Nature study builds into our children something wonderful. Something that cannot be attained through any other means. It instills a spirit of freedom and a sense of awe. A depth of understanding of God’s beautiful creation. And a curiosity that stays with our children their entire lives. The more time they spend outdoors exploring nature—freely and without structure—the happier their childhood memories will be. What a precious and invaluable gift to give our children! My son recently told me he feels sorry for the kids in his college classes who spent their entire childhood sitting in a school classroom. He […]
A Charlotte Mason Education Works!
Throughout my 20 years of homeschooling, I sought to model Charlotte Mason’s ideas, insights and inspiration.
I hope that in these Charlotte Mason pages you will discover bits of wisdom to help you cultivate a love for learning in your children.
Training your child’s character can be likened to tending a garden. Nurturing to life the good character qualities you want to see grow and blossom. It’s about watching over what’s sprouting up and carefully cultivating that which will one day bear fruit. It requires tilling the soil and weeding out anything that is not fructiferous and fragrant and beautiful. Charlotte Mason considered character traits to be habits. Habits of thought and habits of deed. A mother’s role is to gently guide the child, like a guardian angel, into habits of gentleness, courtesy, candor, respect for others, and truthfulness. The work […]
Free time in the homeschool is an art. One worth pursuing. It’s a long forgotten yet invaluable rhythm of education and is truly one of homeschooling’s best kept secrets. Not only is it necessary to understand the importance of free time, you need to know how to implement it into your homeschool day. Leisure was a cornerstone of Charlotte Mason’s methodology, and she provided ample amounts for her students. In addition to their academic studies, each day Charlotte would give the students large blocks of free time to pursue their own interests and passions, like the arts. They engaged in […]
Narration is a game changer. It’s one of the things we got right in our homeschool. I can say this with confidence because I see in my adult children today that same love for learning that was cultivated through narration early in our homeschool—a love for learning that has carried them through their college studies and has remained with them as they’ve moved on to their adult lives. The beauty of homeschooling is getting to choose learning methods that are best for our children. Ones that actually work and encourage a love of learning. Methods that bring learning to life. Charlotte […]
Early in my homeschool journey I discovered that Charlotte Mason’s methods were the most effective way of educating children. So I knew I wanted to apply her principles to my science books, specifically writing living books that delve deep into the subject matter, as well as using time-tested methods such as notebooking, narration, and hands-on activities to increase learning and retention. Charlotte Mason talks about training attention, or bringing the whole mind to bear. Attention happens when a child’s whole mental force is focused on the subject at hand. How could my books not only engage but sustain a child’s attention […]
Many educators promote the spiral or survey approach to education, wherein a child is exposed over and over again to minute amounts of a variety of science topics. Those supporting these approaches aim to “expose” the child to science each year giving a bit more information than was given the year before. This method has been largely unsuccessful in public and private schools as the National Center for Education Statistics data indicates that eighth graders are consistently less than 50% proficient in science. There has to be a better way. And there is: immersion science. Educators assume the young child […]
Some people leave the womb with a natural inclination toward spelling. For others, spelling is a lifelong struggle. I have children in both categories. With my natural spellers, I don’t think it mattered what curriculum I used. Spelling made sense to them. With my poor speller, who also struggled with dyslexia, well, let’s just say I spent a pretty penny searching for a solution. After years of trying everything under the sun, I fell upon a set of instructions in Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschool Series. I realized at that moment that the methods used in all the other curricula were […]
We all know how important knowledge is, but what about creative expression? Could it be that creativity is the missing link between joy and learning? Albert Einstein said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” He believed creative expression to be an essential element of all academic fields of study—even science. The question we must ask is: How can we engage our children’s creativity in order to increase their knowledge? There are many ways to do this, but an important element is the establishment of a student notebook. The notebook is an […]
There are several philosophies and methodologies that homeschoolers use when educating their children. Some people choose one and follow it all the way through, others mix and match depending on what they want to accomplish, still others begin with one then change their methodologies as the years wear on and they begin to understand more about their family and philosophies. In this post, I will describe some of the most common homeschool methodologies used by families today. Classical Classical homeschoolers follow the Classical Greek model of the Trivium. They divide learning into three stages based on an average child’s cognitive […]
