Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Stepping Off The Beaten Path" - Week 4

Photo courtesy of Google Image

"Education is a discipline-that is, the discipline of the good habits in which the child is trained.  Education is a life, nourished upon ideas; and education is an atmosphere-that is, the child breathes the atmosphere emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives"
~ Charlotte Mason

You don't have to be homeschooling for very long before you hear a certain name thrown around by other homeschoolers or come across it while researching online.  And perhaps you have heard it enough times that you want to learn a little more about this Charlotte....wait what is her last name again....oh yes, Charlotte Mason!

Charlotte Mason, a British educator, lived from 1842-1923.  She left behind an abundance of resources, writings, and information regarding children and education.  In fact, google "Charlotte Mason" and watch out, information overload!  

  I have Charlotte Mason to thank for the changes I have made in my homeschooling efforts and philosophies.  Charlotte Mason's educational approach certainly doesn't line up with traditional education as we know it today, in fact its opposite to the education I received.  Yet it has transformed how I homeschool and brought a love of learning into our home!

Even though Charlotte Mason is from a completely different era her teachings have certainly stood the test of time.  In fact, as the homeschool community continues to grow by leaps and bounds, it is her very teachings, techniques, principals, and methods that are being embraced by so many.  For me personally, the more I learned about Charlotte Mason and her educational beliefs, the more excited and passionate I became about homeschooling (yes "passionate" and "homeschooling" can be said in the same sentence!)

I truly believe that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to education.  Therefore, I would never push the Charlotte Mason approach as the "only" way to homeschool (and I don't incorporate ALL of her methods myself).  I would, however, recommend doing your own research concerning Charlotte Mason!  Perhaps you will find a few of her techniques and practical insights to be useful and beneficial to mesh with whatever style you are currently using!

Here are just a few of Charlotte Mason's beliefs:
  • "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life"
  • She valued children and believed they had very capable minds. 
  • The very key to education was "the love of learning".
  • Children should read whole/living books. 
  • Concentrated, short lessons.
  • Parents read aloud & the child narrates what they learned.
  • Daily contact with nature/nature study.
  • Copywork is used for handwriting practice.
  • Children should hear or read the Bible everyday.
  • Art/Music Study through regular exposure to artists/composers.
  • Formal Grammar should be introduced around age 10. 
  • Instilling good habits in our children.
"the habits of the child produce the character of the man . . .every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend." - Charlotte Mason

If you are intrigued with the Charlotte Mason education and want to make changes to your current curriculum, but have no idea where to start, may I recommend one resource that has been a huge blessing for us -  Queen Homeschool.  The Queen family is a homeschool family with 6 children.  They write much of their own curriculum, which they use with their own children, all with a CM flavor!   
    Let me recap a few thoughts from this series:
  • Consider your educational upbringing and its influence on how you homeschool.
  • Seek the Lord & be open to the unique educational path he has for your family.
  • Don't be afraid to "step off the beaten path" of whats familiar and comfortable.
  • Relationship with your kids is of greater significance than using the "perfect" curriculum or following a specific educational style/approach!

A few CM resources:

Thank you so much for joining me in this 4 week blog series!

Coming Soon: A 36 week, Charlotte Mason inspired,  Narration & Creative Art curriculum!!


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  1. Another good intoduction to Charlotte Mason is the book, For the Children's Sake, by Susan Schaeffer McCauley. She is the daughter of Francis Schaeffer. She lives/lived (?) in England, and discovered Charlotte Mason's education methods while living there there.