Gentle, natural, whole-person education…does that appeal to you? If so you might love Charlotte Mason homeschooling!
What is Charlotte Mason Homeschooling?
Charlotte Mason homeschooling prioritizes:
Children are not just brains to train; they are multi-dimensional people. Their education should focus on mind, body, and heart.
Children gravitate to stories, so why not teach children through a well-told story? These “living books” of narrative literature will make learning not only memorable but delightful.
Steeped in Nature
Nature is the largest classroom. Children observe nature and spend plenty of time outdoors.
Narration, copy work, journaling, and dictation all help a child learn.
Appreciation of the Arts
Music, arts, and nature study are valued components of a Charlotte Mason education.
Modern Language Instruction
No Latin here…Charlotte Mason emphasizes “living languages.” She taught her pupils French.
Who was Charlotte Mason?
I know what you’re thinking, “Ok, so who is this lady?” Charlotte Mason was a British teacher born in 1843. She spent her early years as a teacher in the traditional school system, which educated children according to class. If you were poor, you learned a trade. Period.
Charlotte Mason disliked this idea; she thought all children deserved a broad-based education that emphasized reading, nature, observation, and wonder. She recognized the role parents play in education. Her lectures to parents on the nature and training of children were later published as a series of books.
Later in life, she founded her own teaching college. As she trained educators according to her methods, more and more schools chose to follow her approach.
Charlotte Mason-style education has surged in the US in the last thirty years, particularly among homeschoolers who value gentle, purposeful, whole-person education.
Benefits of Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
Charlotte Mason is a popular style of homeschooling because it appeals to children and parents alike. Here’s why:
Charlotte Mason did not believe in repetitive drilling and busywork. It is of more value to try your absolute best once than to complete ten half-hearted repetitions. Not only does this encourage high-quality work, but it also condenses the lesson time. This allows children plenty of free time to pursue their own interests.
Because Charlotte Mason encouraged “living books,” children only read quality literature. This makes them love literature and not see books as tiresome or boring.
Children shouldn’t stay inside all day. Time outside to explore, observe, and contemplate is more than just educational, it is soul-filling. Children learn to appreciate and love the outdoors.
Music and art are not just niceties–they are instrumental in developing the whole person. Children develop an appreciation for the arts, which in turn feeds their natural creativity.
The ability to summarize a story in your own words (also called “narration”) is key to developing self-expression.
Practical Grammar and Spelling
Children are practically taught grammar and spelling. Copywork allows children to correctly model grammar and spelling. Dictation exposes the child’s mistakes so she can quickly correct them.
How to Start Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
Follow these steps to start homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way:
Step 1: Get to Know Charlotte
Charlotte Mason homeschooling requires some brain re-training. Her approach is very different from the traditional school model. Start on the right track by reading up on her philosophy and methods.
Step 2: Stock Your Shelves…or Your Kindle
You will need to invest in some “living books.” These are more than just engaging stories. They teach character, art appreciation, science, geography–you name it! The good news is that many are available free on your Kindle or Nook. Investing in an electronic reader for each child could end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.
Step 3: Plan Your Day Without Electronics
A typical Charlotte Mason schedule involves formal learning in the morning and free time in the afternoon. This free time does not mean your child can zone out on screens. It is time for him to find and develop his passions: building, gardening, music, crafts, reading, or spending time in nature.
Helpful Books on Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
These books will fully equip you to homeschool with a Charlotte Mason approach. In fact, several of the books are by Charlotte Mason herself!
Home Education (Volume 1) by Charlotte Mason
This is the first book on home education by the expert herself. It is a detailed explanation of Charlotte Mason techniques, geared especially for kids age 9 and under.
Parents and Children (Volume 2) by Charlotte Mason
In this second book by Charlotte Mason, she outlines the role of the parent. Parents are leaders, inspirers, teachers, and trainers of culture and character.
The Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason
This book outlines the Charlotte Mason philosophy, so you can understand the why of your schooling choice. Topics include her three instruments of education: Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.
Formation of Character (Volume 5) by Charlotte Mason
Charlotte Mason placed a great emphasis on character education. This book differs from the others in that it is a collection of living stories (stories that teach) that will inform and inspire children to be people of excellent character.
Elementary Geography by Charlotte Mason
Charlotte Mason begins her geography lessons not with a map but by asking the child to observe local geography. It is full of poetry, stories, and conversational instruction.
A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola
Karen Andreola is a pioneer of Charlotte Mason homeschooling in the US, and her personal examples and experience make this book a treasure trove of practical advice and encouragement.
A Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual by Catherine Levison
If you want the nuts and bolts of how to start Charlotte Mason homeschooling, this book has it all. Curriculum for every grade, weekly schedules, and a condensed version of Charlotte Mason’s ideas on schooling.
Homeschooling Charlotte Mason Style
Charlotte Mason homeschooling is natural, appealing, and tailored to a child’s development. Start reading, exploring, and enjoying education again with this time-tested model.