Frequently Asked Questions

Please click on the appropriate topic below to find answers to our most frequently asked questions.


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 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.

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. No one is going to be looking over your shoulder. 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?  


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.


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.

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 over 600 families involved at this time, 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 email us at alveary@charlottemasoninstitute.com. 


Do you plan to offer high school?

Yes. We are piloting our high school program with a small number of families in 2017-18.  We will make an announcement when we are ready to make the high school curriculum available to the public. 


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 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. 


What is the deadline for registration?

There is no deadline. You may register 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 by July 1 each year.

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


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.


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. 


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."

NOTE: Charlotte Mason Institute is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. When you make a purchase through an Amazon  link, CMI will earn a percentage of that sale at no additional cost to you. This income helps CMI purchase and evaluate books for reviews, curriculum and research. Thank you for your support.

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