Charlotte Mason was a British Educator at the turn of the 20th Century who was passionate in her determination to lay out the foundations for an effective and complete homeschooling programme.
The quote by Charlotte Mason “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life” is what drove her educational approach and also the formation of habit training.
What is the Charlotte Mason Method?
The method focuses on the core subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic but with an emphasis placed on classical literature, poetry, fine arts, classical music and craft.
Charlotte Mason placed a great emphasis on the reading of books which were high-quality literature which she called “Living Books”. A “living book” is one that makes the subject come alive and spark the imagination rather than using a textbook or what she referred to as “twaddle” books.
The Charlotte Mason Approach
The lessons within the Charlotte Mason method are often short allowing the children to focus. For example if the child is six years old a lesson may only be five to ten minutes whilst for a twelve year old the length of the lesson could be forty minutes, depending on the child and how long they are able to focus.
Literature and Narration
Charlotte Mason method encourages a passionate awareness of literature. The process of reading aloud to children from the ‘Living Books’ which bring to them amazing stories of other times and cultures begins when children are young. After the reading the child is asked to narrate what she or he has heard or draw a picture. This process begins at the age of six, and by ten the child is expected to write their narrations in their book.
Copywork and dictation
Copywork and dictation are used within the Charlotte Mason curriculum for the study of English, spelling and grammar. The child is to copy from the works of literature and as they grow older tthis changes to dictation where the parent reads a passage and the child writes down what is spoken.
Art and Music Appreciation
Emphasis is placed on art and music appreciation within this method. Mason advocated that children should study a painting or listen to a piece of music and then describe what they had seen or heard.
Free time in the afternoon is a part of the this homeschool approach and children are encouraged to play outside or partake in a form of craft such as sewing, drawing or other type of craft work. Nature plays a large part in the Charlotte Mason method and children are encouraged to spend as much time outside as possible. The use of nature diaries or journals are advocated.and the children are encouraged to draw observations from nature. In this manner the child gains a sense of respect for their environment,
Mason believed that development of good character and behavior was essential to the complete development of the child’s personality. Today, you can find Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool curriculum in many subject areas including math and science.
For further information about Charlotte Mason based curriculum have a look at Ambleside Online which has a free home school curriculum that uses Charlotte Mason’s classically-based principles.