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Charlotte Mason Basics
Gentle Education with Miss Mason
The homeschool movement is gaining momentum all over the world, and many home educators are looking back to the ideas of Charlotte Mason as a compass for teaching their own children.
Charlotte Mason was an educator who lived in England from 1841-1923. She established schools to train governesses and parents how to teach their children at home. Her ideas were at the time quite revolutionary. She considered children to be people who were capable of studying advanced topics in science, math, literature, art, and music, even at very young ages. She also had a passion for nature and beauty which is evident in her writings.
Articles About CM Philosophy - for a quick read
These articles will give you a concise introduction to CM. More indepth resources follow.
- Charlotte Mason in a Nutshell
This is a great two page overview of practical implementation of CM philosophy into a homeschool setting. This is great place to start! It's also a great review or check-up for those of us who already consider ourselves CM educators.
- The ABC's of CM
A nice summary of CM ideas, organized in ABC order!
- What Makes the Charlotte Mason Method Distinctive
Another concise article outlining some of the main tenets of CM thinking.
- A Subject by Subject Approach to Charlotte Mason
This mom takes the CM ideals and applies them to each academic area. It's a most practical article.
- Is Charlotte Mason Unschooling?
Short answer -- no. But read the entire article for the reasoning.
- Using Charlotte Mason: The Real Deal
A very refreshing, no-nonsense article that explains some of the main tenets of a Charlotte Mason style.
Which best describes you?
When Children Love to Learn - A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today
If you want to go deeper than those articles above, but you'd rather not wade through Miss Mason's old-fashioned style of writing, you can choose this great book written by a homeschool mother. This well respected title explains the Charlotte Mason method in every day terms and with practical applications.
A practical follow-up to Crossway's For the Children's Sake, this book follows a tradition of giving serious thought to what education is, so that children will be learning for life and for everlasting life.
Charlotte Mason's Works Online Links - online for FREE
Follow the links below to read Miss Mason's original Homeschooling Series, or a version in modern English, or read chapter summaries -- all online for FREE.
- The Original Homeschooling Series
Miss Mason's original writing.
- Modern English Version
Miss Mason's works, rewritten for modern readers.
- Summaries of Miss Mason's Six Volumes
Summaries of each volume for a quick read.
- Twenty Principles
For an even quicker overview, see this list of Miss Mason's twenty principles.
The Original Home Schooling Series - by Charlotte Mason
If you'd rather have a book to hold instead of squinting at a screen, this book contains Charlotte Mason's original works.
All Miss Mason's original writings in one volume.
Great Quotes From Charlotte Mason
Charlotte Mason saw a direct connection between living books and the imagination. Read what she says in Home Education about the value of imaginative literature over more realistic works.
Stories, again, of the Christmas holidays, of George and Lucy, of the amusements, foibles, and virtues of children in their own condition of life, leave nothing to the imagination. The children know all about everything so well that it never occurs to them to play at the situations in any one of these tales, or even to read it twice over. But let them have tales of the imagination, scenes laid in other lands and other times, heroic adventures, hairbreadth escapes, delicious fairy tales in which they are never roughly pulled up by the impossible--even where all is impossible, and they know it, and yet believe.(vol 1 pg 152)
Wow! Tales of imagination in other lands. That sounds like a good book of history, adventure, fantasy, or biography!
And another quote about the imagination:
Now imagination does not descend, full grown, to take possession of an empty house; like every other power of the mind, it is the merest germ of a power to begin with, and grows by what it gets; and childhood, the age of faith, is the time for its nourishing. The children should have the joy of living in far lands, in other persons, in other times--a delightful double existence; and this joy they will find, for the most part, in their story books. Their lessons, too, history and geography, should cultivate their conceptive powers. If the child do not live in the times of his history lesson, be not at home in the climes of his geography book describes, why, these lessons will fail of their purpose. But let lessons do their best, and the picture gallery of the imagination is poorly hung if the child have not found his way into the realms of fancy. (vol 1 pg 153)
The books we offer our children should take them away to fantastic lands of imagination!
Living Book Links
- Penny Gardner's Living Books
This page is jam-packed with lists and links that will help you select living books for your homeschool.
- Home Hearts Living Books
This is both an article and a link list in one! Living books and twaddle are defined. Also multiple links to LONG book lists are offered. A great site!
- What Should I Read Next?
This is a fun tool. Just enter a book title that you enjoyed reading, and this program will give you suggestions for similar books that you will probably also like. Neat!
