A Charlotte Mason Review

Homeschooling is a popular topic among the moms group I occasionally attend. So when I found A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola on the interstate library catalog, I recognized the name and picked it up. But I was surprised to find that the Charlotte Mason method was not what I thought it was.

For some reason, I was under the impression that Charlotte Mason believed good education was based on good books alone, but that’s not the whole story. Andreola described Mason’s priorities and emphasis in her Companion book, which included living books instead of textbooks, narrations instead of testing, exploration in nature instead o long lessons, delayed schooling until age 6, and developing an atmosphere in the home that inspires kids to think, create, and experiment.

In the end, the Mason method is similar to the style of homeschooling that has begun to bloom in our elementary homeschool.

Instead of trying to explain in this short post what I like about Mason’s concepts, I recommend that you read Andreola’s book for yourself, and I’ll leave you with a few of the quotes that left an impression on me.

It should not be ‘How much has a child covered’, but ‘How much does the child care?’

We can’t teach them everything. What can we do? We can expand their horizons with a wider range of interests and then practice the fine art of education – that art of standing aside to let a child develop the relations proper to him. It is needless to worry about the “holes” if we believe that ‘education consists in the establishment of relations [with God, man, ourselves, and the universe]‘.

Put the ‘little minds’ of children out of your thoughts. Children have just as big minds as we have.

The best work is not visible: it does not employ the reasoning here, the imagination there. It employs the whole mind, for the mind is a whole, not a parcel of faculties.

Charlotte Mason spoke of three ways to motivate children to learn without grading them: the atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit, and the presentation of ideas. Her motto was “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life”. It feels so good to finally hear someone point out that education is not a certain number of years worth of schooling, but a lifelong process to be enjoyed. I will be incorporating more of her ideas in my homeschool for sure!

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