Who is Charlotte Mason and what are the basics of her education?
Charlotte Mason was a British educator, who, in the late-nineteenth century, published books on education that were both down-to-earth and practical. Her book, “Home Education,” was innovative and influential to other educators of the time.
She fostered the idea that children could be inspired to learn and explore with joy the world around them. Today, many homeschoolers find her ideals are very relevant to their everyday lives and her ideas are practical and inspiring to both parent and child.
Charlotte Mason’s Fundamental Ideas
Charlotte Mason based her philosophy of education upon nine fundamental, practical principles. There are five “DO’s” and two “DON’T’s.”
- DO provide intelligent reading in abundance.
- DO introduce your student to culture and things of beauty — music, nature, poetry, and the arts.
- DO teach your children to narrate, telling you back about their learning experiences in their own words. Notebooking is a part of narration.
- DO build habits that shape your child, and teach the discipline of self-education for joy’s sake.
- DO allow free time to develop as a person instead of a heavy homework load, especially in the younger grades.
- DON’T teach your student to succeed for the sake of a grade; instead, introduce them to things that capture their interest and they will try their best.
- DON’T plan on lecture times of teaching; instead embrace learning together with discussion, experimentation, and narration.
How Do We Measure Education
Charlotte Mason summed up her ideals about education into the phrase, “bringing up” a child. Karen Andreola, in her marvelous book, “A Charlotte Mason Companion,” sums it up this way:
We all wish our children to be well brought up, and when we have come to understand what that means, we know that we need to go beyond simply fitting the child with the basic skills to make a living . . . First and foremost in importance is the power to live the life God has given in the way God intended. In order to have this power, a person must be at his best in his heart, mind, and soul. He must know how to choose good and how to refuse evil.
We, as persons, are not enlightened by means of multiple-choice tests or grades, but rather by the other people in our lives that we have come to know, admire, and love… Children are inspired by relationships, and this helps form their personalities. And so, throughout their educational life, we put them in touch with persons, places, and things…When you give your child a Charlotte Mason-style education, you will be endowing them with the substantial things of our culture, and their interest in these things will naturally spill out, like a cup running over, into their leisure activities, even as they enter adulthood.
Children have the same needs as an adult — to have meaningful work that excites and motivates them to achieve more and more. Charlotte believed that traditional educational systems — designed for demonstrated success through testing — denied children the opportunity to grow in their souls. Education should strive to introduce a student to that which expands their knowledge and understanding of the world in a way that shapes them to be the person God intended them to be.
So lets dive deep into some of CM’s ideas!
If you talk to anyone about Charlotte Mason, the first thing they’ll mention will be her advocacy of — in her words — “Living Books.” Charlotte believed that a child needed to read books of quality that were written by people who loved their subject matter and brought their subject alive through action and character development. She felt that stories communicated to readers in a way that would excite, be remembered, and induce them to further interest in self-education. You’ll find the wonderful books we’ve chosen will help you toward these goals!
Introduce your student to the finer things of life, things of beauty and grace, and you will develop in them a taste for these things and a distaste for things that degrade and sully their lives. Our programs attempt to draw in these aspects to your students’ education, and our four-day schedule allows you time to delve into music and art as a separate pursuit.
Narration is the art of “telling back.” To some extent this ability is inborn in our children. From their earliest childhood they tell us what just happened to them, or what their best friend just told them. Often we as parents are guilty of stemming their enthusiasm for relating to us in this way, when in fact, this skill, if encouraged to blossom and disciplined to be a part of their education, becomes an integral part of their understanding and an opportunity for reinforcement. Parents are encouraged to integrate narration into the program along the way as a habit, and we’ve even included different narration ideas for greater variety.
A great way to “narrate” is in written form. Notebooking has become popular among homeschoolers as a great way to reinforce student studies. Our “Make-Your-Own” history series and “Timelines in History” are exclusive resources designed to help your student learn the joys of notebooking.
Discipline & Free Time Fundamental to Charlotte’s approach is her belief that education needed a proper balance between the discipline of good habits and free time to enjoy. Our daily schedule will help you implement the daily discipline needed to acquaint younger students with the necessity of a habit of study. As students progress, our independent study schedules will allow you to make them accountable to complete their work according to a list for which they are responsible. Finally, high schoolers also have an independent study regime that will build the skills needed to easily move on to more education. And, all of the schedules we’ve created, allow, we believe, plenty of the free time Charlotte advocated.
All of our resources are designed to keep you interacting with your student for much of their studies. Time spent cuddling on the couch, reading together, contrasts well with the times you’ll work together to complete hands-on activities, or, as the student grows older, research activities. Watching an educational DVD, listening to a music CD together or preparing historical recipes all involve family time … and family memories. WinterPromise is committed to bringing together the perfect balance of resources to keep your family excited, interested, and sane!