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Hey, homeschool mommas. It’s Cindy West from ourjourneywestward.com. Today, I’d like to share with you about the Charlotte Mason method and why I feel it’s so good for cultivating grace in our homeschools and in our homes. I have been homeschooling for at least 17 years. I have one kiddo in college, one who is about to leave our homeschool, and one who is in fifth grade. We have used the Charlotte Mason method from the very beginning. I had been in the public school, and I knew that when I came home to homeschool my children, I wanted our days to be different than those days I had taught in the public school. I wanted my children to have a hunger for learning. I wanted my children to have a joy in learning. I wanted them to see beauty in it.
I didn’t quite know how to do that until I found a book called For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. I knew that that was the way we needed to homeschool. So, I read that before my daughter entered kindergarten, and that’s the way we’ve been doing it ever since. This is an education that has been filled with living literature, nature study, artist and composer study, poetry, Shakespeare, handicrafts, life skills, habit training, some of the things that you wouldn’t necessarily think of when you think of regular academics. Don’t get me wrong. Regular academics have been huge. In fact, Charlotte Mason education is truly a rigorous academic education if done well, and it allows you the time to do some of those things that share that truth, and that beauty, and that grace with our children. Because you get to round out your children that way, and because their noses aren’t always in a book, it’s natural that they develop a love for learning. So, I’d like to share with you just a few of the parts of a Charlotte Mason method that I feel like are the best at promoting grace in our homes and our homeschools.
Let me start off with an odd one, and that’s habit training. Habit training is the idea that you want your children to be able to do something, and you take some time to train that something into them, whether it’s making a bed, whether it’s learning how to properly load a dishwasher. Once that habit has been trained well, you move on, and you add a new habit. It seems like it’s slow going at first, but over many years, you turn around and you go, “Wow, my kids have developed such great strong habits in so many areas,” and it’s because you purposely set out to do that. But how that cultivates grace is that your home and your homeschool runs smoother because of habits that you’ve trained.
Academically, some of the best cultivating grace moments in the Charlotte Mason method would definitely be living literature. Oh, you guys, we have read so many wonderful books over the years, books that I would re-read again…and I have, for some of them…but there are just so many wonderful books out there that I haven’t had to re-read many of them. We have read them together. Our kids have read them separately—books about history, books about science, good classic literature. They have made all the difference in pulling my children into academic subjects.
Another wonderful part of Charlotte Mason homeschooling is nature study. Just to get our kids outside into a different venue where they can run, get exercise, get fresh air, get sunshine makes a big deal in the joy of our days, or our week, or a month, however often we get out to do it. But more importantly, we’ve been able to meet God there. We’ve been able to know that he is our creator and that he is fully in control of this world because of the mighty, awesome, powerful, little, tiny, huge things that we found in nature. It has just been an incredible science study. I like to call it our science lab, our outdoor science lab. If you have any time at all to fit in a weekly nature walk or a monthly nature walk, I say please do that. It will just add such a great layer to your homeschool.
Finally, before I wrap up, I’ll just quickly mention short lessons have been a big deal. Short lessons 5 to 40 minutes, depending on the age, depending on the subject, have really allowed us to get the academics over with in the morning, and then have allowed us to have that beauty of homeschooling time in the afternoons. When I say beauty, I mean things like artist study, composer study, handicrafts, allowing our kids just the outdoor time or the time to pursue passions. Passions have been huge. The time that Charlotte Mason education has afforded us for my children to be able to go out and find what the Lord has put in them to do, and to be, and to be able to spend time cultivating that, has been huge.
So, I’m out of time. I hope I have encouraged you that a Charlotte Mason education is so great for cultivating grace in your home. I hope to see you over at Our Journey Westward very soon.
I’m Cindy West, a busy homeschooling mom to three active and wonderful children. We are very eclectic in what and how we learn, but identify most with the Charlotte Mason style of schooling. Our school relies heavily on short academic lessons, good literature, nature study, living math, handicrafts, life as learning, free time, and habit training.
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