Monday, July 30, 2012

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop - Day 1: Homeschool Methods

I am so excited to be participating in the Schoolhouse Review Crew's Back to Homeschool Blog Hop! Many of my fellow Crewbies and I will be blogging about Homeschool Topics all week and posting our link-ups to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.   We are blogging topics that are near and dear and I think it will be fun!  I can't wait to check out what homeschooling looks like in everyone else's house!  :)

Todays topic is Homeschool Methods...

I know right?  If you are new to homeschooling you may be asking..."What?  There are methods to this madness??"  Believe it or not, there are...and chances are you already subscribe to a certain method without even realizing it!  If you don't, that is ok too...because there is a method for that - knows as the eclectic method of homeschooling.  The eclectic method of homeschooling allows for this n' that and a lot of whatever you want!  In fact I'd say most homeschoolers follow their preferred method with an eclectic twist. 

In our homeschool, our preferred method is the Charlotte Mason Education method.  First, I'll tell you about Charlotte and her method, then that will explain why we like it.

Charlotte Mason was born in 1842 in Wales, England.  She was home-educated by her parents until their death when she was 16.  At that point she enrolled in school, earned a teaching certificate and began teaching.  It was during this time that she began to desire that all children, regardless of social class, should have access to a well-rounded and generous education.  She fulfilled her dreams by writing several books on parenting, character training, education and teaching, and even her own series on geography.  After moving to Ambleside, England in 1891 she established the House of Education that became a training school for governesses, teachers and others who worked with young children.

Some basic tenets of a Charlotte Mason Education include:

1.  Real/Living Books:  Charlotte Mason believed that dry, factual (boring), committee-written textbooks take the joy out of learning for children.  Living books, written by a single author who is passionate about their work, give children the ability to read about history, science, etc by someone who is/was engaging.  Charlotte Mason insisted on "twaddle-free" books, or in other words, books that are dumbed down.

2.  Narration:  Children are expected to be able to verbalize what they read after only one reading.  This requires the child to train their habit of attention.

3.  Habit Training:  Charlotte wanted to instill the value of good habits in everyone so as to make them productive members of society.  I just listened to a great audio by Sonia Schafer called Laying Down the Rails and she talks about all 60 of the good habits Charlotte wants individuals to have. Sixty is a lot!  Whew!  Habits include: honesty, prayer, cleanliness, compassion and so forth.

4.  No Grades, ho homework, short lessons:  Children need to love to learn purely for the LOVE of learning, not for external rewards like grades, stickers, etc.  Homework in the little years is unnecessary and short lessons keep children focused.

5.  Nature Study:  Charlotte wanted children to be children.  Playing outdoors for several hours a day, she felt, was the best way to help children appreciate God's creations, learn about science and enjoy the health benefits of Play.  Encourage children to carry a sketch pad and document what they see and narrate what they discovered are all ways of learning that are fun and engaging.

6.  Fine Arts:  Picture study, composer study and poetry get children in touch with history.

There is much more to a Charlotte Mason Education that what I have listed here, but the above are the top 6 reasons I homeschool this way.  I love how a Charlotte Mason Education is a discipline and lifestyle.  We love reading real and living books to help us learn about people and history.  I think, when history is presented in this manner, it is so much easier to remember because you learned about someone's story and not just factual material.  Narration has been a hard skill to learn but I can see why it is so important for your child to listen for information and be able to verbalize it back to you - when they can tell you about it - then they understand it! Working on habit training has been eye-opening as I've come to realize how many bad habits I have!  I need to improve greatly in order to be a better example to my girls!

So, you may be wondering what the Charlotte Mason Method looks like in our homeschool?  Well, we've made it super easy on ourselves and use Sonlight.

Sonlight Curriculum 

Sonlight is a literature-based homeschool curriculum that is very Charlotte-Mason-like in its approach.  Using living books to teach history and science, Sonlight offers an easy-to-follow, but super-flexible schedule.  Do a little or do a lot.  The books we have read this year are all wonderful, classic stories that are twaddle-free.  For example:  The House at Pooh Corner,  James Herriot's Treasury for Children, Curious George, Mary on Horseback, Here's a Penny, The Boxcar Children, The Wizard of Oz, Mother Goose and a whole lot more!  It has been the best homeschool decision I have made and both my girls are loving it!  We snuggle up on the couch to read and it is "school."  We find ourselves discussing what we read over dinner and if we forget to read a chapter, Maggie is the one bringing me the books!  I am thrilled to instill a love of learning and reading in my girls.

This is my first year using Charlotte Mason and Sonlight so I am still early in my learning.  In fact, as we speak I have the Classical Education classic, The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer waiting to be read.   We will be incorporating many of her ideas into our homeschool this year as well (which probably has Charlotte turning over in her grave - lol) but that is a blog post for later in the week when we discuss co-ops!

If you'd like to learn more about the Charlotte Mason approach to learning, here are a few links for you to check out and a few books I'd recommend.  Thanks for stopping by!  Come back tomorrow if you want to read Day 2:  Homeschool Curriculum.  I'll be talking about a lot more than Sonlight!

Find out more about Homeschool Methods by browsing the links from my fellow crewmates!


  1. I'm afraid to read the Well Trained Mind in case I change my mind again which would be a shame when everything is working so well for us. LOL

  2. I love a lot of what Charlotte did! We don't follow ALL her philosophies, but if I had to choose one that we're most like, I would say HER...but with a lot of traditional thrown in. Thanks for sharing! Stopping by from the Crew Hop!

  3. We are first year Sonlighters as well! Love the living books idea and the idea of playing in nature (of course, that never seems to happen)!

  4. Cute little girls you have! Enjoy them and I hope you have a blessed homeschool journey. I'm guessing this is only your first, or second year...they go by fast. :-)


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