THE METHOD in BRIEF
This is our attempt to summarize the Life’s work of Charlotte Mason who taught hundreds of children successfully in this way. This is a tremendously short summary, so be aware that within her works there are pages on each one of these topics.
1. Habit Training––pick one good habit at a time to instill in each child. Almost everything we do is habit, whether good or bad. Good habits are like railroad tracks, cutting out much of the effort of decision. We as parents will have, as Charlotte puts it, “smooth and easy days” if we make this a priority in our homes. More importantly, we will be saving our children from many troubles in life by securing good habits in them.
2. Living Books––not text books, these are written by one person who was excited about the subject, inspiring or makes you want to read more, usually in story form. Living books help capture attention and maintain it. Books are their teachers, with many great minds full of knowledge to share in a manner that is enjoyable. We do not need to put on a show or entertain our child into learning; the books themselves should interest them enough to become like great friends and guide them into a life long love of learning.
3. Hours spent outside––children should spend time becoming familiar with the natural world. Spending time in nature is a starting point for children to pay attention to the things around them. As they study these things closely, they begin to make relationships (like benchmarks) with the things surrounding them.
4. Short Lessons––10-15 minutes for elementary, 15-30 minutes for middle school, 30-45 minutes for high school, sometimes more. Keeping the lessons short keeps the child’s mind fresh.
5. Narration––for children 6 and over, have them tell you back what you just read to them. Knowledge is better retained when you tell it to someone. If you can teach it to someone else, you show the level of mastery sought after. Children are not graded or given prizes for good work. The test is on what they know through the telling back of what they have learned, not on what they don’t know.
6. Varied subject matter––don’t read 3 things in a row, but switch to a subject that uses a different part of the brain than the subject before. This also helps keep the mind fresh and interested.
BOOKS YOU (the parent) SHOULD READ
If you are new to the Charlotte Mason Method, here are a couple book suggestions that are easy reads and should be available at your local library. However, they are definitely worth owning as they can be used to reference for years to come.
Start there! These books are infused with dew drops of goodness that will delight your soul and keep you munching on ideas about homeschooling. If you would like even more jewels, go to our CM Resources page. You’ll find links to helpful CM websites and more books including Miss Mason’s own writings.
WHO IS CHARLOTTE MASON
If we could sit and talk with her for just a few hours, what would Charlotte Mason say about our 21st century American education system? She would probably say it is much like the education system of her day in England. Children were sent to public schools, private schools, or were taught at home, although usually by a governess. When Charlotte was young, she had an encounter with the idea that all children, not just those whose families were privileged and not merely older children who could sit for hours in a classroom, were capable of learning great things.
Her heart’s desire was to teach us that children are persons. Life for her was full of children, none of them her own. Because she saw to the education of hundreds of children, she was able to leave us with these gems of wisdom in her Original Homeschooling Series. All subjects are covered in these 6 volumes, as well as how to instill good habits and shape character in children to prepare them for independence. We have available to us her life’s work, a life that was dedicated to passing a torch to us who desire our children to love to learn!
To see a timeline of her life and achievements or to see our links to some great articles of her life visit this post.