Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Method
When you first begin homeschooling you’ll no doubt hear about the Charlotte Mason Method. And with a tiny bit of research you might get the idea that it’s about reading books and doing nature study. But it’s so much more than that. At first glance the Charlotte Mason Method may seem too simple. At second glance it may seem to have lots of rules but hopefully at your third glance you’ll see the richness and depth of one of the most popular methods for homeschooling across the globe.
I began following the methods of Charlotte Mason a few years into my homeschool journey. We never looked back. I didn’t do everything perfectly but as the years passed, I grew into her ideas. I learnt how to adapt, find and even create resources. Our homeschool was a success and I hope yours will be as well.
Who Was Charlotte Mason?
Charlotte Mason (1842 – 1923) was a highly respected British educator in the late nineteenth century. She offered an alternative method of education that included a broader curriculum rich in art and literature. Because of this, her methods were often adopted by English families who wanted to teach their children at home. Many schools (mostly private) also used her methods with great success. Apparently, her popularity meant that she became somewhat of a celebrity with the English upper and Middle Class.
She eventually founded her own House of Education in the Lakes District at Ambleside. It was a teaching college for governesses. She also wrote a six volume series on educating children which is known as The Original Home Schooling Series.
Her books were well received because they offered practical teaching ideas on how to give children a generous and rich education. But her philosophy also emphasised a respect for the child, and the value of habit training. She also acknowledged that children are spiritual beings and they need an education that reveals to them the wonder and glory of God. Her method is popular for Australian Christian home schooling.
Charlotte Mason wasn’t a fan of textbooks, preferring real books, observation and experience. She used authors to teach. For example, she used scientists who wrote about science in a narrative style, she also encouraged nature study and scientific conversations. Similarly, history was not dates and events but it was taught sequentially in a narrative way through stories and museum visits. Likewise, geography involved excursions, travel stories and map study. Spelling, grammar and writing were not taught by rote and rules but were learnt while using lots of great literature. And perhaps her most controversial teaching method was requiring a child to narrate – tell back – what they had learnt, rather than making children write formal compositions, and testing them using comprehension questions or quizzes.
She said, “History must afford its pageants, science its wonders, literature its intimacies, philosophy its speculations, religion its assurances to every man, and his education must have prepared him for wondering in these realms of gold.” Volume 6 p. 43
The Christian homeschooling movement saw a renewal of Charlotte Mason’s ideas and methods. As a result, many home educators have adopted her teaching philosophies and techniques and this is what we call The Charlotte Mason Method.
Making Our Charlotte Mason Australian Curriculum
The Charlotte Mason Method and the Australian Curriculum have played a big role in the shaping the My Homeschool programs. Melding the content and outcomes of these two different philosophies has been a challenge.
Our Charlotte Mason Australian Curriculum still includes all the hallmarks of a Charlotte Mason education that you would expect. However we have also introduced a range of eclectic resources that help us comply with Australian state and territory syllabus requirements. Read more on our Australian homeschooling resources and how we schedule.
An atmosphere of learning is encouraged in the home with natural learning opportunities harnessed. Delight directed learning is supported with children having the freedom to explore desired areas of interest.