Navigating homeschooling can be challenging. Knowing what works for your child and what motivates them to do well, while covering all the state-required topics and overall curriculum… it can feel like a lot. To make things less overwhelming, look at methods that have worked for other families. See if they align with what you’re trying to achieve.
The Charlotte Mason method is one such method that families and schools have used for over one hundred years. It remains relevant because it is a philosophy, not a curriculum.
Who was Charlotte Mason?
Charlotte Mason was an educator and reformer in England during the 20th century. She dedicated her life to improving the quality of education for children by providing “a liberal education for all.” They taught English children in the 1800s based on their social class but Charlotte Mason wished for all children, regardless of socioeconomic background, to get a comprehensive and fair education.
What is the Charlotte Mason Method?
To share her vision and approach to education, she developed what we now call the Charlotte Mason Method. It is centered on the belief that a child is a person and we must educate the whole, not only the mind. This approach has three main parts: atmosphere, discipline, and life.
“Education is an atmosphere, a disciple and a life.” – Charlotte Mason
Charlotte Mason’s technique evolved into distinct concepts and basic values that formed the framework for her educational system. There are 20 core principles, four of which we will explore in this blog.
Four major principles of the Charlotte Mason Method
Personhood – Mason believed children are born with personalities. They are not blank slates who will then become persons.
She believed a child came into the world already possessing all aspects of personhood – mind, body, soul, and spirit. This revelation shifted the way she believed children should be educated. Instead of segmenting children into separate parts and teaching them as such, she believed that we should nurture and educate the complete person.
While children may not reason and express themselves as logically as most adults, we still need to nurture the mind, body, soul, and spirit.
Respect – This can be hard for some adults, especially those who grew up hearing that “children must be seen and not heard.” It is simply having regard for someone’s feelings, wishes, or rights.
Even in correction, respect offers love. It is not manipulative or harmful. Children need firm authority figures in their lives, but having authority does not mean we can’t also have respect. Being able to respect a child just as you would want to be respected yourself is very important.
Self Education – This idea entails delivering knowledge to the kid in an age-appropriate manner, and then enabling them to educate themselves depending on what they’re offered.
The child should be doing most of the work. Let their minds make connections between subjects. The emphasis should be on the child’s efforts, rather than you fitting all the pieces of the puzzle (or lessons) together.
As the teacher, your job is to stimulate their curiosity, direct them on where to find the information, and constrain, so they can keep their focus on the important information.
Balance – Remember we mentioned Ms. Mason saying that education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life? We must balance all three elements in order to deliver a well-rounded education to our students.
The core values and principles have been proven effective for over 100 years. Delivering a balanced, well-rounded education will produce balanced pupils and individuals.
To learn more about Charlotte Mason’s methods and how to use them in your home you can read her words in the Home Education Series.
Stephanie Walmsley’s Charlotte Mason Made Easy is a great guide that contains many quotes from Mason’s books.