Charlotte Mason Highschool – a 15 Year Old's Year

This is a review of what we’ve done this year. It’s based on Ambleside Online Year 10 but with some adaptions for Australian content, personal interests, and substitutions I wanted to make – books I have and wanted to use or thought were important to include. I’ve linked to reviews or thoughts I’ve shared on some of the books.


The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis – a great book for a teen reader; full of humour but deadly serious!
By Searching by Isobel Kuhn – autobiography of a missionary to China that concentrates on the struggles of faith in her youth. I like to include a Christian biography each year and also a book that is set or focussed on the Asia Pacific region. This book worked for both categories.
Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin – we took turns reading this aloud: ‘How to Study the Bible With Both Our Hearts & Minds.’
How Should We Then Live by Francis A. Schaeffer. I’ve used this now with all seven of our children. It’s a book I think is very important as it traces key moments in the history of Western culture and the thinking of the people behind those moments in order to shed light on modern times. Schaeffer draws on his study of theology, philosophy, history, sociology and the arts in this work.
The Great Democracies by Winston Churchill
A Short History of Australia by Ernest Scott – out of print but online here. We used this book last year, the relevant chapters for this year and will continue with it for the first part of Year 11.
Killer Angels by Michael Shaara – the American Civil War. This was a free read because we had the book and Hails wanted to read it.
Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey. We also watched The Young Victoria, the 2009 production which concentrated on the lead up to Victoria’s coronation and her marriage to Albert. I read Queen Victoria by Lucy Worsley thinking I could possibly use that but it had too much information on the improprieties of some of the royals for a 15 year old. A pity as it also touched on many other important characters of the time such as Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone although there were chapters I could have assigned that would have worked but I felt we’d covered enough in the end.
L’Abri by Edith Schaeffer – a book I wanted to include at some point so I used it this year.
Science & Natural History


A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson – we started this last year and finished it in Term 1 of this year.  I read it aloud and it was engaging and an excellent book to discuss.
Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif –  as per AO schedule
The Planets by Dava Sobel – a very literary guide to the planets. The author obviously loves her subject but she does wax very lyrical so I wasn’t sure if Hails would enjoy it, but she did, and it inspired many written narrations. 
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies by Joyce Sidman – a beautifully illustrated book about Maria Merian, an artist, adventurer and scientist in 17th century Europe.
Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman –  I wasn’t expecting Hails to like this but she has so far.
Nature Studies in Australia by William Gillies – we finished this earlier in the year. 
The Wilderness by Amy Mack – a very short book (26 pages) Read aloud
Exploring Creation With Physical Science by Jay Wile – very good for experiments.
All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot – I’ve been reading this series aloud for a couple of years. We’ve just started the next book, ‘All Things Wise and Wonderful.’ Hilarious and touching memoirs of a Yorkshire vet in the early to mid 1900’s.


I wrote about our archaeological studies a la Charlotte Mason here. Our main book has been God, Graves & Scholars by C. W. Ceram. We also made use of the free Dig School resources that were offered during COVID.
We continued with 50 Architects You Should Know that we started two years ago and finished it earlier this year.
Eothen by Alexander Kingslake 
Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson – we didn’t finish this one (16 out of 29 Chapters). I bought the book at the end of our U.K. trip last year thinking it would be a great way to re-live some of the places we visited but in the end I was sick of the author’s lewd, crude and obnoxious comments, not to mention his deplorable behaviour towards others on his travels through the U.K. in 1995. Very disappointing as we really liked his The Short History of Nearly Everything but he whined and complained in almost every chapter in this book and I had to edit so much on the fly I got fed up!! Not recommended and I’m not the only one who felt that way – I checked out Goodreads later. Apparently he must have lost the plot with this one.
We regularly use Seterra for map drills.

Australian Literature

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I read this years ago and thought it was ‘O.K.’ but Hails really enjoyed it. I liked the movie a lot more so we’ll watch that some time soon. Set in Germany in WWII; Australian author.
Pied Piper, Trustee From the Toolroom and No Highway by Nevil Shute. These books weren’t set here but I included them as an introduction to Shute who made his home here. The books I’ve read that have an Aussie setting are a little too mature for a 15 yr old, I think.
All the Green Year by Don Charlwood – a wonderful coming of age Aussie story.

