At first glance, a Charlotte Mason education might seem a bit unstructured. It might seem a bit “light” or “non-academic.” This is why a Charlotte Mason education needs more than a casual look, it requires a digging-in kind of study to really understand her vision for the education of children. BUT, her philosophies also lend themselves well to “easing in” to things and a “one step at a time” kind of commitment. I think that’s why her style is what has stuck with me in all my years of homeschooling. From easing in, to a rigorous 13-year plan, Charlotte Mason has been my faithful companion.
Are you new to Miss Mason’s ideas? Why not choose 1 or 2 of her ideas and apply them to your life? I say “life” because in my gradual research and understanding of the CM principles, I’ve come to understand that hers is an education of persons; young and old alike benefit from such an education and a lifetime of learning may come from not trying to cram “school” into the hours of 9-3. Why not study nature at a park on Saturday morning? Why not visit an art museum, as a family, on a Sunday afternoon? Who says poetry can’t be part of a bedtime routine? I think breaking free from the school hours is when life-learning really happens.
As I’ve been finalizing my 13-year homeschooling plan (which I modify and tweak every couple of years based on my own learning & growth), I’ve kept this life-learning idea at the forefront of my mind. What kind of studies will really be valuable to my children as persons? What kind of ideas will challenge them mentally and spiritually? Is this plan appealing to me, as an adult, so that I will enjoy interacting and dialoguing with them as they partake? The most outstanding change in this plan from my previous, is my desire to choose books and materials that are not written to the child. I am not afraid to use a college-level book to teach my 4th grader. I am not afraid to use a book meant to span the school years of 1st-8th grade and trust that I don’t need a curriculum which requires a new purchase every year. This round of my Charlotte Mason study has reminded me that a real education is not one geared to children, but one that instills habits and fosters passions that may last a lifetime.
I am not a CM purist, so my plan is sprinkled with some classical ideas and some traditional ideas; that is what makes our homeschooling experience uniquely ours. You can find our 13-year plan here https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByMQ4jESSIG5aWF5cll5a1BIdVE/view?usp=sharing. I hope you are inspired to continue learning and studying and finding a plan that is uniquely yours. Because a lifetime of learning IS the Charlotte Mason way.