When I first started researching homeschooling, I had no clue there were so many styles and options out there. Montessori, Waldorf, unschooling, classical- the list goes on and on! I had a vague idea of what I wanted our school to be like, but I wasn’t sure how to achieve it or if that style had a name. After extensive reading and maybe even a few of those “Find Your Homeschooling Style” quizzes, I discovered Charlotte Mason. Let me tell you why we chose the Charlotte Mason method.
Who Was Charlotte Mason?
Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the 1800s. She believed that a broad education should be given to all children, not just the wealthy. She created a philosophy of educating children that is much different than the standard of education today. You won’t find multiple choice quizzes, fill in the blank worksheets, or loads of homework with a Charlotte Mason education. What you will find is a feast of subjects, living books, narration, and more. Let me break down what I love about the Charlotte Mason method of education.
Why We Chose the Charlotte Mason Method
- Living Books- Charlotte Mason believed most teaching should be done from living books rather than dry textbooks. What is a living book? The definition may vary from family to family, but typically a living book is one by a single author who is passionate and knowledgeable about a certain subject. It’s not a fact-filled textbook. A living book is one that you don’t mind to read over and over again because it leaves an impact on you in some way.
- There is a “feast” of subjects. With a Charlotte Mason education, you’re not just studying math, science, and reading. Of course, these subjects are important and should be studied, but there are so many other subjects that create a well rounded education! With the Charlotte Mason method, the student can also study subjects like artists and their famous works, composers, folk songs, hymns, and poetry. You aren’t limited to a few core subjects.
- Emphasis on time outdoors. Charlotte Mason once said, “Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.” I am a firm believer in plenty of fresh air and time outdoors for children (and adults!) Charlotte Mason believed that children should spend most of their day outdoors observing nature and learning about their surroundings. There are tons of studies that show how vital outdoor play is for children (especially young children), so knowing Charlotte Mason was an advocate for plenty of time in nature was a major selling point for me.
- Emphasis on character/habit formation. Charlotte Mason said, “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.” I think we all as parents hope that our children will grow up with good habits and good moral character, but this cannot be formed just by our hopes and good intentions. The Charlotte Mason method suggests working on instilling good habits in our children prior to beginning formal lessons. She said, “The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children.” Habit training requires constant guidance, correction, and consistency, but don’t we all long for (mostly) smooth and easy days?
- Short Lessons. With the Charlotte Mason method, lessons are kept short to keep the attention of the student. If the student is giving their full attention, they are able to give their best work for the short duration of the lesson. For the early years, lessons are typically 10-15 minutes. This is great especially if you have a wiggly child! Short lessons also free up the afternoon leaving time for handicrafts or time outdoors.
- Relationship with Christ is at the forefront of education. Charlotte Mason said, “This idea of all education springing from and resting upon our relation to Almighty God- we do not merely give a religious education because that would seem to imply he possibility of some other education, a secular education, for example. But we hold that all education is divine, that every good gift of knowledge and insight comes from above, that the Lord the Holy Spirit is the supreme educator of mankind, and that the culmination of all education (which may at the same time be reached by a little child) is that personal knowledge of and intimacy with God in which our being finds its fullest perfection.” To Charlotte Mason, a child’s education and spiritual life were intertwined. We want our children to see God’s hand in all things. It is important that we are able to build a strong, Godly foundation for our children alongside their education.
- Handicrafts. With a Charlotte Mason education, there is time allotted to learn different handicrafts. Handicrafts aren’t just your typical preschool toilet paper tube crafts. Handicrafts are a useful skill such as knitting, baking, woodworking, or embroidery. There are so many amazing handicraft options out there for your kids to learn, plus you may even pick up a new hobby yourself!
- Narration- Narration is a hallmark of a Charlotte Mason education. Narration is a retelling of a reading in the student’s own words. The child must be attentive and listen closely to the reading to be able to narrate back what they heard. Narration takes the place of quizzes on the material covered- you’re immediately hearing if your child has picked up what was read or not.
I could go on and on about why the Charlotte Mason method provides an incredible, well rounded education. These reasons were the main ones that stood out to me, but I highly encourage you to dig deeper into the Charlotte Mason method and find the reasons that stick out to you for your family. As I said before, there are so many homeschooling styles out there, so I definitely want to encourage you to do your research and find what best suits your family.
If you are looking for additional resources on homeschooling or more reading on the Charlotte Mason method, check out my blog post about my favorite homeschooling books here: https://abundantlifehomestead.com/best-homeschooling-books/
So, let me know- do you use the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling? What style of homeschooling is your favorite? Comment below and don’t forget to subscribe for emails on future updates,