Did you go through conventional school as a child? Maybe you’re a second generation homeschooler? Even if you’re, you were likely raised on a traditional teaching style. But now you’ve chosen to homeschool and you’re are interested in Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy of Education, right? After all, learning through living science using nature study sounds serene and living books instead of textbooks sounds amazing.
Regardless of the types of education you were brought up on, open your mind and expand your thinking to the endless possibilities of Home Education with Charlotte Mason.
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Charlotte Mason’s methods are nothing like traditional style education. Instead, it is a method that is alive and almost whimsical in its nature. The more I read the more I implement her methods in our homeschool. Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, brings a love of learning to my children, even to me. It has become the core of our home lessons and my children are thriving on it.
Charlotte Mason was a Christian classical educator residing in Ambleside England, who lived during the mid 1800 to the early 1900. She dedicated herself to the education of children and through her research and experience, developed a nature based philosophy of education that fluidly progressed her students through learning. She held a perspective that children are whole persons and should not be offended, hindered, or despised. She wrote six volumes detailing the methods behind her philosophy, if you want to learn more I suggest starting with volume one.
If you’re looking for a online book study to encourage you through Charlotte’s first volume then you can refer to these articles to get started:
Formal and Informal Lessons
Miss. Mason recommended formal education to begin at age 6. Which is something I did not fully appreciate until a few years ago. Prior to age six, lessons are informal and taught through play based nature exploration, discovery, and read alouds. (Read:Informal Lessons.)The Home educator reads to his/her children aloud 3-4 times per day. Until that child is able to read to themselves, in which the habit of reading daily should be encouraged to continue independently. However, the difference in reading material is what stands out with Miss. Mason. She believed in teaching from living books in lue of text 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. All subjects (except math, read more here about CM math) are taught from living books. We raised painted lady butterfly’s last spring 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?
Narrating should begin after the age of six. As the art of narration is introduced to the child, the home educator should discuss and encourage the child to articulate the previously read section or chapter. The children are expected to be animated about the story. When beginning the next read aloud, two or three pages are read, enough to include a point in the story. After that, ask the child to narrate. As the child progresses, a day after reading a living book the child should proceed in narration.
Out of Door Time
Miss. Mason was highly in favor of outside time and nature walks. Children are brought outside 4-6 hours a day exploring and observing nature. You can read more about the importance of nature walks here: 7 benefits of nature walks. As soon as a child can keep a nature diary (age 5 or 6) then it is a source of delight for the child.
Nature studies serve as living science in a Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. “There Is no part of a child’s education more important than that he should lay, by his own observation, a wide basis of facts towards scientific knowledge in the future. He must live hours daily in the open air, and, as far as possible in the country; must look and touch and listen; must be quick to know, consciously, every peculiarity of habit or structure, in beast, bird, or insect; the matter of growth and fruitication of every plant. He must be a customed to ask why-Why does the wind blow? Why does the river flow? Why is a leaf-bud sticky?” (Charlotte Mason Home Education pg: 264)
To trial out a Charlotte Mason Style Nature Study check out this Butterfly Nature Study
The language arts of Charlotte’s method include these aspects:
- Written and Oral Narration
Once formal lessons begin, children are taught various arts through music, composer, poetry, picture, and hymns studies.
Miss. Mason was a proponent of habit training. She references fifty different habits to cultivate in our children throughout their childhood. She advices habits of modesty, purity, obedience, sense of honour, neatness, personal cleanliness, physical exercise, and good manners (just to name a few) to develop the childs character. In order for parents to be focused and intentional, Charlotte recommended to keep record of habit training.
I love the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education, how each subject seems to branch into the next. Charlotte’s method is what I mainly use as our spine.
Do you use any part of her methods or all of it?