So, when you asked your neighbor what homeschool curriculum she was using with her kids she told you she uses the Charlotte Masson approach (CM Approach) to education. You smiled and said “that’s great! clueless about what she meant. She explained they reading living books, notebook, and possibly use a literature approach to education. If you have been homeschooling more than a few months then you have probably had this conversation! So, what IS the CM approach?
Charlotte Maria Shaw Mason (1 January 1842 – 16 January 1923) was a British educator who invested her life in improving the quality of education in England at the turn of the twentieth century. Her revolutionary methods led to a shift from utilitarian education to the education of a child upon living ideas.
After the release of a groundbreaking book by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, For the Children’s Sake in 1984, Charlotte Mason’s six volume educational series was republished by Karen Andreola, author of A Charlotte Mason Companion. This led to a resurgence of Charlotte Mason’s educational methods for a new generation of teachers and students.
Charlotte Mason schools can now be found across the United States at charter schools and independent private schools. Her methods are used widely within the homeschool community. Regional and national conferences, retreats, and study groups have sprung up across the country and have increased Mason’s methods popularity.
She believed education is three-pronged: Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life. By “Atmosphere,” Charlotte meant the surroundings in which the child grows up. A child absorbs a lot from his home environment. Charlotte believed that atmosphere makes up one-third of a child’s education. By “Discipline,” Charlotte meant the discipline of good habits — and specifically habits of character. Cultivating good habits in your child’s life make up another third of his education. The other third of education, “Life,” applies to academics. Charlotte believed that we should give children living thoughts and ideas, not just dry facts. So all of her methods for teaching the various school subjects are built around that concept. (~Simply Charlotte Mason & Wikipedia)
The CM is based on ideas – not dry facts. Instead of using a textbook approach students read literature and then notebook what they learn instead of using worksheets (Sometimes they use lapbooking). Narration is used instead of testing. The ultimate goal is self education and a love of learning.
If you want to learn more about the Charlotte Mason Approach then make sure you read this wonderful article http://simplehomeschool.net/7-characteristics-of-a-charlotte-mason-education/ about using this approach in the homeschool.
http://www.amblesideonline.org/index.shtml (Free Charlotte Mason Curriculum k-12)