Charlotte Mason Curricula
Perhaps this is partly because its creator, Charlotte Mason, sat down and deliberately thought through her philosophy of learning and tailored this to the home situation, which has rarely (if ever) been done in recent history.
Some of the main elements you might find in a CM education are:
- Narration – testing children by asking them to orally tell you what they’ve just heard or learned from a specific lesson or reading. You can also make narration more enjoyable by getting them to narrate in different ways. Do this by creating narration cards or dice.
- Perfect copywork – the purpose of copywork is to practice beautiful writing and improve sloppy handwriting.
- Dictation – asking children to copy out the words they’ve just heard from a passage you read them. As educators are to read the specified passage once only, this makes students pay close attention to what they’ve heard. Before starting dictation, students ought to identify words they’re not sure of so they can get a word-picture in their heads and have more chance of spelling the word correctly. This way of dictation means you’re collaborating with your student, instead of just correcting them like an authoritarian figure. The ultimate purpose of dictation is spelling (as opposed to copywork whose purpose is handwriting practice).
- Short Lessons – Mason believed in keeping lessons short but making children pay full attention to what they heard during the lesson. This way children don’t get bored and learn to be attentive at the times they are required to be paying attention.
- Nature Walks – ever wonder who thought up Scouts? That was Charlotte Mason. Mason believed a great connection with nature (as God’s amazing creation) was a wonderful and engaging way to teach children. As such, a common element of day-to-day Charlotte Mason activities are nature walks – observant walks through green spaces with learning as one of the objectives.
- Guided discovery – drawing your students’ attention to an idea, fact or theme in a passage to encourage them to look more closely at the point that’s trying to be made. This is not forcing the point on them but ‘letting’ them discover it for themselves. This way they’ll remember it more instead of being fed a dry fact which they’re in danger of forgetting as soon as it has been said.
- Good habit training – Mason believed that if you teach children good habits, it will serve them for life. She had many quotes on this, her most famous of which is ‘Habit is ten natures!’
- Teach using living books – we all know how bored we get when we need to read a book that doesn’t interest us. We take little in and retain even less. Mason wanted home educators to use exciting books to teach educational concepts. She called these ‘living books’ (you can explore these books more fully by clicking on the link).
- Gentle learning – instead of drawing a stark line between education and home or work life, Mason believed we should be more inclined to incorporate learning into many things. Education, she believed, should be a way of life rather than a curriculum. You can see this concept in play when you realize what an advocate of outdoor activity and study she was.
Because I love the Charlotte Mason method, I’ve written a good amount on her theories and philosophies. You can find them on this CM page.
But, if you think you need to know everything about her theories to educate your kids using this method, you’d be wrong. All you need to do is get a pre-packed Charlotte Mason curriculum and you’ll be on your way (10 CM curricula are reviewed briefly here)!