Finding Grace in Charlotte Mason

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Finding Grace in Charlotte Mason methods

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been on a very unexpected journey, delving into the depths of an educational method called Charlotte Mason. And while I don’t want to bore anyone with irrelevant tidbits, I have to blog about this: it’s been too life-changing not to.

I’d read a few brief summaries about the Charlotte Mason method of educating several years ago when we first got started homeschooling. I thought I knew the “gist” of it, and I thought I knew it wasn’t for us. But the more I’ve really understood what Charlotte Mason (CM) is all about, the more it appealed to me. And the more I realized how much I originally had misunderstood and misjudged this method and those who followed it.

Here’s my disclaimer: I’m not an authority on this method, by any stretch, and I whole-heartedly advise you to go to the source to get an accurate picture. But with that said, here’s a glimpse of what I’m discovering.

What Charlotte Mason is NOT

  • It is not unschooling or delight-directed, not even close.
  • It is not undisciplined or unstructured.
  • It is not merely about making your student happy in everything.
  • It does not abandon memory work.

I start with this because these were some of my assumptions, and even some of the assumptions I’ve read on other blogs. But do some research from those who are the authorities, and you will discover something totally different.

What Charlotte Mason Is (in an extremely brief summary)

  • It is a form of classical education, in the sense that it is a modern adaptation of the classical approach. According to Susan Wise Bauer of the Well-Trained Mind, that’s all any of these classical approaches really are, an individual’s adaptation of those principles. We are all neo-classical, in all honesty. For me this explained a lot of the similarities between both classical and CM, and also explained those differences.
  • It is very structured and disciplined. Charlotte Mason’s ideas encourage complete concentration to a subject. There is no time for day-dreaming. And her emphasis on habit-training is excellent; proof that she did not believe in a student ruling the day.
  • It encourages critical-thinking skills.
  • It is a paradox of simplicity and “feasting.” The method and curriculum are extremely simple and economical, yet it does not skimp on the quality of the lessons or the range of subjects offered. Truly an amazing, beautiful paradox.

What I’m Discovering and Loving about CM methods

I stumbled upon a blog that raved about Karen Andreola’s book The Charlotte Mason Companion. The review was so enthusiastic that I had to read the book for myself, especially since it was available for free through my local library. So while my husband was having back surgery, I sat in the waiting room and literally devoured this book. As in, I started and finished the entire book in that one afternoon. It was the answer to all our current homeschool dilemmas.

From there, I read every free resource at Simply Charlotte Mason. Then, in God’s divine timing, Cindy West published her new ebook Charlotte Mason Homeschooling (affiliate link).

What did I discover that totally rocked my world? I found simplicity, where classical tends to be extremely complex and taxing. I found grace, when I was really discouraged and overwhelmed by the rigors of classical. I found beauty, which I felt had been beaten out of nearly every subject with the classical approach.

So am I abandoning a classical approach for Charlotte Mason? No. There are still tenents of the classical education that I firmly hold to. I’m working on blending the two approaches into the perfect fit for our family. And while I can’t say what will work best for you, if you are in need of simplicity, grace, or beauty in your homeschooling or parenting, the CM way might hold some answers.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you make a purchase through my link, I receive a small commission that I use to offset the expense of maintaining this blog. Thanks!

Published by Tracy
Our life is creative chaos, and our homeschool is loud and busy and distracted and challenging and lovely. My name is Tracy, and I homeschool my crew of three kids with ADHD/dyslexia, finding creative ways to use their strengths to teach their weaknesses. As a homeschooled homeschooler, I love customizing curriculum and making adjustments to incorporate fun, hands-on projects for out-of-the-box learners. Stop by to find grace for the messes and mistakes, and knowledge to pick up the pieces and make something special. Let’s grow together!

3 thoughts on “Finding Grace in Charlotte Mason

  1. This is exciting to hear! I confess I have similar impressions of CM. I’m thinking through next year and will definitely take a look at the resources you’ve mentioned. Homeschooling classically can be utterly overwhelming sometimes, especially thinking about all that is ahead and wanting to prepare them well. I’m looking forward to learning more about this approach. Thank you for sharing your journey here – it’s so encouraging to me!!

    • Post Author Tracy

      Oh, I’m so thrilled to know this! I really was afraid I’d be boring you all with totally irrelevant info that was only interesting to me. But it’s been so life-changing that every time I sat down to write, that’s the only thing I could think about writing. I am very encouraged to know I’ve encouraged you. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

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