One of the very best things about homeschooling your kids is that you are free to choose any philosophy of teaching you wish. Paying attention to the way your child learns and adhering to his/her needs in the classroom is a huge benefit that homeschooled kids have. Many of you reading this review may have chosen to homeschool for the very reason that your child could not learn the in the style being taught at a traditional school. There are plenty of styles of schooling your kids out there. There’s Classical, Eclectic, Unit Study-based, Unschoolers, and more. But the style that has most worked with our family is the Charlotte Mason approach.
In a nutshell, Charlotte Mason was an educational reformer that live in England in the late 1800’s. She completely disagreed with how school worked and thought it could be better. She had no children of her own, but she made it her life’s mission to improve the educational system as it was. She set to work and started her own school. I love a woman willing to go against the grain!
Her philosophy can be hard to adopt for homeschoolers that were brought up in public (or private) school because it is so different from “regular” school. With a CM approach you use no text books. Everything is taught on a literature-based standard. Instead of having children memorize names and dates and cram for tests, you would read interesting and exciting literature to paint a mental picture that sticks with them…encouraging a love of learning.
So…pardon me for the long introduction. I’ll get the the review now :). It can be difficult in the beginning to know how to use this philosophy, but I’ll share some of my very favorite Charlotte Mason guides that really helped me. (Please note: There are TONS of great websites and books to help you learn more, but these are my most “beat-up” CM books…meaning they are dog-eared, highlighted, “coffee-ringed”, and creased!)
Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola: Karen Andreola is a forerunner for starting the Charlotte Mason revival in the homeschooling community. She has written many books about teaching certain subjects the CM way, but this book is a compilation of allaspects of teaching the CM way. The contents include everything you need to know. She includes a background about what drew her to the CM method and bumps along the way. The book is sprinkled with personal stories about her life as a homeschool mom. She stresses the importance of having a support system and possibly even starting your own CM group. Each chapter ends with discussion questions and room for notes.
A Charlotte Mason Education Series by Catherine Levison: These are the books that first got me excited about CM. I love the way Catherine writes and her clear explanation of everything she discusses. Her series is made of three separate titles:
The first book is an overview of each school subject and how to do them the way CM would have. The second book goes a bit more in depth and gives great ideas for your classroom. Both books have great examples, lists, and sample schedules to help you get started.
The third book in the series is a compilation of books that CM used in her teaching and newer books that follow her guidelines of teaching. There are many books reviewed and I use many of them in our homeschool. This book also includes a great scope and sequence of grades K-12. It’s a wonderful way to get started, even if you don’t follow it all the way through high school, it’s a great starting point.
Catherine’s website also includes excellent articles that I’ve read over and over.
Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg with Charlotte Mason helps. A few others that come to mind are:
- Simply Charlotte Mason (website)
- Living Books Curriculum (website + curriculum)
- Penny Garner’s Charlotte Mason Website
- Ambleside Online (website + curriculum)
- For the Children’s Sake by Susan Macaulay
- When Children Love to Learn by Elaine Cooper
-Written by Alicia, a Charlotte Mason-loving, mom of three. You can find her blogging at La Famille.