The Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling is a popular philosophy of educating children based on the principles developed in 19th century England by the British author and educator, Charlotte Mason. In her series of 6 books, now known as the Home Education Series, she shared her ideas based on the premise that "education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life" and that "children are born persons." She teaches that children are not empty vessels to be filled but that we must educate the whole person and instill the love of learning through the development of good habits, short, focused lessons, living books, narration and dictation, copywork, art, music and nature studies.
Some reasons this method is chosen:
Short Lessons – Keeping structured teaching time to a minimum can be a benefit for fidgety children with short attention spans. With lessons kept short and focus, seat-work and excessive busy work is pretty much completely eliminated. Charlotte Mason also encouraged all lessons be done in the morning leaving the afternoons open for children to play and explore outdoors and other passions.
Living Books – The use of books that make a topic come alive through stories, biographies, autobiographies and first-hand experiences and passions on a subject can make it easier for the student to remember information as it appeals to the senses and emotions better than a textbook.
Nature Studies – Most children are naturally curious about the world around them and through nature walks and studies, they learn through observation, recording information in journals and creative interaction with what they find. This way of learning can help build an independent learner.
Narration – Used as a key element of evaluating understanding and knowledge of information, having a child explain in their own words what they have read or heard builds their listening and speaking skills as well encourages them to pay attention to details.
Minimal Cost for most materials – Many materials used for this method of education can be found free or at a low cost on the internet, through libraries and elsewhere. However, some older recommended books can be costly to purchase, so you may wish to select substitutes.
Some reasons this method may not be for you:
Reluctant Reader – Because there is an emphasis on reading good literature, a struggling reader or a child who does not like to read may be unenthusiastic about doing what is needed.
No specific curriculum – The Charlotte Mason method is just that, a method, and requires the facilitator to pick and choose the appropriate materials to fit their educational requirements while adhering to the teaching philosophies of the method.
No workbooks, tests or standard grading methods – Just as there is typically no set-in-stone curriculum, there are usually no traditional methods of measuring acquisition of knowledge. If you need formal evidence of your students progress, you may need to enlist the use of other resources to
May have education gaps – Charlotte Mason homeschooling uses a relaxed method of teaching in which a majority of the students' learning is through child-directed observation and at their own pace. There is a possibility that, aside from the formal morning lessons, some important subjects may not adequately be covered. In addition, if strictly following Charlotte Mason's philosophies may neglect modern studies such as computer and technology skills needed in the world today.
Middle and high school transition may be difficult – While this method may work quite well with elementary age children many families have found it a little challenging to transition into the later middle and high school years where more course requirements are more demanding. Some families seek other methods of home educating their older children and more loosely follow the Charlotte Mason methods during this time.