What are some of the key elements of a Charlotte Mason-style education?
Reading: Charlotte Mason detested what she referred to as “twaddle.” Twaddle was any story that was simple and meaningless, void of any real benefit to the child. Living books were very important to her. She didn’t believe real learning should be limited to textbooks that put you to sleep trying to read them. Living books went beyond the words and brought the subject to life. She would have loved to see all the fantastic historical fiction books available to kids today!
Copywork/Narration/Dictation: Copywork’s intention is to practice handwriting, spelling, and grammar. By copying a specific passage (often on lined paper or paper formatted with a handwriting font for the child to imitate), the child learned the shape of the letters, how to spell a variety of words, and how to put the words together into complete and proper sentences. When the copywork was excerpted from Scripture or great literature, the child was also exposed to great ideas and concepts.
Narrating is simply the student telling back what he has read or studied in his own words. This encourages comprehension as the student must pay attention to what he is reading and absorb it rather than simply skim the words on a page.
Dictation is the practice of a student familiarizing himself with a passage until he is comfortable writing it out, with correct punctuation and spelling, on his own as you read the passage to him.
Science: Charlotte Mason wanted science to be experienced. She insisted on nature walks and encouraged journaling and sketching about everything that was observed. The life cycle of a butterfly may sound dull on paper, but to observe it is something else entirely. Reading about moss would certainly put me to sleep, but studying moss in the environment and learning about the part it plays in ecosystems highlights the brilliance of our Creator and can light a spark in children.
Art and Classical Music: By repeated and purposeful exposure, Charlotte Mason believed children benefited from the masters and were inspired to create beautiful things of their own.
Handicrafts: Charlotte Mason knew learning wasn’t limited to academic subjects. She put great importance on allowing children to explore talents and gifts that were outside the scope of traditional subjects.
Next Thursday we’ll talk about how you can incorporate elements of the Charlotte Mason style into your writing.
This post is Part Two of a four-part series: How to Write for the Homeschool Market: The Charlotte Mason Method. Enjoy the rest of the series here.
What Are the Key Elements of the Charlotte Mason Style?