Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Why Choose Charlotte Mason?



As a homeschool mom, do you find yourself dreaming of meandering in the great outdoors exploring nature with your children and snuggling with them on the couch for a good book, but also torn because you desire your children to have the advantages of the excellence that a classical education has to offer with its high standards and discipline? Are you torn between relaxed days where you can simply enjoy life with your children, and a rigorously structured plan that will enable your children to attain to any career goal they set for themselves?

Why choose one or the other? Did you know you can have both?

A Charlotte Mason education offers structure, ease and enjoyment because of its well-rounded, expansive cohesion. It recognizes that the child is a complete, whole person -- not a trainable, formable being who has the potential to be a person "someday," but a full-fledged person right now -- an individual created in the image of God, with a right to know and experience all that's worthwhile in the wide world. It recognizes that education is supposed to do more than prepare a child for a job: education should expose a child to the diversity and vastness of the universe and give him the tools to appreciate all the variety of beauty and delight that the world has to offer. It should prepare him to live a life graced with zest, and full of connections with all kinds of interests, and a wide range of relationships with people -- not just the people around him, but also those in faraway places, and even distant times. His education should encourage him to find joy in being a useful part of his community. It should teach him to know God. Preparation for a career is important, but it's only one part of a full, rich life.

How can an education fill such a tall order? By carefully arranging an unusually wide variety of subjects in brief time slots at regular intervals that make for shorter school days with less tedious drudgery, and yet still cover a wider range of topics every week than a typical school schedule can offer. A shorter school day allows down time for reflection and dreaming. It allows free time for pursuing interests that have been awakened from the vast array of school subjects.

How does a Charlotte Mason education do this? If you imagine school like a huge church pot-luck laid out fresh every day, the curriculum offers carefully planned and arranged dishes such as lush paintings, constellations and planetary orbits, inspiring symphonies, the seed cycle of flowers, a selection of classic literature rotated for freshness, multiplication and division, Scripture, historical heroes, language arts, principles of the laws of nature, hymns that have built the faith of generations, peeks at what life was like in past ages, the beauty of words arranged in poetry, right triangles, a view of how people live on the other side of the world. All of this delicious fare is served in manageable-sized portions that won't cause indigestion, and without rushing or harassment so that the meal can digest and settle comfortably. The parent/teacher isn't there to force feed anybody, but to serve up portions with a smile, to sit down and even enjoy the meal with the child.

Each child's approach to the table is as individual as his personality. Some children take a heaping pile of art and just a little bit of math. Other children return for second helpings of history, or go back to nibble at science later. The only rule is that every child has to at least try a bite of everything every day. These dishes aren't just facts and data to be choked down like a vitamin-enhanced diet shake. They're ideas that spark curiosity, inspire wonder, and perhaps even lead to life-long passions.

Does the number of subjects sound like the makings of a long school day? It doesn't have to be! A Charlotte Mason school day is typically only two to four hours, depending on the child's age/grade. How can that be? Encouraging focused attention makes these lessons effective, even though they're short. Interesting, narrative books take the place of boring textbooks and maximize time by doing triple duty as they teach, inspire, and offer role models. To make the biggest impact in a student's limited school time, only a few of the best books are preferred over a lot of mediocre ones. Children assimilate not only the best ideas from these books, but the language and vocabulary of excellent writers, too -- and without weekly vocabulary lists!

Does it take a lot of memorization for a child to remember what they learn? No! The key to Charlotte Mason isn't memorization, but narration. A child tells back or writes down what was heard or read in his own words, and the process of mentally going over the material as he clarifies, sequences, and re-creates it in verbal form is what transforms reading into real learning. Narration itself is where the learning takes place! Learning isn't a passive activity, it's something the child does himself by wrestling with fresh material. The parent/teacher's task is to set the meal table at regular times; the child's job is to attend, be engaged, and narrate for the short time school is in session. By recognizing that learning is the child's work, and that it's rewarding work (after all, who doesn't enjoy knowing and understanding things?), pressure is taken off the parent/teacher to make the child learn, and school can become a pleasure. A Charlotte Mason education is enjoyable and life-enriching for both the parent/teacher and the student, yet it provides the kind of knowledge that any classical scholar would envy.

Are you wondering whether you could ever afford this kind of education for your child? Yes, you can! AmblesideOnline offers all of this for free. All you need is access to a computer, some books, and an investment of time to grasp this approach to learning.

-- Leslie Noelani Laurio
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To read more about a Charlotte Mason education, see
http://archipelago7.blogspot.com/2015/03/defining-charlotte-mason.html

To learn more about AmblesideOnline, or to view our booklists, links to free texts, schedules, and additional resources, see http://www.amblesideonline.org/




4 comments:

  1. I love your descriptions! Lovely.

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  2. All of this is why I love Charlotte Mason method and Ambleside Online!

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  3. perfect method for the visual spatial, kinetic learner!

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