Charlotte Mason’s principles

I regretfully have forgotten which source this was obtained from since I had saved it long ago but I wanted to post it as a reference to CM’s principles. One of the major distinguishing characteristics of a Charlotte Mason curriculum is the time spent on each lesson. Mason stressed that lessons be no longer than 15 to 20 minutes for elementary and middle schoolers and 30 to 45 minutes for high school-aged children. This allows the children to learn while their interest is at its highest and before they become too bored or restless to concentrate.

  • Living Books – Living books should present the child with real life; the teacher should not interfere with a lot of “talk”.
  • Composition taught using oral Narration followed by written narration when the child is about ten. “They should narrate and they will compose later, readily enough; but they should not be taught ‘composition’.” (Written in Home Education; Training and Educating Children under nine, by Charlotte Mason, p247)
  • Copybook – a tool for sentence structure, punctuation, grammar
  • The Knowledge of Man: History – taught using living books, biographies, primary sources
  • Literature – often related to historical time period.
  • When Children are reading, they read on their own – from a number of books at a time.
  • Art – viewing art prints, ‘picture-painting’-focus on detail, committing them to memory, focussing on one artist at a time.
  • Geography – tied in with history – the local landscape can be used as a minature lesson of the whole world.
  • The Knowledge of God: Bible – the foundation living book – to give children their knowledge of God – the most important lesson.
  • Teacher directed – teacher chooses what the children will read.
  • Short lessons (10-15mins, when young and increasing with age)
  • Free afternoons and evenings.
  • Children should spend a great deal of time outdoors – in nature; using their senses;.
  • Nature Walks.
  • Habits are taught; Young children should be spared the labour of decision-making; habits must be actively formed by parents and teachers to make many of our actions second nature – habit of attention; habit or application; habit of thinking; habit of imagining; habit of remembering; habit of perfect execution; moral habits of obedience, truthfulness;
  • Beginning Reading – by learning sight words primarily and secondly, learning the sounds.
  • Memorization of poetry – not by repetition, but by listening and imagining the scene many times over.
  • Spelling learnt through dictation – child views passage, isolates words which may give him trouble, pictures the word in his mind, and when ready, writes the passage which is dicatated clause by clause, repeated only once.

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