I heard about the Charlotte Mason method of homeschool early in my homeschool career. My daughter was in Kindergarten and several of the mothers in my homeschool group used the Charlotte Mason Method. I preferred using a standard curriculum, however, as I was new, nervous, and still afraid of ruining my daughter’s life!
However, about a year later, we had moved to another town. And as luck would have it, our house backed up to the local elementary school. One day as my daughter sat at the kitchen table doing her studies, I looked out at the school, and I suddenly had the thought – why exactly am I homeschooling? I knew that having her at home was way better than having her in school for a variety of reasons, but with that perspective, I decided that I wanted to do more than just give her a school-based education at home – I wanted to give her something more. Something that she couldn’t get even at the best of schools, something that only one on one time at home with me could provide – and so I started to look more into other forms of homeschooling, rather than just using a private or Christian based curriculum at home.
The Charlotte Mason method was exactly what I was looking for – using living books instead of textbooks, helping the kids to learn knowledge of the subject, not just memorize a few facts, and most importantly – working to develop the child as a whole – spiritually, intellectually, creatively, and physically. I knew immediately that the Charlotte Mason method would be perfect for our homeschool.
What is the Charlotte Mason Method?
The first thing you need to do has become familiar with the Charlotte Mason Method. There are plenty of books that can help, but the Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte Mason is the best, although a long read (six volumes). You can also purchase shorter versions or notes of her series if you want the speed reading version of her philosophy.
Basically, Charlotte was a British educator who believed that education should be about more than just memorizing facts, passing an exam, training for a job, or getting into the right college. Charlotte Mason believed that education was a discipline and a way of life. The goal of education was to find out who we were and how we fit into the world of human beings and into the universe God created.
Charlotte Mason believed (and I agree) that children are able to deal with ideas and knowledge. Children are not simply blank slates or empty sacks to be filled with information that has been pre-filtered by a middleman (teacher or textbook writer.) A Charlotte Mason education includes first-hand exposure to great and noble ideas through living books, not textbooks in each school subject, and through art, music, and poetry.
However, the Charlotte Mason Method is a very carefully planned out method where books are chosen for their value and ideas, and the child is given directed reading and study each day in several areas. The child is expected to not just read the books, but to be able to narrate what they have read as a sign of comprehension. Younger children will do the oral narration, while older children write out their narration. (Such a difference from the prevailing method of education that checks whether or not children can repeat information through memorization, but no thought is given as to whether or not they actually understand the information!)
So if you are looking for a homeschool method that will do more than just provide an education, but develop your child spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and more, the Charlotte Mason method may be just the thing for you!