Today, I’d like to chat about traditional homeschooling versus Charlotte Mason homeschooling…
And, more specifically, why a traditional homeschooler (that would be me) switched to Charlotte Mason Methods of home education.
A little background:
I’m a second generation homeschooler, and my mom was an eclectic albeit traditional home educator.
If you’re not familiar with these terms and homeschooling styles, “traditional homeschooling” simply implies an education style that closely follows a traditional school model, and strives to mirror that type of classroom setting in the home.
“Traditional homeschoolers” usually purchase a complete curriculum which includes textbooks, teacher’s guides, tests, schedules, and grading and record keeping materials. Each child will most likely have his own set of textbooks and workbooks, and will study each subject separately according to grade level.
As a student, I did well in a traditional homeschooling setting.
For the most part, I enjoyed my text books, excelled in testing (just don’t ask about my Algebra or Geometry years!), and my siblings did well, too.
So why change if it worked so well?
When I first ventured into the world of homeschooling when our oldest child was ready for preschool (she’s now in sixth grade), I naturally leaned toward the method of home education I was most familiar with. In fact, I had no idea there was any other method of homeschooling!
I ordered a set of preschool curriculum from Abeka, and off we went. My little girl flew through the first few years of homeschooling, learned to read without a hitch, and I felt like a successful (albeit “green”) homeschooling mom. 🙂
A few years into our home educating, however, I hit some major snags. As our family grew, I found myself homeschooling two children and taking care of a baby. Then homeschooling three children and taking care of a baby. It was tough to keep each child in an entire set of grade-appropriate curriculum, and my second daughter struggled with phonics and reading for three very long years.
About three years ago (about half-way through those reading struggles), I found myself self spread very thin, worn out, and pretty much burned out with every curriculum I had tried (and I tried quite a few!).
I’m not even sure why I started reading about Charlotte Mason methods; perhaps I just pulled up the name out of curiosity, since I’d read it on several homeschooling websites and magazines over the years.
For whatever reasons, I began researching about this lady named Charlotte Mason and her education methods. Most of all, I was anxious to find a homeschooling niche that worked for our family, my children’s personalities and learning styles, and a very weary mama.
Around this time, I met up with a friend at a Christmas party and told her about my homeschooling struggles. She lent me a copy of A Charlotte Mason Companion, by Karen Andreola. After the holidays, I began reading the book every chance I could steal away for a few minutes of quiet time.
The more I read, the more convinced I became that this was the change our family so desperately needed.
I made the decision to finish up the curriculum we were currently using, but to make a chance the following school year. I was anxious to implement some sort of change right away, so I ordered the My Father’s World preschool package for my two young sons.
I also began to move away from decoding and implemented sight words into my struggling reader’s phonics program, and introduced simple ideas such as “book basket time” and “narration.” All this was very, very new to me, so for a while I felt like I was a right-handed mama trying to homeschool “left handed!”
Gradually, we integrated many Charlotte Mason learning methods until they started feeling like a natural part of learning. By the time we launched our year-round homeschooling that summer, I was ready to jump headlong into a whole new style of home education.
Two summers ago, I officially made the switch to My Father’s World, which I felt was the best option for my kids (and myself).
I haven’t looked back.
Charlotte Mason homeschooling has greatly simplified my life as a home educating mom (although, yes, my days are still crazy!). I feel like these “methods” are more like principles that guide my thinking and teaching processes, and help me stay focused on the real life issues of education.
I’m thankful for the wonderful traditional homeschooling experience my mom gave me. I view my own upbringing as very foundational in my life as a homeschooling mom.
However, the paths I’ve chosen to follow in home education and child training are quite different from the ones that worked for my parents, and I’m okay with that.
I’ve learned a few things about myself along this journey of homeschooling, and that includes the realizations that I am an out-of-the-box thinker, I need room to grow and explore and dream, and my children needs as much wiggle time as they need structure.
The bending, growing fibers of Charlotte Mason education provide the flexible framework our family needs in order to thrive, not just in homeschooling, but in life.
And that’s the stellar point for me: Charlotte Mason homeschooling is about life, and life is all about learning, growing, doing and experiencing.
We can do that with books and structured school time, but the bigger picture is always, always LIFE.
A few of my favorite Charlotte Mason resources:
While the following are not technically Charlotte Mason oriented, I definitely feel like they fit the scope of this learning style!
Check out my Charlotte Mason homeschooling board on Pinterest for more helpful CM resources!
What kind of homeschooling style do you gravitate toward?
Kristy Howard is a pastor’s wife, second-generation homeschooling mom of five, and a passionate believer in friendship, coffee, and quiet time! Kristy writes about motherhood, ministry and life at KristysCottage.com.