Charlotte Mason is pretty much unknown outside home-schooling circles. Mason was one of Maria Montessori’s greatest critics. She believed that the equipment required by the Montessori method was too expensive. She also accused Montessori education of putting too much emphasis on the senses rather than on sight.
One of the reasons many home-schoolers choose a Charlotte Mason education is because Mason’s education philosophy relies on a number of strong principles.
Here are 8 Charlotte Mason quotes that can help you adopt a holistic approach to education with your child.
1) “There is no education but self-education.”
A Charlotte Mason education revolves around the idea that kids learn best when they are in control of their own learning. Mason shares this idea with educational philosophers such as Dewey who believed that kids learn best when they’re active participants.
Charlotte Mason education considers that the right resources and the right environment are all kids need to learn. Scientific evidence supports these views. When we listen to our children’s needs and give them appropriate resources, they are more likely to engage in self-directed learning.
2) “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”
Charlotte Mason education favours the holistic development of kids. Holistic development means addressing the “whole child.” It means taking into account the fact that kids develop and are nurtured within different but nonetheless intertwined environments, and that their education must take into account their physical, emotional and psychological well-being.
According to Charlotte Mason education, kids learn best when harmony exists between the home environment, the good habits developed within all their environments and what they learn academically. This education considers that the success or failure of education largely depends on how all these elements complement each other.
In other words, the multiple environments that are part of each and every kid are interconnected. A poor home environment will have an impact on a kid’s academic performance and a kid who’s not well in school is also likely to display behavioural issues at home.
3) “What a child digs for becomes his own possession”
Kids learn by doing. They learn when they are actively involved in looking for solutions. When we encourage kids to actively participate in decision-making, we give them important tools they can use in childhood and beyond.
To encourage kids to actively participate in their own education, we need to provide them with the right environment and the right resources, then leave them to discover things by themselves.
Allowing kids to find their own solutions helps them develop their creativity and problem-solving skills and has also been found to increase resilience.
4) “Wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education”
Evidence suggests that providing less-structured environments helps kids more than trying to structure and fill up their every moment. There is increasing proof that boredom might just be the best gift you can give your kids.
Indeed, boredom can provide an opportunity to foster creativity, but only if it is constructive boredom. In other words, we need to provide our kids opportunities to use their creativity. Mason probably had this in mind when she said “An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing.”
5) “The most common and the monstrous defect in the education of the day is that children fail to acquire the habit of reading.”
Charlotte Mason spoke about the importance of exposing kids to “living books”. She defined these as books written by passionate authors who told their story using vivid language.
According to Charlotte Mason education, books should inspire kids. Mason believed that parents needed to know how to select appropriate kids’ books.
A Charlotte Mason education also emphasizes the importance of oral narration. After listening to a story, kids are encouraged to narrate the important aspects of the story in their own words in order to secure it in their minds.
Charlotte Mason education considers that young kids (below age 11 or thereabouts) develop greater analytical thinking skills by narrating, rather than by writing down stories.
6) “Let children have tales of the imagination scenes laid in other lands and other times; heroic adventures, hairbreadth escapes, delicious fairy tales, even where it is all impossible, and they know it, and yet they believe.”
Much like Waldorf education, Charlotte Mason education believes that every child should be exposed to fairy tales. Fairy tales help develop children’s imagination and creativity skills. Mason also believed that these tales were important as they taught kids about moral issues.
7) “It is infinitely well worth the mother’s while to take some pains every day to secure, in the first place, that her children spend hours daily amongst rural and natural objects; and, in the second place, to infuse into them, or rather, to cherish in them, the love of investigation.”
Charlotte Mason education encourages kids to connect with nature every day. This education philosophy considers that spending the most time possible outdoors is beneficial to kids. It encourages kids to keep a “nature journal” and thus to be more observant of what lies around them.
8) “Our aim in education is to give a full life…We owe it to them [kids] to initiate an immense number of interests”.
Charlotte Mason education considers that when we expose our kids to multiple activities, we provide more options and help them choose what truly interests them.
Despite all these strong principles, Charlotte Mason education has been criticized for being old-fashioned, overtly religious, and destined for an era that has long ceased to exist. However, Charlotte Mason education has great principles which need to be adopted to fit each child’s personality and specific context.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, you’ll love my Workbook “This is what it takes to raise happy and confident kids“. This workbook draws on ideas and resources from research and the world’s greatest philosophers to bring you strategies you can start using immediately. Check it out here