Using The Charlotte Mason Method To Homeschool?
I don’t call myself a Charlotte Mason purist but I have been using her methods for over 16 years and still I continue to find nuggets of gold in her teaching. Finding her method was a breath of fresh air to my homeschool. You can read my story of homeschool failure and finding the Charlotte Mason Method here…To School or Not to School?
Who and What is the Charlotte Mason Method?
Charlotte Mason was a highly respected Christian British educator in the late nineteenth century. She offered an alternative method of education to the traditional model common in her time. Her methods were often adopted by middle-class parents teaching their children at home and by upper-class families who frequently used governesses. Many schools (mostly private) also implemented her methods with great success.
Charlotte Mason founded the House of Education, a teaching college for governesses in Ambleside, in the Lake District of England. She also wrote a six volume series on educating children. Her books are available today and are known as The Original Home Schooling Series.
Charlotte Mason’s books were well received, for they offered practical teaching ideas and taught the teacher how to give children a generous and rich education. Paramount in Charlotte Mason’s philosophy was fostering children’s relationship and knowledge of God.
“Charlotte Mason’s vision was for a “liberal education for all,” and the practical truth has always been and still is that there is not time to make classics scholars of every pupil, besides the fact that not everyone is suited to such studies. There is time, however, to do more than the “Three R’s,” which are no more than a utilitarian acquisition of basic skills, and to give every student a rich feast of the best knowledge the world has to offer: a liberal or generous education.”
Charlotte Mason also emphasised the importance of the home environment, teaching with books and respect for the child. The Charlotte Mason method has been revived with the resurgence of the Christian homeschooling movement. It is now one of the most popular homeschool methods. Many home educators have adopted her teaching philosophies and techniques and this is what we call The Charlotte Mason Method.
Charlotte Mason Teaching Techniques
In brief the Charlotte Mason’s teaching style is based on using real books for teaching children, she called them living books. She believed good literature should form the basis of most lessons.
For Language Arts lessons children began with copywork for handwriting and progressed to dictation. Children learnt their spelling, punctuation and grammar from the good models used. She worked on improving a child’s mind and memory. After readings children were encouraged to tell back at first and later write what they remembered from reading. She called this narration.
Geography and science began by observing nature. She wanted children outdoors when possible learning and studying nature. Science books and geography books were also carefully selected living books. They included biographies and travel guides. History was taught using historical narratives and not from textbooks. Historical fiction encouraged children to get to know periods of history.
Homeschool art lessons included picture study, nature journaling and notebook sketches.
Charlotte Mason’s main method of recording learning was through notebooking. Textbooks were not used.
Exams using the Charlotte Mason Method were not given to work out what a child didn’t know but to work out what they did.
How We Applied Charlotte Mason In Our Homeschool
Reading through my blog you will find oodles of stories of how we have used Charlotte Mason in our homeschool. We also have many resources that support the Charlotte Mason method. Here are a few suggestions:
Learning Her Method
Let her teach you how to be a good homeschool teacher. Even though there is a great deal of information about her method on the internet, I’d still like to encourage you to take a more methodical approach. Some good places to start are:
- looking at Charlotte Mason’s Twenty Principles of education
- reading some Charlotte Mason how to homeschool books. My favourite is A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
- reading her educational manifesto,
- applying some of her teaching techniques to your lessons.