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Charlotte Mason was a classical English educator in England at the turn of the twentieth century. She proposed to base the education of children upon a wide and liberal curriculum.
The Charlotte Mason Method(CM) is based on Charlotte’s firm belief that a child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three-pronged: in her words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”
Charlotte Mason advocated for a “liberal education” for all children. She believed that Christianity is not separate from other subjects, but that all our learning (or teaching) should point the child towards God.
Characteristics of a Charlotte Mason (CM) Education
- The CM approach emphasizes the importance of the surroundings in which the child grows up in during the early years. Charlotte Mason stated, “..my object is to show that the chief function of the child- his business in the world during the first six or seven years of life- is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses; that he has an insatiable appetite for knowledge got in his way; and that…the endeavor of his parents should be to put him in the way of making acquaintance freely with Nature and natural objects; that, in fact, the intellectual education of the young child should lie in the free exercise of perceptive power..and the wisdom of the educator is to follow the lead of Nature in the evolution of the complete human being.”
“An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing.” ~ Charlotte Mason
- The CM approach emphasizes the discipline of habits. Charlotte Mason believed that the development of good habits within a child provides the foundation for early education. She was specifically speaking of habits of character.
“Every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.” ~Charlotte Mason
- The CM approach to education uses living books. Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style, fiction, and nonfiction. The books pull you into the subject so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive.” Charlotte believed that we should give children living thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts.
“To introduce children to literature is to install them in a very rich and glorious kingdom, to bring a continual holiday to their doors, to lay before them a feast exquisitely served. But they must learn to know literature by being familiar with it from the very first. A child’s intercourse must always be with good books, the best that we can find.”
Books Every Charlotte Mason Homeschool Mom Should Read
- Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series
- When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today – edited by Elaine Cooper
- A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola
- For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
- A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
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