Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any requirements for participating in Mason's Alveary?

No. Anyone with children in grades 1-8 can register.

Is there limited space in Mason's Alveary?

No. There is no cap on registrants. CMI's plan is to employ more help as enrollment scales up.

When is the deadline for enrollment?

There is no deadline. You may enroll at any point during the year. The cost of membership will be prorated to $133 after December 1 and to $66 after March 1. Your membership is renewable each year.

Where does my registration fee go?

It mostly 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 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.

Once I register, how do I get my login information?

If you were already subscribed to the CMI blog, you can use the same email address that you used to register. If you don't remember your password, you can reset it. If you have never been in the CMI database, you will need to contact us at administrator@charlottemasoninstitute.com and request a password.

When does the academic year start and finish?

Lesson plans for all three terms will be posted by July 1, 2017 and will remain active until June 30, 2018. 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 with every new program?

No. Most of our books are carried over several years, so what changes in the programs is the assigned reading. There will be a few new titles in each program, but these are normally the inexpensive paperback kind.

Do you plan to offer high school?

Yes. We will be piloting our high school program with a small number of families in 2017-18, and we should be able to make it public for the 2018-19 school year. 

Can I participate in the high school pilot?

Pilot programs are usually pretty bumpy affairs, and so we will strictly limit the number of participants. First priority goes to those who piloted grades 1-8 during the 2016-17 school year. After that, if we have not filled all of the slots, we will call for applications from families who have elementary and/or middle school students registered for the Alveary for the 2017-18 school year. New participants will need to have attended a CMI conference or retreat within the last three years, and they must have at least four years experience as a CM teacher in order to pilot high school. These requirements are there to minimize frustration on the part of the user. Families who do not meet the requirements will be much happier if they wait until the kinks are worked out.

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 the question on forms below 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.

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 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.

What is the history rotation, and what happens when you finish it?

We adopted the history rotation recommended by A Delectable Education, which follows Mason's model of a four-year cycle, but which has been adapted for American students. The time periods studied are 1000-1650 AD, 1650-1800 AD, 1800-1900 AD, and 1900-present. When all four time periods have been studied, the child begins again using a stiffer book. There are three streams of history: American, British/European, and Ancient. The Ancient streams are Egypt/the Near East, Greece, Rome, and the Early Middle Ages. It all goes together like this:

Form 1B: Tales from American history

Form 1A: Begin chronological study of American history wherever we are in the time period rotation

Form 2B: Continue the chronological study of American history; Add tales from British history

Forms 2A-3: Continue the concurrent chronological study of American and British history; Add the Ancient history period from the rotation

Forms 4-6: Complete one last cycle of American history, European history, and Ancient history

What if we are currently studying the history that is coming up next year?

Since we will study one specific time period as a collective every year, this is always going to be somewhat of an issue with those just jumping in. However, we still feel good about this model, because it is what Mason did. If you are joining and your historical time period is not aligning with ours, you have a couple of options. The first is just to take the plunge, knowing that this is a one-time problem. If it has been at least a year since you studied the time period we are currently on, this option should be fine. You can always substitute books from another form or an interesting biography if you have already read the one assigned to your child. If you are currently studying the time period we are slated to study the following year and feel it would be too much to do the same period two years in a row, slow down and let us "catch up" to where you are. It may take a year to synchronize, but even this problem is not insurmountable. 

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.

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. No one is going to be looking over your shoulder. However, we do encourage you 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.

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. If you need help figuring out when and how to combine students, we can recommend a consultant to do the hard work for you.

What do the program numbers mean?

Every term has its own program, and every program is numbered. So "Program 5" simply means that is the 5th program that CMI has developed. 

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 following year. Current 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. 

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. If you need help figuring out a schedule for your family, we can recommend a consultant to do that for you.

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. 

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.


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Roanoke, VA 24018
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