The beauty and simplicity of Charlotte Mason’s principles, can be summed up in ‘three educational instruments’. We can use these as guiding steps towards a Charlotte Mason education.
Mason’s principles for education, teach that “we are limited to three educational instruments–the atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit, and the presentation of living ideas.”
Without knowing it, my father, was a firm supporter of these three.
Great books, were the one thing that always abounded in our home. He instilled in me, a passion of learning through literature at a very young age. I clearly remember him handing me a ragged copy of 20 Leagues Under the Sea on my 6th birthday. Three days later we discussed it in great detail, and spent weeks afterwards researching a myriad of ideas presented in the book. One of my fondest childhood memories.
Though I’ve had very little contact with my dad in recent years, the lessons he taught me about learning, have shaped how I teach my own children today.
Whether you’re just getting started with homeschooling, or simply learning more about Charlotte Mason, these three steps can make a huge difference in how, and why you teach.
1. The atmosphere of environment.
Mason believed children learn best in their natural environments. While in comfortable home settings, while playing outdoors, while helping parents at home, while creating with their hands, etc. In other words, learning is natural, gentle, never forced, staged, or even scheduled.
What we can learn from this, is that though schoolrooms and fancy curriculum are helpful and convenient, they are not necessary. Instead, our focus ought to be placed on how and where each child learns.
2. The discipline of habit.
If a child is exposed to an environment where learning naturally takes place, he will soon be in the habit of learning. The learning and training will continue, even in the afternoons and weekends.
Simplicity at it’s best.
3. The presentation of living ideas.
One of the most well known characteristics of a Charlotte Mason education, is the use of living books and exposure to living ideas. A living idea, has no beginning, and no end.
Living ideas invite the mind to continually think. Ideas grow, and take hold of other ideas, allowing children to explore possibilities that would otherwise be left undiscovered. Mason firmly believed that children’s minds are capable to receive and digest “real knowledge“, not just the bits and pieces we think they’ll understand.
Instead of always following a specific curriculum and lesson plan; plan to spend time exploring and researching topics driven by sheer curiosity and interest.
Your purpose as a home educator.
Home education is not the norm, and though popularity is growing, we are few in number. None of us have taken this calling lightly, in fact many of us struggle daily in choosing to homeschool despite opposition.
Why have you chosen to take this path? How are you instilling a love and discipline of learning in your children?
Don’t miss the rest of the Charlotte Mason Homeschooling series.