Saturday, January 31, 2015

Why We Love Charlotte Mason...and a few suggestions for the Early Years

The more I learn about Charlotte Mason and her education philosophy, the more I love her!!! 

First of all, she was British, which is huge in my book, since I love all things British. :) 

Charlotte was alive in the 1800s and into the early 1900s. She was a major influence in the reform of the British education system and believed that all children had the right to a quality education, regardless of social status. She had a school where she taught governesses and teachers and her philosophy of education spread all across Britain. (For a more extensive bio on Charlotte visit )

Now this is where her philosophy really strikes a cord with me. Charlotte believed that children were persons that were to be valued. This might not seem revolutionary to us, but in a time of "children should be seen and not heard" this was huge. She believed that the whole child should be educated, not just the mind. Her methods were gentle, but not "light" or easy. She had a high standard for her students, but her methods took great care to not squelch any desire for learning. For more on her philosophy go here...

Some Charlotte Mason distinctive:
  • Charlotte was a Christian and believed that God was to be found in each subject, since He is in fact the author and creator of all things. 
  • Her method of teaching history was chronological, used living books and narration, and used THE living book-- The Bible. 
  • Across the subjects she used living books as much as possible. 
  • Great quality literature was introduced to the child at an early age. She had a high view of children and did not want them reading anything that talked down to them or that was sub par literature. 
  • She spread a feast of subjects before the students: art study, composer study, hymn and folk study, poetry study, Shakespeare, foreign language, physical exercise of sorts, and nature study, art instruction, music instruction, handicrafts. 
  • She kept subjects short, about 15-20 minutes (or shorter) for younger children, and gradually increased the time as children got older. This helped them to develop the habit of attention and best effort. This also allowed time to spread such a great feast of subjects before the children. 
  • She emphasized good habits for children, especially in the early years. She said if children had developed good habits in the early years, such as obedience, attention, and best effort, this would make for "smooth and easy days" during the schooling years. 
  • Charlotte was a Christian naturalist and put a high priority on nature study and time in the out doors. She liked preschool age children to spend up to 6 hours or more outside, and recommended that all children spend at least an hour outside each day and spent time each week doing a nature study.
  • Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic are also taught, but she had gentle methods that were suited to continue to develop the child's desire for learning.  
  • You can use the "one room schoolhouse" approach for most subjects to keep your family together for a good portion of the schooling. 
  • Overall, Charlotte wanted the children to develop relationships with living books and with things. She wanted the children to develop relations with God's creation, the world around them, and great living books and ideas.  
  • Bonus: The method is financially feasible. You can get most of your books from the library, or ebay for very cheap. Also, many of the books recommended can be found free online. 

1. Get outside. Explore.

That's it. Think you can handle that??? But really, Charlotte had a very gentle approach for the early years and didn't promote formal schooling until age 6, or 1st grade. 

Many people have added in a few other things that Charlotte placed priority on or that their children express great interest in, but basically just get them outside exploring nature and the world around them and you are doing great.

BUT, if you need a few more suggestions that you want to consider gently adding into your preschool homeschooling years here are a few... 

2. Concentrate on developing good habits (character/virtue), read great literature out loud to your children, and read the Bible.

3. Spread a feast before them of handicrafts, art, music, and poetry.

4. If the child shows interest in math, reading, or writing, gently introduce those. Remember to keep the subjects short, and use gentle methods of teaching.

That's it!!! Charlotte didn't recommend formal schooling until the age of 6, so anything you do before then isn't even necessary (according to Charlotte). 

Resources to get you started or help you learn more about the Charlotte Mason method:
Free Resources from Simply Charlotte Mason
Quick Reads to get you started
My "early years" pinterest board
Early Years blog series  
Preschool resources for purchase

New to Homeschooling? Use this to learn more about all of the methods

To see what we are using for our Charlotte Mason preschool/kindergarten you can click here.

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