CHARLOTTE MASON’S ALVEARY

FAQ

CAN I PURCHASE A PORTION OF THE CURRICULUM?

No. Mason’s Alveary is designed to be used as a whole, with subjects complementing one another.

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

No. New registrants only have access to the programs for the current year. Members who renew keep access to their current programs and gain access to the new ones, but all of the current year’s programs are archived on June 30. This is so we can keep everyone in the same history rotation. No one should be using old programs.

WHEN DOES THE ACADEMIC YEAR START AND FINISH?

Lesson plans for all three terms will be posted July 1 and will remain active until June 30. That means you have the freedom to follow a traditional school calendar or school year-round.

WHAT IS THE ESTIMATED COST OF BOOKS?

This can vary widely depending on how many kids you have, how old they are, whether or not you use free online resources, how extensive your library is, and whether you buy new or used. You also have to keep in mind that many books will be carried over two, three, or even more years, so you may spend quite a bit one year and much less the next. But to try to answer this question, the “worst case scenarios” (meaning you bought everything new in hard copy and no children shared books) would range anywhere from about $350 in Form 1B to about $700 in Form 3.

DO THE BOOKS CHANGE EACH YEAR?

Many books are used for two or more years. Because we are keenly aware of the budgetary limitations of our members, we do not make capricious changes. However, we do make some changes every year because we are constantly 1) gaining new insights from the original programmes and books, and 2) evaluating books based on our primary-source research. When we discover a book that is better than what is on our list, we reserve the right to make the change in the following year’s program. However, parents are always free to continue using the books they already bought instead of spending money on the new recommendation, with the understanding that lesson plans and exam questions will be provided only for the books that are on the current year’s program.

WHAT IF MY CHILD HAS ALREADY READ A BOOK ON THE PROGRAM?

Feel free to change it out for a book from another form. We will also publish a list of “Extra Helpings” books, which is meant to complement the main feast, from which you can choose. The same goes for Plutarch, Shakespeare, and artist and composer studies. If you have already studied what we have scheduled, just choose a substitution. Please realize, though, that we will not write exam questions for substituted books.

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

There are a few things to consider 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 cut some class time. If participating in your co-op requires you to take a day off “regular” school each week, it makes it even harder to implement the whole of Mason’s model. If you are lucky enough to belong to a really strong Mason co-op, there is still a problem if you do all of the “enrichment” activities, such as picture study, nature study, composer study, etc., on the same day, 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. So while we won’t say you can’t participate in a co-op, we will say to be very careful and deliberate if you choose to do so to make sure you are not undermining what you are trying to do the rest of the week.

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

No. Exams are provided for you to find out how your child has progressed during the term and to hold yourself accountable for implementing the whole feast. However, we do encourage you to send in exams, because it helps us assess our program and make it better. All exams that are submitted remain private. As we collect enough exams, it may be possible for a researcher to use them for a thesis or dissertation, but permission would have to be granted by you before your child’s work would be released.

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, registration is non-refundable and non-transferable, due to the nature of immediate digital delivery of the product upon payment.

DO YOU OFFER ANY DISCOUNTS OR SCHOLARSHIPS?

No.

WHERE DOES MY REGISTRATION FEE GO?

Some of it goes to pay the people who work part- or full-time to write and update the curriculum, write the detailed daily lesson plans, copy edit the materials, and answer your questions. Some of it goes to cover costs we incur for the technology to house and share Mason’s Alveary. Best of all, some of it goes to the Armitt Museum and Library in Ambleside, which houses the Mason archives.

WHAT ARE FORMS AND HOW ARE THEY STRUCTURED?

Forms are groupings of ages that are based on the child’s development rather than 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 child matures. Children in forms that are close to each other can be combined very easily, making scheduling easier for the family. Since everyone is in the same historical time period, parents can also choose to swap out a book that is too difficult or too easy for a particular child with one from a form above or below, making it easier to meet the needs of each child.

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. 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 hundreds of members and a part-time staff, it is not possible for us to do individual phone consultations. However, there are several ways to get the help you need. First, check out all of the drop-down options under “ALVEARY CURRICULUM” on the CMI website. Next, please be sure to read the FAQ’s. Finally, explore all of the samples available. If you still cannot find the answer to your question, please CONTACT US.

DO YOU PLAN TO OFFER HIGH SCHOOL?

Yes. We piloted our high school program with a small number of families in 2017-18. Our 2018-19 high school curriculum will be available to the public, although it will remain in pilot status. Upon registration, those wishing to use the high school curriculum will need to agree to our Terms of Use.

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

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

Rotation 1: 800-1650 AD, 3500-550 BC (forms 2a+)
Rotation 2:​ ​1650-1800 AD, 550-100 BC (forms 2a+)
Rotation 3:1800-1900 AD, 100 BC-350 AD (forms 2a+)
Rotation 4:1900-present, 350-800 AD (forms 2a+)

WHAT IF WE JUST FINISHED THE HISTORY THAT IS COMING UP NEXT YEAR?

If possible, go ahead and jump in with us using the new books in our list. Or, you can substitute a couple of really great biographies that will enrich what you read last year. For ancient history, if you read about Rome last year, you can read something about Egypt or Greece this year. Just understand that, if you make substitutions, you will need to break up the reading and write exam questions yourself.

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 receive an email with a password (which you can change later).

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

No. Anyone can register.

IS THERE LIMITED SPACE IN MASON’S ALVEARY?

No. There is no cap on registrants.

ARE SCHEDULES PROVIDED?

Sample schedules are provided to help keep you within Mason’s time limits. However, we know that each family has its own circumstances and will have to tweak those schedules to meet their needs. To help, we provide scheduling cards that match our program so that you can arrange and rearrange your schedule as often as necessary to get the most out of homeschooling while maintaining a healthy life balance.

HOW IS MASON’S ALVEARY STRUCTURED?

We tried to match the original structure of the PNEU as much as possible. The year is divided into three terms of twelve weeks each. Eleven of those are for instruction and one is for exams. Children are divided into forms rather than grade levels (see FORMS for more information). For the most part, everyone in the family studies the same time period in history, making it easy to combine children for lessons. Just like in Mason’s day, new members jump in wherever we are in our rotation and may even begin in the middle of a book. This takes a little getting used to, but you can relax, knowing that whatever your children “missed” will come up again in the next rotation.

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 children, what your schedule will look like, and which books from which forms you will choose. For example, perhaps you have a child in form 1a and a child in form 2b. Chances are, you could combine them fairly easily, but you don’t have to choose either the 1a or 2b curriculum in its entirety. Since you have access to all the levels, you can choose books from both programs to tailor your family’s curriculum and meet the needs of your individual children. This takes some time and effort, but once you make those decisions, you can use the appropriate lesson plans with ease. The lesson plans also include a “Prep” section to help you get your ducks in a row before the school day begins. You may find that once you begin using Mason’s Alveary there is actually more work than what you are used to, because there will be subjects that are new to you or that you may have let slide before that are now a regular part of your day. That learning curve alone can be steep. The lesson plans and training videos are also designed to help parents learn what they need to know in order to improve their teaching. In short, you may find yourself agreeing with one of our pilot members, who said at the end of last year, “I have never worked so hard at homeschooling, but this is by far the best year we have ever had.”