by Maggie Dail
After teaching in private, Christian schools for years nearly 20 years, I entered the homeschool world in 1994. Early on I learned about the Charlotte Mason approach to learning. Charlotte Mason (1842 – 1923) was an educator in England. Many of the years I have worked with homeschooling families, I have offered elementary classes using Charlotte Mason methods. Here are the reasons why I have used this approach:
The Charlotte Mason Approach…
1….uses whole and living books.
Children learn so much from whole original books. For instance, a regular history textbook is a summary of what the authors believe to be the important points. Authors must discard much in order to get everything into the history book. By editing material in this fashion much of the interesting narrative is gone. For many, the regular history textbook is very dry and uninteresting. Students using the Charlotte Mason approach read or listen to great classical writings.
To measure what children understand, the parent / teacher encourages them to “narrate” what has been read. By telling the important parts of the reading, the children demonstrate what they have learned. Alternatively, tests tend to show what the children do not know, rather than what they do know.
3….has the children make Books of Centuries.
As the students read whole, living books and learn about different events, dates, and people, they place them in their personal Century Book in their own words and drawings. Each open page covers one century. I have had students make Books of Time with an open page for a decade. Either way, you give your child a means to see how different moments in history relate to one another. This helps the student to understand general concepts in history and have a reference point for key details.
4….has the children keep a Nature Journal and go on Nature Walks.
Even in Britain, Charlotte Mason recommended that families go on nature walks daily. We now know that taking walks in the great out-of-doors is a healthy thing to do. While on those walks, children drew pictures of animals, plants and other things in nature. Aside from science knowledge and drawing skill, they become keen observers, an important science and living skill.
5….gives the children opportunities to learn using short lessons.
In this method students are exposed to and learn many subjects, but spending short times for each subject. These short lessons gradually build as the children mature. Making frequent changes in content, the brain can concentrate longer.
6….encourages study of themes from Classical Education, including memorization of poetry, logic and multiple foreign languages.
7…. can be used along with a Unit Study that you create.
8….is adaptable for use with multiple ages and works well with both large or small groups of children.
Books that have been helpful in my understanding of the Charlotte Mason Approach:
A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreaola
For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
For the Love of Learning by Jenny Sockey
All are available on: http://www.amazon.com
All in all we see that Charlotte Mason had a keen understanding of her students and communicated it well with those who teach children.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maggie Dail and her husband, Ronnie, operate the Center for Neuro Development in Lakewood, Washington which is affiliated with Family Academy. They home schooled two foster sons and have worked with home schooling families for nearly 20 years. Maggie earned her M.A. in Special Education in 1989 and has taught for nearly 40 years. http://www.homeschoolhelps.com
Family Academy offers an online home school parent’s course that includes more information about different approaches to homeschooling.
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