Charlotte Mason and Self Education

“Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature.”  ~ Charlotte Mason

One of the biggest things I find attractive about the methodology of Charlotte Mason is the self-education.  I find that in all the methods I've tried or researched or discussed with others, it is the method that seems best able to offer a child the ability to learn self-education. This is so because it focuses on developing a love for learning using methods involving all five senses without methods that kill that love.  It is not a methodology like our public schools where they test to see what a child does NOT know, but gives 'examinations' to determine what a child does know.  There is no dry boring textbooks with countless questions to answer, no weekly quizzes or tests to memorize the information for and forget the following week,and no lecturing.  The child develops a true love for learning in Charlotte Mason's techniques involving the heavy emphasis of LIVING books and short lessons with a large variety of subjects taught each and every year.

I'm really enjoying  reading A Charlotte Mason Education (A Home Schooling How-To Manual) by Catherine Levison.  It's providing a great overview of teaching various subject matter with the Charlotte Mason method. It's  a quick read and is covering lots of subject matter that I won't necessarily use just yet (my son is only 4) but gives me a great resource to determine when I might start introducing things and a book I can turn to over and over again for review and ideas.

The book is broken down into 20 chapters.  The first three chapters focus on an introduction to Charlotte Mason, the basic methodology and narration.  The remaining chapters all cover how to cover basic subject matter:  literature, poetry, art appreciation, music appreciation, science, math, history, etc.  I'm about halfway through.

Just last night I ordered a sketch pad for my son and I to use as a nature journal.  I have some ideas on how to introduce this concept to him this year in a basic way.  I'm really excited about developing a habit of nature walks and nature observation outdoors.  We

This is an acorn, something we observed quite a few of the other day on our walk. The picture isn't mine - I borrowed it from the internet this morning I'll either start taking my phone with me on our walks (I really should buy a new camera and learn how to upload my pictures) or use the computer to show him how to find pictures and print them out for our notebook.

started last week but without a notebook.  My plan is to simply spend time outdoors with him (my goal really is 5 times a week but I'm not sure I'll be able to keep up with it in winter - I'm a true sissy when it comes to the cold so if you have pointers on this, I'd love to hear them!) and allow him to pick something new several times a week to come back and either draw a picture of something we discovered or find a picture on the web to print, cut and paste into his notebook so I can label it for him.  He's four, so I won't have him write the words in his notebook unless of course, he wants to in which case I'll write the word somewhere else for him to copy.  It won't be something forced.  If there's a day he doesn't want to do the notebook, we'll let it go.  This is just our introductory year - for him and for me.

Are  you using the Charlotte Mason method?  Feel free to share your favorite resources or favorite activities.  I'd love to hear about them!


“ object is to show that the chief function of the child--his business in the world during the first six or seven years of his life--is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses...”  ~Charlotte Mason

6 thoughts on “Charlotte Mason and Self Education

  1. thepantrybook

    Hi OrthodoxMom! You might consider keeping your own nature notebook instead of having your son keep one. If he wants to do what he sees you doing (and enjoying!) then certainly don't stop him, but I think he's too young to make it part of his schooling. More likely he will want to collect and bring home some nature specimens (interesting piece of bark, acorn, pinecone, etc.) and these can make a lovely collection - a la nature shelf or nature table - for further observation at home. Really the best thing at his age is just to do what you are doing - be out in nature together and then call his attention to things, share his enjoyment of new discoveries, etc.. For your notebook, instead of pasting a picture from a book or the internet, you should try to paint it in dry brush watercolor and find out what it is called so you can label it in your notebook. Of course it will never be perfect, but that's not the point. In trying to paint it, you actually change the way you observe it - which is the point. And, the watercolors look really nice in a notebook!
    If I might be permitted to offer even more unsolicited advice, I think you might enjoy a newish CM book called The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason. In the book, Mrs. Bestvater explains the beauty and richness that come from the various notebooks used in the CM method of living. It is my favorite of the ~MANY~ CM books I've ever read. =)

    1. orthodoxmom3

      Thank you for your input! I have considered that and I probably will at least by the end of this school year or beginning of next.... right now I want to be sure we are doing it 'together' to keep him on track of what it is we're doing....keeping him closer in proximity to me so I can guide him in remembering the notebook is for our nature observations and not just random drawing which he loves to do as well. I fully intend to include various aspects into our notebook (pictures, poems, leaves, etc.) and not just our drawings. None of our endeavors are a 'required' part of his schooling. I'm doing the things he enjoys. If he doesn't want to do it, we don't. No, my notebook will not be perfect! LOL. I'll keep the watercolors at bay for awhile.... I'm being brave enough by just attempting to draw. And right now things are too hectic in our life for me to worry over watercolors. Colored pencils are much easier to gather when finished! But I certainly will keep your thoughts in mind for the future when it's more of a routine rather than the 'experimentation' phase we are enjoying. I'll check out that book.... I know I have two more books that pertain to the Charlotte Mason method around here somewhere....probably still in a box and I can only recall the name of one thus far. So I've been trying to restrict my urge to buy more until I'm fully unpacked and see what I have! Hopefully that will be soon. I can't wait to get our bookshelves installed!

  2. Pingback: September Wrap-Up | orthodoxmom3

    1. orthodoxmom3

      Right now, no. We just moved here. But we have a beautiful driveway and lane we live on surrounded by woods. So yes, a five minute walk down the lane would probably be my goal for those cold days!!

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