Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Style: A Practical Approach for UK Mums

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Introduction: Understanding the Charlotte Mason Homeschool Style

Is there a way to give your children a rich, high-quality home education that nourishes their hearts and spirits? Yes, and it comes from the Charlotte Mason homeschooling approach. Developed in the 19th century by British educator Charlotte Mason, this method is focused on fostering a lifelong love for learning in children. 

Mason’s philosophy is built on the belief that children have unique capacities and needs. Hence, she advocated for an education that would respect the child’s personality, cultivate their curiosity, and encourage their natural desire to learn. 

The Charlotte Mason approach can be distilled into three fundamental principles: 

  • Living Books: These books engage the child’s imagination and emotions, making the subject come alive. They differ from textbooks in that they are often written in a narrative or story-like style.
  • Nature Studies: Charlotte Mason believed that children should spend much time outdoors, exploring nature and developing a deep appreciation for it.
  • The Science of Relations: This refers to helping children make connections between different areas of knowledge rather than learning subjects in isolation.

So, how can you implement this approach in your homeschool? Luckily, plenty of resources are available to guide you on this journey. 

“I would rather put a list of books into a child’s hands than all the instructions about observing royal schools.” – Charlotte Mason.

One of the best places to start would be the AmblesideOnline website. This free homeschool curriculum follows the Charlotte Mason philosophy. It provides a comprehensive guide for parents, including a detailed weekly schedule, a list of living books for each subject, and plenty of helpful advice. 

Another helpful resource is Simply Charlotte Mason. It offers a wide range of materials and tools to help you implement this approach, from curriculum guides and lesson plans to video courses and online communities where you can connect with other Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. 

Remember, the goal is not to strictly follow a curriculum but to create a nurturing learning environment where your child can grow and flourish. And the Charlotte Mason approach can be a powerful tool to achieve this. 

Now, are you ready to embark on this exciting homeschooling journey? 

Who was Charlotte Mason, and Why is her Method Ideal for Homeschooling

Mum sitting and playing with her child in the living room.

Ever wondered about the name behind the inspirational homeschooling method that’s taken the UK by storm? Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the late 1800s, revolutionised the world of education with her unique philosophy. Her principles focus on respect for the child, a strong emphasis on nature studies, and using “living books”. 

So, why might the Charlotte Mason method perfectly fit your homeschooling journey? This approach is not about filling a child’s mind with facts. Instead, it encourages a love of learning, fosters curiosity, and nurtures a child’s natural abilities. It’s a holistic approach that seeks to educate the whole child rather than merely academically instructing them. 

Charlotte’s famous mantra, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life“, encapsulates the essence of her teachings. She believed in creating a nurturing environment where children are encouraged to explore, think, and grow. 

“The question is not–how much does the youth know? When he has finished his education–but how much does he care? And about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? And, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” – Charlotte Mason

One of the key advantages of this method is that it takes the pressure off mums to be the “expert”. It encourages children to self-educate through exposure to various subjects, including literature, art, music, history, and nature. It’s more about facilitating their learning and cultivating an environment for them to flourish. 

Critical Elements of the Charlotte Mason Inspired Homeschool Style

As a mum, you understand that your child’s education is paramount. You might have encountered the Charlotte Mason method if you’re considering homeschooling. This method, named after the British educator Charlotte Mason, is a rich, literature-based approach that focuses on ‘whole child’ education. It can be a fantastic choice for many families and is worth understanding. 

Here are the key elements of the Charlotte Mason method: 

  • Living Books:  Charlotte Mason believed in using ‘living books’ – books written by someone passionate about the subject rather than dry, fact-filled textbooks. These books are written in an engaging and narrative style, which helps children to connect with the subject matter.
  • Nature Study:  The Charlotte Mason method involves plenty of outdoor exploration. The idea is to help children develop a love and respect for nature. This can also include keeping a nature journal.
  • Copywork:  This involves children copying a passage of high-quality literature in their best handwriting. This helps them to practice handwriting, punctuation, and grammar.
  • Art and Music Appreciation:  Charlotte Mason encouraged exposure to great works of art and music. This can be done by studying individual artists or composers for some time.

How does Charlotte Mason’s homeschool style differ from other styles?

When you first dive into the world of homeschooling, there’s an overwhelming number of styles to choose from. One approach that has stood the test of time is the Charlotte Mason method. 

