Charlotte Mason was a 19th century British educator. She believed that children were deserving of respect. She also believed that children are capable of dealing with ideas and knowledge. Her methods revolutionized education in her day. She believed that education “is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” The Charlotte Mason Method of homeschooling uses various teaching method which support the belief that children should play, create, and discover and understand the world around them.
The Charlotte Mason Method of Homeschooling
Mason believed that children needed good habits. She believed that good habits comprised the foundation for early education and character. She advised delaying formal academics until the age of six to focus on habit training. Her motto for students was “I am, I can, I ought, I will.”
Bite Sized Lessons
Mason kept lessons short to allow a child to engage and focus fully on their work. A young child’s lesson would be no more than 15 minutes. As a child grew developmentally, their lesson time increased with their ability to tolerate longer lessons. She advised a change of subject when a child became restless.
Mason believed that books written by an author with a passion for the subject brought the subject alive. She believed living books provide inspiration and are engaging. Living books included autobiographies, the Bible, biographies, classical literature, and poetry. Books that provide the writers point of view are preferred over text books.
Mason taught children to write using copywork as handwriting practice and spelling. For copywork, the child should copy word for word, a sentence or passage from another source. Depending on age and ability, copywork may be as simple as a single sentence or as complex as a poem.
Mason recommended the use of dictation to reinforce spelling and grammar concepts learned, as well as to introduce new ones. Dictation replaces copywork around age 10. Scripture quotations, inspirational quotes, poetry, and well written passages are recommended for dictation. The child is encouraged to study the passage until they are familiar with the spelling and punctuation. When the child is comfortable with the passage, the teacher slowly dictates as the child writes.
The Charlotte Mason method relies heavily on narration. Children are encouraged to listen to a short passage of a book, then to retell it in their own words. Mason believed that retelling the story enabled the children to recall it later. Using evaluation questions enabled her to assess how much a child retained. Oral narration is emphasized until around age 11, and then written narration begins. Written narrations should become longer and more in dept as a child grows developmentally.
Art and Music
Mason believed that children should be exposed to greatness in many forms. Her aim was to teach children to enjoy and appreciate art and music. One artist or composer was studied at a time. In addition to learning about the individual works of art and music, children were taught about the artists life. Children were encouraged to create their own replica of the masterpiece after learning about an artist. Singing and playing instruments were also used.
Mason thought children should spend time outdoors. Children kept nature journals and took daily nature walks to discover and enjoy the world around them.
When to Consider the Charlotte Mason Method
- Desire to keep a less rigid schedule with variety
- Prefer to spend a lot of time outdoors
- Teach appreciation fine arts
- Enjoy reading and want to emphasize rich literature, living books, and Scripture
If you’re considering the Charlotte Mason Method of Homeschooling, you need to add these books to your library!