Curricula We Use

We are homeschooling this year using the curriculum and support materials provided by the Charlotte Mason Educational Center. I was happy to join their team a couple years ago to help with curriculum development and family support, as well as speaking, writing, and research.

Prior to that, we spent many years using AmblesideOnline with a few tweaks for our Catholic beliefs and family preferences.

Mater Amabilis - a free Catholic Charlotte Mason curriculum
RightStart Math - our favorite math program
Evernote - my organizational e-lifeline!

For more details on what books we use when, check out my School Plans page, where I have our plans listed by year and subject.

(A Very Few of My) Favorite E-Reads

Learning How to Live
A Peaceful Day
Fisher Academy International
Flare of Light
Journey and Destination
Living CM in CA
Sage Parnassus
Where the Blacktop Ends
Family in Feast and Feria
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Pondered in My Heart
Wildflowers and Marbles

For the Newbie Charlotte Mason Homeschooler

31 Days of Charlotte Mason at Afterthoughts
Busted: 31 Days of CM Myths at Afterthoughts


  1. Hi there. I have been reading your awesome stuff, thank you. Question for you: you have Ambleside and Mater Amabilis- do you use both?

    1. Hi Jenny! I personally use AO, but I really appreciate the work that Mater Amabilis does and am part of the Facebook group for the Catholic CM chat. ;) I occasionally draw religion resources from the MA suggestions too.

  2. Great. Thank you for your rapid reply. I am trying to stuff it all in so that by Monday, at least some will grace our schedule to begin with.

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  4. Hi Celeste! Math question - I have heard RS Math is awesome but also that it was so teacher-intensive as to be prohibitive for larger families. What do you think?

    1. Hi Samara! RightStart is not designed to be an independent program, especially in the earliest books. In Level B, it's pretty much entirely teacher-student interaction -- so for a 20 minute lesson, it's 20 minutes together. In Level C, it's maybe 15 minutes together, 5 minutes independent. Level D is more independent: 10 minutes together, 10 minutes apart. That's not the case every day, but it's the general pattern. The script is written for the teacher, not the student (as in, the answers are right there in the text), so even an advanced student who can read well can never sit down by himself with the book and do the whole thing on the own -- it's not built that way. BUT I personally think this is a strength of the program. :) It is what allows it to be about student exploration and not just a "teach the algorithm and do the worksheet" kind of set up. I don't think math in the early years works as well independently because it falls into that latter mode.

      So yes, it is teacher-intensive in that the teacher and not the book teaches the lesson. But there is very little prep time and it's easy to work through. I also feel very free to arrange the lessons to accommodate my student and our timetable -- so I will often break a lesson into two if it is taking too long, or do two lessons back to back if my child can get through it easily in the 20-minute block we have available, for example.

      I do think it comes down to your perspective on what math should look like in the younger years as well as family dynamics. :)

      I hope that helps!

  5. Celeste,
    I have a very math oriented ten year old who has out grown her math curriculum. I saw that you were using the Jacobs text with your kids and I wondered if you thought is was a good text. Mostly I'm concerned about the presentation and use of proofs in both algebra and geometry (which seems to be somewhat out of style). I'm just struggling to figure out what text we should be moving to next. Thank you ahead of time for any suggestions.

    1. Hi Addie,

      Yes, we are using Jacobs -- one of my children has moved from Algebra now into Geometry and the other is about halfway through Algebra. We really like these books! Jacobs style is engaging and the problems are both interesting and thorough. We are using the new edition of Geometry, which I read has fewer proofs that the older ones, but we are still getting plenty. :) You could always hunt down an old one, though, which I have read people really like. No complaints with either of these books so far. :)

  6. I am trying to figure out CMEC... the website seems very vague, and "closed" to anyone wanting to learn more? I'm a current AO user, but struggling with the multiple streams of history, and only recently came across the "CMEC" name. I'm curious to learn about it, especially in comparison with AO, with which I am familiar.

    1. Hi Danielle! The CMEC's registration period is open February-September for the coming school year, and then we close during the school year, which is why it says "closed right now." We will open for the 2021-2022 school year in February. But we are happy to answer questions about our program if you are interested in learning more for next year. Have you requested our Sample Packet? That has much more detail as to what we provide. You can email and just ask for the sample packet and they will send it along. :)

  7. Hi Celeste,

    I've been a long-time fan and follower of your blog and Insta accounts. I'm also very interested to know more about why you decided to make the switch to CMEC from AO. Are you still involved there on the Forums? What would you say are the major differences between the two or pros/cons? As a fellow Catholic, I also have to make tweaks and substitutions. Is this something less necessary in CMEC? And how do they approach combining topics for kids very close in age (e.g. my first 3 girls are all within 3 years of each other so right now, we're doing AO for Groups, with independent skill work).

    Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi Nicole,

      No, I am not still involved at the AO Forums -- although I really respect the ladies there and consider a good number of them friends, my work with the CMEC is where I am putting my energy now. :) I think the CMEC is set up well for Catholics and for large/close-in-age families, which is part of why the program is a good fit for us. I can follow-up with a bit more detail if you would like to email me. Thanks!

    2. Hello Celeste, can you elaborate on what you mean by “the CMEC is set up well for Catholics”? I am a Catholic homeschooler of pre-K, love CM’s philosophy of education, doing my due diligence educating myself before our formal years.
      Thanks in advance for your clarification!

    3. Hi! I think it's a good match for many reasons... Primarily, that the content is Catholic-friendly, so although you will want to add religion reading (the CMEC does not assign religion reading), you do not have to make substitutions unless you want to. It also is very easy to combine for large families, which is often relevant in the Catholic world. But I would encourage you to reach out to for further details!

  8. Hello Celeste,
    We live in Australia and currently following AO Yr 2. Like Nicole, I'm a little worried about some of the history book choices like Our Island Story being a little too biased/skewed and was wondering if there is a Catholic alternative to OIS? Also, is it worthwhile making the switch to CMEC if you're in the southern hemisphere? As it is, so many wonderful curriculums (like AO) favour north and I would like to know if those of us "down under" would get as good a value as northern counterparts? Thank you for this blog!

    1. Hi Maria, I don't know of a Catholic alternative to OIS, which is why we use it and abridge and add as needed. I actually abridge very little, and our additions are the saints' lives and other Catholic history and historical fiction I would already schedule, so it is not extra work. You can read specific comments on OIS for our studies this year here as an example: As for the CMEC, we have a good number of members in the Southern Hemisphere, including South Africa, Australia, and some of the countries of South America. I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for, but I think the CMEC is quite flexible. You can also reach out with specific questions to -- for example, about specific subjects you are wondering about, etc.