Charlotte Mason Home Education in a Nutshell

Charlotte Mason (a British educator from the previous century) was a big thinker who had a very high view of children. So let me start out by saying that I do not believe anyone could ever fit Charlotte Mason's ideas, methods and philosophies into an actual nutshell (I just thought it was a good article for this article). Miss Mason's ideas were so broad and far reaching, it took six large volumes to contain her writings on just the topic of education. With that said, here's a very brief overview of a useful of Charlotte Mason's most familiar ideas.

TWADDLE:

Twaddle is what parents and educators today may call "dumbed down" literature. It is serving your children intellectual happy meals, rather than healthy, substantial mind- and soul-building foods. Charlotte Mason advocated avoiding twaddle and feasting children's hearts and minds on the best literary works available.

LIVING BOOKS:

Living books are the opposite of dull, dry textbooks. The people, places and events come alive as you read a living book. The stories touch your mind and heart. They are timeless.

WHOLE BOOKS:

Whole books are the entire of the books the author actually wrote. If the author wrote a book, read the whole book. The opposite of this would be anthologies that include only snippets from other works-maybe a chapter from Dickens, a couple of paragraphs from Tolstoy, etc.

NARRATION:

Narration is the process of telling back what has been learned or read. Narrations are usually done orally, but as the child grows older (around age 12) and his writing skills increase, the narrations can be written as well. Narration can also be accomplished creatively: painting, drawing, sculpting, play-acting, etc.

SHORT LESSONS :

Charlotte Mason recommended spending short, focused periods of time on a wide variety of subjects. Lessons in the early years are only 10-15 minutes in length, but get progressively longer as the children mature. (Lessons increase closer to an hour per subject for high school students.)

NATURE WALKS:

In spite of often rainy, inclement weather, Charlotte Mason insisted on going out once-a-week for an official Nature Walk, allowing the children to experience and observe the natural environment firsthand. These excursions should be nature walks, not nature talks.

DAILY WALKS:

In addition to the weekly Nature Walks, Mason also recommended children spend large quantities of time outside each day, no matter what the weather. Take a daily walk for fun and fresh air.

NATURE NOTEBOOKS:

Nature Notebooks are artist sketchbooks containing pictures the children have personally drawn plants, wildlife or any other natural object found in its natural setting. These nature journals can also include nature-related poetry, prose, detailed descriptions, weather notes, Latin names, etc.

ART APPRECIATION / PICTURE STUDY:

Bring the child into direct contact with the best art. Choose one artist at a time; six paintings per artist; study one painting per week (maybe 15 minutes per week). Allow the child to look at the work of art intentionally for a period of time (maybe five minutes). …