Homeschooling, Part Dos – Our Charlotte Mason-ish Home

So, I was gonna sit down and type a big 'thing' on the Charlotte Mason
method of homeschooling, which is the direction I currently lean
(with some eclectic thrown in) but its been a busy week and I'm feeling
lazy. So, in a nutshell, here is the gist of the CM method:

"Charlotte Mason was an influential educator in the 19th century who
advocated developing the soul and spirit of a child. Her method is
literature based, with English and other subjects taught in an integrated
way. This approach has become wildly popular with homeschoolers with many
curriculum providers utilizing the Mason Method.  You can check out
Ambleside Online to get a sense of what the Charlotte Mason home schooling
method is all about.
  • Focuses on outdoors and nature.
  • Children learn through reading real books, narration (tell about what they just learned), copywork (copy sections of good literature), and creating Nature Notebooks or lap books (also called notebooking).
  • They study the fine arts and foreign Languages.
  • Use few, if any, textbooks or workbooks.
  • Instead, they read literature related to the topic of study.
  • Quality is more important than quantity.
  • Goal is to instill a love of learning.
This teaching method might work well for you/your student if you:
  • want to create a learning environment that encourages your child to explore and appreciate the world around him,
  • perhaps not rigidly sticking to a schedule,
  • see a value in evaluating your child’s learning on things other than formal written tests,
  • want to offer a well-rounded education, including enjoying art, nature, music and of course lots of books,
  • don’t mind being very involved in the process of your child’s education – discussing books, giving dictation, listening and encouraging narration, and enjoying poetry, art and music together,
  • have a child who doesn’t mind not having lots of boxes to check off.”
I borrowed this from my friend's homeschooling site, over at
www.homeschoolroundup.com. (Nice writing, Angela!)

And on the topic of links, I just added two new pages of resources
to the blog! I'll keep adding things as I go along.

Although I haven't read The Original Homeschool Series books that
Charlotte Mason wrote, I have read several other books about her
style and methods including 

A Charlotte Mason's Companion by Karen Andreola, 

Charlotte Mason Study Guide by Penny Gardner,

For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, 

and Pocketful of Pinecone's by Karen Andreola. This one helped me
envision what a Charlotte Mason homeschooling family looked like
because it's written in story form as diary entries of a mother.

I really appreciate the way in which CM taught the children that
allowed them to explore, create, and ultimately have a love for
learning. When children are young, especially before the age of 6
she encourages A LOT of time outdoors. 

"...to find out all he can about whatever comes under his notice,
by means of his five senses; that he has an insatiable appetite for
knowledge got in this way..."

She also emphasized habit formation and it is considered one of the
keys to her methods. Habits of obedience, attention, cleanliness, etc.
are all important in the development of the child.

For my family, I've taken bits and pieces from Ambleside Online and
the Simply Charlotte Mason website to implement. Since Ethan is five,
he's technically not to be doing too much sit down academic work. CM
didn't recommend starting that until the age of six. I did, however,
find a list of subjects on the Simply Charlotte Mason site that a 5
year old could be working on:
  • Habit Training
  • Outdoor Free Play and Exploration
  • Bible Study
  • Nature Walks
  • Read Alouds (from good, quality books)
  • Beginning Reading Lessons
  • Copywork (we use Handwriting Without Tears currently but might switch over to CM’s method after this book)
  • Math (we use Miquon Math)
  • Handicraft (not your typical arts and crafts but actually developing a craft where the end result can be useful)
  • Art
  • Music
  • Poetry
Its not nearly as complicated as it looks! The only actual sit down
things that we do regularly are the Bible study, copywork/phonics,
and math and it only takes us about 30 minutes altogether with a break
between Bible time and the others. The other subjects are spaced out
and more flexibly done. We have outside time everyday, nature walks
about once a week, handicrafts right now are life skills (like chores
and things) and letting Ethan build his inventions, art and music once
a week, and poetry whenever I think of it, lol. For our read alouds, I
have a print out from Ambleside and also one from SCM of quality books
that I can check out from the library or purchase on Amazon. Its been
working out really well for our family! Its such a low pressure way of
teaching and learning that we all can enjoy. And the great part is that
if something doesn't seem to be working, I have the flexibility to change
it! 

Oh, the beauty of homeschooling! :)
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2 responses to “Homeschooling, Part Dos – Our Charlotte Mason-ish Home

  1. I think it’s so awesome that you are homeschooling.
    My mom incorporated some charlotte mason stuff in
    Our school work too. Lots of copying and writing and reading.

  2. I’m a huge fan of the Charlotte Mason method. I love that I’ve found someone else who loves her/it as much as I do!

    My only… well, not disagreement, but change that I’ve made with Lee are the art-wksheets, mainly because I view them as projects and not as worksheets. Obviously, Lee isn’t even 3 yet, and I can’t expect him to sit down a do a worksheet. That’s ridiculous. But I will set him down a coloring sheet of the letter D or something, and we’ll do some sort of crafty project to learn the letter D.

    As much as I love and want to do the Montessori method 100%, there are also programs like “Confessions of a Homeschooler” curriculum methods like “Letter of the Week,” which is different from the other “Letter of the Week” – which I’m also a fan of, that I want to incorporate into our Montessori-esque education.

    It’s hard because I’m not sure I’m sold on one or the other, and so I’m wanting to do my best to be openminded and try and get the best of both worlds, but in that, I realize that there is an age-appropriatness for one and the other.

    I work long and hard to bring new books into the house (I frequent Goodwill and Half-Priced Books weekly), and am such a lover of non-fiction for children.

    My personal favorite of the moment has to be anything written by Gail Gibbons. If you know of her – you probably are a fan as well. But if you haven’t – look her up. Her non-fiction is one of the best I’ve found in both content as well as illustration and how the books are set up.

    My mother always taught us from reading, and the way I best learned about the world and culture was through personal story biography, and I hope to instill the same kind of education in my child.

    I’m still working towards starting the Before Five in a Row, and although I’ve been scouring Half-Priced Books and ebay, I’m having difficulty finding all of the books I need at a reasonable price, which is frustrating. I’m only lacking about 8 books now, and although I’m patient to a certain extent, I’m also ready to have the materials I need and start now.

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