If you’ve been reading here long, you know that our classical-style homeschool is modeled closely after the beautiful, natural Charlotte Mason Philosophy and Method of Education. Yet, if you were like me a few short years ago, just beginning your homeschool journey, you may be wondering who IS this Charlotte Mason lady, and what do her methods look like exactly?

 

Where to Begin?
This topic is vast, and I could write much about how our home life and home education changed for the better since we began pursuing a CM education with our young ones, but for now, I wanted to share my favorite CM resources and also present you with a summary of her key ideas so you can get started researching on your own.

Recommended Charlotte Mason Resources:

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
I often say that this gracious and inspirational book was a total “game changer” for me, both as a mother and as a home-educator. It is a short and simple read, and was my first introduction to the Charlotte Mason Philosophy. The author’s beliefs and experiences about child-rearing and educating were based upon the methods and principles of a woman I’d never heard of…who was Charlotte Mason exactly? It left me wanting to learn more and once I did, it took my homeschool atmosphere from rigid, arduous and sometimes artificial, to relaxed, adventurous, and full of life. I highly recommend this book to any mama.

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The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
Another tremendous resource, each chapter speaks truth and has you nodding in agreement as you see yourself and your own children in the experiences shared by this renowned home-education mama, who sought to provide her children with a true Charlotte Mason learning experience (and did so, quite successfully). You will be encouraged with many practical tips and ideas for implementing Miss Mason’s “gentle art of learning.”

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Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook by Sonya Shafer
Here’s another great resource to keep on hand that lays out Charlotte Mason’s philosophy about discipline. This was a great help to me as I began early on, to build strong habits in the 12 areas that Charlotte Mason wrote about in her Home Education series. This book presents strategies and tips, with original quotes from Charlotte weaved throughout. The margins allow for note-taking, which I have found to be helpful as well.

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Favorite Online Charlotte Mason Resources:

Ambleside Online
Are you curious to know which types of curricula are considered “Charlotte Mason approved?” How about detailed book lists (all living books of course!) by grade level and subject from Year 1 through High School?  Poetry selections, dozens of free online books including CM’s original 6 Homeschool Volumes–you’ll find this and so much more at my favorite CM online resource–Ambleside Online.  Just the supplemental reading suggestions alone are worth it, but I’ve also used it to check to see if a particular Math curriculum I’m interested in fits within the CM philosophy.  Truly an incredible resource, so be sure to check it out.

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Simply Charlotte Mason

Want to have your child’s learning schedule broken down so that you are guided as to when to teach each subject and how? Check out SCM’s free curriculum planners and schedules as well as many other free resources.   Or perhaps you have some questions about CM methods?  At SCM you’ll find discussion forums containing Q&A from other parents and home educators in practically every topic imaginable, from how to build habits with your kids to making nature walks a regular part of your day, to discovering how to use the powerful tools of copy-work and narration in your homeschool–it’s all there, with practical suggestions so you can get started today.

I continually return to these two free, online resource hubs for guidance and I am certain you will love them both.

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Finally, I wanted to share, in the words of Miss Mason herself, a summary of her key ideas, excerpted from her Original Homeschool Series, first volume (pp. 177-178), as well as her last volume (pp. 18-19). {Any emphasis is my own}

Charlotte Mason’s Summary of Key Ideas

~That the knowledge most valuable to the child is that which he gets with his own eyes and ears and fingers (under direction) in the open air.
~That the claims of the schoolroom should not be allowed to encroach on the child’s right to long hours daily for exercise and investigation.
~That the child should be taken daily, if possible, to scenes- moor and meadow, park, common, or shore- where he may find new things to examine, and so observation should be directed to flower or boulder, bird or tree; that, in fact, he should be employed in gathering the common information which is the basis for scientific knowledge.
~That play, vigorous healthful play is, in its turn, fully as important as lessons, as regards both bodily health and brain-power.
~That the child, though under supervision, should be left much to himself- both that he may go to work in his own way on the ideas he receives, and also that he may be the more open to natural influences.
~That the happiness of the child is the condition of his progress; that his lessons should be joyous, and that occasions of friction in the schoolroom are generally to be deprecated.

~A child is a person with the spiritual requirements and capabilities of a person.
~Knowledge ‘nourishes’ the mind as food nourishes the body.
~A child requires knowledge as much as he requires food.
~He is furnished with the desire for Knowledge, i.e., curiosity; with the power to apprehend Knowledge, that is, attention; with powers of mind to deal with Knowledge without aid from without- such as imagination, reflection, judgment; with innate interest in all Knowledge that he needs as a human being; with power to retain and communicate such Knowledge; and to assimilate all that is necessary to him.
~He requires that in most cases Knowledge be communicated to him in literary form; and reproduces such Knowledge touched by his own personality; thus his reproduction becomes original.
~The natural provision for the appropriation and assimilation of Knowledge is adequate and no stimulus is required; but some moral control is necessary to secure the act of attention;  A child receives this in the certainty that he will be required to recount what he has read.
~Children have a right to the best we possess; therefore their lesson books should be, as far as possible, our best books.
~They weary of talk, and questions bore them, so that they should be allowed to use their books for themselves; they will ask for such help as they wish for.
~They require a great variety of knowledge, – about religion, the humanities, science, art; Therefore, they should have a wide curriculum, with a definite amount of reading set for each short period of study.
~The teacher affords direction, sympathy in studies, a vivifying word here and there, help in making of experiments, etc., as well as the usual teaching in languages, experimental science and mathematics.

“Pursued under these conditions, “Studies serve for delight,” and the consciousness of daily progress is exhilarating to both teacher and children.”