Over the years, I’ve shared my story at conferences and workshops about how God led me to teach my son to spell. As a result, I’ve received many queries about the program that I used. In essence, I did not use a program, but a procedure. I want to share it with you in the hopes that it will help your struggling speller. The first thing to know is that reading and spelling are two different skills. If you try to use the procedure you learned for reading with spelling (phonics) you will be a horrendous speller. Children should be […]
Laying a foundation of character is essential if you are to successfully move your child from dependence upon you as the teacher to independence and self learning. Obviously, children that are not yet reading need a lot of supervision. The same is true when teaching elementary students new concepts. In addition, when a student is struggling with a concept, such as long division, the teacher (though she may have moved into the role of coach) will need to stand over the child as he works through the formula until he completely understands the algorithm and can do it […]
Narration is one of those treasures that, if done consistently, has potential for great reward. I believe it’s foundational to a successful homeschool education, reaping benefits far into the high school years. Here are some questions one homeschool mom asked about narration: My oldest is going into first grade and is reading probably at a second grade level. One of my goals this coming year is to establish the habit of narration. How should I schedule it? Should I pick a book (like Aesop’s fables) and have him narrate from it once a week? Or do I have him narrate […]
Over the years homeschool moms have asked, “Why notebooks?” And to that I would have to say creating and using notebooks was one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things we did in our homeschool. It honestly kept me afloat and from feeling discouraged or ineffective. In fact, notebooks even gave me a sense of accomplishment, a much needed sentiment in the ongoing homeschool journey. We usually used notebooks in place of worksheets, even when the curriculum provided them. Fill in the blank worksheets with word searches, matching games, and the like were unable to engage my children the way creating […]
When it comes to passion for a child’s educational success, nothing rivals a homeschool mom. We diligently research the latest methodologies and put to test the newest curriculum. We devour books on education, creating sophisticated lessons based on newfangled ideas. Yet Charlotte Mason found amazing success using the age old, timeless and simple tool of short lessons. Lessons that span a mere 10 minutes. She advocated that short lessons not only train the child to pay attention, they increase the child’s retention of the material. And Charlotte Mason was right. Studies reveal the average human attention span when learning new […]
One of the most profound—and often under appreciated—methods of Charlotte Mason is her teachings on habits. How I wish I had known of this extremely influential concept when my children were younger, before they formed the bad habits we invested a lot of time undoing. Mason addresses the fascinating subject of attention: The Habit of Attention. She explains that a child should stay focused on a subject and not allow his mind to wander hither and thither with every interesting thought that pops into his brain. The thing is, our children have fascinating thoughts and ideas, but they must be […]
We’ve all heard this and that about how children need to get out in nature. Charlotte Mason advocated for nature study ruthlessly—demanding we gather our kids and a book and go sit outside somewhere natural, even if we have to take a twenty minute train ride every day to get there. She was passionate about letting children experience God’s beautiful creation, so Mason’s brilliant, high achieving students did the nature thing. They excelled academically, though they spent the greater portion of their lives outdoors. Recent research shows us that Mason had the right idea. As it turns out, her students […]
“What do you remember from what I just read?” I ask the gathering of children around me. Looking to the four year old, I encourage him to begin. “I learned that the sun is ninety-three miles away. It’s so far away that it would take a lot of years to fly there in a spaceship.” The nine year old child draws a deep breath and rapidly explains, “It’s ninety-three-million miles away and it takes eight minutes for its light to reach us here on earth which means that we always see what the sun looked like eight minutes ago and […]
So we were all told that nature walks were part of Charlotte Mason’s education. Upon reading this, many of us promptly bought Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study, packed our pencils and nature journals—one set for each child—and drove to some lovely nature spot to explore and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. We hoped to open our children’s eyes to the magnificence surrounding them and encouraged them to pick something to sketch or about which to write. Unfortunately, our family found it rather dull after a half hour or so. All we saw in nature was an endless trail of weeds, dirt, […]