Friday, June 28, 2013

Homeschool Methods: Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason was a Christian British educator who lived in the late 1800s/early 1900s.  In many ways, she was far ahead of her time, as she thought all children deserved a wide and varied curriculum that would not only engage their minds, but enrich their lives; no matter their station or background.   Today, those that follow her methods, use her name in describing their home schools or public/private schools.

Charlotte Mason advocated the use of living books (well written, engaging, whole books) in education and said that education was a life, a discipline and an atmosphere.  She thought that children should come mind to mind with the best authors through their books and primarily used great books to study most subjects.  Children in her schools studied artists, composers, foreign languages, poetry, Shakespeare, nature and handicrafts alongside the Bible, literature, history, science, mathematics and writing.

Charlotte Mason set out twenty principles she used in developing her educational philosophy, and these can be read at the Ambleside  (AO) site.  In fact, all six of the books Charlotte Mason wrote on education can be read at AO in the original text or as a modern paraphrase.

Those that use a Charlotte Mason (CM) method in homeschooling generally use whole books for as many subjects as possible, engage children through age appropriate lesson times that develop the habit of (full) attention, use narration to help cement learning and gauge understanding, and provide a broad and generous curriculum.  There are other distinctives of a CM education (such as nature study), and there is so much wonderful information available online, that I will simply link to some of the best sites I've found below.
  • Ambleside Online-Here you can find the full texts of Charlotte Mason's writings, many articles from the Parent's Review, and a free curriculum guide
  • Simply Charlotte Mason-Another site with abundant information about CM and CM methods.  A free curriculum guide is available here as well.
  • Charlotte Mason Help- A free curriculum guide is available here as well as numerous articles written by a home educator about how she implements CM methods in her family
  • Mater Amabilis-A free Catholic CM curriculum guide is available here
  • Milestones Academy-CM resource for LDS families-free curriculum guide available here
  • Penny Gardner's website-Lots of great book lists and articles on CM education
  • ChildLight USA- Blog, articles, lectures and home to the annual Charlotte Mason Educational Conference (also working to develop a CM curriculum)
  • Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Headquarters on Squidoo-Lots of links and resources compiled by Jimmie (all of her pages on Squidoo are excellent!)
  • The Tanglewood School Curriculum-Classical and CM curriculum
  • Secular CM- Resources for those who wish to utilize CM methods in a secular home school
Curricula that utilize CM methods available through publishers:
Although reading Charlotte Mason's own writings will give the clearest understanding of her methods, there are numerous books available that are also helpful in understanding a CM education.  Some to look for at your library or local bookstore are:

This article is a part of series of overviews on different homeschool methods.  As many homeschoolers are eclectic in method and materials chosen, hopefully highlights from this series will offer insight into what is available to families educating children at home so that they might choose what will best meet the goals they have set for their family. 

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