General Literature

We used all the suggestions in AO Year 10 except Uncle Tom’s Cabin and added In This House of Brede, which she loved, Mary Barton, and Martin Chuzzlewit. I didn’t require narrations from these.
Shakespeare’s Henry V – the play and then we watched the Kenneth Branagh DVD
Short Stories – I chose four from the AO selections
Essays – selections from AO and from God in the Dock by C.S. Lewis
Plutarch – the Life of Alexander – this was one of the best lives we’ve read!
Ourselves by Charlotte Mason
One Blood by Ken Ham, Carl Wieland & Don Batten
How to Read a Book
The Deadliest Monster – liked this very much
Invitation to the Classics
Personal, Career, and Financial Security by Richard J. Maybury
How Not to Diet by Dr Michael Greger – whole foods, plant based
HIIT sessions with me
Swimming several times a week
Musicianship & AMEB Studies for the cello
Folksongs & Hymns
The Arts by Van Loon
Picture Study – I put together a Charlotte Mason style study on the Australian artist Tom Roberts.
Masterpiece Society – we’ve used their watercolour and acrylic courses and they are very good for teaching technique. (affiliate link)


Free Reads
Hails is a very fast and voracious reader and I can’t keep up with her but her favourite books lately are: 
Anything and everything by P. G. Wodehouse
Agatha Christie re-reads
Regina Doman’s fairy tale retellings (the first two only at the moment)
Books by John Flanagan (The Ranger’s Apprentice etc.)
The Walking Drum by Louis L’Amour
Witch Wood by John Buchan (scroll down linked page) – one of the very few of this author’s books she hadn’t read before.
This year she read some more Dickens (who hasn’t been her favourite author) and is in the process of reading War & Peace by Tolstoy.
I asked her to write about some of her favourite books and here is what she wrote: Ten Favourite Books of a 15 Year Old.
I’ve read and heard comments that using the Charlotte Mason method in highschool doesn’t provide a rigorous enough education – it’s too gentle, doesn’t cover STEM subjects, won’t prepare kids for university etc., etc. I really don’t agree, if you provide a broad feast with enough of a challenge and plenty of living books to provide the mental sustenance a young person needs.

10 thoughts on “Charlotte Mason Highschool – a 15 Year Old's Year

  1. An impressive year. Studying Henry V and watching the Branagh film brings back memories. I remember taking a Shakespeare in English History class where were studying that play and going to see the movie in the cinema at the same time. That must have been in 1989. It is a great film adaptation.


  2. Congratulations for this amazing program. I'm French and have been teaching French online for years. I have to say my most brilliant students (including one I prepared for AP French, and who received the prestigious 5 this year!) are all home-schooled!


  3. I really enjoy seeing photos of stacks of books the way other people like seeing art. It makes me feel so good.I read the Gods, Graves and Scholars, thanks to you and enjoyed it.Six Easy Pieces sounds Intriguing and of course the wonderful Francis Schaeffer. I read How Then Should We Live and other books by him. In fact I have all of his works, even though I haven't read them all.Too bad his son turned out to be a bad egg. He calls himself a \”Christian Atheist.\”I'd be interested in reading his wife's book about L'Abri.Hope you're having a wonderful spring. Autumn is finally peeping its head around the corner here in Northeast Texas.


  4. Hi Brian, I remember that when the movie came out it was a first in that it really brought Shakespeare to a much wider audience. I didn't realise it was as old as that except that Branagh looked so young compared to more recent movies I've seen him in!


  5. Thank you, Emma! Homeschooling leaves more time for students to pursue their interests & they usually have more choice, I think & so often study subjects they are really interested in.


  6. Hi Sharon, glad you enjoyed that book. I'm looking out for others. i'd really like to find something on the Dead Sea Scrolls. I have a vague memory of reading an interesting book years ago but I have no idea what it was!I read a bit about Franky Schaeffer but wasn't impressed. So sad for his family as he just sounds bitter and twisted & spoilt.I've read a few books by Edith S and she is very good but really could do with a good editor!!


  7. Beautiful, Carol! 🙂 I especially intrigued by the Gods etc architecture book. We've enjoyed some of these too and that Australian artist's work is gorgeous. Always love reading here and your new bloggy look is beautiful!


  8. Looks like a great year and reminds me of what I used with my son. I didn't strictly follow Ambleside, but often used many of their suggestions.I heard so many of the things you mentioned about a Charlotte Mason Education not being rigorous enough. I was often unwilling to mention that I used her methods in high school. I knew my kids were getting an excellent education and they both did well in college. Congratulations on homeschooling seven children! Thanks for sharing.


  9. Hi Gretchen, Good to hear from you. I've tried to comment on your blog a couple of times recently but for some reason I've had trouble – not only your blog; mostly WordPress blogs but I think it's my end. Occasionally my comments go into spam as well, which is very annoying!


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