How We Homeschool-Charlotte Mason Edition
Our homeschool style could only be described as eclectic. Our homeschool days ebb and flow with the rhythms of life. But, now that we live in a state where testing is required annually, it’s made me sit down and really evaluate how we approach our children’s education.
We’re a mix of Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Waldorf, and even unschooling. All those on their own definitely do not achieve the same thing, but we take a little of each thing and are rebuilding our approach. Thankfully, over the years, we’ve dabbled fully in each one, so we can confidently choose what to use and what not to use.
Over the next few days, I’m going to talk about what we love about each style of homeschool, and what we don’t. And then next week, I’ll share how we incorporate all of these very different learning methods into our homeschool and life.
First up: Charlotte Mason.
What we love about Charlotte Mason:
- Living Books: We love the beauty of curling up on the couch, grabbing a book specifically on the subject we’re learning about, and diving in. Charlotte Mason was very specific on what to look for in a living book. We’re a little more loose with our requirements, but we still prefer to choose books written either from first hand account of by someone who is passionate about the subject, books that are beautifully illustrated, and books that don’t dumb down the subject matter.
- Nature Study: We got our boys immersed in nature at an early age. We love being out in the woods, exploring and observing the world around us. When they are little, we spend less time explaining specifically what each thing is, but more of a broad spectrum. With Explorer Cub now, we always make sure to have some version of field guide that is appropriate for where we are. We dive deeper into what we’re seeing.
- The Three Prong Approach: I can totally agree that Atmosphere, Discipline, and Life are what make up a child’s education. We easily focus on Atmosphere…I strive to have a cozy, relaxed home for the boys. Some days we fail miserably, but we try. As parents, we work really hard to create a loving atmosphere for our boys…one where they know they are allowed to fail, succeed, and be themselves.
- Art and Music Studies: We immerse the boys in art and music…and have since birth. We love trips to the art museum, always have some music playing in the background, and find poetry that will inspire them. We talk about natural beauty and man made beauty, art in buildings and art in everyday objects. Art in gilded frames and art taped to the wall.
- Copywork: Admittedly, we don’t push this one. But we do find that Explorer Cub is much more apt to practice writing when he’s doing copywork with Bible verses or lines from poetry. So even though we don’t do this one often, it’s still a handy tool to have in our homeschool toolbox.
What we’re not so fond of about Charlotte Mason:
- There’s a lot of reading. And I mean A LOT. If you have a kiddo who loves to read…it’s great. But if you have a kiddo like Explorer Cub who seems to have an automatic eye roll response programming to the words “Let’s sit down and read for a little bit,” Charlotte Mason style learning can get a tad daunting.
- Shakespeare. Look, I love The Bard. I’ve read so many of his plays and sonnets and watch on stage productions whenever I can. And honestly, because of that, I personally don’t feel like Shakespeare is age appropriate for my 8 year old. I may be guilty of shielding him from the subject matter that most of Shakespearean plays approach, but I know my 8 year old. And I know he’d either totally not get it, or dive way too deep into it. Someday, he’ll be ready. But today is not that day.
- Short lesson blocks. I understand the reasoning behind 15 minute blocks of learning. However, I think there is more value for my kids to let them go as long as they need to when they are working on something. And to always let them take a break and come back to it when they are getting overwhelmed.
- Narration/dictation. As with all Charlotte Mason ideology, I understand the reason behind narration and dictation. We even incorporate narration naturally. But I wouldn’t say we rely on it for Explorer Cub’s education. He absorbs things easily, but when you ask him to share his thoughts, he freezes. I have learned that I have to trust that he’s absorbed it and understands.
There are definitely more aspects of Charlotte Mason schooling than what I covered today. These are just the ones that make our list of either love or dislike…the rest live in the gray area and we dabble in them if needed.
Do you use Charlotte Mason homeschooling? What is your family’s favorite part of homeschooling this way? Let me know in the comments!