Most visitors who come here know that in addition to being a writer, I’m also a homeschool mom of fourteen years. And over the years, I’ve had many questions about Classical-Charlotte Mason homeschooling. I received an email to which I came up with the following reply, and I thought I’d post the answer here, in case it can help someone else. I certainly don’t consider myself an authority, but at least you can get a better understanding of why this is the ‘path’ we’ve chosen to homeschool our children. There is so much more than what I’ve touched on, but it’s a start! When I have time, I’ll try to come back to this topic again. As I told this individual below, we fall more into the Charlotte Mason camp, but there are certain aspects of Classical learning that I really like. I guess we’d be considered more ‘eclectic’ homeschoolers than anything! So, here it is….
Thanks so much for your question…and please forgive me for just now getting back to you. I’ve finally found a quiet moment to sit down and get my thoughts together! I applaud you for doing your research on C-CM! Even after fourteen years and graduating twin daughters who are now finishing up there second year of college, I still like to research/read/review all kinds of homeschooling methods, books, and curriculum. No matter how many years you do this, you will always be learning!
As far as Classical-Charlotte Mason, let me tell you first off that one of the best books on combining the two methods is For The Love of Learning by Jenny Sockey. Subtitle is: Information and Resources for Combining Charlotte Mason and Classical Education. This is a great little book and chock-full of wonderful information and resources. I highly recommend it!
I’ll be honest enough to say that we fall more into the Charlotte Mason camp, but there are several things about Classical Education that I like and implement. I love CM because of the ‘gentle’ style of learning. CM had much wisdom and insight into the minds/learning styles of children. And her emphasis on whole or living books is right-on in my opinion. There is nothing better than letting our children learn from an author who is passionate about his/her subject, instead of little snippets here and there of a greater work. Plus, I like the addition of nature study, art, music, etc. I think those things get pushed aside too often, but they bring much joy and inspiration to children and adults alike. How can we really see the awesome hand of God in creation if we don’t spend time ‘seeing’ and ‘learning’ what He has done or what He has inspired others to do?! Although our more ‘core’ subjects take first place in the schedule, I do try to bring in the fine arts/nature study as much as possible!
With Classical Education, I definitely see the benefits of acknowledging the stages of the trivium. With six children, I’ve seen the natural progression of learning stages too many times to doubt. By knowing this, I’ve not been too upset (usually-LOL) if one of my children is not ‘ready’ to ‘conquer’ a certain idea/concept when *I* think they should. Perhaps they’re not ready yet! It WILL come…when it’s time! And as a dear friend once told me, it’s all about exposure! Sooner or later, all those little bits of information will ‘come together’ to form the bigger picture…again, when it’s time!
I also really like the chronological study of history which is the way we’ve done it for years. Some of the best resources for this have come from Christine Miller. We love the H.A. Guerber history books that are available on her Nothing New Press website. We also do Latin, and I’ve seen great benefits from the study of classical languages when it comes to my children’s vocabulary! Also as a key component in Classical Education, I do believe that ‘mastery’ of certain things is very important!
Many people believe that CM probably used (or at least acknowledged) the trivium in her method of education…perhaps not as rigorously as Classical ‘purists’, but it was still definitely a big thing (and an old path) in her day! She did, however, suggest shorter lessons…but ones that were disciplined, effective and focused on excellence. She also believed that good habits and a rich home learning environment were absolutely key for a stable and well-rounded education. I whole-heartedly agree…but often easier said than done! LOL
Overall, both methods emphasize great books, great minds, and a goal of self-education (mastery)…in my mind, C-CM go hand in hand in this arena! Plus, both methods utilize narration or ‘telling back’ to aid in retention and comprehension. I love this! If a child can tell you about or write about what he/she has learned while reading, it becomes ‘theirs’…and they KNOW it! I’ve often heard that the best way to learn is to teach. If my child can ‘teach’ or ‘share’ with us what he/she has learned, so much the better!
I know I’ve not done C-CM justice, but it works for us! As I said above, I really love the ‘gentle’ style of learning ‘Charlotte Mason’ style. We do A LOT of reading aloud in our home, and even though I do start a formal grammar program around 4th-5th grade, I implement copywork every day…and I’ve seen benefits from having the children copy the works/words of great writers. When they are exposed to great writing, they will ‘pick up’ a lot!
Cindy Rushton has a lot of great resources on CM, as does Penny Gardner, Karen Andreola, Queen Homeschool, and Catherine Levison. By the way, I love, love, love Catherine Levison’s book called A Literary Education! Christine Miller is a great resource for Classical, and of course, The Well-Trained Mind is a ‘classic’! There is a company called Camrose Academy that produces lesson plans by grade level to combine both C-CM. I’ve used their stuff in the past, and was very pleased. At present, I use a lot of Sonlight with some Ambleside Online thrown in. And for next year, I’m researching ‘Living Books Curriculum‘ as an option for my younger children. I am also using another free online resource called Guest Hollow this year, and I have been extremely pleased with the plans, resources, and books!
Once again, I know I’ve not done justice to your question, but I hope I’ve helped in some small way. I think I’ll post this answer on my blog…just in case it will help someone else as well. May the Lord bless you as you research and seek His will…and set out on one of the greatest journeys you’ll ever experience!