Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Do You Really Know Charlotte Mason?, Reflections on a 101...

I had an opportunity to speak to a group of homeschooling moms yesterday about Charlotte Mason.  I felt blessed to be able to share and hope that someone else was blessed by hearing about her philosophy/methods.

It's really hard to put Charlotte Mason in a nutshell.  I had eight pages of notes!  Thankfully, a couple of gals spoke before me, introducing Charlotte and giving an overview of how they use Ambleside Online.  It allowed me to cut part of the introductory stuff.  Today, I thought I would share some links I used as the basis of my notes....

Who was Charlotte Mason? 

What was her philosophy/method of education? 

I also highlighted what I felt were some of Charlotte's key principles:  

Principles 5-8 – Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.  (PNEU motto)


The goal of narration is the composition of thought. 

What a CM education is not

A Charlotte Mason education is not fluffy, light, nor tiptoeing through the tulips.  Check out this List of Attainments.  

How is it relevant today? 

How to apply Charlotte's principles/methods in your homeschool.

Habits are an important part of a Charlotte Mason education, as is parenting in general. 

Just as it is on the whole easier for the locomotive to pursue its way on the rails than to take a disastrous run off them, so it is easier for the child to follow lines of habit carefully laid down than to run off these lines at his peril.  It follows that this business of laying down lines towards the unexplored country of the child’s future is a very serious and responsible one for the parent. (Vol. 1, p. 9)

The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children. All day she is crying out, 'Do this!' and they do it not; 'Do that!' and they do the other. (Vol. 1, p. 136)

Focus on one habit at a time - may take weeks or months per habit 
Motivate by using living examples – find person who exhibits the character quality you’re working on

1. Charlotte’s top three habits: attention, obedience, and truthfulness
            Habit of Attention
-       Use short Lessons - beginning around age 6
-       Set time limits taking child’s attention span into consideration
-       Grades 1-3 15-20 minutes
-       Grades 4-6 20-30 minutes
-       Grades 7-9 30-45 minutes
-       Vary order of lessons - Lessons should range a large variety of subjects altering between concentrated intense subjects and less intense subjects including those that allow for physical movement - Using different parts of the brain allows for better attention span and concentration
-       Don’t repeat yourself
-       Play games that foster attention
-       Develop the habit of best effort by encouraging quality not quantity – you will be able to accomplish much in a short amount of time
-       Charlotte Mason used the best books, the best music, and the best art possible
-       Never give a command you don’t intend to see fully carried out
-       Expect obedience – use natural consequences and encouragement
-       Don’t pester child with excessive commands (Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.)
-       Plan ahead for transition times
-       Require exact facts without omission or exaggeration
-       Avoid qualifying statements
-       Don’t use excessive language for common situations
-       If needed, have daily lesson in truthful reporting
2. Living Books
-       Stands the test of time – you want to read again – usually written by one person
-       Touches emotion; you develop a relationship with characters; “finishing the book is like saying goodbye to an old friend”
-       Gives you ideas; sparks imagination & creativity; makes you want to further your study
-       Avoid “twaddle” – talking down to the child; diluted; light/fluffy; promotes laziness of the mind; liken to junk food (snack before supper)
            -    choose books with substance

Charlotte’s method incorporates many core subjects including history, geography, Bible, math, science, foreign language, reading, writing, spelling, grammar, art, music & hymn study, literature, poetry, and handicrafts.  I broke down some of the methods used in core subjects.  

History - Living books, biographies, autobiographies, narration, Book of Centuries

Geography - Living books, biographies, autobiographies, travelogues, narration, map drill 

Bible - Read directly from the bible (King James version), narration, memorize and recite scripture, commentaries

Language ArtsThe goal of language arts is be able to use language proficiently in order to communicate an idea.  It includes everything that relates to listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  Charlotte Mason's methods included: copywork, narration, prepared dictation, grammar, beginning reading, reading for instruction, recitation, and poetry.  Through these methods, she taught the language arts skills of handwriting, composition, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, parts of speech, sentence structure, vocabulary, how to read, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, and public speaking.

Math - Manipulatives, a firm understanding of why, mental math

Science - Nature study and notebook, living books, narration

What curricula/books work well with the CM method?

Sonlight Book Lists                                                                  Heart of Dakota
Lifetime Books & Gifts                                                            Queen Homeschool
Lamplighter Publishing                                                              Nothing New Press
Bethlehem Books                                                                     Five in a Row
WinterPromise                                                                         TruthQuest History
Yesterday’s Classics                                                                Beautiful Feet
Mott Media – Ruth Beechick books & website                         Greenleaf Press
Ray’s Arithmetic                                                                       Math-U-See
RightStart Math                                                                        Apologia Science

How to modify the CM method for struggling learners? 

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