But what makes this method stand out from the others? Let’s delve into the distinguishing aspects of the Charlotte Mason homeschool style: 

  • Education as a lifestyle: Unlike other methods that compartmentalise education into different subjects, the Charlotte Mason method sees education as a holistic process. It’s not just about academics; it’s about shaping character and nurturing a love for learning.
  • Emphasis on nature and the outdoors: Mason believed in the importance of children having regular contact with nature. She advocated for daily outdoor activities, regardless of the weather.
  • Using “Living Books”: Instead of dry textbooks, Mason preferred books written by a single person with a passion for the subject – books that bring the subject to life and engage the child’s imagination.
  • Short, focused lessons: Mason’s method involves lessons short enough to hold a child’s attention but intensive enough to ensure substantial progress.

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life” – Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason’s homeschooling method continues to appeal to many homeschooling families. It promotes a well-rounded education, fostering a love of learning and respect for the natural world.

What are some common misconceptions about Charlotte Mason’s homeschool style?

A picture of a book, one side has green grass and green flourishing tree the other is dry ground and dried out tree.

As you tread on the path of homeschooling with the Charlotte Mason method, you may encounter certain misconceptions that may make you question your decision. Let’s debunk some of these myths together: 

  • Myth 1: It’s overly rigid. This notion may arise due to the structured daily routine suggested by Charlotte Mason. On the contrary, her method encourages flexibility within the structure, allowing plenty of room for your child’s natural curiosity and individual learning pace.
  • Myth 2: It’s outdated. While Mason’s educational philosophy was developed in the late 19th century, it is based on timeless principles. It promotes a deep respect for the child as a person and encourages a love for learning, traits that are always relevant in education.
  • Myth 3: It’s only suitable for the early years. Mason’s method extends beyond just the early years. It can be adapted to suit your child’s learning needs up to the high school level, ensuring a well-rounded education.
  • Myth 4: It’s only for artistic, nature-loving families. Although the Charlotte Mason method highly emphasises nature studies and arts, it doesn’t mean it’s exclusive to those families. These elements form part of a broader, balanced curriculum that integrates various subjects for a holistic education.

 The key is to understand these principles, mould them to suit your family’s dynamic and use them to provide an enriching learning environment for your child. 

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” – Charlotte Mason.

The Importance of Living Books for Effective Learning

One of the core elements of this Charlotte Mason’s method is the use of ‘living books’. You might wonder, “What exactly is a ‘living book’?“. Well, these books are written by someone with a passion for the subject and the unique ability to bring it to life. They are typically narrative and engaging, offering the child a more detailed and vivid understanding of the topic. 

  • Biographies: These offer insights into the lives of notable people, helping children to understand their struggles, triumphs, and contributions.
  • Historical Novels: These books enable children to ‘live’ through history rather than just memorising dates and events.
  • Science Books: Instead of dry facts, these books present scientific concepts fascinatingly and engagingly.

The Charlotte Mason method allows children to relate to and engage with the subject matter more deeply by utilising living books. It encourages them to think critically and reflect on their lessons rather than simply feeding them facts. 

The Role of Narration in Developing Communication and Comprehension Skills

Parents with their child sitting at the kitchen table with stationery items and a fruit bowl on the table.

Ever found yourself engrossed in a good book and couldn’t wait to share the story with someone else? That’s the essence of Narration, and it’s at the heart of the Charlotte Mason homeschooling style. It’s all about developing your child’s ability to understand and communicate ideas effectively. 

In the Charlotte Mason method, Narration is the process where your child tells back what they have just learned. It might sound simple, but it’s a powerful tool for comprehension and memory. Plus, it naturally improves their communication skills. 

Here’s how it works: 

  1. Your child reads a passage or listens to you read.
  2. They then tell back what they’ve understood in their own words.
  3. You gently correct any inaccuracies and guide them towards a more precise understanding.

This method encourages active engagement with the material and allows you to assess your child’s understanding in a natural, non-test-like environment. Clever, right? 

“Narration is an art, like poetry-making or painting, because it is there, in every child’s mind, waiting to be discovered, and is not the result of any process of disciplinary education.” – Charlotte Mason.

It’s worth mentioning that Narration isn’t just for literature or history lessons. It can be used across all subjects, allowing your child to form a deeper connection with their learning. 

For more tips on implementing Narration, check out this detailed guide from the Simply Charlotte Mason website.

Nature Study: A Vital Part of Charlotte Mason Inspired Homeschooling

Ever feel like your children are missing some valuable education while being cooped up inside? Charlotte Mason thought so too. That’s why she made nature study a core component of her homeschooling approach. 

“Children should be encouraged to watch, patiently and carefully, the fascinating happenings in the natural world around them.” – Charlotte Mason. 

