A wonderfully enthusiastic, Charlotte Mason lover/homeschool mom came and spoke at our home last week. It was a great time of refreshing and inspiration! I’ve always loved the CM method, but we’ve never followed it thoroughly and implemented the rich, encompassing educational philosophy.
It’s just too good not to share, so I thought I’d do a series on the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling. I would encourage you, whatever type of homeschooler you are, to consider implementing at least some of the basic concepts Mason taught. From the most structured to the most relaxed, any homeschool can benefit from her wisdom. (And perhaps Charlotte’s method may be just the thing you need for the confidence to BEGIN homeschooling.)
Charlotte Mason, the British educator of the late 19th century, taught from a three-pronged philosophy:
Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.
“By “Atmosphere,” Charlotte meant the surroundings in which the child grows up. A child absorbs a lot from his home environment. Charlotte believed that atmosphere makes up one-third of a child’s education.
By “Discipline,” Charlotte meant the discipline of good habits — and specifically habits of character. Cultivating good habits in your child’s life make up another third of his education.
The other third of education, “Life,” applies to academics. Charlotte believed that we should give children living thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts. So all of her methods for teaching the various school subjects are built around that concept.”
So many of us want a detailed “just tell me what to do” plan. And probably most homeschooling methods can be put into detail, but it’s crucial that we first understand the philosophy behind the education we wish to implement.
To flesh out the CM philosophy just a bit more:
“Charlotte emphasized treating each child as a person, not as a container into which you dump information. She believed that all children should receive a broad education, which she likened to spreading a feast of great ideas before them. Charlotte encouraged parents to have an active role in teaching and training their children in academics, fine arts, faith, citizenship, and habits of character….
And I love her foundational approach to parenting…this would have been her advice to a homeschooling parent asking “how can I prepare my young children for school?”
Charlotte Mason outlined two chief duties for parents.
- “To form in his child right habits of thinking and behaving is a parent’s chief duty” (Vol. 2, p. 228). Molding and shaping your child’s character with good habits is your first priority. If your day is too crowded to allow you time to stop and deal with bad habits, it’s too crowded.
- “To nourish a child daily with loving, right, and noble ideas we believe to be the parent’s next duty” (Vol. 2, p. 228). Feed your child’s mind with good and right ideas every day. Remember that a child soaks up a lot from his surroundings. So make sure everything you give him is wholesome and nourishing, including the atmosphere in which he grows. Feed his mind on what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, excellent, virtuous, praise-worthy.”
We could talk about these few fundamental concepts all day, couldn’t we?
As I take a sweeping glance across the culture at our young people, I see blaring evidence of children who have not been nurtured, who have not been treated like valuable, growing individuals, who have not had parents daily building habits of character, who have not been given wholesome atmospheres full of “living thoughts and ideas”. Charlotte Mason resurrects the idea for us that children are worth investing our lives in.