What is the Charlotte Mason Method?
This is one of the most popular methods in homeschooling. Firstly, to answer this question, we need to look at who Charlotte Mason was?
She was an educator in the 1800’s and had a firm belief that all children were entitled to an education. This was the era where status in the community determined whether you were educated (rich) or were taught a trade (poor). She taught at the Davison School in Worthing, England for 10 years where she developed the idea for a “liberal education for all” and wanted a more broader education system where the poor where able to access better education. She saw that children should be taught as a whole person and not just the mind. That education is not about curriculum but a philosophy, or way of life and that once this grasped that any curriculum can be adapted to fit it. The three-pronged approach is “education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life”.
That the home needs to be a safe place for the child in which to learn, observe and process this information to have the ability to learn. One-third of a child’s education is based on how the parent role-models their own life. Child learn by observing around them so if it’s calm, relaxing, allowing for mistakes to happen, to explore this will create a learning environment for observing. Creating the right atmosphere is the first step.
The second-third of a child’s education is discipline, in this we are talking about habits that develops a child’s character. She believed that learning good habits naturally lead to developing good character that results in future successes for the child. She believes formation of habits start at a very young age, generally by the mother with guidance through training with repetition and motivation. This will build the foundation for the child’s life.
This is the final third of a child ‘s education, here we are talking about living books, these are books that provoke ideas and are not just facts in a book. Often are story-based books that look at a whole subject area, not just one topic by an author who tends to have a passion for that subject matter. These books are filled with real life experiences, they can provoke emotions and curiosity in children which helps children to shape their thoughts. Most living books are classical literature, biographies and autobiographies, scripture and poetry. No subject area is left unturned as you can look at artists to composers, classical writers, Shakespeare, knitting and crocheting, nature and plants, languages, algebra and so much more.
Charlotte Mason method uses short 20-minute lessons per subject in young levels and can be increased to 45 minutes in the older years. When a child’s eyes glaze over, it’s time to stop as you need to keep the mind fresh. Spending time outdoors feels good for the child as it’s a place where a child is about to learn by observing nature. Other aspects in this method are copywork. This is where children are given passages to rewrite from great literature, poetry, scripture and quotes. These passages help a child to reinforce these ideas but as well develop handwriting, grammar, spelling and vocabulary. The formal method of teaching grammar is dictation, it comes with technique or rules, but by sticking to these rules you will find that children will learn grammar rules, spelling, sentence formation as well as listening skills. Charlotte used narration to determine if a child understood what they had read. Rather than using worksheets and filling in answers, children are asked to narrate back what they had learnt from a book. Most children have no issue in speaking about what they have learnt, retelling a story or information they have recalled, and this can help in moving this learnt information into long term memory. Art plays an important role in this method and artists should be studied. Picture Study is picking one artist to study over a term, observe one work from that artist per week. Allow your child to observe the picture and then remove the picture and ask the child to describe the picture. You can do this several times that week to allow the child to get better at remembering and describing. As children show more interest in an artist you can research more. Music appreciationis the same as picture study but using sound and listening. Seeing if children can pick out individual instruments within the music.