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A Charlotte Mason Education; A Home Schooling How-To Manual Review by Brittney Rutherford

More Charlotte Mason Education; A Home Schooling How-To Manual
A Literary Education
Catherine Levison
PO Box 738
Winlock, Washington 98596

As a homeschooling parent, I have spent quite a bit of time researching and learning through trial and error. Now, one of the first things I recommend to new homeschooling parents, before trying to wade through curriculum choices, is to research homeschool styles and determine what will best suit their family’s needs. I most closely identify with the Charlotte Mason method, and once I learned that it was much easier to figure out how to educate my children. Once a parent learns how they want to begin homeschooling, there are great resources available, and Catherine Levison can help anyone get started with the Charlotte Mason method! Levison’s objective in writing homeschooling books was to help other parents understand the philosophy and get started quickly so they could begin reaping the benefits.

A Charlotte Mason Education; A Home Schooling How-To Manual is Levison’s first homeschooling book. She immediately informs the reader that her writings are not meant to replace Mason’s original writings. Mason’s writings are numerous and dense though, so having Levison’s book as a “quick-start” guide helps the parent have a practical overview of how to start quickly and efficiently. The author also makes it clear that it is not necessary to purchase a curriculum or to choose a book just because Charlotte Mason mentioned it, and that Mason’s methods can be applied with any appropriate living book. This is a refreshing reminder as more and more curricula are popping up and proclaiming their status as the newest, most modern, most effective, or purest implementation of Mason’s method. I take comfort in Levison’s assurance that if I can read Mason’s books, I can implement the method myself. She is honest though and clarifies when she adapts the method to suit her family’s needs. Just under 90 pages, this book is a quick read and a solid introduction to implementing Charlotte Mason’s methods. It gives enough information for those that are interested in learning more to feel prepared to read Mason’s writings.

More Charlotte Mason Education; A Home Schooling How-To Manual is Levison’s follow-up book. In this book, she explores various aspects and goes further in-depth. The book is longer, at 200 pages, and is an informative book for those that might need a little bit more handholding with specific areas of Mason’s teachings. Where the first book looks at the very basics such as the subjects and how to teach them, this book goes into details with scheduling, with a chapter called Segment Planning, that looks at different options for scheduling out the school year, creating a timetable and using planning books. Every family has unique needs, and Levison respects that, stressing that anyone can still adapt the method and make it their own. There is a section on high school, and another great chapter called Questions & Answers, where Levison responds to common questions she receives. She addresses topics like transitioning to Charlotte Mason from other methods, what to do when everyone struggles with poetry, and identifying twaddle. The book itself is full of useful information and suited well for those that are already trying to implement Mason’s methods.

Catherine Levison’s third homeschooling book, A Literary Education, is a more specific resource. Her first books were the how, and this book is the what. It is an annotated list of favorite books and resources that can be used in aiding a childhood education. She concedes that many are classics and should be well-known, but also understands that readers may not have had the same education they are seeking for their children or students, and wants to provide a list that offers great books for everyone to enjoy. The lists are divided so that each chapter focuses on a general subject area: Literature, History, Science & Nature, Poetry, Art, Miscellaneous, Biographies, and Music are all covered. Miscellaneous has a handful of books that cover topics like home crafts, Christmas, or etiquette.

Each entry on the list includes the book’s title, author, ISBN or publisher and copyright date. She also includes an estimated Independent Reading Level and page count. She also includes a brief synopsis. All this information is to help the reader choose the books that are best suited for their individual children, their family reading or school studies. I would recommend reading through the lists once to become familiar with the titles, but it is a small paperback, just under 100 pages, that could fit into a purse while out book browsing. While it cannot contain every living book that is suitable for homeschool, it can provide a nice start for curating a personal homeschool library. The final few pages of the book offer a generalized kindergarten through twelfth-grade scope and sequence that one might use as a general guideline and starting point for choosing books.

These books are a collection of Catherine Levison’s research and experience with Charlotte Mason’s methods, and her knowledge and familiarity with the subject matter are obvious. I had read A Charlotte Mason Education when we first started our homeschooling journey, but it was a nice refresher after I have bounced around a little in our homeschool as our family has grown. More Charlotte Mason Education has been good for helping me dig deeper into some of the aspects where I was slacking, and I have already found new titles to read to my kids in A Literary Education. Each book offers a distinctive look at a living, breathing education through the Charlotte Mason method, and I can recommend them for anyone interested in applying the method to their homeschool. The books are clear and concise, practical, and timeless.

-Product review by Brittney Rutherford, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2019