- Lilac Library
This blog is exclusively devoted to providing book reviews of excellent living books -- picture books to novels.
- What is a Living Book?
This is a GREAT article from The Thinking Mother blog explaining more about what is and is not a living book. A great read for any CM educator!
- What's So Great About Great Books?
Classical educators call good books Great Books rather than living books. The concept is very similar. Read this article for more insight.
Narration is a foundation within the CM philosophy.
Narration simply means that the child narrates or tells back what was just read. If a young child is listening to mother read, when the section or chapter is over, he tells back what he heard in the chapter. If a bit older child is reading aloud, when she has come to the end of a section or chapter, she tells back what she just read. For children who are reading silently, they still tell back what they have read.
Narration can be done orally at all ages. But once a child is 11 or 12, he can begin to write his narrations. The habit of doing it orally will help him be able to it in writing when the time comes.
Narration Starters to ask your child
--Tell me all you remember about the passage.
--Explain how ______.
--Tell me five things you learned from these two pages.
--So, what happened in this chapter?
No workbooks or worksheets are needed. Nothing to buy; no preparation is needed! Just the child and parent, discussing what was read. What could be simpler and easier than that!
Why is Narration So Important?
Narration causes the child to think. She must think as she is reading (or listening to you read), and she must think as she is narrating. I love this quote by Miss Mason about thinking from Home Education .
Thinking comes by Practice. . . .thinking, like writing or skating, comes by practice. The child who has never thought, never does think, and probably never will think; (vol 1 pg 153)
So use narration in your homeschool experience! It will give your children the opportunity to practice thinking.
Links to Read More About Narration
Personally it took me many months before narration became natural in our homeschool. Reading articles like these below will help you deliberately incorporate it into your daily routine.
- Narration Beats Tests
This is an excellent, concise explanation of the benefits of narration. Karen Andrelola also gives practical tips for implementing it in your homeschool.
- Narration: Tapping Into the 'Talking Resource'
Another article by Karen Andreola that will give you some practical applications of CM's ideas. This article is decorated with lovely images as well! It is a joy to read!
- Narration and Composition
These are blog entries from Higher Up and Further In. Lindafay is an excellent CM educator! This link will take you to all her blog entries dealing with narration and composition. Excellent reading!
- Narration Practical How-to's
Catherine Levison, a CM expert, wrote this short article about how to use narration in your homeschool.
- Narration Tips
Another article by Catherine Levison. She answers a question -- how can you deal with children narrating the same passage at the same time when reading to the kids all together?
- Charlotte Mason Language Arts
This article explains not only narration but also dictation and copywork.
- More Notes on Narration
A CM blogger who shares her thought on narration after reading When Children Love to Learn. Practical tips here.
- When Narration is Difficult
The same CM blogger shares her revelation about narration. Her left-brained daughter was struggling with narration because she was thinking in LISTS rather than IMAGES. A great read!
Another blogging mom has been inspired by the book When Children Love to Learn, and has shared her insights about narration.
Recitation - Memorizing
Recitation is memorizing quotes, scriptures, or poems and performing them for an audience. CM recommends that the passage chosen for memorization be one the child can fully comprehend so that the recitation will be natural and with feeling.
I have found that letting my child choose her own passage for memorization is far more motivating than my choosing one. Pull a beloved poetry book off the shelf, and let your child choose one to memorize this week. At the end of the week, he can stand up at the dinner table and perform it for the entire family. He will beam with pride!
- Recitation/Memory Work
Articles dealing with recitation and memory work from Lindafay who used to blog at Higher Up and Further In. She moved all her articles over to Charlotte Mason Help.
- Walls of Books - Poetry Memorization List
Angela, a homeschooling mom, shares her list of poetry that she plans on having her children memorize. The best thing about this list is that it's already linked to online texts of each poem!
- Walls of Books - Bible Memory List
Here is Angela's list of Bible verses to memorize.
- Stepping Heavenward
This homeschooling mom has listed her year's poetry memorization for her son. These are great examples of what you may want to incorporate into your own homeschool.
Whisper and Shout - Poems to Memorize
Written for grades 5-9, Whisper and Shout is a collection of 55 poems specially chosen for memorization.
Copywork - also called Transcription
Copywork is a whole language approach to spelling and grammar. By seeing and copying the words, the child learns how to spell. Grammar is also learned in this indirect way.
