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Charlotte Mason Basics

Updated on June 8, 2015

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.

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Articles About CM Philosophy - for a quick read

These articles will give you a concise introduction to CM. More indepth resources follow.

Which best describes you?

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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.

When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today
When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today

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 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.

Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series
Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series

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

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!

Narration can also be done in creative ways -- drawings, dioramas, acting out dramas, lapbooks, or notebooking.

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.

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!

Whisper and Shout - Poems to Memorize

Whisper and Shout: Poems to Memorize
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.

Dictation

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.

Literature Based Curricula

These curricula are literature based using living books as CM espoused.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Wow Jimmie! This is a really neat page! Thanks for including me. Off to explore all of your links.... :-)

      ~Heather

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I have bookmarked this little gem to come back to over and over again. Thanks again for including me as well.

      Heather D.

    • groovyoldlady profile image

      groovyoldlady 9 years ago

      Stellar again. You are amazing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Jimmie, Why am I just now finding this??!! Awesome resource. I'll be adding it to my blog links soon. Thanks for all your hard work!!

      Cindy

      www.homeschoolblogger.com/westward

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      As a principal of a Charlotte Mason school, I have found that students need instruction in how write narrations. After much searching for an instructional resource on this topic, I discovered nothing. Because I am a writer, I decided to write a book called "My Little Handbook of Written Narrations" for CM students in grades 4-8. Go to Lulu.com to find out more. Just type the name of the book in the search area. I think your child will appreciate the help.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      www.bixbyblabs.blogspot.com

      Thank you for putting this all together. This is EXTREMELY helpful to those just starting out.

      God bless...Angela

    • profile image

      akrause2112 9 years ago

      Interesting information on a subject matter I am not familiar with! I love to learn new things. This has made an excellent addition to the BIG LENSES Group!

    • kellywissink lm profile image

      kellywissink lm 8 years ago

      Hi Jimmie!

      I'm a homeschooling mom too.Your Homeschooling resources are fabulous!

      5 stars

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 8 years ago

      Awesome lens! You put a lot of love into this and it shows! You reminded me of a lot of the best things about CM, things I've been *meaning* to do with my little ones! Thanks, 5stars, faved!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      This is really nice. I'm trying to learn what CM style hsing is about. Okay, for my question. If you were to recommend one book on CM to somebody who doesn't really know what it is all about, which one would it be?.

    • jimmielanley profile image
      Author

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Rhonda,

      Great question. To be perfectly honest, I'd simply read CM's own words. All her works are in the public domain and can be found online (see links above).

      But if you really want a book written by someone else, making her ideas practical, I'd read A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by: Karen Andreola. But all of the books on this lens are highly recommended as good CM starters.

    • MommaKnows LM profile image

      MommaKnows LM 8 years ago

      Jimmie, this is by far the best Charlotte Mason lens I've seen! I am rather new to CM, but a willing student, and I am trying to learn all I can about her so that my children may benefit. Thank you.

    • profile image

      cindykwest 8 years ago

      Yep, this one's great, too! It's been added to my links. :o)

      Cindy

      http://ourjourneywestward.com

    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 7 years ago

      I have heard about Charlotte Manson before...but didn't really know what it was all about. I've just discovered I'm already doing a fair amount of Charlotte Manson! Now I've got to figure out how math fits into the program. I'll go click on one of your links about that. 5 stars for this wonderful lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Another Great lens Jimmie. I think I should just head up my blog profile with 'see Jimmie's lens first' LOL.

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 7 years ago

      lots of great info here, thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Great squidoo. Thanks so much for putting it together!

    • profile image

      Angelred4kids 7 years ago

      "Dictation at Living, Loving and Learning"

      Hi Jimmie, I was searching for some dictation info and discovered that the above link on your lens has been deleted.

      Just thought I'd let you know.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Jimmie,

      Happened to stop by.Thanks for the great website. You give a broad range of information on Charlotte Mason's methods. Very nice. I noted you direct your visitors to some Thanksgiving goodies. Wanted to pass onto our free Thanksgiving Holiday Helpers that you might enjoy:

      http://www.livingbookscurriculum.com/pdf/HH-Thanks...

      Have a blessed Thanksgiving,

      Sheila Carroll

      Living Books Curriculum

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      You are certainly the home school queen!

    • Barb McCoy profile image

      Barb McCoy 6 years ago

      I am lensrolling this one to my CM High School lens. Thanks Jimmie!

    • Barb McCoy profile image

      Barb McCoy 6 years ago

      I am lensrolling this one to my CM High School lens. Thanks Jimmie!

    • RobininColorado profile image

      RobininColorado 6 years ago

      Great resource! I think this needs to go on my "Methods" page!

    • profile image

      NewApproach 6 years ago

      good stuff. a table of contents would be helpful

    • profile image

      Swift127 5 years ago

      Very informative - a great resource. Thanks!

    • profile image

      RobinDM 5 years ago

      This is an excellent resource. I will be back again! Thank you

    • profile image

      enrich-self-study 4 years ago

      Wow, awesome lens!

    • wolley811 profile image

      wolley811 4 years ago

      Such a rich, rich, resource!! Thank you so much for making this lens!

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