Charlotte Mason...Who Was She?
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Before we dive into the method, it's important to know a bit about Charlotte Mason.
I always advice mothers to learn as much as possible from Charlotte Mason's writings as you begin your homeschool "career".
Charlotte Mason was born in England, January 1, 1842. She lived in a time period where children were "seen but not heard". Miss Mason was an only child and educated at home by her parents.
As a young adult, Charlotte Mason received her teaching certificate and moved to Ambleside, England to establish "The House of Education". Miss Mason believed in a liberal education for all! Her teachings were not only confined to education, but also child rearing.
Charlotte Mason authored and published several books regarding her philosophy of education:
Formation of Character
A Philosophy of Education
Parents and Children
Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education can be summed up in her own quotes she said, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Living in England in the 1800's was not the most delightful experience for a child. Children were viewed in a type of class system. Often, children were treated as property and not viewed as valuable. In response to this thought Charlotte Mason penned this statement, "Children are born persons". She believed children were persons from the very start and deserved an education regardless of social class or gender.
Charlotte Mason's methods are currently experiencing a revival of sorts. Many parents are witnessing the degeneration of education and are seeking true wisdom on the matter. We all understand the importance of education and are seeking that guiding light. Charlotte Mason answers our questions and leads the way.
My Own Experience
I have been using Charlotte Mason's methods and philosophies for the last 8 years. I am the mother of six children ages 15, 14, 12, 10, 5 and 2. When I started my homeschool career I was uncertain of what the results would be. Isn't that funny? I just blindly trust Charlotte Mason and had faith unseen.
Daily, I followed her writings and implemented habit training from the start. I never realized the will of a child could be trained. I just believed we train our children to "be good".
Charlotte Mason taught a method of training a child that begins with training the will of a child from their earliest years. First, she said, is the habit of attention.
With this instruction in mind, I began training the "habit of attention" in my children as soon as possible. My oldest was 7 at the time. My youngest, 5 months.
Although training is easier with a fresh baby, I worked with my eldest. I began with the removal of anything I thought could hinder his attention. Video games were put away. Excessive television was restricted. Living books, outdoor play and hands on activities occupied our days.
Slowly, our home transformed. My children began putting effort and attention in their studies. Their love for learning was evident as they read books for entertainment. They became acquainted with nature and were being educated by their intimacies.
After 8 years of now knowledge of what true grade level my eldest children were, I signed them up to be tested for equivalency. My son, exiting 8th grade, scored 3-4 grade levels higher than the average and at college level for most categories. I was stunned to receive these results. Although I believe tests are not the full scope of a child. I believe a child can do poorly in written exam, yet be an absolute genius. I was encouraged by his results that day. It felt like a "pat on the back" after all those years.
The Early Years of A Charlotte Mason Education
During the early years our efforts are mostly spent in 3 areas:
Providing A Quiet Growing Period
The managing of a home takes real wisdom. So many homeschool mothers give up on homeschooling because they can't balance school and home. I encourage new homeschool moms to sit down and make a plan for your home. How often will you grocery shop? How often will bathrooms be cleaned? Do you need a new laundry routine? Start your homeschool journey with your HOME before your SCHOOL.
Charlotte Mason said education was an atmosphere. That being true, we need to put effort into our the atmosphere in which our children and husbands dwell.
"The habit of routine" will serve you as a mother. Your home will hum along once a routine of sorts is established. I am not suggesting a rigid schedule, but a routine. As simple as: We wake up and dress ourselves for the day, we make the bed and have breakfast. Next, we sing hymns and hear poetry. Our mornings "wrap up" with a morning walk. Children thrive in a routine, they love to know what's next.
As the homemaker, it is your job to guard your schedule and allow for this routine. Yes, there is that "unusual day" out but that should be limited as your are the guardian of your home and time. We don't always say "yes" to every outing. When we say "no" to excessive outings we are saying "YES" to our routines and productivity.
Providing Quiet Growing Periods
When Charlotte Mason says something is our "duty" we need to listen.
"In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it for the most part spent out in the fresh air." ~ Charlotte Mason
Duty: the force of moral obligation
With this in mind, we remember that we are obliged to shun educational pressure in the early years. We strive to keep our homes free of environmental stress. We don't ask our little ones to handle "adult issues". Their precious time and home will be protected by you.
Out in the fresh air
Most of their days shall be spent in the fresh air. Will is always be possible? No, but our aim is to take them outside as much as possible. It isn't easy for mothers to be outside but remember we must "take pains" when raising our young ones. I have found some retreat for mothers while outside. Gardening and book reading can occupy time spent watching over our children. For instance, while your child is securely playing and exploring, you can easily tend a garden, pull weeds, read a book, and collect your thoughts.
The early years of a Charlotte Mason education look very similar to an old fashioned childhood in my opinion. imaginative play, nature collections, chore instruction, habit training, living picture books, and parental attention are the fundamentals.
Further reading for moms:
In response to a need, a leading from God, and to work towards the goals Charlotte Mason had for a child of 6, I created a structure or curriculum for the Kindergarten years.
I saw the need for a community to work through this year together, so I opened one.
The curriculum is a map that includes 30 weeks of living book read alouds, science, nature study, art, cooking, Latin, History and Etiquette. Join us!
If you need help in other ways, reach out to me. Join our facebook community. I am glad to have YOU here!