Friday, November 14, 2008

A Little About Charlotte Mason

I use primarily the Montessori method and materials for the preschool, but I do use touches of other educational philosophies - Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, and Charlotte Mason. For Flower, I use less Montessori, and a heavier emphasis on the others. I've posted some about Reggio Emilia, so today I thought I'd post a little about Charlotte Mason. This information is from For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School.

The child needs to be taught the consequences of events that happened in history. There is a flow to all of history, and none of it should be told in isolation. The books should at first be so detailed that leisurely enjoyment of a whole period is possible. As a historical narrative is read, one can then write down events and names in the appropriate century. Also, one can have a graphic portrayal of one century or period in this way.

Charlotte Mason said "The object of children's literary studies is not to give them precise information as to who wrote what in the reign of whom? - but to give them a sense of the spaciousness of the days, not only of great Elizabeth, but of all those times of which poets, historians, and the makers of tales, have left us in living pictures."

Literature can help children think about what life is like before they live it as adults.

Charlotte Mason was aware of the powerful growth narration gave the child in verbal skills - first oral, and later written. To begin with, a small child tells back the stories he has heard. Then when the child has writing skills, he or she can use their writing to give back the narration. After a few years of this type of narration, the child is ready to translate his narration skill into the harder skill of transcribing his or her own thoughts and expressions in writing. Another powerful factor in this approach is that the child has had a daily diet of books written by person of well-above-average abilities of communication.

In Charlotte Mason's schools, the child was given an envelope containing six reproductions of works by a single artist each term. The child is given the first reproduction. He looks at it and you let him talk about the picture. Next time, the child notices more things. Then the child is given a piece of paper to sketch roughly what he or she remembers. Children will also continue to paint and draw their own original pictures.

Just as children learned about a specific artist each term, the children learned about a composer each term. Musical creativity is also encouraged through other instruments.

Charlotte Mason advised people to involve children directly with the world, letting them enjoy, wonder, and question themselves. She included direct observation and accurate recording from the earliest age. Charlotte Mason encourage people to give children plenty of time to play in the great outdoors every day. Books should be interesting to read and should follow things that they have already experienced firsthand.

Charlotte Mason wrote her own geography books which described places both at home and abroad in a systematic way, but with the literary interest of personal discovery such as a traveler would experience. This was accompanied by thorough map work. One should look for books that have a similar "traveler" feel to them to give a child a graphic and vivid picture of their own country, as well as world geography.

Charlotte Mason believed that the teaching of math depended on the teacher's ability to quicken interest and imagination about mathematics. Mathematics should be studied for its own sake, as well as to provide the root of knowledge out of which other branches of study depend. Mathematics should be a "hands on" experience before the abstract is mastered.

Physical Development
An ideal situation was outdoor space where children ran, climbed trees, splashed, crawled, rode, explored and played. She also said that they should be taught/allowed to do a variety of activities.

The child should also have as rich a variety of skills in crafts as possible. Girls and boys should share same activities in handicraft and work. They should be able to sew, cook, knit, embroider, work with clay, wood, metal. They should also know how to grow plants and benefit from having an animal to care for.

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