According to Charlotte’s philosophy, studying nature isn’t only something you do in science class. It’s a way of life! So, here’s how you can incorporate it into your homeschooling routine: 

  • Take regular nature walks: This doesn’t have to be a trek into the wilderness. Even a stroll around your local park can be a sensory adventure for your child.
  • Keep a nature journal: Encourage your child to sketch what they see and record their observations. This builds their artistic skills and hones their attention to detail.
  • Explore with all senses: This isn’t just about looking at nature but hearing, touching, smelling, and (when appropriate!) tasting it too.

“The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” – W.B.Yeats

Remember, the goal isn’t to memorise facts about nature but to foster love and respect for it. That’s what sets the Charlotte Mason approach apart.

The Benefits of Short Lessons and Free Time for Children’s Learning

Have you ever noticed how your little one’s attention span can be like a butterfly – flitting from one thing to another? Well, Charlotte Mason understood this. She recommended short, focused lessons that would hold a child’s interest and make learning more effective. 

“Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas. Ideas are of spiritual origin, and God has made us so that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another. Parents must sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food.” – Charlotte Mason.

So, instead of hours of monotonous drilling, the Charlotte Mason method promotes quality over quantity. It’s about deep understanding, not rote memorisation. And here’s the best part – once the lesson ends, your child gets plenty of free time to explore and learn independently. 

  • Less stress: Short lessons mean less stress for you and your child. You’re not constantly battling to keep them focused; they feel free of endless study hours.
  • More engagement: When lessons are short and exciting, children are likelier to be motivated to learn.
  • Development of creativity: Free time allows children to use their imagination, be creative and pursue their interests – crucial for their overall development.

It can be liberating when your child is excited about learning, and you are not constantly worried about keeping them focused. 

Morning Time: A Special Time to Nurture Your Children’s Hearts and Minds

You’re juggling a million things, so why add another to your plate? But what if this new ingredient could bring a sense of calm and connection to your homeschool day? Morning time, a key element in the Charlotte Mason approach can do just that. 

Picture this: instead of rushing into the day with worksheets and textbooks, you start with a gentle gathering. You and your children – snug around the kitchen table, a pot of tea brewing, perhaps a candle flickering – ready to nurture minds and hearts with rich ideas. 

Practical Tips for Implementing the Charlotte Mason Homeschool Style

Family sitting outside on the grass spending time together.

Starting the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling can initially feel overwhelming, but don’t worry. We’ve put together some practical tips to help ease you into this rewarding journey.

Embrace the Outdoors 

Charlotte Mason strongly emphasised the importance of nature in children’s learning. “An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing,” she said. So, incorporate nature walks, birdwatching, or gardening into your teaching. 

Living Books 

Swap textbooks for ‘living books’, a crucial part of the Charlotte Mason philosophy. Living books are written by authors passionate about a subject, presenting knowledge in a way that’s exciting and easy to understand. Sites like AmblesideOnline provide a wealth of living books to choose from. 

Use Narration 

Instead of typical tests, Charlotte Mason encouraged the use of Narration. This is simply asking your child to explain what they’ve understood from their reading. It’s a beautiful way for them to process and retain information and also for you to assess their comprehension. 

Art and Music Appreciation 

Remember the arts. Encourage your child to appreciate different artworks and listen to various styles of music. Try to recreate the works of famous artists at home. Resources like Zeezok offer great options for music appreciation resources. 

Start Slow 

Finally, remember to start slow. Implementing a new homeschooling style can take time. Be patient with yourself and your child. You’re both learning this new approach together. 

What are some examples of Charlotte Mason’s homeschool style in practice?

Are you curious about the Charlotte Mason homeschooling style in a day-to-day setting? You’re not alone! This uniquely engaging and natural style of education is fascinating to many mums, just like you. 

Firstly, let’s dive into living books. In Charlotte’s philosophy, textbooks are replaced with authentic, passionate, and high-quality literature, known as living books. This can mean anything from classic novels to biographies and history books filled with vivid storytelling. The aim is to breathe life into subjects rather than presenting dry facts. 

“Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.” – Charlotte Mason

Another hallmark of Charlotte Mason’s homeschool style is nature study. This involves regular outdoor exploration, where children are encouraged to observe, explore, and interact with their natural surroundings. They often keep a nature journal to record their findings and reflections. 

Art and music appreciation also play a significant role. Charlotte Mason believed in exposing children to the best and highest quality music and art. This includes studying great artists and composers, their work, and their impact on their respective fields. 

