My perspective of education thus far has been narrowed by my own experience in the public school system. That “school” was to take place in a classroom. Everyone sits at a desk and listens to a teacher spout out a lecture. My view was that of a system that was very rigid in its structure. In my older teens and young 20’s, I even frowned upon those that homeschooled. Partially because of societal influences and my personal experiences from those that I knew.
Much has happened since then to broaden my mind and understand that there is no one way to do anything, and this applies even to education. I let go of what I thought school was, expanded my thinking, and opened my mind to the endless possibilities of homeschooling.
As I did this, I stumbled upon the whisperings of Charlotte Mason and her teaching methods. Her methods are nothing like the system that I was use to, where my thirst to learn was stifled out many years ago. Instead, it was a learning approach that was alive and almost whimsical in its nature. The more I read the more I saw these methods bringing a love for learning to my children. I could foresee this becoming the core of our home lessons and my children thriving in it.
Charlotte Mason was a classical educator from the mid 1800 to the early 1900. She dedicated herself to the education of children and through her experience developed various methods to guide her students through learning.
“What a child learns matters less than how he learns it.”
Ms. Mason recommended formal education to begin at age 6. Reading to children aloud 3-4 times per day. Not to say that education shouldn’t begin before this age but that if it did, it should be loose and informal. Until that child was able to read to themselves, in which the habit of reading daily should be encouraged to continue by the mother. However, the difference in reading material is what stands out with Ms. Mason. She believed in teaching from living books.
A living book is written with lively descriptions. The author is passionate about the subject matter and it is conveyed in the writing style and illustrations. The facts and information are colorfully integrated into a spirited story. We raised painted lady butterfly’s in the early summer this year and read butterfly themed living books during this time. A great example of a living book is Butterfly Time by Alice Goudey. For a deeper understanding of living books, you can read more here: What Is A Living Book?
A day after reading a living book the child should be asked to recall or begin in narration of the previously read story. My oldest is 5.5 year old, we are building up to her own ability to recall so I ask after a few pages what has happened. Until the child is able to write, at which point they would write it down. Followed by dictation, in which the child does copy work of quotes and or scripture verses.
Ms. Mason was highly in favor of outside time and nature walks. Where children are let to be outside 4-6 hours in a day exploring and observing nature. You can read more about the importance of nature walks here: 7 benefits of nature walks. Making sure that the child keeps a nature dairy which you can learn about here: How To Get Started With A Charlotte Mason Style Nature Diary to create what she observed in their nature study.
This is the very first drawing of a nature study that my 5 yr old created, it is that of a yellow finch. This sweet tweeter, swooped down to drink beside her in the stream she was playing in.
“The formation of habits is education and the education is the formation of habits.”
Ms. Mason was a proponent of habit training. She advices habits of modesty, purity, obedience, sense of honour, neatness, personal cleanliness, physical exercise, and good manners to develop the childs character.
I closely relate to this teaching method due to its gentle approach to education. Now that I have become aware of living books, this method has become the core of our home education. What is your preferred teaching style? I’ll leave you with this finally quote that has always inspired me.