Will I Get?

GBH offers unlimited support via email ([email protected]).  Beyond that, they provide free personalized customization for new members, including adjusting the curriculum to accommodate family vacations and adding relevant items from previous grades for students above kindergarten.

How much does the Great Books Homeschool curriculum cost?

They offer a free trial, after which the standard cost is $39 per month for an unlimited number of family members.  However, they currently offer a New Year discount of $19 per month for the first year.

Is it self-paced?

Yes, this is a self-paced homeschool curriculum. Even though there is a monthly schedule, parents can slow the program down or speed it up as needed. This allows students to engage in self-paced learning.

Great Books Homeschool Curriculum Review A Classical, Online Program.How long would it take the average Year 1 student to complete their curriculum work in one day?

The Great Books Homeschool curriculum takes about 30 minutes daily, plus about an hour of read-aloud from parents or Audible.

How long would it take the average Year 12 student to complete their curriculum work in one day?

At this age, the GBH curriculum would take 4 – 5 hours. However, when students are in high school, they can read the curriculum to themselves, which should mean less work for parents than primary school.

Is the Great Books Homeschool program accredited? 

No homeschool program can be accredited. Only online schools (such as distance education providers) can be homeschooled. So, it naturally follows that GBH is not accredited. Accreditation often means more rigid syllabus requirements and less interest-based and self-paced learning.

Learn why I don’t think you need homeschool accreditation here.

Where Can I Buy This Homeschool Curriculum?

You can buy this homeschool curriculum from here: www.greatbookshomeschool.com

Does your organization have any Christian affiliation?

As a Christian, I like to ask curriculum providers what their religious affiliation is. I asked Great Books Homeschool for their position. They replied:

We do not include any religious orientation in the curriculum because we believe this should be provided by parents.

The foundation of all major world religions are covered in history.  The middle school biology curriculum includes materials that teach evolution.  These materials may be substituted by parents as desired.

This said, the Great Books homeschool is run by a religious family who supplements the curriculum with religious studies of their own, such as the Bible (which is the most famous of all the Great Books).

In addition, the high school curriculum will contain many Christian books, which are an indispensable part of studying a classical/living books curriculum.

Want to Learn How to Homeschool?

There are two great ways t learn more about homeschooling: one is free, and one is a $67 fundamentals course.

The $67 Course

Looking to take your homeschooling to the next level? Join Rebecca Devitt’s online Homeschool Parenting Program and learn the strategies and techniques needed to make homeschooling a success! Learn more about the HPP here and signup here.

The FREE Youtube Channel

Also, make sure you join the How to Homeschool Youtube channel, which will give you a fun and exciting look into the homeschool world and help homeschool your children. Check out the channel here, and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE.

If you’re not sure where to start, start with the following playlists:

You’ll love it and find it helpful and entertaining! Discover the channel here.

Learn the ‘Why’ of Homeschooling

Learn why homeschooling is an amazing option for your family. Homeschooling offers so many benefits…and you’re probably only familiar with the tip of the iceberg. The book Why on Earth Homeschool shows you the reasons why homeschooling is the best choice for your family. Discover the book here.

Great Books Homeschool: A Secular Charlotte Mason Program

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Great Books Homeschool curriculum is a secular choice for parents looking to provide their children with a classical and Charlotte Mason literature-based education. It offers plenty of flexibility and customization, so you can tailor it to meet your family’s individual needs. In addition, the curriculum provides engaging activities and encourages critical thinking, which will help ensure your child is well-prepared for the future. The materials are well-organized and easy to use, making it simple to create an effective learning plan. Check out the Great Books Curriculum here.

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Rebecca Devitt

Most adults don't particularly want to relive their schooling experience on a daily basis. They would gladly move on to a new life devoid of homework and teachers. Very, very few adults will passionately blog about their schooling some 15 years after graduating. This makes Rebecca Devitt somewhat unique. As it happens, she was homeschooled. And she loved it. Still does. And she wishes every kid could get a taste of homeschooling at its very best. Her website How Do I Homeschool, is a springboard for parents to see what a life of homeschooling could be for both them & their children. When she's not blogging Rebecca is still homeschooling her-adult-self by learning Latin, growing weird vegetables and most importantly looking after her two children Luke & Penny. She has a husband Tristan and is a participant at Wollongong Baptist Church. She's also written a book about why parents should homeschool called 'Why on Earth Homeschool'.

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