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Charlotte Mason Curriculum and Programs for Homeschooling Families
The Charlotte Mason method of teaching has been embraced by homeschoolers but many are confused how to implement it. A number of curricula manufacturers have come to the rescue with Charlotte Mason inspired programs that are preplanned for busy homeschooling parents.
These plans vary from providing the parent with plans for just one subject to plans, resources, and materials for an entire grade level. This makes it easy for anyone to implement the Mason style of learning without needing to read through the entire Charlotte Mason series that was written in the very early 1900s.
What Is the Charlotte Mason Method?
Charlotte Mason, an educator in Victorian Britain, believed that children learned best when the lessons were short and interesting; tailored to the child's age and attention span. There are several key components of this method:
- Copy work or copying age appropriate classic literature to learn grammar and style
- Experiential lesson where the child learns by experience as much as possible
- "Living books" or books that present information in an interesting and entertaining way
- Nature notebooks are used for recording what the child sees and learns outside
- Short, exciting lessons, no more than 20 minutes long
Any curriculum that is Charlotte Mason based will include a lot of reading. It is not a program that allows a parent to separate themselves from their child's education. While this is an excellent method it isn't practical for the parent that needs a lot of free time or is unable to work closely with their child during the day
Packaged Charlotte Mason Curriculum
If you are uncomfortable planning your own Charlotte Mason style lessons you will be happy to know that there are a few companies that make curricula and/or have created lesson plans based on this method.
Ambleside Online is free for anyone to use. It is an online resource that follows the Mason method very closely, even using the original lesson plans. Including on the site are the lesson plans for every year up through 12th grade, links to many of the required books so that they can be read online without cost, and message boards and articles to allow you to learn more about the method, ask questions, and share information with like minded parents.
Your costs will be quite minimal requiring only basic supplies like paper and pens, access to a library for the books that are not available online, and a computer with Internet access. You will need to supplement the program with a math curriculum that you like and if your child is not reading you will need a phonics/reading program as well.
Five in a Row
Five in a Row (FIAR) is not exclusively Charlotte Mason but its focus on living books makes it very compatible with this method. FIAR is for children from preschool to young elementary and requires a time commitment on the part of the parent. Most of the books used can be found at your local library, making this an affordable curriculum option.
You and your child will read the same book aloud for a week (thus "five in a row") and study different aspects of the book from geography to science. Each week there are a large variety of suggested activities so that you can easily individualize this to the needs of your family.
Mater Amabilis has a very structured approach to the Mason method of learning; more so than most curricula using this method. Students will adhere to a very strict schedule but it allows them to complete a grade level in 36 weeks, with a small time investment of only two hours per day.
Mater Amabilis encourages independent study more so than other programs as well. Students are required to read their own material and books from age nine up, growing more independent each year.
There is a Yahoo group for teacher training as well as support from the site itself. This curriculum is written from a Catholic worldview.
SCM is a Mason curriculum guide from SimplyCharlotteMason.com, a site which has been created to encourage parents in all aspects of Charlotte Mason homeschooling. The guide is a loose schedule for each year with suggested books and resources for each grade and tips to implement them in your homeschooling experience.
While Sonlight curriculum is not specifically Charlotte Mason, it does use the Mason concept of living books and short lessons. Your child will read a variety of classic literature and other books do narrations and copy work, and a variety of other activities. You will get lesson plans and schedules, notes, and tips for implementing the program plus you can purchase this curriculum in packages and get it all at once.
The Tanglewood School has curriculum up through junior high. They use a combination of both the Mason and Classical approaches for a well rounded, rich learning experience for your child.
The core of this curriculum is the Corebook; a lesson planner and recorder with many more components. In fact, the parent is not given written lesson plans for each day but encouraged to record what has been accomplished each day after the fact. Goals are noted, and a report is made after every six week segment to give you a view of your progress and create accountability.
The concept is more child led than most Classical approaches but more structured than many Charlotte Mason plans, giving your child the best of both ideologies.
Charlotte Mason Curriculum for Individual Subjects
If you just want to add a few Charlotte Mason based subjects to your regular homeschool plan you can also do that. Resources based on the Charlotte Mason method include:
On the blog, Charlotte Mason Help there is a plan given for 10 school years worth of music appreciation.
ArtK12 is a curriculum that can be used for history as well as art appreciation. It has a lot of projects for hands on fun as well as information about a variety of artists, art styles, etc.
Making Math Meaningful is one of the primary math programs that is compatible with Charlotte Mason methodology. It uses manipulatives and is good for all learning styles.
Pre-Planned Curriculum Saves Time
The Charlotte Mason method is an excellent way of teaching your children, however reading the full series, written in Victorian language and complex sentence structures, can take more time and concentration than most parents have available. By using curriculum and lesson plans that have already been put together you can save time. This gives you more time to do what you really want to do – teach your children and have quality time together as a family.