Who was Charlotte Mason? Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the late 1800s. Her method for teaching has persisted for more than a century. Increasingly, homeschooling families seeking a “whole life” approach to learning are choosing to practice the Charlotte Mason Method of homeschooling.
Homeschooling The Charlotte Mason Method
Charlotte Mason believed in teaching the whole child, not just the mind. She described education as having three critical components: atmosphere, discipline, and life. For these reasons, the Charlotte Mason Method focuses on forming good habits, developing critical thinking skills, and paying careful attention to a child’s learning environment.
Are you curious about whether or not her method could work best for your family? Keep reading to learn what makes the Charlotte Mason Method unique, how to homeschool using the method, and discover some cool curriculum options.
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The Benefits of Using Charlotte Mason’s Method
Parents who decide to use this method of homeschooling are often most interested in an education that is more holistic in nature, not singularly focused on aspects like reading, writing, and arithmetic. By using the Charlotte Mason Method, you can help your children to develop good habits that affect every aspect of their lives, not just education.
Here are some of the benefits of using the Charlotte Mason Method of homeschooling:
- Short manageable lessons
- Engaged students
- Kids who love to read
- Children who can express themselves clearly and articulately
- Strong spelling and grammar skills
- An appreciation for art and music
- Time spent in nature
- An appreciation for the natural world
How do I start homeschooling using the Charlotte Mason Method?
Beginning with the Charlotte Mason Method of teaching can feel overwhelming or challenging at first. There are some ideas you can use and things you’ll need to understand when you begin using this method.
Charlotte Mason’s method incorporates lots of different subjects and aspects of learning including traditional academics, art, music, handicrafts, forming habits, and nature study. That can feel like a lot when you’re starting out. It is a lot! It’s important to remember you don’t have to do everything from the start. You can slowly work your way up to incorporating every aspect.
Where should you begin?
According to Charlotte Mason, the three most important habits to help your children develop are attention, obedience, and honesty. Even very young children can practice these three habits. If you make forming good habits a priority in the early years, you’ll have a much easier time later.
First, help your child learn to focus on lessons and make a good effort. Begin with short lessons. Focus on quality effort rather than completing a set amount. For example, one well written word in handwriting is better than several sloppy words. In the end, the habit will be established and your child will find it easier and easier to continue putting in the effort for longer periods of time.
Once the main habits are established, I recommend beginning by reading living books with your children. Reading aloud together is an important part of teaching your children to love books and develop an interest in reading. The Charlotte Mason Method focuses on choosing living books to create an appreciation for literature.
Living books are one of the major cornerstones of a Charlotte Mason education. These are books that focus on drawing the reader to a deeper understanding and love of the subject. These books are written in the narrational or conversational style by a passionate author.
Living books play on the reader’s emotions to create lasting memories of the facts and events.
As you form habits and explore living books with your children, consider adding nature.
Another important aspect of a complete Charlotte Mason education is nature study. Charlotte Mason recommended nature study to help children explore and begin to understand their surroundings and the natural world.
Nature study isn’t a science lesson. Begin by walking together in nature with your children. Encourage kids to watch quietly, observing the things around them. You might be surprised by how much can be learned from watching a caterpillar move or observing a dandelion in the breeze.
The goal is not to know everything about the local flora and fauna. The goal is for your child to learn to love the world around him, delight in it, and develop a basic understanding of the progression of seasons and weather.
What does a Charlotte Mason schedule look like?
Scheduling the Charlotte Mason method can be tricky, and it doesn’t look the same for every family. The first time I looked at the list of subjects included in my Charlotte Mason curriculum, I thought “How will I ever get all this done?” I wasn’t sure how we would manage, how we could do all the readings. How would it all happen within the 20-minute lesson periods Charlotte Mason recommends?
Homeschool schedules look different for every family, but there are some key strategies that can help you begin to wrap your brain around how you’ll manage a Charlotte Mason schedule. First of all, keep in mind that not every subject is completed every day. Secondary areas of study like art, music, and nature study don’t need to happen every day. On the other hand, reading and arithmetic should be practiced daily.
Another thing to remember is that Charlotte Mason’s 20-minute rule does have some wiggle room. For example, if you’re reading aloud from a beloved living book and your children beg you for just a few more pages, there’s no reason you can’t oblige them. When children are focused, involved, and want to dive deep into a particular lesson you can and should indulge them.
Charlotte Mason Homeschool Curriculum
Many Charlotte Mason homeschoolers create their own curriculum from curated lists of living books. This requires time, effort, and it can be costly. For a variety of reasons, some homeschooling parents choose a “boxed” curriculum.
If you need or want a prepackaged curriculum option that still meets the requirements of the method, try these Charlotte Mason inspired resources:
- Living Books Curriculum: charlottemasonhomeschooling.com
- My Father’s World: mfwbooks.com
- A Gentle Feast
- Tanglewood Education: tanglewoodeducation.com
- Winter Promise: winterpromise.com
- Sonlight: A literature based and CM method
- Simply Charlotte Mason: https://simplycharlottemason.com
- Blossom and Root: A mix of Waldorf and Charlotte Mason
- Beautiful Feet Books
Did you choose to use a Charlotte Mason Method for your homeschoolers this year? I’d love to read about your homeschool journey in the comments.
Would you like to learn more about other homeschooling methods and curriculums?