Moreover, the Charlotte Mason method promotes habit training. This is about more than just discipline; it’s about instilling good habits in children from a young age, covering everything from cleanliness to focus and attentiveness. 

A final, crucial aspect is dictation for teaching spelling and punctuation. This involves reading a passage to the child, who then writes it down, paying close attention to spelling and punctuation. It’s a simple yet effective way to improve writing skills without formal teaching. 

How do you schedule your day when homeschooling with Charlotte Mason’s style?

Mum with her shoulder over her son admiring the outdoor nature.

When it comes to scheduling your day with Charlotte Mason’s homeschooling style, flexibility is critical. However, certain principles can guide your planning. 

Routine, not Rigidity 

Charlotte Mason believed in a routine rather than a rigid schedule. This means you have a flow to your day, but the clock does not dictate it. If your child is engrossed in an activity or learning experience, you don’t have to cut it short to stick to a timetable. 

Short Lessons 

One of the hallmarks of a Charlotte Mason education is the concept of short, focused lessons. For younger children, this means 10-15 minutes per subject, while older children study for 20-30 minutes at a time. 

Varied Subjects 

Charlotte advocated for a broad, varied curriculum. This means your day might involve reading, nature study, handwriting, maths, history, geography, art, music and more. This variety keeps the day enjoyable and stimulating for your child. 

Balancing Work and Play 

Importantly, your day should have a balance of work and play. Charlotte Mason believed children learn best when they have ample time to play and explore outdoors. Make sure to schedule your free time for this each day. 

You may find looking at sample schedules from other Charlotte Mason homeschoolers helpful. These are available on blogs and websites like Simply Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online. Remember, these are just guides; you should adjust them according to your family’s needs.

What are some tips for implementing Charlotte Mason’s homeschool style with multiple children of different ages?

Implementing Charlotte Mason’s homeschool style with multiple children of different ages might seem daunting, but don’t worry, you’ve got this! With some preparation and handy tips, you can create a harmonious learning environment that caters to everyone’s needs. 

Here are some tried and tested tips to get you started: 

  • Combine Subjects: Subjects like history, science, nature study, and geography can often be taught to all ages together. You can then adjust the depth of the topic to suit each child’s level. This allows for shared experiences and discussions that can enrich the learning process.
  • Individualised Reading and Maths: These skills-based subjects may need to be taught individually. Your older children can work independently while you spend time with the younger ones.
  • Encourage Independent Learning: Charlotte Mason advocates for children to be responsible for their education. Fostering this sense of independence, especially in your older children, can give you more time to assist the younger ones.
  • Utilise Short Lessons: Charlotte Mason believed in the effectiveness of short, focused lessons. This approach works well with multiple ages as it keeps everyone’s attention and allows for frequent changes in activity.

You can find more detailed guidance and resources for implementing Charlotte Mason’s homeschool style at Simply Charlotte Mason (source) and Ambleside Online (source). 

How do you assess your child’s progress in Charlotte Mason’s homeschool style?

Assessing your little one’s progress in a Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschool setup can seem daunting, but wait to fret! Unlike traditional education systems that rely heavily on grading and scoring, Charlotte Mason’s philosophy focuses more on the child’s understanding and love for learning. Your role is to nurture this love and help it grow. 

The Power of Observation: 

One of the critical assessment methods in the Charlotte Mason approach is observation. Please take note of your child’s ability to narrate, interest in nature, curiosity, and growing understanding of various subjects. These observations will provide valuable insights into their learning journey. 

Regular Narration: 

Narration is a cornerstone of Mason’s philosophy. Asking your child to express what they’ve learned in their own words is a powerful tool for assessing understanding and developing critical thinking skills. 

Rely on the Books: 

Remember, in the Charlotte Mason philosophy, “living books” are essential. Passionate authors write these books, and they make the subject come alive. If your child is developing a love for reading and gathering knowledge from these books, then you’re on the right path.

Use of Journals: 

Art and nature journals are also a significant part of this homeschool style. They are a creative outlet and a tangible reflection of your child’s engagement with the material. Their journals can be an excellent tool for assessment. 

Remember, the beauty of Charlotte Mason’s approach lies in the fact that every child is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all method of assessment. Be patient, observe, and, most importantly, let them enjoy the process of learning. Remember, you’re doing a fantastic job, Mum! 

For more resources to help you navigate the journey of Charlotte Mason homeschooling, check out Simply Charlotte Mason’s guide on assessment here.

What are some tips for staying motivated and avoiding burnout when homeschooling with Charlotte Mason’s style?

