by Catherine Levison
No doubt about it, the Charlotte Mason method is growing in popularity among home schoolers at an extremely fast pace. But why is this happening?
All methods of home schooling enhance the parents’ knowledge and understanding as they teach their children. Most of us find that to be a rewarding side benefit — for awhile. Eventually though, as the years come and go, we find ourselves repeating core teaching with each child as they advance in age. Depending on the number of children in your home, you’re apt to teach reading, handwriting, grammar, phonics, adding, subtracting, dividing, and fractions more than once or twice, and it might be nice if you covered the Revolutionary War at some point.
Burnout is a sad state of affairs. It has several causes, and one of them is simply growing weary of teaching the same core information over and over again. Burnout can be such a hopeless condition that it is far better to avoid it than to have to find a way out of it. Unfortunately, many home school parents will have to do one or the other.
Charlotte Mason’s ideas and techniques rescued me from burnout. In addition, it has enriched my life as no other home school method could. Parents must continue to teach the core subjects — this is mandatory. However, if you can accomplish that to everybody’s satisfaction and still have ample time to go on to art and music appreciation, nature study, classic literature, poetry, a better understanding of history, and foreign languages, you will find your own education has been enriched along with the children’s.
Typically, public school graduates (which most of us are) did not receive a rich, abundant education. Worse than that, no one seemed to care if we enjoyed the learning process or not. In the Charlotte Mason method we care deeply that the children develop a love for learning. Mason warned the parent to not kill that love. At the same time we expose the children to a wide, generous, lively smorgasbord of an education. We learn along with them because in most cases we, as students, were not exposed to such a wide variety.
So what makes up a Charlotte Mason education? You’re probably already aware that Charlotte was a prolific writer on many subjects with one of her accomplishments being the completion of a six-volume set of books covering the education of children. In the six volumes Mason gave us a multitude of ideas that enable us to reach our children in an effective, thorough, yet loving way. Her writings ran the gamut from infancy to adulthood, covering all the school subjects and some of life’s other concerns such as punctuality, good and bad habits, how to rest, and use our time effectively, to name a few. She thought children deserved a wide curriculum providing a liberal (as in generous) education.
The Charlotte Mason approach is based on the regular core subjects such as the three R’s, and in addition incorporates the fine arts. Children deal directly with the best books, music, and art. They are trained to narrate (tell back) what they learned so that the emphasis is placed on what they do know versus what they do not know. This training in essay-style examinations will better prepare children for adulthood and college.
Some of the other aspects of a Charlotte Mason education include the formation of good habits, keeping a nature diary and a home-made book of the centuries. She advocates the avoidance of “twaddle,” what we might call “dumbed-down” literature, and replaces it with classic literature and noble poetry. Her method includes a unique style of dictation and spelling both of which can be taught for free.
Your home schooling days will become more effective when you employ her method of shorter lessons, which promotes concentration versus dawdling. Children thrive in school when they know there is a definite amount of work to be completed in a definite time. You will also find that most — if not all — of Charlotte Mason’s techniques are inexpensive and adaptable to any home school method that you’re currently using.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catherine Levison — long-time homeschooling mother of five and popular conference speaker to parenting and educational audiences throughout the USA and Canada — is the author of several books on Charlotte Mason-style home education. Visit Catherine Levison’s Amazon Author page here: Levison on Amazon
You can order Levison’s books online at:
- A Charlotte Mason Education: A How-to Manual
- More Charlotte Mason Education
- A Literary Education: An Annotated Book List
NOTE: Stop by and “Like” Charlotte Mason Home Education on Facebook!
Other Articles of Interest: