From nearly the beginning of our homeschool journey, I have loved following the teachings of Charlotte Mason. I love her honesty, her love for kids, and, to be honest, her rebellion against the “normal” way of educating.
Although I love Charlotte’s way of thinking about education, I try to be careful about getting too hung up on any certain way of homeschooling. Often if I find myself becoming too much of a purist, judgey-ness follows close behind.
So although I love Charlotte, I hold her “rules” loosely. Ultimately I am my kids’ mother, teacher, and I have the last say about what we do in our homeschool. I don’t want rules – good OR bad – to start taking precedence over the way our family naturally operates.
Here are a few ways we follow Charlotte in an everyday way.
Everyday Ways to Follow Charlotte Mason
Reading Fabulous Books
Reading real books is something I grasped right away as a homeschool mama. The concept of twaddle hit me instantly, and soon even my kids could tell the difference between a well-written book and a fluffy one that probably took 15 minutes to write.
When I purchase books, I’m always searching for beautiful, well-written, lasting books that we can collect for years to come. I used to purge my bookshelves a lot. These days, I don’t have to very much. They’re all goodies!
That said, my kids do read some twaddle. You will find some Diary of a Wimpy Kid on my kids’ shelves. But honestly, these books gave some of my children a love of reading! I don’t want to be too rigid about what my kids are reading because more than anything, I want them to love to read.
And I think Charlotte would agree.I don't want to be too rigid about what my kids are reading because more than anything, I want them to love to read.
Lots of Time Outdoors
While we probably don’t spend 5 hours outside every day like Charlotte suggested, we do make sure to get outside each and every day. The girls play in the yard and create all sorts of secret worlds and fairy palaces and all kinds of magical goodness.
The boys are constantly on the trampoline or playing catch or riding their bikes. We go on nature walks. We go on family hikes and bike rides almost daily.
I so agree with Charlotte when she says that even in the cold children need to get outdoors. We are relatively new Minnesotans and have had only one winter here.
I can say that it was probably the best cold winter I’ve ever experienced. There was snowshoeing, cross country skiing, outdoor nature classes, skiing and snowboarding, and on and on.
The people here embrace winter and live it up even when it’s cold! We were quick to catch on and loved spending so much time outside this winter.
Cold days make it extra special when you come in, start the fire, and read together with hot drinks.
When Charlotte made such a huge deal about teaching kids habits, she was speaking as an experienced child-educator. When children are trained to do the next thing, our days go so much smoother. Around here some habits that we have mastered pretty well are:
- making beds right away in the morning
- one morning chore per day
- clearing places after meals
- putting shoes in lockers
- handing work in, in a specific spot each day after school
Some habits we are going to work on a little harder this year are:
- not interrupting each other or mama when she’s on the phone
- putting belongings away when they are through with them (one of my children really needs this habit)
- neatness and thoroughness in their schoolwork
- overcoming forgetfulness
Looking at Nature
Each of my kids loves nature. Since we have such a vast swing in temperatures here in Minnesota, the seasons are each so beautiful. We never run out of things to study in our own yard!
Nature study has changed over the years of homeschooling. We’ve gone from a more weekly study to a more sporadic, but more in-depth study. This winter we tapped our trees for sap and had the best time learning about it! It ran over to history and science and geography, too.
Keeping things Short
Something we started from the beginning and never steered from was short lessons. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s my kids, but after about 45 minutes, we are all sort of done.
Our school day looks something like this: Morning Meeting (30-40 minutes), math lesson (30-45 minutes), language arts (30 minutes), and then after lunch, a science or history lesson (30-45 minutes) and that’s it!
They might work on something independently after that like foreign language or typing practice. But short lessons are definitely where it’s at for us. Charlotte’s rule was right about that!
Holding loosely to any homeschooling philosophy is wise. With each year we grow older and wiser, and we change! We can’t be expected to be purists. Keep learning, keep adjusting, and keep on doing what’s right for your family.
Do you incorporate Charlotte Mason philosophies in your homeschool? Which ones work best for your family?
This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.