There’s a lot of buzz in homeschool circles about the Charlotte Mason method. Is is the right approach for your family? Read on for resources, benefits, and pitfalls of the CM approach to homeschooling.
Charlotte Mason is one of the most popular methods of homeschooling used today. You’re bound to run into CM lovers in your homeschool groups. You can almost always find some at the library!
With the Charlotte Mason method in high demand, a slew of CM inspired curricula has popped up in recent years. You can now find secular and religious curriculum, Charlotte mason guides, and tons of blogs dedicated solely to CM.
But what is the Charlotte Mason method? More importantly, will it work in YOUR homeschool?
Charlotte Mason Philosophy
The philosophy is based on the ideas of Charlotte Mason, a writer and educator in the early 20th century. Mason developed 20 principles on which her methodology is based.
If you’re interested in understanding the philosophy behind the method, I’d suggest starting at the source. I’ll warn you, it’s not light reading.
Home Education by Charlotte Mason is the first in a series of three books that detail Mason’s homeschooling approach and educational philsophies. You can find Home Education on Amazon. Volume 2, Parents and Children and Volume 3, School Education are also available.
Curriculum that Follows the Charlotte Mason Method
The Charlotte Mason method is an educational philosophy, not a curriculum. However, there is a variety of curricula available that follow the CM approach. Some are more loosely based on Mason’s teaching than others.
Today’s curriculum is inspired on Mason’s original philosophies and adapted to today’s learners and lifestyle.
We’ve personally used Build Your Library and Bookshark, which are both literature-based curricula inspired by the Charlotte Mason philosophy. Other popular resources include Simply Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online (free curriculum).
With any curriculum research, I would highly recommend cross-checking on CathyDuffy.com. There, you can quickly see the type of method of homeschooling and if the curriculum aligns with your own worldview.
Benefits and Pitfalls of the Charlotte Mason Method
The Charlotte Mason approach is attractive to many homeschooling families. Three major benefits to CM inspired curriculum is that it is literature-based curriculum that can be applied across several grade levels with a very gentle approach in the early years.
Literature based curriculum
CM curriculum is based on living books, which basically means using a variety of exceptional literature. You’re going to be doing a lot of reading! This is great for small children who love listening to stories and older children who have become voracious readers. I also believe that engaging children with wonderful books at a young age can build a love of reading with more reluctant readers.
Teaching the whole family
Frequently, one level of CM inspired curriculum can be used with children of multiple ages. This is great for families that are on a budget – and makes planning a whole lot easier for mom!
A gentle approach to early childhood
Many families start out with this approach due to its gentle introduction in early childhood. You won’t find strict phonics programs aimed at getting your five-year-old reading as quickly as possible.
While I love the Charlotte Mason philosophy, it is not going to work with every child.
Stamina must be built over time. Many children (of all ages) don’t have the stamina to sit down and read or be read to for a large chunk of the day – and forcing it is a struggle. The CM answer: break reading down into 5 or 10 minute chunks. This does work, but try reading a 600 page book in 5 minute sections. It’s difficult to keep up with the events of the story and takes weeks to read. This makes many of the long chapter books recommended by most CM curriculum very difficult for young readers. Also, reading part of a page each day for 5 days seemed ridiculous.
Inappropriate reading levels
Using one book as the basis of a whole family of readers is not always appropriate – even when it comes to read-alouds. Listening to a read-aloud that is too difficult for the child to understand is frustrating. Listening to one that is too easy can be boring. Frustrated and bored readers become reluctant readers.
Is it enough?
I’ll be honest, when we used a CM based language arts curriculum, I added a LOT. We needed more – more hands-on, more STEM, more guidance beyond “read and discuss,” and just generally more curriculum. The level of guidance and challenge varies by curriculum, however, so be sure to do your research!
My personal experience is that the Charlotte Mason philosophies are best incorporated into a more eclectic homeschool method. However, my family is not yours. And really, it’s all about what will work for YOU!
The list of websites, podcasts, and youtube channels below will help you with your continued research.
Charlotte Mason Resources Online
The following is a list of links to sites that offer more information on the Charlotte Mason method. Bookmark this page or pin it here to save this list!
Mondays with Miss Mason Podcast by Tech Savvy Homeschool
Is the Charlotte Mason method right for you? It could be! Take a peek inside a CM homeschool.
Are you a new homeschooler? Find answers, advice, and support here.