As you embark on your Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschooling journey, it’s essential to remember that even the most rewarding tasks can sometimes feel overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you stay motivated and avoid burnout. 

Stay Organised 

Having a structure and routine in place can significantly reduce stress. Plan your homeschooling week, but leave room for flexibility and spontaneous learning opportunities that may present themselves. 

Take Regular Breaks 

Even Charlotte Mason advocated for short lessons and plenty of outdoor time. Breaks are beneficial for both you and your children, providing a chance to rest and recharge. 

Utilise Resources 

There’s a wealth of Charlotte Mason resources available to support you. Websites like www.charlottemason.com and simplycharlottemason.com provide lesson plans and tips. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. 

Connect with Community 

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Connect with other Charlotte Mason homeschooling parents via social media or local groups for support, inspiration and advice. The Ambleside Schools International website lists affiliate schools and communities worldwide. 

Remember Your ‘Why’ 

Remember why you chose the Charlotte Mason method when things get tough. The focus on character development, literature-based education, nature study, and art appreciation are worth the hard work. 

Practice Self-Care 

Last but not least, take care of yourself. Homeschooling is a job; like any job, it requires you to be at your best. Ensure you’re eating well, getting enough rest, and taking time for activities you enjoy. 

Suggested Resources and websites for Charlotte Mason Inspired Homeschooling in the UK

Image with the words that says resources.

Let’s jump straight into the resources that can help you bring the Charlotte Mason homeschooling style to life in your own home. With these, you’ll have all the support and materials you need to turn your education dream into reality. 

Living Book Libraries 

Living books are the cornerstone of Charlotte Mason’s approach. These are books that engage your child’s imagination and interest. They’re written by people who love their subject and write about it in an engaging way. Here are some libraries that specialise in living books: 

Curriculum Providers 

These curriculum providers offer complete programs based on the Charlotte Mason philosophy. They’re a great way to ensure you’re covering all the subjects in a way that respects your child’s natural curiosity and love of learning: 

Charlotte Mason Communities 

Joining a community of like-minded homeschoolers can provide invaluable support and inspiration. Here are some online communities dedicated to the Charlotte Mason philosophy: 

So there, you have a few resources to kickstart your Charlotte Mason homeschooling journey. Remember, the aim is not to replicate a school at home but to provide a rich and varied education that respects your child’s individuality and fosters a lifelong love of learning. Happy homeschooling!

Conclusion

So there we have it, an insightful look into the world of Charlotte Mason homeschooling. A philosophy built on the belief that children are capable, eager learners who thrive when their education aligns with their natural curiosity and respects their individuality. 

With its focus on living books, nature studies, and cultivating good habits, the Charlotte Mason style presents a refreshing alternative to the more traditional, textbook-heavy approach. It encourages a love for learning and fosters a deeper understanding of the world. 

However, remember that this journey is yours and your child’s. Every child is unique, and it’s essential to adjust the techniques to meet their individual needs. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ in homeschooling, and the beauty of the Charlotte Mason method is in its flexibility. 

As daunting as the homeschooling journey may seem initially, you’re not alone in this. There’s a wealth of resources available to guide you. From books like “For the Children’s Sake” by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay[1] to online resources like the Ambleside Online website[2], the help is out there. 

Remember, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.” – Charlotte Mason[3]

With patience, persistence, and the right resources at your fingertips, the Charlotte Mason homeschooling journey may become one of the most rewarding experiences for you and your child. 

References: 

  1. [1] “For the Children’s Sake” by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
  2. [2] Ambleside Online
  3. [3] Charlotte Mason Quote

References

As we journey through Charlotte Mason’s homeschooling style, we’ve relied heavily on several excellent resources. To help you navigate this path, too, here is the cream of the crop: 

  • Books that Inspire 

Charlotte Mason herself penned six volumes on education which are the bedrock of this homeschooling style. ‘Home Education’ is particularly pertinent for those embarking on this journey. It’s available online at Ambleside Online

  • Online Resources and Communities 

Don’t go it alone; swathes of online support are out there. Websites like Simply Charlotte Mason offer practical advice, lesson plans and community forums. 

  • Local Support 

If you prefer face-to-face interaction, look for local homeschooling groups. Many follow the Charlotte Mason style and can provide invaluable support, encouragement and ideas. 

 Adapt what works for you, and most importantly, enjoy this precious time with your children.

If you are in the United Kingdom interested in homeschooling and would like to learn more, feel free to download our FREE EBOOK to help you on your homeschool journey.