"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those
who are willing to work and give to those who would not."
--Thomas Jefferson

Monday, February 2, 2009

Homeschooling the Charlotte Mason Way- Day 1

Hello everyone. Welcome to the week of Homeschooling the Charlotte Mason Way. Each day we will be talking about something different in regards to the Charlotte Mason Method of Homeschooling. Today we are talking about the method and why we chose it. Let me just say that I am not against public schools,or other methods of homeschooling. God leads us all in different directions. We are all different, learn differently and do things different. I just know that this worked so well for me and want to share it with you.

Let me give you a little background on me. First of all I swore I would NEVER homeschool. Word of advice. Never say Never to God! LOL. I pretty much guarantee you that you'll end up doing the very thing you swore you would NEVER do! I also didn't want kids growing up! (Don't hate me, I was a teenager!) LOL. My God has a keen sense of humor, don't you think? Because now I have 3. He knows what's best and I put my trust in Him and just go for it. I love what He's done with my life and the direction He has it going.
Okay second, my gift is not teaching. I tried teaching Sunday School to a bunch of 1st and 2nd graders and quickly found out that it was REEEEALLY not my gift. When the Lord urged us to homeschool 6 years ago, okay urged is an understatement. I got the NEON sign baby! Anyway however He did it, I fought Him tooth and nail. I can't. I'm not qualified. I only have a High School Diploma. All these fears rushed through me. But after laying it in God's hands, I relaxed and started my journey. Here is where I'd love to say that it all went perfectly and it was homeschooling bliss through out our home. WRONG!!! All I did was transfer "school", home. My first mistake was going to a curriculum fair unprepared. Oh the smell of brand new books and curriculum with those precious teachers manuals. Oh the joy! I snagged every subject you could get your hands on, which later made their way to ebay as LIKE NEW! After months, okay years of this method of trying to mimic the school system I discovered Charlotte Mason. What is this method, I thought? It sounds so real and inviting. Almost like living out life and learning in the process. Could this be? Could it be that simple? Yes! Here is what drew me to this. I copied (with permission) the teaching methods of Charlotte Mason. This summed it up for me.

Teaching methods

Probably the best known of Mason's methods is her use of living books instead of dry, factual textbooks. Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The size of the book does not matter nearly as much as whether it is "alive" and engaging. Textbooks are allowed if they meet that criterion. "Twaddle" refers to books or information that is dumbed down and insults the child's intelligence. Living books should be used with as many subjects as possible.

Children are expected to tell about what they have read. The narration can be oral, written or drawn and should be performed after only one reading of the material. This method requires the child to synthesize all he has read, organize it in his mind, and determine how best to communicate all that he recalls in his own words.

Mason encouraged a child's learning the habits of attention, perfect execution, obedience, truthfulness, an even temper, neatness, kindness, order, respect, remembering, punctuality, gentleness, and cleanliness, among others. Usually, a child would work on a specific habit over a four to six week period.

Mason advocated short lessons for younger children, growing progressively longer as the child matures. Elementary-age children's lessons should be no longer than fifteen or twenty minutes on one particular subject before moving on to something else. In this way, the habit of full attention is encouraged and children receive a broad education filled with many varied subjects.

Charlotte used prepared dictation to teach spelling and reinforce grammar and composition skills. In prepared dictation, the child is given a sentence or passage to study until he is sure he knows all the spelling, capitalisation, and punctuation. The teacher then dictates the passage to him, one phrase at a time, watching carefully as he writes to catch any misspelled word and correct it immediately. In this way, spelling is taught within the context of great thoughts and rich language instead of static lists.

Handwriting was also taught within the context of ideas, not isolated letters repeated over an entire line or page. For copywork, children are given a phrase, sentence, or paragraph to copy in their best handwriting. The exercise should take only a few minutes each day so as to encourage the habits of attention and perfect execution without becoming tiring.

Art is another place where living ideas are found. The great ideas of men and women of history are revealed in their works, whether paintings or writings or music. Art appreciation is taught through Picture Study, which introduces the child to the works of a great artist one at a time, allows her to look at it undisturbed, then asks for a narration of what she has observed. Music Appreciation is taught in much the same way, listening to the works of great composers.

In Mason's schools one afternoon each week was devoted to spending time outdoors. For nature study, children take along a sketchpad to draw and label the different aspects of nature they observe. Regular nature study paves the way for meaningful science instruction.

Mason emphasised the importance of children's understanding mathematical concepts before ever doing paper and pencil equations. They should be encouraged to use manipulatives and to think through the whys and wherefores of solving word problems -- in other words, how mathematics applies to life situations.

