Everyday Ways We Follow Charlotte Mason
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.
Charlotte Mason-style learning plays a huge factor in our homeschool. My 14 year old does all of her learning from living books and notebooking (even her math is LOF, which is literature-based). All of our kids in 7th grade down to kindergarten learn the most through our read-alouds- in fact, the read-aloud is the main focus of our homeschool routine- everything stems from theat- notebooking, lapbooks, unit studies. And I don’t even have to make sure my kids go outside- they’re there the minute our school work is done for the day. I live in a house full of nature lovers!
Thank you for this! I’m new to homeschooling and still trying to figure out which curriculum to use, how many hours a day, etc. I’ve been following your blog since last November and have already learned so much! Just curious, what does your morning meeting entail?
Sure! Here’s a blog post to explain our morning meeting 🙂
Great post! What we are struggling with here are the habits. I wish I could learn more about how families institute them in their own home…
We are still very much in the early learning stages of doing this but here are some things that have helped thus far.
I wrote out (not typed, not printed in a form) what our tentative schedule would be. There is science behind writing things out to remember them better. Also, it was easy to revise over time and rewriting it committed it to memory a little more.
I decided what chores my 7 and 4 year old would do and wrote them out on a piece of card stock. I gave them a few materials and let them decorate the page so long as the words remained uncovered. We hung that up in the kitchen so they can refer to it anytime they want. I even chose their decorating materials according to my kitchen color scheme! If I have to look at it everyday I want it to look nice! =)
The 7-year-old has to make her bed and mine (yep, I have a little baby and my eldest makes my bed!), clean her bathroom (this means straightening it up daily and keeping the sink free of toothpaste, occasionally she’ll do a bigger cleaning), vacuum the living room and hallway every couple of days, pet care, empty dishwasher, and put away laundry after I fold it. Some folks think it’s a lot but she’s a very responsible and caring little girl and chores emphasize her role in our home.
The 4-year-old makes her bed, picks up and puts away her toys and her toddler sister’s toys, help w/ laundry, puts away dishwasher utensils, and sorts laundry.
Our schedule is breakfast from 8:00 to 8:30 and chores are 8:30 to 9:00. Since some of them aren’t daily chores it can usually get done in half an hour. I use the time to clean-up from breakfast, maybe start a load of laundry, and get myself brushed and deodorized for the day! =) Plus, with little ones to monitor, I always tell my two big girls how much Mommy appreciates their help. If someone pulls a pouty face we have a saying, “We’re all in the family and we ALL PITCH IN!” I start the saying and they finish it with me. It usually gets a little smile from them.
I hope that’s what you were talking about. I know it’s a just a small portion of our day but it has helped for us.
This is the model I also find myself emulating authentically, not formulaic or legalistically. I love it! And it\’s good that you\’ve reminded me as we gear up for the new school year here soon. 🙂
Perfect post! Love your ideas and the link to Morning Time post. Thanks v much.
I have followed your blog for many years and I’ve been so appreciative of the information you share. That being said, I know that each time I come to your site, I’m going to fight to see the content vs. all the ads on the page. I am sure that the ads are very important to your family and I understand the need to monetize a blog. But, it really does interfere with my visiting this page now and that makes me sad.
Thanks for your feedback, April. Yes, the ads are important to my family and my site. They are a large part of keeping the site online because they allow me to pay the fees associated with doing so. I put a high price on user experience, though, and have tried to find a good balance. Right now, I have agreed to allow my ad network a bit of freedom in ad placement as part of a beta test. I hope you’ll bear with me for a few weeks while we work out the kinks and try to find that balance. Thanks again for your feedback. I’d much rather you say something than just quit reading in frustration.
I love this! I have two preschoolers that I just “started” homeschooling, and the Charlotte Mason method has been pretty inspiring to me. I love reading about how Charlotte Mason is used in your day to day homeschool life and it’s encouraging that I’m not the only one not giving my kids five hours outside a day lol.
Can you please send me a list of really good “living books” for kids ages 6-13.
I’m completely new to homeschooling. I’ve started out this year with my 8 yo daughter. I’m expecting another little one into our family by June. So not straining much on learning now. Just getting my daughter unschooling now. It’s Very interesting to read about different home schooling styles. As you’ve mentioned I feel it’s much better to be flexible with styles than to follow one rigidly. I’m gathering as much information as I can since home schooling is relatively a new concept in India. I’ve lot of coaxing and explaining to be done in our family. But I’ve taken the plunge and want to give the best to my children.
I’m going to be stalking your posts for more info😊
I have very young ones and will be starting homeschooling in the next couple years. I am a lifelong Minnesotan…. but I hate the cold. More importantly, my daughter hates the cold. How can I keep my littles safe in the cold for a long as CM would like? I’m usually out in the winter for like 20 min at a time at the most. I know I need to toughen up but what about the little ones?
Kelly, part of the joy of homeschooling is modifying lessons and activities to fit our particular families. If it’s miserably cold where you live, then go out for a shorter amount of time (whatever you and your children can enjoy)–even if it’s only 20 minutes. Your kids can be active and exercise and explore in other ways during the winter! Do some indoor scavenger hunts, exercise, go to indoor playgrounds or trampoline parks, etc. And don’t feel guilty about it! You can (and should) do what you feel is best for your own family.