Choose passages worthy of meditation that stimulate the mind of the student but are not beyond his comprehension. Discuss the passage and have the child copy it in his best handwriting. Passages can be hymns, Scriptures, poems, quotations, or exerpts from living books.
- Copywork and Handwriting
Lindafay shares her way of teaching copywork and handwriting in her very CM homeschool. There are four articles linked here.
This is a nice article about the history of copywork as an educational method. Did you know it predates Charlotte Mason by hundreds of years? The author gives practical suggestions for how to implement copywork and lists of possible passages.
- Copywork at The Duncan Yo-Yo's
Heather's way of doing copywork is by a different subject per day. Read this entry; you may just want to try her method.
- Manuscript Copywork
This site has FREE PDF copywork files. Just print out and hand to your children! Choices include Hymns, Scripture, and Poetry.
- Writing Tools
Choose the link to Online Sources for Copying and Dictation.
- Copywork & Handwriting
This mom's suggestions are especially applicable to those with young children, just learning how to form letters and begin their copywork.
- How I Choose Sentences for Copywork
Headmistress, zookeeper shares how she selects sentences from her children's readers to serve as copywork. In this blog entry, she lists examples from Five Little Peppers.
- Benefits of Copywork
Learn about how copywork hones a multitude of language arts skills.
- What is Copywork
An article from Notebooking Pages that explains what copywork is and how it can be integrated into notebooking.
Dictation is not the same as copywork. Dictation is written without looking at the passage. The sentence or passage may be studied first and discussed thoroughly. Any strange spellings, any aspects of punctuation should be pointed out. Then take away the original, speak the passage out loud at a normal pace, and have the child write the passage. The same passage can be used all week if necessary for mastery.
- Dictation and Spelling
Here are LindaFay's articles dealing with dictation and spelling.
Charlotte Mason Style Curricula
- Ambleside Online
Ambleside offers a FREE curriculum plan modeled closely according to CM ideas. To use Ambleside Online's plan is very affordable; you only need to buy the living books recommended in the program. And many of those books can be found for free on the I
- Living Books Curriculum
This curriculum calls itself, "a Charlotte Mason education for the 21st century." It's a more modern interpretation of what Ambleside has done. In contrast to Ambleside which relies on free online texts or visits to the library, Living Books offers c
- Tanglewood Education
Tanglewood combines both Classical Education and the Charlotte Mason philosophy in a flexible plan you can modify to fit your homeschool situation. Since they don't actually sell living books, you have to buy the books from their booklists on your ow
- Mater Amabilis
This is a free, online CM curriculum plan especially for Catholic homeschoolers. The plan also has book options for British families. The books must be purchased on your own.
- Queen Homeschool
Look for "Easy Charlotte Mason Method Packs" in the sidebar. Queen Homeschool is currently offering 10 packs of living books that match CM philosophy.
Literature Based Curricula
These curricula are literature based using living books as CM espoused.
- Beautiful Feet Books
This is a convenient way to buy your curriculum -- Study Guides (for the teacher) complete with a whole set of living books. Topics include American History, Ancient History, History of the Horse, Geography, History of Classical Music, Character, and
- Winter Promise
This curricula offers complete kits as well. WP even has language arts programs to complement their history themes. They have the standard American History and Middle Ages themes, but also some really interesting themes such as Children Around the Wo
Almost every homeschooling family has heard of Sonlight. Their core programs include Bible, History, and Read Alouds. SL also offers language arts and science programs.
- Noeo Science
In a subject that is dominated by textbooks, Noeo is a wonderful gem. Use real books to learn these science topics -- Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, each at 2 levels for a total of 6 choices.
- Heart of Wisdom
A curriculum designed by Robin Sampson.
- Heart of Dakota
Christ-centered homeschool curricula that is easy to use, flexible, and educational and can also be used with multiple ages at the same time.
- My Father's World
MFW offers preschool through highschool level, literature based, Christian curriculum packages.
- Moving Beyond the Page
A homeschool curriculum for gifted learners that emphasizes good literature and hands-on discovery. Packages are available for ages 5-11.
- Five in a Row (FIAR)
Literature-based unit study curriculum with Christian character supplements for children ages 2 to 12. For children 12 and up, there is a curriculum called Above & Beyond FIAR.
- Epi Kardia Curriculum
The Greek words "Epi Kardia" mean at the heart. At Epi Kardia, we feel the heart of home education is the Christ-centered mentoring and discipling relationship between parents and their children. Read a review of Epi Kardia at The Curriculum Choice