Poetry was an integral part of daily life in Mason's schools. However, poetry is not presented in order to be analysed, criticised, and told what to think about it. Poetry, as in other subjects that introduce the child to great ideas of the past, is shared together and allowed to stand on its own, encouraging the child to develop his own relationship with that poet and his thoughts.

Students in Mason's schools studied Shakespeare regularly, as well.

Since grammar is the study of words, not of things, Mason thought it is a difficult concept for young children to grasp. She recommended postponing the formal study of grammar until the child reached the age of ten. Consistent practice in narration, dictation, and copywork lays the foundation for grammar study.

Mason's method of studying the Bible was simple: read it every day. She gave children credit for being able to understand passages directly from the Scriptures, and she assigned several large portions to be memorised and recited each school year.

History is considered most relevant to children through the use of living books, biographies, autobiographies, and narration. In addition, Mason's students kept a Book of Centuries that was similar to a personal time line in a notebook. They added people and events to the pages as they studied about them.

Just as history is the story of what happened to a person, geography is the story of where he was and how his surroundings affected what happened. Geography is best taught through living books, also. Short map drills can supplement.

Want to see a typical homeschool day in our house? Come back tomorrow where you can get a glimpse and or share your typical homeschool day. I'll have Mr. Linky here all week! Don't forget that we will have question and answer time at the end of the week, so feel free to ask your questions along the way. If you want to see the rundown of the whole week click here and scroll down that post till you hit the picture above. Hope to see you tomorrow.


  1. I commend you for your efforts, but more for your faith in God to lead you in the right direction. I saw too many times people "home school" their kids just because they didn't want to get up and take them to school. Then they didn't want to hold their kids responsible to their studies. They didn't want to attend teacher meetings etc. So it was easier to home school and let the kid run wild. So you are doing great, very structured and doing it right. But then I knew you would. You and your children will/are blessed for having this experience.

  2. Wow, Kim...reading your little description of your background and how you came to home school....you are me and I am you and....well, you get the idea! It was like reading my own autobiography in a way. Been there! I have really been missing hs'ing lately. We've never done CM (doesn't seem a good fit for my boys, is all) but I'm looking forward to reading about it and your experience with it, this week!

    God bless!

  3. Kim, that looks wonderful! I have to tell you that my sleepy eyes read your curriculum as Charlotte MaNson and I thought woah! I'm glad that I refocused. I have been singing the "You can call me al" song too. Congrats on your Top 100 CWO award! I knew your name would be there!

  4. I do not homeschool my children, but I love to read about how people are homeschooling...being that I used to be a teacher in the school systems. This method of teaching sounds very interesting. I love that you have the flexibility at home to teach directly to your Child's learning style too. Can't wait to read more.

  5. First of all, I was NEVER going to homeschool either. And not only have I done it 9 years....but I love it.

    Our family did public school for a year (Kindergarten for child 1), and we immediately saw that was NOT an option for our family. So we used a Christian private school for 2 years and liked it for awhile, but then the Lord put homeschooling on our hearts. That gives me the unique experience of having done all 3 kinds of schooling, and far and away, we prefer homeschooling.

    It took a couple of years, but I finally fell upon the Charlotte Mason method, and we have loved it. I wouldn't choose to school any other way. I wish I had discovered this old-fashioned approach before my kids were in middle school. However, at least I'll be doing it from day one with our future children.

    Have a super day.


  6. LOL! I said the same thing - I wouldn't homeschool. I also said that about marrying a military guy. Guess I need to stop having my foot shoved in my mouth. LOL! Thank you for the info on CHarlotte Mason homeschooling. We are presently using ABeka because that is all they have known. It is a LOT and I mean a LOT of work pages. Don't get me wrong. They have done quite well but sometimes I think it isn't enjoyable for them or I. LOL!

  7. So nice to know more about this, my friend! Sounds wonderful. If I were to homeschool I would certainly consider this method and will enjoy hearing all about it. I have lots of friends that homeschool by different methods, though I'm not sure any of them use this one.

    It seems like my son's Christian school has bits and pieces of this thinking mixed in with the usual structure. But maybe that came about because the majority of the teachers homeschooled their children at some point.

    And congrats on the Top 100 list - was delighted to see your name there! And then shocked to see me - how fun that we're in the same category! And it wasn't even a Top Commentator category - LOL!!! :)

    Have a lovely day, my friend!

  8. I am so glad I stopped by. I was waiting for this week, you know! I have been without regular access to a computer for about 3 weeks and it is killing me : )
    I will have to read through it all again when I can really spend the time to read thoroughly.
    The internet is supposed to be coming next Tues.

  9. Thank you for doing this! I got my first post done, a bit late, but I'll get caught up! lol


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