Charlotte Mason Homeschool WITHOUT Losing Your Mind
I have to admit that I am a HUGE Charlotte Mason fan in our homeschool! In fact, I’m completely CRAZY about this awesome way to teach your children. But I also know that when you first sit down and start reading it, your mind can become a bit bogged down, and it seems overwhelming! Why? I’m glad you asked!
Charlotte Mason is not a curriculum.
Oh, I know there are curriculums that use Charlotte Mason principles and methods. I get it, and some of them are absolutely fantastic. We even use some of them ourselves such as Math for a Living Education, Pathway to Liberty, Sassafras Science, and more. If you want a Charlotte Mason based curriculum, you can find it. However, there is no specific curriculum you must use to homeschool in this method. In fact, you don’t need a curriculum at all if you don’t want one or can’t afford one.
You can truly make up your own because Charlotte Mason uses living books to teach! And while those kinds of books are not the norm in our culture, you can still find them in tons of places. You can order them used from places like eBay, Amazon, or Thriftbooks. You can buy them or borrow audio books from the library or several sites online. I personally used Jim Hodges Audio and Audible. I also buy my kids all the G.A. Henty books on audio. You would be shocked at how much my son has learned from quality audio books. At age nine, he has listened to more difficult books than most adults. For example, he loves Treasure Island, The Swiss Family Robinson, The Railway Children, and his absolute favorite My Side of the Mountain. If I let him, he would listen all day long some days. But while he is a slower reader, he can absorb so much good from these books without having to wait until he can read them fluently.
Good education is not rigid.
You can read the Charlotte Mason method, and you start to think in your mind I have to do ABC in exactly that order in order to have my child be successful at this. But it’s NOT true! Your child is unique! An example here is picture study. My son is nine and quite honestly has zero interest in picture study. My daughter is three and loves it. Go figure! My 6-year-old son enjoys it sometimes, depending on his mood. So, if I am hard and fast on picture study every. single. week, I’m going to get some aggravation from my oldest. It’s just not his thing, and that’s ok. If you need to leave out bits and pieces, it’s going to be just fine. Repeat after me “There is NO recipe for a successful education.” There are recommendations, suggestions, and fantastic ideas. Pick some your family loves and go from there.
Nature study is broad!
Yes! Nature study is BROAD, and that’s a wonderful thing! Nature study for some kids may be journaling and drawing, and for others it may be the messy work of exploring a mud puddle or climbing a tree. It may be picking wild edibles or killing a deer with a bow they made themselves and then tanning the skins. You can’t learn that stuff in a classroom nor can you really build it into a curriculum. It just is real life experience and the ultimate learning!
There for a while, I was getting stressed that my boys did not want to sit down and draw plants outside for an hour. I mean, when I read about doing that it sounded so wonderful. But it just wasn’t happening. I felt like I was doing dental surgery without anesthetic each time. So, I quit and let them explore and study nature their way! And it works and accomplishes the exact same purpose. It builds and nurtures a respect, love, and intimate knowledge of nature.
A TRUE education is completely INDIVIDUAL.
In our current world of automation for everything, it can be highly tempting even in homeschooling to think that we can squish our children into a neat little learning box. But it DOESN’T work and just makes for unhappy mommas and unhappy children. They are individuals, and you may have to tailor their education specifically for them in each area. That sounds like a lot of work, and it can be. But the truth is sometimes we focus on the less important things and forget the super important ones like character building. When we do those first, the others come into their own more easily. For example, it’s pretty useless to expect my son to be excited about practicing his reading if he hasn’t learned diligence or perseverance. Gulp, I can be super guilty in this category. Ultimately, if we teach them the character basics and they imprint them on their hearts, then they can be taught ANYTHING they want to learn. Uh oh. “Want to learn” is key here, and it’s up to us to make it something they want to learn. Yeah, I know, it’s not always possible to have them enjoy absolutely everything they do. That’s not real life. But we can make sure they have books they enjoy and discoveries that excite them and open up a world of adventure for them!
Charlotte Mason is a wonderful method to use while schooling your children. But think of it like your absolutely favorite recipes. You probably tweaked them until you got them just right! So, don’t be afraid to do that with your children’s education. Remember God gave them to you as their momma, not a rigid schoolmaster! You CAN encourage, love, and bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord and have fun doing it!
Jenny is a wife to her amazing husband of 17 years and stay-at-home momma to 4 kids. She blogs at https://www.inconvenientfamily.com where she is learning that blessings aren’t always convenient.